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September 03, 1997 - Image 70

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

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2F - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 3, 1997
SPORTS
Wrestlrs season crippled by injuries

By Tracy Sandier
Daily Sports Writer
It started in August and never really stopped. The
injuries kept piling up for the Michigan wrestling
team (6-3 Big Ten, 10-5 overall), and by the end of the
season, the athletes were exhausted.
At the NCAA championships in March, where they
placed 25th, the Wolverines had four competitors. Of
those four, only No. 3 seed Jeff Catrabone (167 pounds)
placed in the top eight, earning All-America honors for
the second consecutive year.Unseeded Chris Viola (118
pounds), No. 3 seed Bill Lacure (150 pounds) and No.6
seed Airron Richardson (heavyweight) each lost in the
third round of their consolation matches.
Although he wrestled well throughout the tourna-
ment, Viola was competing with an injured shoulder,
which required surgery after the season. Viola lost his
first match of the tournament to No. 2 seed Teague

Moore of Oklahoma State in sudden-death overtime.
"If anybody on our team stepped it up and wrestled
to the best of his ability, it was Chris," Michigan coach
Dale Bahr said at nationals.
Lacure was sick during the NCAA champi-
onship, but both he and Richardson, who were All-
Americans going into nationals, did not wrestle to
their abilities, partly due to a long season. The
Wolverines started seven true freshmen, putting
pressure on junior captains Lacure, Catrabone and
Richardson. Lacure's regular season record was 25-
6, while Catrabone was 27-3. Richardson compiled
a 24-4 record during the season.
"All year (was) a struggle to keep our head above
water," Bahr said. "Most of the year, they did. The kids
hung in there and hung in there, but I think it takes its
toll. I think mentally it wears on you."
The first sign of trouble came in late August, when

the team found it would be without All-American
Brandon Howe (126 pounds) who underwent season-
ending shoulder surgery. After Howe's injury came the
news that 134 pounder Brian Aparo could be lost to an
elbow injury, also requiring surgery.
Then, freshman Damion Logan. who was filling in
nicely for Howe with a 15-4 record, separated his
shoulder at the Las Vegas Classic in December.
Howe said the team's older members need to step up
as much as, if not more, this season.
"I'm fired up" Howe said. "We came in with a
good class. We're the old men on the team, and we
have to pick up the slack for the younger guys.
As far as the team's lone All American, Catrabone
looks to his last season to be his best.
"We've got two superstars coming back in Brandon
and Logan' Catrabone said. "I want the team to be in
the top two, and I want to be a national champ:"

I

TSSO TPR 200

GYMNASTICS
Continued from Page IF
beat the Tide by 1.45 points.
And a dismal performance by
Georgia - easily the best team of 1997
- at the Southeast regional the same
evening left the door open for any team
to come in and snatch away the NCAA
title. Michigan was now in the hunt for
its first-ever NCAA title, and entered
the season's final showdown as the No.
1 seed.
The Georgia Bulldogs faltered again
at the NCAA championship - but no
Wolverines stood atop the awards podi-
um in Gainesville, Fla. Michigan
peaked two weeks too early to claim the
crown.

Despite falling to UCLA, which was
also seeking its first national champi-
onship, the Wolverines made a close run.
Michigan was running neck and
neck with the Bruins going into the
last event, when the Wolverines fin-
ished with a subpar 48.875 on the
floor exercise, winding up fourth
overall. Still, the lower finish did lit-
tle to diminish Michigan's accom-
plishments last year.
"Our team did an absolutely out-
standing job and I'm very pleased
with their performance," Plocki said.
"I'm just proud to say that we were on
the podium, and we've been on the
podium three out of the last four
years. And I think that's quite an
accomplishment."

142-pound sophomore Oybandl zHill competes in a Jan. 29, 1997 match. The
wrestling team was plagued with Injuries last season.
Men's gy-mnastics
faces uphillclMb

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By Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
Luckily for first-year Michigan
men's gymnastics coach Kurt Golder,
the sport he coaches highlights individ-
ual achievement. As a result, he found a
silver lining in the dark cloud that the
1997 season became.
Freshmen sensations Tim DeGraw and
Jose "LaLo" Haro represented that bright
spot.
With Michigan still reeling from years
of stagnation at the bottom of the Big
Ten, Golder saw only his two prized
freshmen qualify for the NCAA prelimi-
naries in 1997. The rest of the Wolverines
struggled throughout the season and
Michigan went winless in dual meets.
But DeGraw and Haro buddied up,
as the only Wolverines competing in the
post-season. Haro's scoresawere among
the nation's best all year and DeGraw
did what no other male Michigan gym-
nast has done in five years - he
became an All American.
By placing fourth in the floor exercise
with a score of 9.75, DeGraw beat
Olympian Blaine Wilson in the NCAA
finals in Iowa City.
"He was so close to being the nation-
al champion," Golder said. "But the
field was very tight."

DeGraw put up his best routine of the
season at the NCAA championships,
landing his difficult tumbles. He was W
aided by having the last draw in his event.
"The All-American title will give
(Tim) more confidence, and make him
more well known next year," Golder
said. "That should improve his_.sCores
greatly with the judges next yeah'2:
Though he didn't fare as wel'as
DeGraw in the post-season, Haro'fow
has a successful season under his-belt.
The 22-year-old freshman led Michigan
during the regular season and attaine-a
No. 7 ranking in the all-around entef
the NCAA preliminaries.
Haro came from Mexico to attend
Michigan this year. Previously, Haro
was virtually unknown among national
judges. But Golder said Haro will gain
more respect in coming years. 3
"The Big Tens have accomplish~ed
some of that," Golder said. "We gained
a lot of recognition with (the Big Ten
championship). Next year, when e
raises his hand, instead of the jus
asking, who this is, they'll be saying,
'This guy is great."'
The road ahead for the team is still an
uphill climb. Next, Golder faces the task
of further polishing the team's talent.
"We are on our way back,"Golder said.

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