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April 20, 1999 - Image 23

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-20

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Tuesday, April 20, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - 23
CONTENDING FOR THE TRIPLE CROWN
BY STEPHEN A. ROM u DaY SPORTS WRITER

is weekend, Michigan senior
Nikki Peters will have the opportu-
nity to attain the individual Triple
Crown on the uneven bars when the
Wolverines travel to Salt Lake City to
compete in the NCAA Championships.
The Triple Crown is the moniker
given to a team or individual who wins
the conference, NCAA Regional and
NCAA titles.
In addition to Peters, the entire team
also has the same opportunity -
they've already locked up the Big Ten
and regional titles, too.
As rewarding as it would be to win
e uneven bars championship, Peters
doesn't seem at all concerned about
achieving individual accolades. Her true
hopes lie with her team, and its quest to
win a national championship.

"To finally show that the women's
teams are fighting just as hard as the
men's teams are would be a great
accomplishment," Peters said. "It might
be one of the greatest feelings in the
world."
And that's saying a lot, considering
Peters has had many great feelings in
her life. She has received nine perfect
10's in all four events throughout her
career - most recently on the uneven
bars at the Big Ten Championships.
But Peters has to look back four years
to remember her first true Michigan
memory.
Michigan coach Bev Plocki traveled
to visit Peters in her hometown of
Willingboro, N.J. to offer her Michigan's
last gymnastics scholarship for 1996.
Peters' ensuing 48-hour visit to Ann

Arbor to meet the team and observe the
facilities is what locked up the decision
for Peters. Originally, the Willingboro
High School standout was recruited to
Oregon State, but opted to stay closer to

During her four years as a Michigan
gymnast, Peters has compiled a list of
accolades as long as any other top gym-
nast in the country.
And with only one meet remaining in
her illustrious
career, she is

home, and
be part of
t h e
Michigan
tradition -
and family.
T h i s
family
affair is
what really
inspired

'at might be one of the
greatest feeling's in
the world. "
--- Nikki Peters,
on winning a national championship

keeping remark-
ably calm, under
the circum-
stances.
"I'm not ner-
vous," Peters said
on Sunday after-
noon as she
relaxed in a local

Peters to make Ann Arbor her home for
more than four years.
"I like being part of a team. In club
(gymnastics) I traveled by myself,"
Peters said. "Everyone here is treated
with respect and as a member of the
family."
Peters has competed in club gymnas-
tics ever the age of five. It was actually
her club coach who got Nikki the oppor-
tunity to compete at Michigan.
"It was an out-of-the-blue kind of
thing," Peters said. "My coach knew that
Bev had another scholarship. She got a
hold of her."
And it was a match made in heaven.
This gave Peters the opportunity to
compete in one of the best programs,
and for one of the best coaches, in the
country.
In addition, Peters has managed to
take advantage of the academics that a
top-ranked academic school like
Michigan has to nffC-.r
In 1996 she received the University's
athletic academic achievement award.
Currently, Peters is enrolled in the
Division of Kinesiology and will walk
in this spring's graduation commence-
ment ceremony at Michigan Stadium.
From there, she hopes to earn a spot
in a veterinary school, for which she is
currently filling out applications.

coffee shop. "Come Thursday morning,
I will be though."
On that day, Michigan will begin day
one of a two-day competition that will
hopefully earn the women their first
National Championship and conse-
quently their first Triple Crown ever.
But in order to make that happen,
Peters and the rest of her team will have
to deal with what will perhaps be the
most pressure they have faced all sea-
son, if not ever.
When asked how she is going to deal
with an amount of anxiety that could
bring the strongest to their knees, Peters
reverts back to what Plocki has routine-
ly instructed her to do through out her
career.
"We try to minimize the pressure. We
have to perform within ourselves,"
Peters said. "The pressure comes from
you."t
And will the thousands of fans that
are going to be cheerino nt of their
minds for the other 11 teams at this
year's competition play a role in the anx-
iety?
"That's the fun part. It wouldn't be a
meet without the fans," she said.
And there wouldn't be any fans if it
weren't for the joy and amazement
brought to them by athletes like Nikki
Peters.

DANA LINNANE/Daily
This is the pose that Nikki Peters and the Michigan women's gymnastics team
, p to take when they compete in the NCAA Championships this weekend.

NCAAs last stop on
women's wild ride

JEREMY MENCHIK/ DAILY
Already on her way to one of the most impressive seasons in Michigan women's
gymnastics history, next weekend Nikki Peters will try to accomplish something
few gymasts have ever done - notch a triple crown.
SUMMER EMPLOYMENT
METROPARKS/HAVE OVER 500 JOBS AVAILABLE
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NCAAS
Continued from Page 21
following week. This time against the
1997 national champion UCLA Bruins.
No. 15 UCLA is one of the 11 other

been competing as of late, Plocki is far
from complacent.
She realizes that the competition in
Utah will be far more fierce than that
which her team ran into at the Big Ten
or Regional championships.

schools that finished in

the top two

pIaces at its respective
regions to earn a ticket THIS Wj
to compete in the nation-
*ls. Who:.
One team that perhaps Women's g
could have been consid- at NCAA
ered a lock to make it a~AT
this far is No. 1 Georgia, Where:
which the Wolverines Salt Lake C
faced twice this season. When: B
Michigan lost both 8p.m. on Fr
meets, however, but by Notable:
only a combined 3.625
points. soaks to wi
The Lady Bulldogs women s N
are last years national champions
champions and will no
doubt be looking to put
the bite on any who try to lay claim to
their title.
Rounding off the top six - and thus
the favorites to advance past the prelim-
inary round of competition on
Thursday, to the "Super 6" on Friday -
are No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Utah, No. 5
LSU and No. 6 Penn State.
The Wolverines have a combined 16-
16 record against those schools -
including Georgia - and hope to push
that mark above .500 come this week-
end.
Regardless of how well Michigan has

"They al
EEKEND
ymnastics
ournament
ity
eginning
riday
Michigan
in the first
ICAA team
'hip.

1 are going to put pressure
on us to have to win. The
only difference is there
will be 12 teams in Utah
instead of six," Plocki
said. "But you can't get
caught up in that. You
have to focus on your own
performance."
Senior Lisa Simes has
additional thoughts on
what has to be done to
beat top-caliber programs
like Georgia and
Alabama, as well as the
home favorite Utah.
"We need to become
perfectionists and think
about every detail,"Simes

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said.
Michigan's journey to Salt Lake City
for the postseason meet will be its first
since the 1994 NCAA Championships
were held there.
That season the Wolverines finished
fourth in what had only been
Michigan's third trip to the finals under
Plocki.
Now, five years later, she has four
more trips to the championships under
her belt and hopes that experience will
help her team secure the honor that. has
eluded Michigan throughout its history.

JEREMY MENCHIK/Daily
Beth Amelkovich and the Michigan women's gymnastics team have made it to
NCAA competition for the fifth straight season, but haven't won a national champi-
onship In that period.

a .

TUESDAY
SPECIAL
Wing It! At

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management team who has made it
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Lindsay ger
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Finance .angt.rik
mA9Ast finance Manager

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