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April 12, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Men on to finals ...' >.
after drought
By Dan Dingerson
Daily Sports Writer
CHAMPAIGN -- It's been a long time. In fact, 25 years have '
passed since Michigan sent its men's gymnastics team to the
KNCAA Championships.. "' ..
Saturday night, the Wolverines broke that streak.
The top-ranked Wolverines entered Huff Hall in an unusual ~
position. They were Big Tenschampions for the first time in a
generation, and they were the favorites to win the East Regional.
In sharp contrast, last year, Michigan finished sixth in the Big L
Ten, barely qualifying for regional competition. In the NCAA ,
Regional that season, the team finished fifth, more than 3.5
points behind the top score, and almost two points behind third
To qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held
April 22-24 in Lincoln, Neb., Michigan needed only to finish in
the top three in the East region. Finishing that high seemed likef
a lock for the reigning Big Ten champions and the top-ranked
team in the country.
But it wasn't that simple. Facing the Wolverines in the East
Regional were the top teams in the country. Six of the next eight
spots in the national rankings were occupied by teams who
competed here, including the top four.
Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan have all beaten
each other this year, and have all moved around each other in the
rankings. All four teams had a legitimate chance to win the East
regional, and could've won a national championship. One
would have to be eliminated, though.
Michigan drew Olympic order for last year's meet, and
because of the team's ranking it got to choose where it wanted
to start. Michigan coach Kurt Golder chose to begin on the floor
exercise - the part of the rotation that the team has had success DANA LINNANE/DaIy
with all year. TOP: Lisa Simes and the Michigan women's gymnastics team took the NCAA Region iI Championship this weekend. ABOVE: Josh Levin per-
See GYMNASTICS, Page 6B forms on the pommel horse as the men's team secured its first NCAA Championships appearance since 1975.
Women one step away from NCAA triple crown

at home
By Stephanie Offen
Daily Sports Writer
All personal records aside, the
Michigan softball team's weekend series
shutout of Minnesota was a team effort.
On Saturday, Traci Conrad set a Big
Ten record for hits and yesterday
Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins
captured her 600th victory.
But it was the team which extended
its unbeaten streak to 31 games, taking
three straight from Minnesota.
Yesterday, Michigan provided the
faithful fans who sat through a constant
drizzle at Alumni Field with a convinc-
ing 6-3 victory, but not without giving
them a scare.
The Wolverines gave up seven hits,
and that, added to infield errors, left
Minnesota with many scoring opportu-
But Michigan was able to hold the
Gophers off, because Minnesota strand-
ed 14 runners on base.
Minnesota began the game by loading
the bases. A hit, a walk and an infield
error left the Gophers threatening to
score with no outs.
But pitcher Kate Eiland retired the
next two batters before Minnesota third-
baseman Michelle Bennett knocked in a
runner, scoring one before the
Wolverines came up to bat.
And Michigan responded. With run-
ners on first and second, Michigan third-
baseman Pam Kosanke singled to cen-
ter, sending both runners home.
Eiland was able to hold the Gophers
scoreless through the next two innings.
But with the bases loaded in the fourth,
Eiland was replaced by Marie Barda, a
pitcher with more speed and power.
"I felt that Kate pitched well but we
weren't getting it done behind her,:
thiree to
By Chris Grandstaff
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan baseball team
walked off of a rain-soaked Fisher
Field yesterday with thoughts of what
could have been. To add insult to
injury, it also endured the excessive
celebratory cheers coming from the
Ohio State dugout as they made their
way through the crowd to the locker-
room. The Buckeyes took three of
four games from the Wolverines this
weekend and now sit atop the Big
Ten standings, tied with Minnesota.
Ohio State (7-1 Big Ten, 22-7 over-
all) took the first two games 7-4, and
13-6 respectively before Michigan

(6-6, 18-16) stormed back for a 7-4
victory of their own. The Buckeyes
took the final game of the series, 13-
"I told our kids afterward to keep
their heads up and to keep battling,"
Michigan coach Geoff Zahn said.
Michigan and Ohio State started
the series with a three-game, 21-
inning marathon on Saturday,
because Friday's series opener was
delayed until Saturday morning after
two innings of scoreless baseball
were postponed because of rain.
When they resumed play on
Saturday, the two teams played to a
virtual standoff until the ninth.
Buckeyes' catcher Tom Durant then
keyed a three-run fifth inning for the
Buckeyes with a two-out, two-run
homer to put Ohio State up 3-0.
Michigan's own man behind the
plate, David Parrish, got the
Wolverines back on track in the sev-
enth with a two-run single which,
combined with an RBI single by
Rnhhv Scales tied the name at three.

By Vaughn R. Klug
Daily Sports Writer
LINCOLN, Neb. - If Michigan.women's
gymnastics coach Bev Plocki could have
scripted her squad's performance prior to
Saturday's Region III Championship, her draft
would have correlated well with the results
delivered by the top-seeded Wolverines.
Dominating the competition before 2,314
fans at the Bob Devaney Center Saturday
night, Michigan won two of four events en
route to a first-place finish, which earns the
Wolverines their fifth consecutive trip to the
NCAA Championships.
The Wolverines bettered second-place fin-
isher and host Nebraska by a margin of
196.750 to 196.375 points and in doing so
ended the Cornhuskers 26-home meet win-
"We are peaking exactly when we need to
peak," Plocki said. "This is the best time to be.
at our best because the competition at nation-
als is going to be at an elite level.",
A crucial element of Michigan's confi-

dence is the contributions of junior standout
Sarah Cain and senior Lisa Simes.
The talented duo finished in first and sec-
ond-place, respectively, in the all-around
competition with scores of 39.525 and
This marks Cain's seventh all-around victo-
ry of the season, while Simes' strong showing
complemented her all-around conference title.
"It was fun and very satisfying to be able to
compete well in front of friends and family,"
Cain said. "I am especially happy to be part of
the team that came away with the title."
Much to their dismay, the Wolverines
opened competition on their weakest event -
the balance beam.
Despite a tainted past on the apparatus,
Michigan performed as the fourth-ranked
team in the nation should - well.
"Our success on the beam was followed by
a big sigh of relief," Plocki said. "It relaxed,
the team because we knew that we could go
out and hit our next three events."

The Wolverines' beam performance was
propelled by freshnan Shannon MacKenzie's
score of 9.850, which tied her career high and
contributed to an impressive team score of
49.025, the Wolverines' third-highest score of
the season.
Michigan then moved onto the floor exer-
cise where it validated its No. 2 ranking when
Sarah Cain paced the Wolverines first-place
team score of 196.750.
The Wolverines' consistency stems from
the team's ability to "do what (they) do at
practice, have fun and enjoy the event,"
sophomore Bridget Knaeble said.
Michigan pulled away from the competition
on the vault as Cain and Simes rose to the
occasion and notched a second-place tie with
scores of 9.900.
"I just focused on sticking my landing and
things worked out," Cain said.
Finishing with the identical rotation they
faced at the Big Ten Championship two weeks
before, Nikki Peters cemented the

Wolverines' lead with a first-place score of
Peters' effort marked her sixth win of the
season, including a clutch 10.0 performance
that led to a Big Ten title.
Peters and the Wolverines both have a
chance for the most coveted set of accom-
plishments in gymnastics when they travel to
Salt Lake City on April 22-24 to compete for
the national championship and the triple
The triple crown is gymnastics jargon
denoting a team, or individual athlete in
Peters' case, which is capable of finishing
first at the conference, regional, and national
championship level.
In the coming two weeks before NCAAs,
the Wolverines realize that they need to work
on becoming perfectionists.
They will hold normal practices until next
Tuesday, at which point they will fly to Salt
Lake City and focus on "dotting all their 'Is'
and crossing all their 'Ts,' Plocki said.

Boilers spol Boylan's senior day

By Dan WHIams
Daily Sports Writer
Thanks to the rainy weather, the Michigan
women's tennis team returned to the cozy con-
fines of the Varsity Tennis Center's indoor courts
yesterday. But the warmth of an indoor court
wasn't enough to slow down a hot Purdue team.
Yesterday's match provided a sharp contrast to
Saturday's 4-3 loss to Indiana in which the cold
wind and sun overhead resulted in a lower spec-
tator count and conservative play against the
Hoosiers (3-2 Big Ten, 8-9 overall).
Against Purdue (3-3, 7-11) a large collection
of fans showed up to cheer on the Wolverines (3-
4,4-13) on Jen Boylan's senior day. Boylan won
both her singles match (6-0, 2-6, 7-5) and her
doubles match with her partner, senior Danielle
Lund (8-4), but it wasn't enough to prevent the
Boilermaker's 4-3 victory.
After a disappointing straight-set loss to
Indiana, Boylan wouldn't be denied in the first
set of yesterday's match at No. 4 singles. But her
opponent, Purdue freshman Missy Wright, cut
d.,«- - U- frl ur--- ..A tn mc a r

managed a break in the 1Ith game, and then hit
a perfect dropshot to set up match point. An
errant forehand by Wright secured a Boylan vic-
tory in her last home meet.
"Jen just played inspired tennis today,"
Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said. "She really
turned her play around from yesterday."
But the play of Purdue's No. I player, Jen
Embry, kept Michigan from breaking their five
dual match losing streak. Embry, perhaps the
best Big Ten player to visit the Tennis Center this
year, won in both singles and doubles to assure
Purdue's victory.
In No. I doubles, Embry overshadowed the
steady play of Wright, her partner, with electri-
fying winners that got the crowd into the match.
Embry and Wright beat junior Brook Hart and
freshman Jen Vaughn, 8-3.
"Jen (Embry) has an aggressive style of play,"
Ritt said. "Her ability to play the net keeps her
opponents on their toes."
In singles, though she lost, Lund appeared
comfortable in the hard-hitting match with
- P.r AI.fal ,ali nh id b +cct i n A hevn

ing out victorious.
"Against Indiana, the weather conditions
forced me to play with a lot of patience which
isn't my style," Lund said. "I played better today
because I served better and played more aggres-
sively; but, (Embry) is one of the better oppo-
nents I've faced in the Big Ten."
Though Boylan and Embry stole the show
with their individual performances, the story of
the match was a familiar one for the Wolverines.
Michigan has yet to win a doubles point in Big
Ten play, and that point was again the difference
in the match against Purdue.
"We keep putting ourselves in a hole when we
don't get the doubles point," said Ritt, "and
what's worse is today we weren't in the matches
at No. I and No. 3 doubles."
Besides Hart and Vaughn's loss, sophomore
Szandra Fuzesi and sophomore Alison Sinclair
fell, 8-3, as well. Fuzesi and Sinclair have lost
four consecutive matches in Big Ten action.
Lund and Boylan's win did improve their
record to 4-0 though, and Ritt is considering
mmnna them tn tn Nn 1 nIh1es.


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