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February 14, 2002 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-02-14

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 13A

Medal tracker
Through 24 events
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Germany 4 6 2 12
United States 3 5 2 10
Austria 1 1 7 9
Norway 5 3 0 8
Russia 1 2 2 5
Finland 2 1 1 4
France 1 1 1 3
Italy 2 1 0 3
Switzerland 2 0 1 3
Canada 0 1 1 2

Tough start makes gymnasts go back to the grind

By Evan Brown
Daily Sports Writer
Conventional wisdom says that the best
way to get out of a slump is to bear down
and work hard in practice.
The Michigan men's gym-.
nastics team has taken that CLIFF KEEN
to heart due to it's lackluster Who: No. 5 Mid
performance thus far this No. 15 Illinois-C
season. When: 7 p.m.
"I think the desire got Latest: The Wolv
rekindled in a lot of peo- beat llinoischic
ple's eyes," senior captain score of 206.85
Justin Toman said. "The onitan.12atthe
upperclassmen are gunning t'i
for (a successful season) because it's (their)
last season or second to last season."
This week, the Wolverines have had
some fine performances in practice - par-
ticularly on the pommel horse, which has

served as their nemesis this year.
"We had a couple super hits this week,"
Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. "Jamie
(Hertza) and Daniel (Diaz-Luong) both got
super hits today, and were the first two to

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SWindy

go (on pommel horse). That's
big. Kevin George also had a
super hit and he was adding
some difficulty."
A "hit" is a routine in which
the gymnast doesn't fall off, and
a "super hit" is a routine in
which he is able to deliver the
routine flawlessly.
Michigan is ranked No. 9 in
the country in the pommel

change the whole outlook of a match.
"When we turn pommel horse around, it
will be a big boost to this team," Golder
said. "It comes early in a meet. When we
have a good pommel horse, we'll have a
great meet."
Injuries have been and continue to be a
big hindrance for Michigan. For much of
the year, the Wolverines have been going
with a watered-down lineup in an attempt
to get injured gymnasts back and keep the
healthy gymnasts in good shape.
"I feel like I've been playing it conserva-
tive all year (with our lineup)," Golder
said. "We're trying to get guys recovered
from all of their problems. What it comes
down to is playing your cards right to max-
imize your chances at the NCAA Champi-
onships."
Michigan is a mediocre 5-4, but it still is
ranked No. 5 overall in the country.

The Wolverines' goal is to perform at the
level of Oklahoma, which seems to be tak-
ing charge so far this season. The Sooners
are ranked No. 1 and are posting the best
scores in the country, averaging almost six
more points per match than the. Wolver-
ines.
"I think now, Oklahoma is the best,"
Toman said. "I think there are three or four
teams that can challenge Oklahoma. These
three can challenge if they are healthy."
Is Michigan one of those teams?
"Definitely, without a doubt," Toman
replied quickly. "We need to get healthy,
but that's the name of the game in this
sport. Whoever does that best is going to
win, I think."
Golder will stay with a conservative
lineup, and few gymnasts who are dealing
with injuries will be coming back this
week.

horse, but it is usually much higher. The
talent it has in that event should produce
better numbers later in the season, espe-
cially when some guys get healthy. A better
performance on the pommel horse could

Michigan
building
off perfect
fall season
By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's golf team
established its game when it won four
consecutive tournaments last fall. So in
addition to conditioning and weightlift-
ing, the Wolverines have also been
working on their minds during the off-
season.
The Wolverines began meeting with
University athletic, counselor Cookie
Mankowski after they returned from
winter break. Junior Kim Benedict said
Mankowski's role, similar to that of a
sports psychologist, has been to help the
team get "back on the same page."
Despite a little hesitancy, the Wolver-
ines approached the sessions with an
open mind.
"We didn't question it, but we didn't
know how it would help," Benedict said.
"We just went because it was on the
practice schedule."
Michigan won't be sure of the results
of these sessions until it begins the
spring season, which opens this week-
end at the Lady Aztec Invitational in
San Marcos, Calif. But Benedict
believes seeing Mankowski has been
beneficial for the Wolverines.
"It has definitely helped us refocus
on what we need to do," Benedict said.
"We had to get our heads in the right
place."
After setting school records for con-
secutive wins and wins in a season, and
placing two individual medallists (Bene-
dict won the Shootout at the Legends and
senior Misia Lemanski took the Wolver-
ine Invitational) this fall, Michigan
seemed to be in excellent position head-
ing into the crucial spring season, whose
tournaments are weighted more heavily
than in the fall. But one of its bigger
challenges this spring may be mental.
Michigan has already won more tour-
naments this season than in any other
year in school history, and the Wolver-
ines must guard against reveling in that
success.
After seeing Mankowski, the players
think they can translate their fall
achievements into motivation instead of
complacency.
"I can see how people would think
we would get a little lazy. But we've
won four, and we're ready to win more,"
Benedict said.
A fifth title is one of the three goals
Michigan established with Mankowski.
The others are to win the Big Ten
Championships and qualify for the
NCAA Championships.
Benedict, Lemanski, LeAnna Wicks,
Cortney Reno and Laura Olin will vie
for win No. 5 this weekend in the Lady
Aztec. Sarah Kruer will also travel to
Lake San Marcos Country Club to play
as an individual.
The Wolverines could be at a disad-
vantage because Ann Arbor's winter
weather forces them off the course and
onto practice mats, while the southern
and West Coast teams in the field can
practice outdoors year-round.
Benedict said rust always makes the
first spring tournament more nerve-
wracking.
"It's like, 'do I even remember what
grass feels like?"' she said. "It's kind of
foreign, but after 20 minutes it's like
you never left."

Michigan, armed with its new, uni-
fied mental strategy, hopes it can play
during the spring season like it never
left the fall.

It used to be the end of a great night.
It could soon be the start of a great day.

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Who: Michigan at Lady Aztec Invitational
When: Sunday 3:30 p.m., Monday 11 a.m.
Latest: After finishing the fall season with a per-
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