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March 19, 2002 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-19

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 19, 2002

40

SOPHOMORE
SENSATIONS
Calli Ryals and Elise Ray are the NCAA's top two gymnasts
BY MATT KRAMER DAILY SPORTS WRITER

C alli Ryals vividly remembers the times when she and
her club gymnastics team in Ohio used to travel to
Baltimore to compete against a club team featuring
future teammate and 2000 Summer Olympian Elise Ray.
"We used to go to this one meet a year, the Maryland Clas-
sic," Ryals said after finishing up practice yesterday. "And I
used to think, 'OK, now I get the chance to compete against
Elise Ray.'"
A giggle interrupted Ryals.
"Reilly?" Ray asked back, sounding flattered.
"Yup," quipped back Ryals, before both broke into short
laughter.
Elise Ray and Calli Ryals have a lot to laugh about these
days.
That's because the sophomores are putting together the
finest year ever by two Michigan gymnasts.
According to the GymInfo polls released yesterday, Ryals
and Ray are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, respective-
ly, in the all-around competition.
"The rankings are pretty cool," Ray said. "It's a nice confi-
dence booster, but at the same time we both have to keep our
focus on what's to come."
It's the first time in the history of Michigan coach Bev
Plocki's program that two gymnasts have ever held the top
two spots in the nation.
"I don't know that I've ever had the combination of kids in
the same recruiting class this good," Plocki said. "We knew
right away what Elise would be able to contribute, and we
knew Calli had the potential. But it's really awesome to see
that one-two punch."
That "one-two punch" has won 36 of the team's 40 event
titles, earned six Big Ten Gymnast of the Week awards (three
apiece) and has helped guide Michigan to a top-5 team rank-
ing.
Inevitably the question arises: Are the two rivals?
Ray is forced to smile. "I knew that question was coming
up.
"I just don't think we have any rivalry. The team has got to
come first, and if we are both doing well then we are both
doing well for the team."
Ryals couldn't agree more.
"You're just trying to get dirt from us," Ryals said with a
smirk, "and there really isn't anything. We hang out all the
time."

The two agree that they don't compete over anything, not
gymnastics, not school (where Ryals is an economics major
and Ray is still undecided), nothing.
"The thing with us is that we have our own strengths and
weaknesses" Ryals says. "For instance, Elise is really great
on bars (where she is second in the nation individually, while
Ryals excels on the floor,) and we are able to show off our
different skills."
While Ray came to Michigan fresh off of a trip to the
Olympics and won a share of the individual NCAA Champi-
onships just six months later, Ryals didn't truly evolve into a
dominant gymnast until this year.
"Calli has really developed over the last year - tremen-
dously," Plocki said.
Ryals attributes her sudden rise this year to just being
around Ray: "One of the best things about having some of the
top girls in the nation on your team is that they motivate you
to work harder and get better."
And even Ray, the former Olympian, gets motivated some-
times by her teammates.
"You know, self motivation is one of the hardest things in
sports;' Ray said. "When you have top athletes around you,
they just push you harder."
The duo has been so dominant that, in the 12 meets the
Wolverines have competed in this year, one of the two has
finished in first 10 times. At the State of Michigan Classic in
early February, Ryals won four out of a possible five event
titles, while Ray has won three or more event titles in a meet
on three different occasions this year.
Michigan will need the two of them more than ever over
the next month as it heads to Columbus Saturday for the Big
Ten Championships and then prepares for the NCAA region-
als and NCAA Championships.
"I wouldn't go so far as to call this a dream season for me
just because the biggest part of the season is yet to come, and
we haven't gotten there yet," Ryals said. "I don't get too
caught up in rankings, because when we go to Nationals those
rankings are gone."
And if one of them does win the individual national cham-
pionship this year something is for sure: Michigan's "one-two
punch" of Calli Ryals and Elise Ray would want that team
championship even more.
"The team championship is everything," Ryals said. "All
that individual championship stuff, well, that's just irrelevant."

41

Elise Ray (left) and Callil Ryals have taken the gymnastics world by storm in their second seasons at Michigan. Ryals Is
currently ranked No. 1 in the nation Individually with Ray right behind her at No.-2.
Perfection: Sanderson now 154-0

DAILY SPORTS.

44 DEGREES AND CLOUDY?

i

TIME TO WATCH SOME BASEBALL AT THE FISH.

"Every Once In A While Someone Writes A
Book That Clarifies A Situation Tremendously.
This book is definitely one. I could not put this book down.
I read it at home. I read it at work. I read it at stoplights.
The footnotes alone are worth the
AT money. Horowitz answered questions
that I have had for years now and pro-
l nc vided me with places to go to recheck
his research. The book is essentially a
two part book. The first part deals
with the reaction of the campuses to
an argument against slavery repara-
tions. The second is an actual argu-

By Eric Chan
Daily Sports Writer
If you're a 197-pound wrestler
checking the brackets at a tourna-
ment, and you see that your next
match is against some guy named
Sanderson from a school named Iowa
State, 'you're in for a
ride. That Sanderson
on the bracket is
Iowa State's Cael
Sanderson and his
name is always at
the top.
The senior from
Heber City, Utah has Sanderson
gone undefeated in his four years at
Iowa State and has captured three
NCAA titles.
That's right, he hasn't lost a single
match in four years!
This coming weekend, Sanderson
hopes to join Oklahoma State's Pat
Smith as the only four-time national
champions.
"He's special, he really is," Michi-
gan head coach Joe McFarland said.

"He's got a lot of confidence in him-
self. He's able to chain wrestle really
well. He's constantly looking for ways
to score. If one move isn't working,
he'll just go right to another."
When Sandersgn wrestles, he does-
n't just win - he usually destroys his
opponents. A good example would be
last year's NCAA Championships, in
which Sanderson faced Indiana's Vic-
tor Sveda in the semifinals. For the
first part of this season, Sveda was
ranked No. 1 at 184-pounds, but he
was still no match for Sanderson.
Iowa State's superstar gave the crowd
a takedown clinic en route to a 21-7
victory.
His teammates are usually so confi-
dent that he'll win his match that they
simply joke and laugh whenever he
wrestles.
Last year,- Sanderson broke Iowa
legend Dan Gable's 30-year-old con-
secutive win record - a mark the
wrestling community thought would
never be topped. Gable's previous
mark of 100 straight victories has
been shattered by Sanderson, who has

won all 154 of his collegiate matches.
Michigan's Kyle Smith knows all
too well how good Sanderson is. The
last time the two squared off was at
National Duals in January, when
Smith became Sapderson's victim
No. 144. In that match, Sanderson
pinned Smith 2:24 through the first
period - itwas Smith'sonly loss by
fall all season. Smith, currently
ranked No. 5 in the nation at 197
pounds, is one of the wrestlers with
the daunting task of trying to blemish
Sanderson's perfect 154-0 record to
win the national title.
Sanderson may seem unbeatable,
but Gable looked the same way 30
years ago. Gable's perfect 100-0
record fell to 100-1 when he lost to
Washington's Larry Owings in the
finals of the 1970 NCAA Champi-
onships - the last match of his col-
lege career. Can Smith play spoiler in
much the same way that Owings did
back in 1970?
"Everyone's beatable," McFarland
said. "You just have to be well pre-
pared."
GOPAL
Continued from Page 11
Cloud 3-2 to advance to the Frozen
Four.
The second piece of bad news for
Michigan deals with the NCAA's new
'regionalization' plan (what is it with
the NCAA's stupid regionalization
plans?). To make a long story short,
the NCAA decided to keep all of the
eastern teams in the East Region and
the western teams in the West Region,
which means that the West Region is
absurdly stacked. The WCHA is easi-
ly the best conference in college
hockey, and all four WCHA teams -
Denver, Minnesota, St. Cloud and
Colorado College - are joining
Michigan and Michigan State at Yost.
As I mentioned earlier, Michigan
got to play sixth-seeded Princeton in
the first round in 1998. This year's St.
Cloud team is so much better than the
'98 Princeton team that it's not even
funny. Michigan is going to have to
sfratch and claw just to escape the
first round this year, and if it does, it
has to come back the next night -
when the Wolverines will probably be
exhausted - and somehow beat top-
ranked Denver. Not very likely, to say
the least.
There is a small chance that Michi-
gan could pull off the unthinkable and
win two games in two nights against
teams that powerful. This is where the
Yost crowd will have to come up huge
- when the old barn is rocking, the
Wolverines can do just about any-

ment against slavery
Well written. Well d
will be reading Horn
books very soon."

reparations.

ocumented.

I

owitZ'5

other

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See David Horowitz speak on
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America's Security"
Tuesday, March 19
rnll IA r 1 . TT * -7

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