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March 11, 2002 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-11

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 11, 2002 - 7B

Wolverines roll to easy victory in Crisler finale

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
The mood was light and happy as the
Michigan women's gymnastics team salut-
ed five seniors in their last home meet. The
relaxed setting paved the way for a win for
No. 5 Michigan over No. 13 Denver and
Washington on Saturday at Crisler Arena.
The Wolverines scored a 197.775, their
second-best home score in school history.
That mark was leagues ahead of the
194.300 and the 194.250 posted by Denver
and Washington, respectively. The victory
was apparent early in the meet, and it was
clear the team just wanted to have fun.
"We were just trying to go out and enjoy
it all," senior Shannon MacKenzie said.
"Especially the seniors. We were just trying
to take it all in one last time."
After honoring Amy Kuczera, Erin

McWatt, MacKenzie, Melissa Peterson and
Jodie Rosenberg before the meet, it was
clear the emotions had trickled down to the
rest of the team.
Sophomore Elise Ray delivered the most
dominating performance of the day, win-
ning the all-around with a 39.825 and tying
the school record in the process. The mark
included three 9.50s along with a 9.975 on
the balance beam.
Ray found herself atop the first-place
podium in every event except the floor
exercise, in which Michigan sophomore
Calli Ryals scored her third perfect 10 and
sixth floor exercise title of the season.
Junior co-captain Janessa Grieco earned
second-place honors after recording a
career best 9.975 in the event.
Even with the string of high scores on
the floor from the team's younger stars, the
seniors still earned the warmest reception.

MacKenzie was greeted with hugs and
laughter after the beam specialist managed
just a 9.1, and Rosenberg earned a standing
ovation after posting a career high 9.9.
"That was probably the best routine I've
seen (Jody) do," Michigan coach Bev Ploc-
ki said. "She deserved every bit of that 9.9."
The highlight of the meet may have
come after its conclusion. Kuczera was
allowed to give a floor exhibition in spite of
a herniated disc. While she completed the
dance portions, Grieco, Ray, Rosenberg'
and Ryals each took one of her tumbling
passes.
"Amy has a beautiful floor routine and we
wanted to give her a.chance to show it off"
MacKenzie said. "It was really emotional for
all of us. I was getting teared up watching it
because I know how hard she's worked."
The Wolverines ended up breaking the
school record on the floor routine with a

49.625 en route to their impressive victory.
"Today was definitely a good ending to
our home season," Peterson said. "We have
one more away meet, but we'll put it
together there and hit postseason"
Peterson was Michigan's only senior who
was unable to compete on Saturday, much
to the dismay of her teammates. She sus-
tained an ankle injury in practice last week
and was forced to watch her lag home meet
on crutches.
Michigan's overall performance was a
surprise to some. The team seemed very
loose throughout the whole meet and was
under no pressure to earn a high score at
home.
"They compete at their best when they're
relaxed, and we need to be as relaxed on the
road as we are at home," Plocki said. "It's
easy for us at home, but we need to make it
easy on the road."

DAVID ROCHMND/Daily
Michigan senior Amy Kuczera, shown here competing on the balance
beam, gave an exhibition on the floor exercise on Senior Night.

Life ahead
.brings new
excitement
for seniors
By Matt Kramer
Daily Sports Writer
The seniors on the Michigan
women's gymnastics team already
have their lives ahead of them
planned. Shannon MacKenzie is
going to be a teacher. Amy Kuczera
is going to graduate school in physi-
cal therapy. Jodie Rosenberg wants to
go to graduate school to be a physi-
cian's assistant and Melissa Peterson
is going into consulting.
But on Saturday the seniors proved
that they still had competitive fire in
them as they led the Wolverines on
senior night to their second-highest
score in school history.
"It was emotional but it was also
yery exciting," Kuczera said after
scoring 9.775s on the balance beam
and uneven bars. "To see the crowd
one last time and to have such a great
meet puts a really good end to my
career here at home."
Kuczera and the senior class are
responsible for some of Michigan's
greatest accomplishments. The sen-
iors have yet to lose a Big Ten Tour-
nament or NCAA Regional
Championship and have only lost
once to another Big Ten team.
"I'm just so proud to see these
kids, that I remember back as fresh-
men, come so far," Michigan coach
Bev Plocki said. "And I think their
younger teammates were able to dig
down deeper and compete even better
when they realized what this meant
to the seniors."
And Plocki's Wolverines did per-
form better than they had all year.
But it not without the help of Rosen-
berg and MacKenzie - two former
walk-ons.
MacKenzie competed in the all-
around, and Rosenberg scored a
career high 9.9 on her last event at
Crisler Arena, the floor exercise.
"I've been waiting for the 9.9,"
Rosenberg said with a smile after
finishing fourth overall on the rota-
tion. "I kept getting 9.8s, 9.85s on
floor, so it was really exciting to get
rewarded for everything."
"I think Jodie's floor routine was
probably the best routine I've seen
her do," Plocki said.."Her tumbling
was rock solid, her dance was great.
I'm so glad she got a 9.9."
Rosenberg also competed on the
other three events as exhibitions,
something Plocki said she always
tries to let her seniors do at their last
home meet.
But MacKenzie didn't need to
compete in any events as just 'exhibi-
tions,' because she wastcompeting in
the all-around for just the third time
this year.
She scored a 9.825 on the beam, a
9.45 on the uneven bars, a 9.1 on the
floor, and finished third overall with
a 9.9 on the vault.
"Knowing that I'm coming to a
close of a gymnastics career after 19
years is pretty emotional," said
MacKenzie, who has a 3.7 GPA and
whom Plocki called the most
improved gymnast in the history of
her program.
"I can't say I'm disappointed (with

my scores) today," MacKenzie said.
"I have to look back at it all, and
when I do that I get a little teary."
Five of a kind
No other senior class at Michigan
has ever had as much success in the
regular and postseason as this year's
graduating class. Here is a list of
some of their accomplishments:
The Team:

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