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February 01, 1999 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-01

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February 1, 1999 - SportsMonday- The Michigan DailyB

'M' women gymnasts
top No. 22 Ohio State
Cain wins all-around in double-dual meet

By Stephen A. Rom
For the Daily
Two words that immediately jump
out of the weekend's women's gym-
nastics meet are strong and deter-
mined.
When you consider Michigan's
relatively uncontested ousting of No.
22 Ohio State and unranked Rhode
Island, you too, might be hard-
pressed to find a more accurate pair
of adjectives to describe the
Wolverines' per.. -mance.
"I'm very proui," head coach Bev
Plocki said. And although she used
those words to describe the individ-
ual performance of Saturday's all-
around winner Sarah Cain, she could
have been referring to the entire
team.
Michigan won all four events to
handily take the meet, 195.325-
191.700 over Ohio State. Rhode
Island scored 187.200 to come in
third, well out of the race.
Michigan's only real challenge
came when Ohio State closed to
within two points going into the
final event.
It seemed as though this was
attributed more to a Michigan let-
down on the balance beam, than any
Ohio State rally. Plocki said her
team's performance on the beam that
evening was "not stellar," and had
lots of "room for improvement."
But the Wolverines' dominance on
the vault - their opening exercise
- allowed them some room to slip a

bit on the beam.
"This is our strongest event. We
hope it serves as a momentum
builder that will carry throughout
the competition," Plocki said.
This momentum took the team
about as far as it could before they
needed to tap another strength to
help seal the victory.
In the highlight of the evening, the
women had the crowd virtually eat-
ing out of their hands.
From Lisa Simes' opening routine
through sophomore Karina Senior's
performance, the crowd stood and
clapped, repsonding to the Wolverines'
slightest gesture.
And from the way the Rhode Island
athletes were sneaking peaks at
Michigan's floor performance, it
looked like they had the respect of
their peers, as well as the fans.
"The floor can be our best event..
And as long as you go in with confi-
dence, you can let loose' Plocki said.
Unlike most events, which require
sharp, focus "the floor gives you a
chance to live it up," Simes said.
From all the cheering that was
going on in the arena, she wasn't the
only one that was living it up.
Whether it was Simes leading the
cheers on the floor, Kathy Burke's
confident smile on the beam or
Bridget Knaeble's exclamation-point
landing on her uneven bars routine,
the Wolverines were a well-oiled
machine. One that was running on
all four cylinders - and events.

NATHAN RUFFER/Daily
The Michigan men's gymnastics team was unable to continue its recent hot
sneak, losing to Ohio State, 228.325.227.550. Michigan coach Kurt Golder
lopes his squad can gain something from the loss.
Men's gymnastics

JitIs short
-y Dan Dingerson
a9 Sports Writer
A strong finish is critical to an ath-
Yete's success. An uninspiring finish can
6 en erase what has been a great perfor-
_'ance up to that point, while a spectac-
ular finish can turn an average perfor-
mance into a winning one.
On Friday, against Ohio State and
'inois, the Michigan men's gymnastics
am may have learned just how impor-
_anta strong finish is.
'iTie Wolverines entered this week-
end's meet ranked second coming off a
strong performance against Illinois-
.,Chicago.
For Michigan, it didn't come out quite
as perfectly as it did the week before.
Ohio State's performance on the
-vault, combined with the Wolverines'
mistakes on the high bar, was enouh for
.1~ Buckeyes to win the meet, 228.325-
227.550. Illinois finished third with a
score of 222.950.
Michigan started with the floor exer-
cise where LaLo Haro led the way with
a 9.6, earning him second. Only Jamie
Natalie from Ohio State was able to beat
his score, with a 9.7
The Wolverines' second rotation
placed them on the pommel horse, an
's ent they dominated, taking four of the
p'five spots in the event. Freshman
Josh Levin took first on the apparatus
with a score of 9.8. Justin Toman placed
aiand with a 9.7.
The third rotation saw Kenny Keener
take first on the still rings with a 9.7,
ahead of Ohio State's Rahsaan William
and Tim Elsner's pair of 9.55s.
Halfway through the meet, Michigan
had more than a one-point lead on Ohio
State, while Illinois had already fell out
f contention, more than four points
hind.
The Fighting Illini, ranked seventh,
aPer finishing third in the nation last
year, are one of the strongest teams in
the country.
They didn't show it Friday. On the
pommel horse, five of Illinois' six
gymnasts fell off of the apparatus, with
two falling more than once. The Illini
had~falls in other events, and their con-
dnce seemed shaken.
With Illinois having an off day, the
between Ohio State and the Wolveines.
Going into the last event of the evening,
Michigan had a lead of almost six-tenths
of a point.
"All we had to do was hit out, hit all of
our routines on the high bar. We had a
'couple of mistakes;" Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "in the meantime,
they were on vault. They nailed all of
eir vaults When you make mistakes,
you end up losing."
Despite the loss, Michigan was not
too' disappointed with its performance.
Because the rankings are based on top
' scores for teams, the Wolverines' loss to
- Ohio State will not drop them unless

of Bucks
another team was able to score higher
than Michigan's high score.
Golder was more concerned with his
team's performance rather than the com-
petition between the teams.
"Performance is the main thing.
Whether we win or lose is secondary
until we get right into the championship
competitions, and then there is no
tomorrow" Golder said.
"By losing to them it's a good oppor-
tunity to dig a little deeper and examine
what we are doing in training. A lot can
be gained from it."
Ohio State's dominating performance
in the vault gave them four of the top
five spots, led by Doug Stibel with a 9.8,
and Natalie and Daren Lynch with
9.65s.
The Wolverines' brightest light in the
meet,Toman, won the parrallel bars with
a 9.825 over Stibel, who had a 9.725.
Michigan's weakest event, the high
bar, was won by Natalie, who edged
Illinois' national champion Travis
Romagnoli 9.750-9.675.
Stibel and Natalie used their consis-
tent performances to take first and sec-
ond in the all-around competition.
respectively. Stibel's 57.125 is the high-
est score this year in the all-around.
Michigan was led by LaLo Haro, who
finished fourth.
Daniel Diaz-Luong, Michigan's
freshman leader, was only able to finish
sixth amongst the nine all-around com-
petitors. Diaz-Luong had taken the all-
around national lead with his strong per-
formance against Illinois-Chicago, but
this week, had to endure his worst per-
formance as a Wolverine.
Altogether the team was not that wor-
ried about the loss to Ohio State.
"I don't think that it's very disappoint-
ing. It was just another competition, and
our team is still ranked No. 2," Diaz-
Luong said. "We're going to be there
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