The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 15, 2002 -9
Grapplers rolling, poised to meet Hawkeyes
By Rot Bhave
Daily Sports Writer
Last season, the then-No. 5 Michigan wrestling team
took on a perennial championship contender in No. 3
Iowa in a landmark meet at Cliff Keen Arena. With
wrestling fans in the sold-out gym creating a raucous
atmosphere, the underdog Wolverines
ambushed the Hawkeyes, 18-16.
This year, the tables are turned. No. 3 IowA
Michigan (4-1 Big Ten, 13-3 overall) is Who: No. 3 MicI
the hunted. The Wolverines will travel Ten, 13-3 overal
to Iowa City to take on No. 2 Iowa (4-1, (4-1,14-3)
14-3) in a critical Big Ten dual meet When: 8 p.m.
today. Latest: Olson ar
"As a team, it doesn't get any tougher attempt to rema
than wrestling Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye since the Natior
Arena," Michigan team captain Andy Hrovat said.
Both teams feature lineups with nationally ranked
wrestlers. The Hawkeyes have six wrestlers ranked in
the top 10 of their respective weight classes, including
No. iheavyweight Steve Mocco and No.1 149-pounder
Michigan coach Joe McFarland boasts seven top 10
wrestlers in his lineup, including undefeated No. 1 Otto
Olson in the 174 weight class and No. 2 Hrovat at 184
Last month, the Wolverines defeated the Hawkeyes
23-12 at the National Duals in Columbus. Michigan
blew the meet open with five consecutive match wins.
Since then, it can be argued that Michigan has
improved. After being whipped 22-10 by No. 1 Min-
nesota to start their Big Ten season, the Wolverines
have won four in a row.
Last weekend's win over No. 4 Ohio State was an
excellent display of Michigan's ability to win on the
road. By striking early for a 7-0 lead, the Wolverines
were able to take the spirit out of the home crowd and
In a hostile atmosphere like Carver-
AITY Hawkeye Arena, it will be even more
an (4-1 Big imperative to get off to a good start. Well-
at No. 2 Iowa versed in the intricacies of wrestling,
Iowa's fans know how to squeeze favor-
able referee decisions on borderline calls.
Hrovat will "The crowd plays a large part in what
undefeated the referee does," Olson said. The fans
Duals. "understand the rules of wrestling, and
will let the (referee) know if there is a borderline call."
Since National Duals, Olson and Hrovat have gone
undefeated with three major decisions, two technical
falls and one pin combined. But Michigan cannot rely
on those two alone. Against Minnesota, the Wolverines
fell short despite strong performances from the two
seniors because the team's lighter weights were swept.
Because the meet could start at any weight class, the
first few wrestlers must be prepared to seize the
momentum of the match.
If one aspect of the team has really improved since
National Duals, it has been the performance of 149-
pounder Mike Kulczycki and Foley Dowd at 133
"Foley Dowd and Mike Kulczycki have improved a
lot and are more mentally prepared to wrestle against
their opponents, Hrovat said.
A candidate for an upset in this meet could be
Michigan heavyweight Matt Brink. Injured for most of
the year after being ranked in the top 10, Brink is
beginning to find his form. With an opportunity to
wrestle the nation's best in Iowa's Mocco, Brink can
turn his season around. Making things even more dan-
gerous for the favored Mocco is the fact that Brink has
been able to keep every match close, even when he was
hurt and overmatched.
The best matchup of the meet will be Hrovat versus
No. 5 Jessman Smith. With Hrovat having beaten
Smith, 6-2, earlier this season, it appears that the
Michigan captain has an advantage. Also, Smith plays
into Hrovat's hands with his conventional method of
Smith, "does not have a crazy style where he has the
potential to catch me in an unorthodox move" said
Hrovat. "I have been studying film on him, and I know
everything he will be doing. I think this favors me
because I am so familiar with his style."
After tonight's draining meet, the Wolverines must
gear up for Wisconsin in Madison on Sunday.
Although the Wolverines have directed most of their
attention to Iowa this week, they have avoided letdowns
after big meets thus far.
"We make a habit out of competing hard-no matter
who we wrestle,' said Olson. "Wisconsin should be no
Michigan junior Kyle Smith, who holds a 23-9 overall record this season, will have
to be at his best against the second-ranked Hawkeyes tonight.
Softball opens season out West
Hutchins hoping that Doe can fill hole created by loss of Taylor
Plocki returns to alma
mater, former mentor
By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Writer
Last year, Michigan's softball
team opened its season in Califor-
nia, posting a 2-4 record.
The Wolverines ended
up 43-17-1 and tied for
seventh at the women's Pow
College World Series. Who: No. 11
So much for the first Campbell/ C
week determining how latest: TheV
well a team plays in May. toreturn toes
Today, No. 11 Michi- World Series,
gan will open its 2002 biggestlossf
season by traveling to MelissaTaylo
Classic in Poway, Calif., where it
will compete against five other
teams over a three-day period.
Even with the loss of three vital
players from last year's team - out-
fielder Melissa Taylor, shortstop
Rebecca Tune and catcher Kim
Bugel - Michigan returns a talent-
ed nucleus. First-team All-America
Kelsey Kollen leads the infield from
second base and is joined on the
right side of the infield by first
baseman Stefanie Volpe, who
earned third-team All-America hon-
ors last season.
In the outfield, the big hole left
by Taylor (second-team All-America
with a .455 batting average) is likely
going to be filled by Meghan Doe,
according to coach Carol Hutchins.
"You can't replace a player like
Taylor," Hutchins said. "We need
someone to step up. The starters
____ who are All-Ameri-
Michigan at the
W/olverines will attempt
be women's College
where they finished
th last season. The
rom last season is
r, who batted .455.
cans, you count on
them to lead on the
field and statistical-
Doe is one of the
players making a
huge leap from last
season. She will be
moving from the
ninth spot in the
batting order to second in the lineup
and will continue to start in center
On the mound, there is no ques-
tion who will be leading the rota-
tion. Earning All-Big Ten honors
last season with her 21-8 record and
1.06 E.R.A., junior Marissa Young
will be the team's ace for another
season. The only position on the
pitching staff not yet set in stone is
the No. 2 spot, which will either go
to sophomore Meghan Ritter or
freshman Nicole Motycka. And
although both pitchers have done
well during the offseason, Hutchins
will give Motycka the nod to pitch
the No. 2 slot this weekend.
"Everything will be dictated by
how well they do on the field,"
Hutchins said. "When we go out
there to play, we'll know who's
ready. (Motycka) throws the ball
hard, and she's really an unknown
for us right now."
Calling the signs behind the plate
will be Monica Schock and Lisa
Mack, a converted outfielder who
impressed Hutchins during training
to earn a shot at the starting role.
Also looking for playing time are
freshmen Lauren Holland and Jen-
The Wolverines will take on Loy-
ola-Marymount and Pacific today,
Cal-Santa Barbara and Utah State
tomorrow and Pittsburgh on Sunday.
No. 19 Pacific appears to be the
biggest obstacle this weekend, as it
has already defeated No. 5 Califor-
nia and lost, 2-1, to No. 3 Stanford.
The Tigers will send their ace to the
mound to combat Young. Senior
Cindy Ball recorded her 31st career
shutout in Pacific's win over the
Pacific "is a solid team and is the
type of team we want to be playing,"
Hutchins said. "It's good for your
power ranking, and they're a bona
fide squad. We like to schedule
By Matt Kramer
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan women's gymnastics
coach Bev Plocki owes a lot to
After Plocki decided
sport and leave her
school (Alabama) after
to quit the
Monica Shock may be Michigan's
starting catcher this season.
(teams like that) throughout the sea-
son to get us ready for the Big Ten
Overall, Hutchins is looking for
her team to gel this weekend and
show some consistency throughout
the Classic. She is also hoping her
team will not hold back anything
and just go out on the field and play.
And although she is always con-
cerned with her team's health,
Hutchins wants "a team with no
as we are g
Two of t
Ray is c
and Kroll r
an All-America fresh- WVU COLISEUM
man season, it was Bur- Who:Michigan (3-0 Big
dette, the 27-year head Ten,102) at west Virginia
coach of West Virginia, (9-1) ,
who convinced Plocki When: 2p.m.t
to enroll at West Vir- Latest Michiganhasn'tlost c
ginia and get back into since its first meet of the I
gymnastics. season onJan. 4 atthe Maui
"I owe a lot to her," invitational.
Plocki said. "It was Linda who before, but]
called me and got me back involved get to help
with the sport again and gave me was just o
my second shot. Pittsburgh
"I worked as a graduate assistant family wi
for two years under her before com- Sunday.
ing to Michigan. Without her, I "West V
might have been out of gymnastics hour away
many years ago." some of m
Plocki will bring her sixth-ranked will be the
Wolverines (3-0 Big Ten, 10-2 over- isn't too m
all) into Morgantown on Sunday to know they
face Burdette and West Virginia (9- me."
1) in a nonconference meet. Scoringv
While the' Mountaineers' record um will al
is strong, they haven't been able to Wolverines
score higher than a 195.2 all sea- return ther
son. is hosting4
Last year, the Wolverines easily championsh
took care of then-No. 16 West Vir-
ginia, winning 197.575-193.675 at
Michigan has not dropped a meet
since its season-opening loss to
Oklahoma and Arizona on Jan. 4 in
The Wolverines win steak is due,
in part, to many gymnasts' gradual
recoveries from injuries.
"This is the healthiest we've
been, knock on wood," Plocki said.
"I wouldn't say we are at full
strength but we are getting as close
oing to get."
hose gymnasts who just
rom injuries are sopho-
se Ray and freshman
oming off a bruised heel,
made her collegiate debut
on the vault last week
with a 9.825 in Michi-
gan's upset of No. 2
Ray finally returned
to the all-around compe-
tition last week, and
came back in style, win-
ning the event with a
score of 39.625.
"I was a little nervous
I'm excited that I finally
out my team even if it
n vault," said Kroll, a
native whose extended
ll be in attendance on
irginia is only about an
from home, so I'll have
y friends from home that
ere," she added. "There
nuch pressure though. I
are always supporting
well in the WVU Colise-
so be important to the
because Michigan could
v in April. West Viriginia
one of the six regional
Water polo starving for East Coast competition
By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Writer
That is how Michigan water polo coach Amber
Drury-Pinto describes her team's
attitude going into this weekend's
tournament in Princeton.
Following a 1-2 start to its season PRINCET
three weeks ago at the Wolverine Who: No.14 Mic
Invitational in Ann Arbor, Michigan Latest: The Michi
is ready to attack its East Coast com- team carries its s
petition. paign into the Gar
"We're hoping to come away where it willifaceI
undefeated. It should be a good Hartwick and Buc
weekend," said Drury=Pinto opti- wolverines are lo
mistically. back from a 1-2 s
After the Wolverine Invitational
-which featured close losses to No. 6 California
Santa-Barbara and No. 7 Hawaii - Drury-Pinto
stressed that the team needed to improve its cohe-
siveness and work on its fundamentals. She believes
that the Wolverines have done both in the past three
"We've definitely made some improvements," she
said. "The girls have been working hard at it. Our
passing and shooting has really
In addition to their mechanical
N, N.J. improvements, team chemistry will
an (1-2) at also be stressed this weekend. Because
i water po of the team's youth (almost half the
homore cam- players are freshmen), Drury-Pinto is
n state, still experimenting with different player
rvard, combinations, and the team is working
ell. The to see which younger players fit in well
ng to bounce with the veterans.
t. "We're still in the experimental
stages, still trying to gel lines together
and see what's working," said Drury-Pinto said.
One key player for the Wolverines this weekend
will be one of those freshmen - goalie Betsey Arm-
strong. Armstrong, who went to high school in Ann
Arbor, got off to a strong start at the Wolverine Invi-
tational, making nine key saves in her collegiate
debut against Santa-Barbara.
Another important freshman is Casey Kerney,
CWPA Player of the Week for January 21-27. She
had two hat tricks and finished with eight goals for
Michigan in its first tournament and currently leads
the team in goals scored.
While the Wolverines expect to come out solid
this weekend in New Jersey, Drury-Pinto is careful
about keeping this tournament in perspective.
The Wolverines will travel back east at the end of
April for the Division Championships at Villanova
and the Eastern Championships again at Princeton
before capping their season at the NCAA Champi-
onships in Los Angeles in early May.
"They're important games (this weekend) but its
still very early," said Drury-Pinto. "The big prize is
still a couple months off, so we want to make sure
we keep building through the whole season."
Distance runners relax
in Harold Silverston
By Jacob Leonhardt
For the Daily
The Michigan women's track and
field team turned in a strong per-
formance last weekend at the
USTCA Collegiate Challenge in
State College, placing second out of
Indiana ran away with the victory
last weekend, earning 139 points,
compared to Michigan's second-
place 95-point performance. Michi-
gan Coach James Henry is happy
with last weekend's showing, but
believes the team needs to improve
on some events to be successful in
the upcoming Big Ten Champi-
"This past weekend was extremely
intense," Henry said. "We're going to
give some of our runners a breather.
Henry wants to give his long-dis-
tance and middle-distance runners a
break when the Wolverines host the
Harold Silverston Invitational this
Saturday. He'll do this by putting
them into some shorter distance
events. This strategy will give the
team a chance to prepare for the Big
Ten Championships in West
Lafayette on Feb. 24-25.
Henry and the Wolverines have cir-
cled the Big Ten Championship on
their calendars early this year. They
hope that clinching the Big Ten title
will prepare them for faster competi-
tion at the NCAA Indoor National
Championships on March 9-10 in
"It will be very challenging at the
upcoming Big Ten Championships
with the two-time defending Big Ten
champions, Indiana," Henry said.
He said he thinks that Illinois,
INDOOR TRACK BUILDING
Who: Michigan hosts Harold Silverston
When: 9:30 a.m.
Latest: Michigan coach James Henry is giv-
ing his long-distance runners by placing
them in shorter events.
Indiana and Purdue will be Michi-
gan's toughest competition at the Big
"We have a well-balanced team
this year with outstanding perform-
ances by our throwers, middle dis-
tance runners, high jumpers and
hurdlers, which is just about every-
thing," Henry said.
He believes the tri-captains have
led the team to their strong perform-
ance last weekend.
"The seniors have done a tremen-
dous job leading the team, and that
the freshman have stepped up and
performed well too," Henry said.
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