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February 21, 2000 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-21

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 21, 2000 - 78

Freshman swimmers psyched
about post-season submersion

By Sam Duwe
Daily Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - Jenay
*rlson managed to hold on. Every
lap she swam, hundredths of seconds
were slowly gained. At about the half
mile, she passed her Wisconsin
opponent and broke into first. The
gun went off at the end of the mile,
and the freshman sprinted to the
wall, winning her heat and earning
second place overall.
In the stands, the screaming
Michigan parents voices were course.
each Jim Richardson walked by his
m, pumped his fist, and uttered a
guttural, "yeah!"
Even though Minnesota loomed
ahead in the Big Ten Championships
on'Saturday, the Wolverines beamed
with pride. Especially the freshmen.
"' think it's great to be a part of a
team that can be up there competing
in the meet," freshman Traci Valasco
said.
W o one was happier with the fresh-
men performance than Karlson.
"I didn't have any expectations,"
Karlson said. "I just wanted to go out
there and swim and do the very best
that I could. I got really excited but I
was hoping I wasn't going to die all of

a sudden and get so tired and fall
back. I was keeping up with them and
then I started passing them. I couldn't
believe I was doing that.
"The freshmen came here hoping to
have a meet like this. This is like a
dream come true. We walked in here
hoping to have a good meet -every-
one turned around with the best time,
after best time after best time."
The Wolverines have their veterans
- consistent swimmers like Shannon
Shakespeare, Jen Crisman and Missy
Sugar. These women posted high
scores and many points toward
Michigan's eventual second-place
finish. But it was the younger swim-
mers who shone brightly and set the
spark that ignited other key perfor-
mances.
"The freshman here have stepped it
up since day one," Shakespeare said.
"That kind of race really sets the tone
for everyone else. I had the goose-
bumps the whole race. It brings you
up to a new level."0
"It's amazing how many points the
freshman have scored for us," sopho-
more Lindsay Carlberg said. "They're
really nervous but we're all so proud
of them."
Also joining Karlson in swimming
the mile were Lindsay Johnson and

Mara Sveum, posting points for the
Wolverines by placing sixth and
eighth respectively.
"The distance people really pulled
through and had a great meet," fresh-
man Gwen Weingart said.
Other freshman standouts include
Laura Kaznecki, who swam a leg in
the 400 freestyle relay.
"I felt that Laura did a great job at
the end," coach Richardson said.
"She's an inexperienced freshman and
we just saw her in there big time."
Richardson believes that even
though Michigan didn't win this past
weekend, his team, especially his
freshmen, have shown a lot of charac-
ter.
"Being a young team, one of the
things you question is their toughness!'
Richardson said. "We have to be tough.
The meet was so tight that we cduld have
placed second, third, fourth or fifth. You
find out in moments like that how tough
you are."
The coach also believes that there
is much promise for the future.
"We had a great, great performance
by a very young team," Richardson
said. "I love the foundation that this
team has laid for next year. I know we
can go faster - I know how these
kids train."

-
s~a4
KRISTEN GOBLE/Dai
An ecstatic Michigan swimming team chears on its fellow tankers this past weekend in Indianapolis. The Wolverines finished
second to Minnesota, 562.5-501. Despite the loss, Shannon Shakespeare was selected as the meet's top swimmer.

Women's gymnastics falls short
atgain to top-ranked Gym Dogs

By Richard Haddad
Daily Sports Writer

One week after losing to No. I
Georgia at home, the Michigan women's
gymnastics team met the same fate on
road. In Athens, Ga. the Wolverines
just short, losing 197.55-196.8.
Although it dropped to 4-4 against top
10 teams this season, with three of those
losses against top-ranked Gym Dogs,
No. 3 Michigan posted its second high-
-est team score of the season.
But to the Wolverines' chagrin, on
Saturday night, the Gym Dogs were too
good, posting their own season high.
And when the nation's top-ranked team
produces its best performance of the sea-
, a loss is inevitable in any sport.
"We're very happy with our perfor-
mance," Michigan freshman Janessa
Grieco said. "We did a great job hitting
all of our routines, but there are always
little problems to fix"
Michigan opened up the night's festiv-
ities with a solid rotation on the uneven
bars, scoring a 49.125. Senior captain
Sarah Cain matched a personal best of
.925 to secure runner-up honors.
oving on to the vault, Cain put up a
9.950 for first place, to help cut
Georgia's lead to two-tenths of a point.
Paced by Grieco's and Cain's 9.9's,
Michigan bounced back from a sub-par
floor exercise at home last week to
record a more characteristic 49.35 in the
event on the road.

In the critical final rotation, the
Wolverines fared significantly better on
the balance beam than the last time out.
The beam led to their downfall a week
ago, but this time Michigan notched a
49.0 behind senior Kate Nellans' career
high 9.90. But in keeping with a recur-
ring theme, it was not enough. Georgia's
49.475 on the floor exercise cemented
the victory. .
To return to Michigan's positives,
Cain's 39.575 score took top individual
honors in the all-around competition.
"I hope there isn't any common factor
where every time I compete against
Georgia I fall off the beam," Cain said
immediately following the loss in Ann
Arbor last Friday night.
In Athens, she achieved that hope and
disproved her fear; as her 9.8 on the
beam held off Georgia's Kristi Lichey
for the title.
Michigan finally overcame the lapses
that have historically plagued it against
Georgia. Both coaches have acknowl-
edged that Michigan's 0-l I regular sea-
son record against the Gym Dogs is due
more to mental factors than those involv-
ing physical ability.
In stark contrast to the several falls
suffered last week and the general ner-
vousness and intimidation that usually
accompanies meets against perennial
power Georgia, Michigan did not count a
single fall on Saturday. That statistic can
be attributed to improved mental tough-
ness and maturity.

"We were less nervous going into
Georgia because we had the mindset that
we had nothing to lose and experience to
gain," freshman Cami Singer said.
Echoing those sentiments, Grieco felt
that "we went in there to focus on our
team. We did it for ourselves and didn't
worry about the competition."
The benefits of this newfound focus
are reflected in Michigan's team score.
The Wolverines' goal was to hit all 24
routines, and they were successful.
Even the exceptionally large crowd
could not phase Michigan. In front of
9,934 fans in a hostile environment, "We
pretended that the crowd was for us,"
Grieco said. "It was a good crowd and
they appreciated gymnastics."
Although the final result was not
desirable, Michigan does not have much
to be disappointed about. It achieved its
goal of improving week-to-week, posted
an exceptional score, and exhibited a
newfound mental strength that will come
in handy in future pressure situations.
While the team probably doesn't
agree, in light of the positives and taking
into account that won-loss records do not
factor into national rankings, the loss is
almost irrelevant.
And losing the meet had more than a
little to do with Georgia's own perfor-
mance. Like Gym Dogs coach Suzanne
Yoculan says, "If it comes down to a
draw, we're going to win."
Saturday's meet is just one more
example to defend that statement.

BIG TENS
Continued from Page 1B
on, Karlson swam a personal-best
time of 16:35.39, twenty seconds
faster than her preliminary trial, to
win the heat, take second place over-
all, and outlast Stonebreaker, who
posted a 16:41.67.
"Jenay is a big time swimmer
when the money's on the table."
Richardson said. "I thought she gave
it everything she had in every event
she swam this weekend.
Karlson wasn't the only freshman
who swam well. Lindsay Johnson,
Mara Sveum and Julie Kern placed
in the top 15 in the mile, and Traci
Valasco, Erin Abbey and Kaznecki
also swam well, posting personal
records over the weekend.
"The freshmen walked in here
hoping to have a meet like this,"
Karlson said. "This is like a dream
come true. We walked in here hoping
to have a good meet, and everyone
turned around with the best time
after best time after best time."
And in the same way, the seniors
brought the freshmen's efforts up to
a new level.
The success of the freshmen recip-
rocated, and inspired the upperclass-
men.

"The 'freshmen here have stepped
it up since Day One," Shakespeare
said. "Karlson's race really sets the
tone for everyone else. I had the
goosebumps the whole race. It brings
you up to a new level."
Sophomore Lindsay Carlberg, who

placed third in the 200 backstroke,
agreed.
"The freshman have really stepped
it up this year, Carlberg said. ,"It's
amazing how many points they've
scored for us. They're really nervous
but we're all so proud of them."

-,'

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