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March 12, 2001 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-12

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 12, 2001

Elise Ray reunited with
Olympic mates at home

'By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Writer
This wasn't the usual women's gym-
nastics meet.
One glance at Michigan's Elise Ray's
beaming face as she grabbed former
Olympic teammate Jamie Dantzscher of
UCLA following the Bruins' win was
all it took to see that.
"I've been looking forward to this
meet for so long," Ray said. "When I
first heard that they were coming, I was
really excited"
While Friday night's meet between
No. 8 Michigan and top-ranked UCLA
was important on the national gymnas-
tics picture, it paled in comparison to
the real reason there was added excite-
ment in the air. The meet reunited three
2000 U.S. Olympians - Ray of
'Michigan with Dantzscher and Kristen
Maloney of UCLA.
And while UCLA came away with a
close 197.700-197.125 victory, it
seemed apparent that the three ex-team-
mates were content with being together
again.
"It was just really good to see her,"
Dantzscher said of Ray. "It's kind of
w weird competing against her after the
Olympics, being on a different team
than her"
Maloney agreed: "It was really excit-
ing just to be able to compete with her
again."

The Sydney Olympics ended in late
September, giving the three athletes
very little break before they began
school and training for the collegiate
gymnastics season that started in
January.
It has been a difficult schedule for the
gymnasts to maintain.
"It's been hard for them to compete as
much as they have," UCLA coach
Valorie Kondos Field said of the former
Olympians. "They're kind of working
past it and getting that connection
again. That was really something that
everybody needed."
The addition of Ray to the Michigan
team has amplified interest among fans
in the program to an extent that it has
not seen in the past.
Bringing together Ray with
Dantzscher and Maloney for Friday's
meet raised that interest even more,
bringing a Michigan regular season
record crowd of 3,864 and another
swarm of media attention that the gym-
nasts haven't had to deal with since
leaving Sydney.
It would have been easy to lose focus,
but none of the gymnasts appeared to do
so.
"I think she's used to it," said
Michigan coach Bev Plocki of the atten-
tion paid to Ray. "With the Olympics,
I'm sure she had cameras in her face
and reporters with every different angle
for the last year, so I wouldn't think that

BRANDON SEDLOFF/Dail
Despite their best efforts, Calli Ryals and her Michigan teammates weren't able to
knock off top-ranked UCLA on Friday night. The Bruins prevailed, 197.7-197.125.

this would have distracted her."
The fact that so much attention was
paid to the Olympians overshadowed, to
an extent, the fact that UCLA is the best
team in the country. With that in mind,
it's entirely possible that Michigan and
UCLA will meet up again, with slightly
higher stakes - the national champi-
onship.
"We haven't hit our peak meet yet and
we want to peak at the right time,"

Dantzscher said. "But I think, right now
we're the team to beat."
Still, the evening's competition tooka
backseat to the gathering of Ray
Dantzcher and Maloney. For one nigh
at least, winning was definitely not th
only thing.
"We're not supposed to watch each
other, but I couldn't help it," Ray said
"It just made it a lot more fun having
them here."

Blue sends eight to.
East Lansing meet
By Adam McQuowi
Daily Sports Writer
With the hopes of fine-tuning its routines, No. 2 Michigan met
gymnastics sent eight individuals to compete against No. 5 Michigan
State and No. 6 Iowa in East Lansing on Saturday.
The results did not count toward a team score for the Wolverines
as they did not enter a full six-person rotation in any of the meet's six
events.
Michigan State rolled to an easy victory over Iowa, outscoring the
Hawkeyes 214.550 to 211.200 and notching its highest team total of
the season.
The meet gave a number of Michigan athletes, including junior
Scott Vetere and senior tri-captain Kevin Roulston, a week off in
preparation for the impending postseason. The gymnasts who did
compete were given the chance to upgrade and master their routinR
"We got a chance to rest some guys," said junior Brad Kenna."
wanted to add new skills to make our routines more difficult."
Attempting to further the team's goals, Kenna was going to
attempt a more challenging skill in the floor exercise but reverted to
a different skill when the time arose.
The last-minute switch was of no consequence as Kenna equaled
ly his season high in that event with a score of 9.350, good enough for
a first-place tie.
"It was a good routine," Kenna said. "I just didn't do what I hod
v, expected."
Sophomore Daniel Diaz-Luong turned in an impressive pert
a mance as well, recording a second-place finish on the still rings
y, (9.350) and third place on the pommel horse (9.300).
it Two other underclassmen, sophomores Jamie Hertza and Conin
e Parzuchowski, completed successful routines as well. Hertza
received fourth-place honors on the pommel horse and Parzuchowski
h tied for second 'on the still rings.
1. The late addition of this meet to the Michigan schedule affordod
g the gymnasts a chance to get more practice and experience in the
ending weeks of the regular season.
The team is now set to take on Michigan State on Friday at honie,
in what will be the final meet for the Wolverines before the Big n
Championships. Coming off their best performance of the seasonl
Saturday, the Spartans will be looking to continue their current suc-
cess.
"We'retrying to be as consistent as possible while continuing 'to
have fun,"said Kenna.
With an impressive overall record of I1-1, Michigan must be pre-
pared to face the challenges of the upcoming weeks. Everyone will
be looking to knock the Wolverines from their current first-place
position in the Big Ten.
Increasing the difficulty of their routines will give the Wofverines
a better opportunity to accumulate greater team totals, a neces
come Big Ten and NCAA Tournament time.
The health of the team is also a big factor. The well-needed res of
the Wolverines top performers this past weekend should put them in
a prime position for future events.
As the season switches gears, Michigan must remain focused and
determined to solidify its position among the top teams in the nation.
Ca iforna rip
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Beam looking better for
Friday night, the Wolverines scored a
49.125 on the'balance beam, their
highest team score of the season for the
event. The team eclipsed its previous
high against Southeast Missouri State by
.05 of a point. Here are the six
Wolverines that competed on the beam
and their scores.

Wolverines

MICHIGAN STUDENT UNION
March 5, 9, 12-14 11-4pm
March 6-8 10-6pm U of M grad fair
Personalized announcement orders
wi;l be taken March 5-14:

2 m

NAME
Janessa Grieco
Shannon Mackenzie (right)
Melissa Peterson
Elise Ray
Calli Ryals
Karina Senior
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Writer

SCORE
9.800
9.850
9.850
9.825
9.800
9.800

schooled'

on

When the No. 12 Michigan
women's water polo team hopped on
its five-hour flight to California, it
expected a breakout week - a
chance to earn the respect of the
water polo world.
Instead, the Wolverines ran into

some unexpected turbulence during
their trip, leaving California with
just one overtime victory over fellow
No. 12 California-San Diego.
"Right now, it's mostly experience
level," Michigan coach Amber
Drury-Pinto said about her team's
struggles on the west coast. "Most of
the girls in the California schools
have played a lot more games. We're

getting that experience, and we don't
get that level of competition on a
weekly basis. They can go 20 miles
to get that competition, but we need
a five-hour plane ride."
The Wolverines (10-9-1) are just
1-9 against teams from the Western
Conference. Against No. 1 Stanford
and No. 3 Southern California, the
Wolverines have lost three games by

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a combined score of 45-8.
Even after being dominated 6
these teams, captain Melissa Karjala
is confident that the Wolverines will
be competitive eventually.
"We can beat a lot of them,"
Karjala said. "Girls from Stanford,
UCLA, and USC have been around
the program a lot longer. They're
very well established, and they're a
lot more physical. They've just b
doing what they do a lot longer ti
we have."
But it wasn't just lack of experi-
ence that kept Michigan from beat-
ing the California schools.
The Wolverines didn't execute
their plays, and didn't anticipat9 like
the upper echelon teams during their
west coast trip.
"They're a lot more aggressive,"
Karjala said. "They just know where
to be, and how to mess with you-so
that you can't do something. T"
just seem bigger and stronger"
Michigan knows that these strug-
gles are all a part of being a first-
year program, and that it must learn
everything it can from the great
teams.
Coach Drury-Pinto "told us if they
do something and they totally school
you at this end of the pool, go and try
it at the other end on them or aga
the next team we play' Karjala saw.
Michigan has a two-week break
before it resumes action when host-
ine the Southern Division
Tournament. Drury-Pinto plans on
using this time off to push the team
in its training and do some film
review to make sure the players
remember their mistakes.
Sophomore Stephanie Morse is
ready to prepare for their next meet-
ing with the Western Conferee
teams.
"Going out there and getting beat
in those games is motivation to come
back here and work hard so that the
next time we play them we can play a
better game," Morse said.
From the opposition
in its first year as a varsity sport,*
the Michigan women's water polo
team has raised some eyebrows
around the country:
"They have a number of players
who compete really well in set situ-
ations. They looked much better
(the second game) in terms of

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