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March 23, 1998 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-23

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GYMNASTICS

7B - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - March 23, 1998

'GYMNASTICS
Continued from Page 18
neck all year. I think it came down to
who- finished higher in the all-around
yesterda," Roulston said. "I put together
six good routines and came out on top."
Despite their friendship, Roulston
said that he and Natalie were strictly
business at the Championships.
"I don't think we said more than a
word to each other before the competi-
tion. It was pretty much business," he
said. "We were really good friends out-
side the gym, but even last year ... when
-we got into the meet it was all business."
In addition to being named freshman
of the year, Roulston was part of a four-
man Michigan contingent in the vault
finals on Saturday.
Sophomore LaLo Haro led the
Wolverines with a third-place finish,
hile Roulston and senior Tim Lauring
tied for fourth. Redshirt freshman Tim
- Dehr finished soventh to round out
Michigan's assault.
"It was a dream performance on that
event," Michigan coach Kurt Golder
said of the vault. "It was a magical
moment for our program."
Haro also recorded a fourth-place fin-
ish on the high bar, and senior Tim
DeGraw placed third on the floor exer-
Wise for the Wolverines. Penn State
sophomore Mike Dutka won the all-
around competition with a 58.35.
Michigan will have one more chance
to increase its three-score regional qual-
ifying average, as the team travels to
Michigan State on Saturday. The
Wolverines hope to solidify a berth in
the NCAA East Regional at
Massachusetts on April 4.

Golder is key to renaissance
of men's gymnastics program

By David DenHerder
Daily Sports Writer
About face!
There is a buzz around the Big Ten -
and it's not about undefeated lowa. It's
about a team, believe it or not, that won
zero meets in 1996. It's about a team that
did not beat a single conference oppo-
nent in 1997.
It's about Michigan, and how it is in
the middle of an unprecedented turn
around - a--------------
change that Gymnstics
could leave the
Wolverines atop Commentary
the Big Ten next ----------------
season and have them competing for the
national title in the years to come.
After the Wolverines finished winless
in '96, coach Bob Darden was replaced
by former Iowa assistant Kurt Golder, a
member of Michigan's last Big Ten
championship team - in 1975.
In his first year, Golder turned
Michigan into the most improved team
in the NCAA. From the first meet of the
season to the last, the Wolverines bet-
tered their team score by 14 full points.
This year, Golder brought in top assis-
tant coach Mike Burns, who also worked
with the Iowa program.
In addition, Golder recruited a talent-
ed freshman class, including 1998 Big
Ten freshman of the year Kevin Roulston
and all-Big Ten member Justin Toman.
And if this year's freshmen are the

best in the Big Ten, then next year's class
should be the best in the nation.
Michigan recruits Scott Vetere, Daniel
Diaz-Luong, Josh Levin and Brad
Kenna have the potential to be the "Fab
Four" of college gymnastics next year.
"Everyone in the country is looking at
Michigan and saying 'Look what they
have done with their program,"' Ohio
State coach Miles Avery said Thursday
before the championships. "They have
certainly gone on to really improve this
league, and gymnastics as a whole, with-
in the NCAA."
But the question is: How? How could
a program that had been at the bottom of
the Big Ten barrel suddenly go out and
recruit the top guys across the nation?
The answer is Golder.
"He is really special," Michigan
sophomore LaLo Haro said. "He lives
for gymnastics. He knows what it's all
about, and he loves it."
Upon arriving at Michigan, Golder
convinced the athletic department to
reinstate the full allotment of gymnastics
scholarships, and his coaching style
began convincing would-be college gym-
nasts that Michigan was the place to be.
"I could tell he was really committed
to the program," Toman said.
Roulston, a fellow recruit, also was
impressed with Golder's institution.
"I wanted a program that would be
going up the ladder," Roulston said. "I
felt he was the guy who could take me

where I wanted to go. He's just a great
coach through and through."
Commitment to the program is one
aspect, but Golder is an equally talented
teacher. According to Michigan gym-
nasts, Golder is not only knowledgeable
and interactive, but also an excellent
communicator.
"He knows how to tell you the right
thing at the right time" Haro said. "I
really admire that."
As the original cornerstone for Golder
to build on, Haro will have to assume a
leadership role next year as the new (and
highly talented) freshman class learns
the ropes.
"I will keep in mind to hold the team
together," said Haro, who seems to like
the idea of added competition. "The
pressure is good because it makes you
work harder and it makes the team bet-
ter. You've got to be the example to-fol-
low."
As examples go, Michigan's will be
the one to follow next year and in the
years to come.
"If they stay healthy, they should -win
the Big Ten title next year and probably
be top three at nationals," Michigan
State coach Rick Atkinson said. "I real-
ly expect them to be the team of- the
2000s."
The 2000s? Maybe a little presumptu-
ous, but as long as Golder stays, expect
Michigan to at least be the team of the
next decade.

MALLORY S.E. FLOYD/Daily
Big Ten freshman of the year Kevin Roulston is part of this year's talented class.
Next season's recruiting class is considered to be the best in the nation.

Women's gymnastics humbled by
Gophers at Big Ten Championships

By Vaughn Kug
aily Sports Writer
Soaring virtually atop the nation with a
No. 2 ranking, the Michigan women's gym-
nastics team was brought back to the
ground this weekend when it finished sec-
ond in its own conference.
The Wolverines scored a road-record
194.9 on Saturday, but it was not enough for
-the team to bring its seventh consecutive
Big Ten title back to Ann Arbor.
It wasn't enough because Minnesota
queezed by the Wolverines with a team
score of 195.4 to claim the 1998 Big Ten
crown.
The meet was hosted by Iowa, at Carver-
Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
Penn State wound up capturing third
place, with a team score of 194.725, clearly
a close threat to Michigan.
Although the balance beam is usually
Michigan's worst event, the squad had the
right to feel optimistic about the beam fol-
owing its second-best performance of the
season against Massachusetts last Saturday.
However, it was on this thin apparatus
that the team lost sight of its hopes for a
Big Ten championship.
"We came out really nervous," sopho-
more Sarah Cain said. "The beam was our

first event, which made things worse. There
were three of us that missed the beam."
The team faired dramatically worse on
the beam than any other event, with a
47.675 - their only mark below 49.0.
After such a disappointing showing on
the balance beam, Michigan regrouped and
began heading in the only direction it could
up.
"The beam was my bad event," freshman
Bridget Knaeble said. "After that I came
back fighting for everything."
Redemption is exactly what Knaeble
accomplished.
Coming off a disappointing 9.175 on the
beam, she went on to set three consecutive
personal records.
Knaeble tied for first overall on the floor
exercise with a 9.875, followed by a 9.925
on the uneven bars and a 9.825 on the vault.
In the midst of disappointment, being
named to the all-Big Ten team brightened
Knaeble's weekend.
Accompanying her was her roommate
and fellow freshman Christine Mitered, and
sophomore Sarah Cain, who joined the
squad for her second straight year.
Juniors Nikki Peters and Lisa Cain both
earned all-conference honors for the third
consecutive season.

Peters wrapped up the meet with a bang.
She scored a perfect 10 on the uneven bars
in route to her third consecutive Big Ten
bars title.
Despite the Wolverines' disappointing
finish, they are still the No.1 seed at the
upcoming Central Regional Championships
in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on April 4, where they
will try to repeat last year's first-place fin-
ish.
Being seeded first is key, for it will allow
Michigan to choose the order of events.
This will be a big advantage because the
Wolverines can open the tournament with
their best event and ride the confidence a
strong first performance brings through the
competition.
The Wolverines hope they won't have to
rebound from a poor opening event, as was
the case this past weekend.
Michigan is not going to dwell on this
weekend's disappointing showing as it pre-
pares for regionals, where a strong showing
could propel the team to nationals.
"This happens to all good teams at one
point or another," Michigan coach Beverly
Plocki said. "We are not going to let it
bother us."
The NCAA Championships will be in
Los Angeles on April 16-18.

JOHN KRAFT/Daily
Heather Kabnick and her Michigan mates, despite a No. 2 national ranking, were unable to maintain
that standard this weekend at the Big Ten Championships. Michigan finished a close second to
Minnesota.

Em

.r..

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