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April 20, 1998 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-20

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 20, 1998 - 17

"TV stars
welcome
gymnasts
By Vaughn R. Klug
Daily Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Actor John
Lithgow, star of NBC's hit comedy
"Third Rock from the Sun,"
appeared at Friday's women's gym-
nastics Super 6.
Lithgow appeared before a crowd
of 3,000-plus and delivered an
introduction in tune with the tour-
nament's "The Stars Come Out"
heme.
Despite his time constraints,
Lithgow makes an effort to follow
the Bruins and keep in contact with
their head coach, Valorie Kondos.
"I have known the UCLA coach
for some time and she asked me to
give the introduction," Lithgow
said.
Lithgow watched from the
stands, like everyone else, and
enjoyed Pauley Pavilion's talent
exhibition.
Jaleel White, star of the ABC sit-
com "Family Matters," also made
an appearance on Saturday.
White, refraining from using the
"whiny voice he assumed as Steve
Urkel, sported a "South Park" T-
shirt and echoed Lithgow's
remarks.
GYM DOGS UNLEASHED:
Regardless of whether Georgia was
struggling with a 9.2, or icing the
national championship with a per-
feet 10, the Gym dog fans were on
their feet and roaring.
Georgia repaid its fans, who
made one of the longest road trips
of all teams competing, with a title
- as well as a bit of credit.
"We would not be able to do such
an enthusiastic job without the
fans," Georgia coach Suzanne
Yoculan said. "It is always nice to
travel with the big Georgia family."
Georgia's unparalleled NCAA
fan base stemmed from home sup-
port Michigan can only dream
about.
"We sell out meets all the time
with over 9,000 fans," Georgia
alumnus Kurk Smith said.
"Gymnastics are the second
ighest attended sports on campus
behind football."
SEE THE SUPER 6: If more than sus-
pense about the weekend's results
lures you to watch women's gymnas-
tics, the brilliant performances of the
Super 6 will air on network television.
On Sunday, May 2, an edited ver-
sion of the Super 6 will air at 2 p.m on
CBS.

LM

CA

L

ALAN

GOLDENBACH
The Bronx Bomber

MARAGRET MYERS/Daily
With eyes on the prize, Georgia's Kim Arnold vaults to a 9.925 this weekend. The Super 6 finals did not include Michigan,
though, as the Wolverines had to watch from the sidelines after falling to qualify.
Georgia es all
Gym dogs roll tochaposi

By Nita Srivastava
Daily Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - A perfect ending for a perfect season
- for Georgia, not Michigan.
Georgia junior Karin Lichey vaulted her top-ranked Gym
dogs to their 17th victory in a row and the NCAA women's
gymnastics title with a perfect 10 on Friday night at UCLA's
Pauiey Pwvilion.
It was the fourth title for Georgia in school history and the
I th time that the national championship was won by the top
seed. Georgia finshed with 197.725 points.
"Tonight, when we win, we'll be ready to sing, because
we'll be wearing that big fat ring!" Georgia freshman
Suzanne Sears recited after the meet from a poem she had
written before the competition.
Competing in the Super 6 - the final round of competi-
tion - were Alabama, Arizona State, Florida, Utah and host
UCLA. But Georgia's unity proved too much to overcome.
The Gym dogs pulled together all season and finished
undefeated. Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan said that
although this is not the most talented gymnastics team that
Georgia has had, it is unparalleled in team unity.
"We did it and I mean we did it," Yoculan said. "This is a
team effort - it's been a player's team. They have managed
themselves. This was a team on a mission."
Georgia senior Kim Arnold took the individual crown for
the Gym dogs, with a 39.625 in the all-around competition.
Finishing just behind the' Gym dogs were the two other
Southeastern Conference teams - Florida, which scored
196.350, and Alabama, which finished with 196.300
points.
"In the SEC, we go head-to-head so often, it brings out the
best in us," Florida coach Judi Markell said. "It shows that we
are a good, strong conference."
After the first three rotations, Georgia and Florida stood in
first and second place with Alabama trailing in fourth place
by a 0.25-point margin.

Georgia kept its lead throughout the entire meet, and fin-
ished on the vault.
"Vault is their strongest event and it's also the event with
the least amount of pressure," Michigan sophomore Sarah
Cain said.
The vault could have been the key factor in Georgia's vic-
tory. That combined with Lichey's stick of her vault - a
stick with perfect form.
Georgia was not the only school to have luck with scoring
perfection. UCLA's senior Stella Umeh had perfect scores in
two events.
She captured a 10 on the floor exercise, a career high she
said she has been working long to achieve, and a 9.9 on the
vault, the highest possible score for that particular vault.
"It felt really good to finally achieve a 10 on floor," Umeh
said. "But when it was over, I realized it and had to focus on
what we had ahead of us."
UCLA sophomore Heidi Moneymaker followed in the
footsteps of her teammate, also scoring a perfect 9.9 on the
vault.
UCLA, the defending national champion, finished fifth in
the competition.
The Bruins' fault in the finals lay in their shaky start on the
balance beam, the same thing that plagued Michigan in the
preliminaries on Thursday.
Last year, UCLA's best event was the balance beam. The
Bruins were looking forward to starting on it, but luck was
not with them on Friday.
"I know it sounds odd being the defending national chai-
pions and finishing fifth," Umeh said. "But, we really had a lot
of fun tonight. We go in to do our best. And we have achieved
our goal after the meet if we have done that."
Florida junior Susan Hines also scored a 10 in the vault for
the second time in the week. Hines was the 1997 NCAA vault
champion, as well.
"It is exciting, but I set out to be a team player and that is
what is important," Hines said.

qua) r O froshork Daily career
ou can tell a great sportswriter from the rest by the writer's ability to
make the personalities of the athletes, whose talents we so admire,
come to life on the printed page. The great ones can spot an athlete's
quirks, nuances or superstitions from the press box, and if they can't locate
them, the writer is smart enough to dig deep and find it. A great sports-
writer is about as rare as a great athlete.
But sportswriters, like athletes, get lucky. In fact, they get lucky a lot
more often than the people they write about. And the best stroke of luck for
a sportswriter is a great quote.
What qualifies as a great quote? Very simple criteria: honesty and emo-
tion.
Writers, as well as readers, always dream of athlete being just grossly
honest enough to reveal what's behind their uniform number that the writer
does not need to use a lexicon of lavish lingo to bring that emotion to life.
The athlete already did the dirty work.
I've gotten lucky like this way too many times in the past four years as a
sportswriter for the Daily. So many athletes have made my job easier that if
you asked me to pick the best quote, I couldn't; there are too many
instances that almost made me ask the athlete if he wanted those words on
the record.
There was Bowling Green hockey coach Buddy Powers. After his first-
place Falcons were destroyed by Michigan in their home rink, Powers was
asked by a Bowling Green student reporter, "Coach, how are you feeling?"
To which Powers replied: "Shitty. How 'bout you?"
Honesty cannot be expressed more brutally than that.
There was Michigan captain Matt Herr's poke at his school's football
team after the Wolverines' improbable hockey national championship a few
weeks ago.
"At least we don't have to share this one with Nebraska," Herr said.
Nor do the Wolverines have to share the attention of President Clinton
when they go to the White House.
There was the kid from the State News football team (which The
Michigan Daily destroyed, 35-14), who said during the rout, "Nobody
knows how to do anything around here," a testimony to the intellectual
makeup of that city we fondly refer to as Fast Lansing.
There was Charles Woodson. In fact, there was Charles Woodson on
many occasions. Woodson proved several times that his talent on the grid-
iron is rivaled only by that of his mouth. He said how he was "insulted"
that Michigan State ran the same play at him twice. He routinely touted
himself as the best player in the country without giving a moment's thought
to how rare it is for an athlete to do so.
Woodson's shining moment behind the microphone, however, came after
Michigan's defeat of Ohio State this year, when he offered his opinion of
what became of his super-hyped battle with Buckeyes wideout David
Boston.
"I was like a father chastising his kid for running off his mouth to the
wrong people."
It was the closest Woodson ever came to saying, "Who's your daddy?" It
was the only time Woodson's ballyhooed chatter, or any part of his talent
for that matter, failed to reach its potential.
But more than making my job as a sportswriter easier, I've had one heck
of a time at this University covering my peers. And the benefit of covering
athletes who are your peers is that they feel the same way you do.
Beneath their incredible athleticism, we all share the most important link
to these athletes that we celebrate so majestically - we're all Michigan
men and women.
1 was lucky enough to be here for four national championships - 1995
men's swimming, 1996 and 1998 ice hockey, and 1997 football. (Actually,
if you count the National Invitation Tournament as a national title, it would
be five.)
Considering that prior to those championships, Michigan had won only
one national title in the major sports in the previous 31 years, I feel luckier
than any of the thousands of past, present and future Wolverines.
Those championships made for the microcosm of my time here in Ann
Arbor, for they yielded quotes that I couldn't choose more perfectly to
describe the past four years.
There was Bill Muckalt, after Michigan broke its NCAA Tournament jinx
and ridded itself of the so-called ghosts in 1996. My press credential pre-
vented me from showing my jubilation when Brendan Morrison's overtime
shot hit the back of the net in Cincinnati instead of the goal post.
Thankfully, Muckalt was there to put it into words for me.
"I'm so glad I came (to Michigan)," said a tearful Muckalt. "I'm so
proud to be a part of this program, with these guys, with this coach. It's ju'
so special."
I, too, am so glad to have had the privilege to come to school here and be
a part of this academic, athletic and social tradition that is Michigan. It has
been more than special. It has been perfect.
But nobody portrayed this perfection quite like Brian Griese in his
description of winning the Rose Bowl.
Nothing captured my feelings for this town, this University, and its won-
derful students quite like the way Griese illustrated a Rose Bowl victory
and a national championship.
"I will cherish this game, this university, for the rest of my life," he said.
"You have opportunities in life, and those who stand out are the ones who
take advantage of those opportunities. It's just sweet for us to capitalize on

an opportunity to make history."
I took advantage of the opportunity Michigan offered me four years ago
on a hunch. I can't believe it, but in hindsight, it was a difficult choice for
this Bronx boy to head west at the time.
As a result, I have had the four greatest years anyone could hope for.
Thank you Michigan, thank you Daily, thank you Rotvig, and thank you
readers.
Championships are well worth the cost of out-of-state tuition.
- This is Alan Goldenbach vfinal column.
He can be reached over e-mail at agold@umich.edu.

From doubter to believer

- its been one hell ofa ride for a true Wolverine

our years ago this Sept. 24, I
walked toward Michigan
Stadium for just the second
time ever, having no idea what the
future of that autumn afternoon
would hold. In hindsight, it is a day
neither I, nor anyone else involved,
will ever forget.

reserved excitement, but that's about
all.
Michigan had already won its
first two games of the season,
including an upset of Notre Dame
on Remy
Hamilton's last-
second field

shirts, hats - I had never seen so
many block Ms in my life. With
music blaring from the fraternity
houses and fans chanting "Let's go
Blue," this wasn't just a city-wide
pregame party.
This was a phenomenon.
And to me - this was overboard.

craning their necks to find a line of
sight into the end zone. The ball
came spiraling down toward the
back of the end zone and was tipped
once, twice, and then disappeared.
Suddenly, the unthinkable - an
ecstatic roar from the lone Colorado
section in the stadium, which hap-

was the impact that moment would
have on my future as a Michigan
fan.
The Wolverines would go on to
lose four games that season, and in
each of the next two seasons as
well. With one of the nation's most
difficult schedules looming, the out-
lnnkL fo~r this nact seasoj'n wsuleke

22 that I first understood why
Michigan fans become just that.
It was a football Saturday in Ann
Arbor, similar to the one on Sept.
24, 1994, and all the rest in
between. Michigan was to play its
most hated rival, Ohio State, but
this time with a trip to the Rose
Bawrl and a shot at the national

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