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March 10, 1997 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-10

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - March 10, 1997

Unforeseen forces hurt gymnasts

By Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
Winning on the road is tough - especially if
you happen to be in Utah.
That's what the Michigan women's gymnas-
tics team learned this past week, as it tried to
accomplish what no visitor to Salt Lake City has
done since Bermuda shorts were still in style:
beat Utah in its own backyard.
Michigan's star freshman Sarah Cain was
probably still in diapers 17 years ago, the last
time the Utes lost at home.
The Wolverines couldn't dig up anything but
bad luck all week, losing to Utah, 197.025-
96.025, BYU, 195.875-195.475, and Georgia.
A week ago Friday, No. 4 Michigan hung
tough with No. 3 Utah through the first two
apparatuses behind a solid team performance on
the vault (49.45). The Wolverines trailed by only
atenth ofa point midway through the meet.
But Utah smashed the Wolverines on the
evening's final apparatus, the balance beanm,

49.25-48.9.
"What was most disturbing was we hit six out
of six landings," Michigan coach Bev Plocki
said. "It just seemed like one judge would give
us a respectable score and the others would be
0.2 points lower."
The Wolverines probably would have pre-
ferred to leave Utah after Friday night's fiasco,
but they stayed at BYU until Monday.
The long road trip was taking its toll on the
Wolverines, and Plocki decided to pull Cain and
Kathy Burke out of a number of events.
"We haven't been completely healthy'" Plocki
said. "I didn't want (Cain) to hit the wall at this
time in the season."
Cain competed on the uneven bars and the
vault against BYU, falling on the former as
Michigan recorded a dismal score of 48.175 on
the bars, its first apparatus. Theinitial deficit of
0.575 was too much to overcome, and the
Wolverines fell to the Cougars.
Michigan was primed to end its only losing

streak of the season Saturday at Georgia, when
uncontrollable factors struck the Wolverines,
again. This time they came in the form of senior-
night ceremonies - part of the festivities for the
first-ranked Bulldogs' last home meet.
"We had a really great warmup routine,
Plocki said. "We seemed really fired up. But
then we had to sit through half an hour of intro-
ductions. I think if we just came out and com-
peted, we might have fared better."
Once again, Michigan came out rusty on the
uneven bars, falling three times and recording a
score of 48.2. And again, the Wolverines picked
it back up after the first apparatus, scoring a 49.65
on the vault and a 49.55 on the floor exercise.
Cain and Nikki Peters recorded tens on the vault.
The Bulldogs, recording far and away the
nation's best scores all year, set an NCAA team
record with an all-around score of 198.475.
"You can't take anything away from them,"
Plocki said. "They just looked fantastic
tonight."

The Michigan
women's gymnas-
tics team was
left hanging after
Its three-match
IQ . road trip. The
Wolverines fell to
Utah,K YU and y
Georgia. w
MARK FRIEDMAN/IDaify

P U

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V

TAN KERS
Continued from Page 11B
ming a couple of l00s to warm up, but
this was a sprint. It was fun."
Piersma also took part in the first
place 800-free relay team, which also
included Tom Malchow, John Reich
and Chris Rumley. This victory on
Friday put Michigan within one point
of the Gophers after the second day, a
deficit it erased on Saturday.
Malchow also helped the Michigan
cause on Saturday with a victory in his
signature event, the 200 butterfly.
Malchow, who won a silver medal in
the Atlanta Olympics in the same
event, beat Minnesota's Martin
Zilenski by more than two seconds.
He also added a third-place finish in
the 500 free and took sixth in the 400
IM.
"It feels good to score 20 points to
help lead the team to a champi-
onship," Malchow said. "This is our
big day and we stepped it up. We
knew once we got there and we were
close, we could take over."
Last year's Swimmer of the
Championships, Derya Buyukuncu,
also added some key points, sweeping
the 100 and 200 backstroke events
with times of 47.75 and 1:42.80. This
was the third year that Buyukuncu
pulled off the sweep.
"The three-peat is nice,"
Buyukuncu said. "It is getting harder
and harder, and the field is getting
faster and faster."

Buyukuncu also finished second in
the 100 free to Zilenski on his way to
scoring 57 points in the meet, just
three less than Piersma's meet-leading
60 points.
Keying the Michigan comeback on
the final day was its performance in
the 1,650 free. The Wolverines took
five of the top eight spots, putting
them ahead of the Gophers to stay.
Leading the charge was Andy Potts,
whose second-heat time of 15:11.81
held up for the victory.
That victory, coupled with a sec-
ond-place finish in the 400 IM and a
third-place finish in the 500 free,
allowed Potts to become the third-
highest scorer in the meet with 53
points.
"I didn't think the time would hold
up," Potts said. "This is our best event.
We have also been a distance-oriented
team, and we wanted to capitalize on
our strength."
Other Wolverines who placed in the
1,650 free include Mike McWha, who
was the runner-up to Potts, Rumley
(fourth), Reich (seventh) and Steve
Williams (eighth).
Minnesota did not relinquish the
Big Ten title without a fight, howev-
er. The Gophers won three relays,
taking the 200 free, the 200 medley
and the 400 free relay. The 200 med-
ley team of Zilenski, Mitch Henke,
Ty Bathurst and Eriek Hulseman
established a Big Ten record with a
time of 1:28.07.
"We all expected to win," Henke

said. "Last year we were disqualified
so we were looking to come back. We
all knew we could do it."
Zilenski led the Gophers' charge, as
he took first in the 100 fly and was the
runner-up in the 100 back and the 200
fly. These victories put Zilenski
fourth among individual scorers wT
52 points.
Indiana, which finished in third
place in the meet with 431 points,
dominated the diving events. Mike
Collier, the Diver of the
Championships, took first place in the
one-meter springboard and second in
the three-meter springboard, finishing
behind Indiana's Tom Davids6n
Davidson was voted the Big Ten
Freshman of the year. 9
The surprise of the meet was
Purdue, which finished fourth with
384 points. Matt Brown led the
Boilermakers with victories in the 200
and 400 IM. Vilmos Kovacs swept the
breaststroke events with victories in
both the 100- and 200-yard events,
and Frank Smardo won the 50 free.
"The performance of Purdue
University in stepping up to another
level is the most pleasant surprise 'of
the meet' Urbanchek said. "It makes'
the conference that much more legiti--
mate."
Rounding out the field in fifth was
Ohio State with 356 points.
Northwestern finished sixth with 293,
points, followed by Penn State (290),
Iowa (262), Wisconsin (228) and
Michigan State (110).

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