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January 19, 1999 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-19

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January 19, 1999 - SportsTuesday - The Michigan Daily - 3B

Gymnasts drop third straight to Minnesota


By Vaughn R. Klug
Daily Sports Writer
It's hard to beat a team a third straight
time, the saying goes. Well, it certainly
was "hard," but No. 7 Minnesota dealt
the No. 5 Michigan women's gymnastic
team its third loss in the past three meet-
ings on Friday.
Clearly distraught, Michigan coach
Bev Plocki had a difficult time reconcil-
ing her squad's 193.550-193.050 loss to
the Golden Gophers.
"I am convinced that we are a far
superior team," Plocki boasted. "But
against Minnesota we always seem to lay
an egg."
The Wolverines began Friday's home
opener in winning style by achieving a
season-high 48.900 on the vault.
"Vaulting has always been one of our
strongest events here at Michigan,"
Plocki said. "We have some very power-
ful vaulters and have done very well in
that event in each of our first two
Tri-captain Sarah Cain has proven
herself to be the Wolverines' most talent-
ed vaulter by securing a first-place finish
in each meet this season. Finishing just a
notch below Cain's 9.875 was sopho-
more standout Chrissy Michaud, whose
mark of 9.825 earned her second place.
After two events, the Wolverines
seemed to be well on their way to victo-
ry. Michigan gymnasts won the four top
spots on the uneven bars, en route to a

season score of 49.325. Senior Nikki
Peters was the Wolverines' top per-
former on the bars, earning her second
consecutive first-place finish.
Entering the fourth and final event,
however, a poor showing oa the balance
beam coupled with Minnesota's relative
success on the floor yielded the Golden
Gophers a narrow edge of just .025
With the Wolverines' destiny hinging
on the floor exercise, Michigan's Lisa
Simes stepped up to hoping to set a good
precedent for her teammates to follow.
Yet near the end of an otherwise flaw-
less routine, Simes stumbled and seemed
to take Michigan's hopes down with her.
Cain and Bridget Knaeble suffered
similar fates, and as they both fell to the
mat it became clear, even before the
final scores were announced, that
Minnesota would prevail.
"Our problem on the floor seemed to
be nervousness," Cain explained. "No
matter how much you practice your rou-
tine, mistakes can happen when the pres-
sure is on.
Despite Plocki's understanding that
there is "some investigating to do" with-
in the Michigan squad, she views the
loss as somewhat constructive.
"I hope that this will make us realize
that we are just as capable of falling as
we are hitting a routine," Plocki said.
"Sometimes losses are the best motiva-
tors a team can have."

Although Michigan senior Kathy Burke doesn't show it here, the Wolverines fal-
tered In their final chance In the floor exercise to defeat Minnesota.

Men's gymnastics takes third at Windy City

By Dan Dingerson
Daily Sports Writer
Freshmen athletes aren't expected
to lead their team in their first com-
petitive event. But for the
Michigan's men's gymnastics team,
two freshmen took the lead this
The team opened its regular sea-
on Saturday in the Windy City
Open, held in Chicago. Like
Chicago's famous wind, the compe-
tition was expected to be stiff.
Included in the field of seven were
No. I Iowa and No. 3 Ohio State. All
of the seven teams competing were
ranked, and all but the host school,
Illinois-Chicago, are Big Ten oppo-
The Wolverines fell in the middle
f the pack - at least in terms of
ank, entering the meet ninth nation-
ally. Three opponents were ranked
ahead of Michigan, and three were
ranked behind them.
The Wolverines overachieved just
a bit by placing third. They placed
ahead of No. 6 Illinois, but were not
able to overtake either Iowa or Ohio
The result was particularly
mpressive, considering the plague
of injuries that has haunted the
Michigan gymnasts so early in the
Entering the meet, Michigan knew
that it was missing three gymnasts
- Jesse Coleman, out with a shoul-
der injury; Tim Dehr, sidelined with
ar.oken ankle; and Brad Kenna,
with a broken hand.
At the meet, the Wolverines lost
two more members. Justin Toman
~as injured during warmups, and
evin Roulston was hurt in his sec-
ond event.
"We can't field a full squad,"
Michigan coach Kurt Golder said.
"We're allowed to compete 12,
because of injury we have 10, a pos-
sible 11."
The situation required everyone to
raise their performance to a higher
level. Unusually, two freshmen took
'#he lead.
Freshmen Daniel Diaz-Luong and
MScott Vetere were able to help the
Wolverines to their third-place fin-
ish. Competing in their first compet-
itive meet, they were a pleasant sur-
prise for the Wolverines.
Diaz-Luong finished fifth in the
all-around competition, highlighted
by his fifth-place finish on the pom-
mel horse. Vetere finished sixth all-
around, only .2 points behind his

teammate. His highest finish was
second on the parallel bars.
Despite the success of the fresh-
men, they were not as consistent as
Golder would have liked.
"I always like to pick out one per-
son for performance of the day, and I
would say it went to Josh Levin,"
Golder said. "He turned in the stead-
iest performance. Had Scott and
Daniel performed as consistently as
Josh did, he'd have won. Or if our
whole team had performed like Josh,
as a team we would have won."
The problem of consistency was
highlighted by LaLo Haro. He fin-
ished second in the vault, and third
on parallel bars, but poor perfor-
mances on the pommel horse and the
horizontal bar kept him behind the
all-around leaders.
The Wolverines hung close to two
of the top teams in the country
despite lacking athletes and consis-
"In football terms - everyone
seems to understand that," Golder
said. "We lost by one touchdown to
Iowa; Ohio State, we lost to by a
field goal," Golder said.
Golder's team should be able to
gain a lot from the meet that it can
use in its next meet this Saturday
against Illinois-Chicago.
"These guys have learned for
themselves, firsthand, that they can
do it. Up to this point it's been hear-
ing upperclassmen or coaches talk
about what we can do. Now they
should know."

Guns z)zside NUBS? Join?
the M hikcrn n4 ta
l npe tea
T wo quick pieces of information you may not have known: 1) Michigan
has a rifle team, and 2) The team practices inside the NUBS computer
center. Those two tidbits, combined, give rise to a potentially horrifying
scene. Picture this: A confused freshman, looking for a quiet place to finish
up that organic chemistry homework, makes a wrong turn and stumbles
instead into a full-blown round of target ammo.
Actually, thanks to several signs and security doors, it could never happen, says
Paul Moore, junior captain of the Michigan rifle team.
"The University gets a little finicky when you start bringing firearms into its
buildings, Moore says.
Imagine that.
At least 20 other Michigan students - the other riflemen and women that make
up the team's roster - are aware of the other, less popular use for the Hill-area
computer center affectionately known as NUBS. They practice there once a week,
shooting rounds of 22-caliber rifle target ammunition at a stationary target com-
prised of 12 bullseyes.
Tournaments - in which Michigan's team competes mostly against other col-
leges from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana - use a similar format. Two of the targets
are for practice. The other 10 are used for scoring, and competitors take one shot at
each target. A perfect bullseye is worth 10 points. A total miss gets zero.
But that's not all. Most tournaments tally scores from a total of each of three
categories: a prone category, in which competitors actually lie on their stomachs
and shoot away; an offhand, or standing, category, which is generally the most dif-
ficult of the three since it requires the best balance and provides the least stability;
and a kneeling category, which is pretty self-explanatory, Moore says, "but not the
most comfortable."
If all of this conjures up images of little blond Ralphie from A Christmas Story,
getting off hip shots with his Red Rider BB gun, you're probably not alone. But
nowadays, thanks to an increased recruiting effort and an advertising push,
Michigan's team members are more and more plentiful - and well past the "You'll
shoot your eye out" stage.
When Moore joined the group as a freshman, he was one of eight team mem-
bers. In his own words, the team was "very small, very unofficial." Since then, the
team has approximately tripled in size. It's registered as an official club sport. And
this past fall, more than 60 new people showed up for tryouts.
Moore and assistant captain Neil McNeight, along with coaches Donald
Shankland and Amy Dennis, handle most of the team's administrative duties.
Moore, in fact, says his shooting has actually gotten worse since becoming the cap-
tain - the result of "more paperwork, and less practice, he says.
So how exactly was Moore chosen as captain?
"I think there were some straws that were drawn,' he says.
That may be the case, but the statistics say he's consistently the team's high
scorer. If you check the team's web page (http://wwwumich.edu/~rifle/index.html),
that much is apparent. And really, it's no big surprise, since he's been shooting
competitively since he was in eighth grade. In fact, his junior rifle team, based in
Livonia, Mich., won a national championship while he was in high school.
Because Moore knew Shankland before he even attended Michigan, he knew
about the rifle team. Most students don't have the same connections - which
makes the recent publicity push all the more important, Moore says.
"I don't think it's that interest has increased all that much, really," Moore says.
"It's the awareness that's increased.
But this isn't all just a recent phenomenon. It turns out that Michigan has actu-
ally had some kind of rifle team since at least the 1920s.
"We know we have awards from the early '20s," Moore says. "But we're pretty
sure we were around even earlier than that."
Now, the team raises money - as do many University club teams and student
organizations - by cleaning up after other school events. Sometimes it's the
Crisler Arena parking lot after a football game, other times it's Cliff Keen Arena
after a gymnastics meet.
But enough of this fundraiser business. Let's get to the point: Can we expect to
see Moore, or any of his teammates, for that matter, in the Olympics someday?
"Ha! I don't think so," Moore laughs. "This is just for fun."
That's good. Just make sure those signs are posted at the entrance to NUBS
the computers are downstairs.
- Jim Rose can be reached via e-mail atjwrose@umich.edu.

The Michigan men's gymnastics team took third at the Windy Clty Invitational, but
might have fared better if not for inconsistency and injuries.





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