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March 18, 1999 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-18

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 18, 1999 - 15At

Gymnasts not concerned by State

By Nita Srivastava
aily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's gymnastics
team heads into its final meet of the
regular season this weekend against
Michigan State. The competition will
take place in the Jenison Fieldhouse in
4 bansing at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Wolverines are coming off of
their season high score of 197.4 in last
weekend's meet against UCLA and
Rutgers. They also posted season highs
in the balance beam (49.200) and the
floor exercise (49.500).
"We hit six for six routines on the
balance beam last weekend, and that
builds our confidence immensely,"
junior co-captain Sarah Cain said.
"And the vault keeps getting better and
b ,r - the little things are all coming
together."
Michigan is presently focusing on
the details of its performance in com-
petition. According to senior Lisa
Simes and Cain, confidence has been
building throughout the season, and the

Wolverines are now looking to put
everything together in their last meet
and in the post season.
"Ultimately, we need to worry about
the things that we have control over,
and that is our own routines," Simes
said. "What we have been working on
is not just that we hit our routines, but
how well we hit them - when we hit,
our scores will show through."
The Wolverines have an advantage
entering the meet against Michigan
State as the Spartans are plagued with
a great deal of injuries and may not be
able to compile full lineups for all of
the events. Michigan is also ranked No.
6 and Michigan State is unranked.
The two teams have already compet-
ed once this season in the State of
Michigan Classic in February. It was
the seventh consecutive victory that the
Wolverines had over the Spartans.
"If we can do what we have been
working on in practice and in previous
meets, we should have another high
scoring meet this weekend," Cain said.

"But the scores that we get are com-
pletely dependent upon us - they
(Michigan State) may be having seri-
ous problems, but we need to focus on
what we are doing."
The pressure is, however, being felt
by the Wolverines as they enter into the
final stretch of their season, despite
their consistently strong performances.
Last year, Michigan lost the Big Ten
Championships, and while they made it
to NCAA's, they did not qualify for the
"Super 6."
According to Cain, Michigan is try-
ing to take each competition one at a
time and it is trying not to look too far
ahead into the future. After this week-
end's meet, the focus will be directed
towards regaining the Big Ten title.
"We know that we cannot afford to
make any mistakes,' Simes said. "As
long as we can relax, focus and keep
our momentum, we should be fine, and
we need to grab those extra tenths of
points that we are still letting slip
away."

DANA LINNANE/Di
The Michigan women's gymnastics team is riding the momen-
tur of a stellar performance last weekend as they wrap up
the regular season against Michigan State on Saturday.

Softball back in action after two-week layoff

By Dena Krischer
For The Daily
It's about 20 degrees outside, the
clouds do not appear to be friendly,
and it will probably start snowing at
any minute...
Scraped knees are being bandaged,
sore shoulders are being iced, heated,
then iced again, and weak ankles are
being wrapped...
It's a beautiful day for softball.
This time last year, Michigan's
softball team was rejoicing over an
18-3 start, opening what would soon
become its most successful season
yet.
The team finished with 56 wins and
seven losses, tying for fifth-place in
the NCAA Women's College World
Series, and taking second place
behind Arizona (67-4) in the NCAA
Softball Statistical Rankings.
This year, the team had a difficult
start, losing the first three games. .
"At first, we just weren't operating
on all cylinders," Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins said. "We just needed
to build confidence and momentum."
And they did. Since then, the
Wolverines have been playing
remarkably well.
The team sits at a non-conference
record of 15-5 after winning 10
straight, the last eight of which land-
ed the team first place in the
Speedline Classic Tournament in
Tampa, Fla. two weeks ago.
"Everything is really starting to
come together now," said senior co-

captain and first baseman Traci
Conrad. "We're starting to play like a
team, and it really showed in the last
tournament."
The team has been enjoying a two-
week hiatus, which will end this
upcoming weekend when it travels to
Sacramento, Calif. for the Capital
Classic. The Wolverines will play
against unranked teams Baylor,
Southern Illinois, and Portland State.
Michigan has one more tournament
the following weekend, the
Boilermaker Invitational in West
Lafayette, Ind., where it will again
face unranked teams Indiana State,
Loyola (Ill.), Bradley, and Central
Michigan.
The team will begin fighting for its
fifth straight Big Ten Conference
title, on April 3 in Columbus against
Ohio State.
The following week it will con-
clude a five-day road trip in West
Lafayette against Purdue, and will
return to Ann Arbor to host the
Minnesota Gophers in a double head-
er starting at 1 pm on Saturday, April
10 at Alumni Field.
Unfortunately, the team will be
playing without All-America and All-
Big Ten junior catcher, Melissa
"Skeeter" Gentile, due to recurring
back pains.
Last season, Gentile set Michigan
season (13) and career (19) home run
records, before having surgery in late
November on two herniated disks'in
her lower back.

Schedule

Au taes EST
tam~e games in CAP$

Runners ready
for freshar,
outdoor invlte
Women kick off season Friday
By Arun Gopal
Daily Sports Writer
Out with the in, and in with the out.
That's the mindset of the Michigan women's track and
field team. The Wolverines concluded the indoor portion
of their season at the NCAA Indoor Finals in
Indianapolis March 5 and 6, and after a two-week siesta,
the team will now begin the outdoor season at the Florida
State Invitational in Tallahassee this weekend.
As the first meet of the outdoor season, the Florida
State Invitational will give Michigan a chance to work
out some kinks from their extended layoff.
The meet will also be an opportunity for the team to
get reacclimated with running in natural conditions after
spending the winter months training and competing
exclusively on indoor surfaces.
"We're not looking for anything special this weekend,*
Michigan coach James Henry said. "We had a chance to
get rested during the break. We want to get some folks'
started in their events and see where they are at this
point.!
Henry said the Wolverines needed to work on getting
focused now that their successful indoor season, high-, a
lighted by a second consecutive Big Ten championships9
is behind them.
"We have to put the Big Ten indoor title on the shelf
and take our party hats off," Henry said. "The hangovei
from a good party is often the toughest thing for coach
es, so this meet will be about getting refocused."
The complete list of team that will attend the invita
tional has not yet been released. While Henry wasn't cern
tam of whom the opposition would be, he did have some 4
idea of what kind of teams he expected to see irr
Tallahassee.
"My assumption is that there will be a number of ;
northern schools who are coming down for a spring
break, similar to us," Henry said. "The Florida schools,'
such as Florida State and Florida International, are solid-
programs and will probably also be there."
Unlike the climate-controlled world that is the indoor
season, the outdoor season requires the athletes to adjust
on the fly to constantly changing weather conditions. Bu'i1
the coach did not feel that this would pose a major probe
lem for his team.
"These girls have been doing this their whole life, sdi
the change from indoors to outdoors really isn't that hard'
for them," Henry said. "For them, getting motivated
again after a solid indoor season and a two-week layoff'°
is the most difficult thing."
The trip to Tallahassee will be a welcome respite for"
the team after a long, cold winter in Ann Arbor and'
throughout the Midwest.
The team will enjoy the trip for more than just the -
warm Florida breeze, though.
"The indoor season is nice because we're all close
together inside the track building, so it's easier for the
team to cheer as a group for their teammates," Henry
said. "But I think our team prefers the outdoor season.,'
Outdoors is more natural. You get the fresh air, and".
you're more free without the constraints of a building."
The Florida State Invitational runs all day Friday and- q
Saturday.

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Gentile was ranked in four national
statistical categories: 12th in slugging
percentage (.768), 14th in home runs
(0.22 per game), 20th in runs batted
in (0.98 per game), and 41st in batting
average (.409).
Although the team will be missing
the powerful offense of Gentile, this
untimely loss is the least of its wor-
ries.
"There's no use focusing on some-
thing we can't control," Conrad said.
Despite the absence of its would-be
starting catcher, Michigan has one of
the toughest infields in the country
with only one rookie, freshman sec-
ond baseman Kelsey Kollen.
The outfield is just as strong.
Senior left-fielder and team batting
average leader Catherine Davie (.373)
and senior co-captain and All-Big Ten
right-fielder Tammy Mika.
"We won the Big Ten last year, and
we have all the talent to do it again,"
Conrad said. "It just depends on
whether we put it all together at the
right times."

FILE PHOTO
Pam Kosanke and the rest of the Michigan softball team
returns to action this weekend after a two-week break when
thevtavel to the Capital Classic in Sacramento. Calif.

a. ____________
is>'

Crew could be frozen out of upcoming meet..

By Emily Achenbaum
Daily Sports Writer
"Relentless pursuit."
The motto of the women's rowing
team sends a clear message: hard
work and determination will enable
it to get past any obstacle.
Unless, of course, that obstacle
happens to be some big ol' chunks of
ice.
The site of this weekend's season-
opening meet at Michigan State is
currently covered with a sheet of ice
- and it's going to take more than a
heated school rivalry to melt it in
time for Saturday's regatta.
"We're hoping that this warm
weather will help - we won't really
know until Friday if there will be a
race - we might end up doing some
shorter scrimmages if we can't have
an official meet," said coach Mark
Rothstein.
Maybe the Spartans should cross

their fingers and hope their lake
stays frozen, or they might find
themselves in hot water.
After all, the Wolverines finished
fifth in the nation
last year and were
ranked an impres- -Is a
sive third in the
United States' ram. (
Rowing Preseason for nai
Collegiate Coaches'
Polls. l n 't
In that poll, the
Wolverines finished
behind established
rowing powerhouses
Washington and
Virginia.
Not too shabby for a team that
received official varsity status just
three years ago and spent the past
winter practicing on ergometers in
Michigan Stadium's unheated visi-
tors' locker room.

The team has been preparing for
its season opener since last fall.
During a rigorous spring break in
the Tampa Bay Channels, the

n early
Qualifying
fionals is a
fme away."
- Mark Rothstein
Michigan crew coach

Wolverines
recorded
times that
w e r e
"faster than
e v er
b e fo r e,"
said co-
captain
Michelle
Wolbit.
T h e

strength and speed, which tends tq
be helpful in rowing.
During their first year as a varsit .
team, the Spartans sent a boat t
nationals that finished ninth.
Receiving varsity status only onie
year after Michigan, the Spartans
and the Wolverines both have young
teams - yet they demonstrate,
impressive maturity and depth il,
their rowing.
Still "it's an early race - qualify
ing for nationals is a long time
away," said Rothstein.
Not that he tries to downplay the
importance of the meet between the
state rivals, especially when thic
Wolverines and Spartans are suc
up-and-coming forces in the actu
sport itself.
"Anytime you race Michig
State, it's important," Rothstein sai
"We want to establish ourselves
the top program in the state."

t e a m ' s
drive, work ethic and sheer grit have
earned them status as formidable
competitors on the national scene.
But don't expect that to scare
Michigan State.
The Spartans aren't wimps - they
are known best for their physical

t PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Unless the ice that covers the site of their Saturday meet melts soon, the
Michigan crew could face a problem of Titanic proportions if it attempts to navi-
gatethe icy waters.

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