The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 17, 2003 - 11
all too well
By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer
The only Big Ten team that is even remotely close
to being a rival to the No. 7 Michigan women's gym-
nastics team is No. 12 Minnesota, and the Gophers
are coming to Cliff Keen Arena tonight. The Wolver-
ines (1-0 Big Ten, 1-0 overall) have dominated the Big
Ten for close to a decade, with Minnesota being the
With five out, injuries
leave Michigan 'lean'
By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer
only team that has come
close to challenging the
throne. The Wolverines
have reeled off 39 straight
conference victories with
their last loss coming to
the Gophers in 1999.
But the rivalry goes
beyond the regular sea-
son. Recently, Michigan
has been able to pull in
some elite recruits out of
CLIFF KEEN ARENA
Who: No. 7 Michigan (1-0
Big Ten, 1-0 overall) vs. No.
12 Minnesota (0-0 , 0-1)
When: 7 p.m.
Latest: Michigan is going
for its 40th straight confer-
ence win -its last Big
Ten loss came in 1999 to
Minnesota after both schools recruited the gymnasts
heavily. The Wolverines have two freshman stand-
outs, Becca Clauson and Big Ten Athlete of the
Week Jenny Deiley, who are both from Minnesota.
With another recruit, Carol McNamara, on the way,
it's safe to say that the Gophers are not happy.
"The fact that we've gotten several very good
Minnesota recruits has only fueled the fire I'm sure,"
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. "But we try really
not to think about that; we can't worry about the
things that we can't control."
Especially drawing the Gophers' ire was that Clau-
son verbally committed to the Gophers, but due to
some circumstances, decided to come to Michigan.
"Another girl had my scholarship here, and she
ended up going to Stanford," Clauson said. "I've
always wanted to come to Michigan."
During high school, Clauson and Deiley talked to
each other about becoming Wolverines, despite
being on different club teams. Deiley had already
committed when Clauson was making her decision.
"We kind of went through the process together, we
talked about it with each other," Clauson said. "And
actually, when I got my offer to Michigan, I called
her, and I was like, 'Ahh, what should I do?"'
Staying healthy isn't a minor matter,
and it's not on this year's list of little
things that the No. 7 Michigan women's
gymnastics team wants to focus on.
Unfortunately, for the Wolverines, stay-
ing healthy has superseded all other con-
cerns this week.
Starting with junior captain Elise Ray,
Michigan's injury/inactive list could be
the starting roster for a new team. With
five of 12 scholarship athletes out, the
Wolverines are just trying to stay afloat.
"I think the main thing is just staying
healthy, that's our big problem," freshman
Becca Clauson said.
Gymnastics is one of the most injury-
plagued non-contact sports, but Michi-
gan seems to be having more than its
share of injuries. Kallie Steffes, who
recovered from minor shoulder surgery
in September, now has a quadriceps
problem that is keeping her out. Junior
Christine Mantilia is out for the year with
a torn anterior cruciate ligament, while
sophomores Lauren Mirkovich and Erica
Rubin are coming back from torn ACLs
suffered last year. Add to Ray's injury,
and it leaves an already thin Michigan
lineup with little margin for error.
"Every time I have an athlete go
down, it's very concerning," Michi-
gan coach Bev Plocki said. "Espe-
cially when we started out this year
Rough and tumble
Five of Michigan's 12 gymnasts are
inactive for this weekend's match
against Minnesota. Here's a run-
down of the injured:
Elise Ray Shoulder
Kallie Steffes Quadricep
Chrstine Mantilia ACL
Lauren Mirkovich ACL
Erica Rubin ACL
with a pretty lean team."
For the Wolverines and Ray, it feels
like deja vu all over again. Last year,
Ray injured her foot early into the sea-
son, missing five meets in the process.
This year, Ray was attempting a triple
full on her floor exercise during prac-
tice in mid-December, and she dislo-
cated her right shoulder. It was a
painful experience, and she had to roll
after she landed to pop it back in. Ray
had previously dislocated her left
shoulder as well.
"This one was especially hard, because
we're not quite sure when I'm going to
be back," Ray said. "Last year with my
heel, we knew a ballpark range. I kind of
saw the light at the end of the tunnel."
Initial reports indicated that Ray would
be out until early to mid-February, and
the team isn't taking any chances. But
Ray was able to do handstands Monday
and will be looking to return as quickly
"I'm getting better day by day," Ray
said. "I'm hoping to be back sooner (than
Besides staying healthy, the Wolver-
ines have been focusing on the little
things, which is one of the goals for the
team this year.
"This year, coming into the season, we
decided we wanted to take a little bit of a
different approach," senior captain Janes-
sa Grieco said. "Instead of worrying
about what we could win and what we
could not win, we wanted to focus on the
little things, and every meet improve on
the meet before."
The team can't focus on the little
things if there are no gymnasts to com-
pete, but Grieco is confident.
"There's been years that we've had
tons of depth and tons of people, and it
didn't seem to help us out all that
much," Grieco said. "'I think maybe
having a smaller team and being able
to really focus on the people who go
will be good."
Sophomore Chelsea Kroll is one of the few Wolverines who have avoided injury this season.
Both Deiley and Clauson know almost all of the
girls on the Minnesota team, but both felt that Michi-
gan was the place for them.
"I love both teams, but I really wanted to go away
for college," Deiley said. "I loved the team when I
Minnesota (0-0 Big Ten, 0-1 overall) will present a
stiff challenge for the Wolverines. The Gophers are
returning nine gymnasts from last year's team, which
finished ninth at the NCAA Championships.
Although the Wolverines beat Minnesota three times
last year, they came within one wobble of losing dur-
ing their regular-season dual match. The Wolverines
needed a stellar beam routine to pull the victory out
by one tenth of a point.
"Minnesota is going to be a great matchup for us
right now," Plocki said. "We're going to need to
focus on some of our dismounts, (and) we can be a
little bit more aggressive in some things."
All of this adds up to facing a Minnesota team
that will be ready to compete tonight.
"They never have a lack of motivation when it
comes to competing against Michigan," Plocki said.
"(But) whatever Minnesota's motivation or lack of
motivation really can't concern us; we just have to go
out there and do our job."
Deiley will look to duplicate last week's perform-
ance, in,which she won the all-around in her first meet
as a freshman - something that no Wolverine has
done since Heather Kabnick did it on Jan. 14, 1995.
Being at home will be an advantage for Michigan,
which has one Big Ten win already. Performing with
consistency and perfecting the little things have been
stressed throughout this week. Deiley hopes the team
will do just that when she competes against her
"Three of my old teammates that were my best
friends are on that team," Deiley said. "It'll be differ-
ent competing against them instead of with them,
but it's all good."
key role for netters
No extra motivation
needed for tumblers
By Brad Johnson
Daily Sports Writer
After a two-month layoff, the Michi-
gan men's tennis team is entering its
dual match season with a group of
players that will certainly
be faced with a quick S u
learning curve. VARSITY Ti
More than half of the Who: Michig
team is comprised of ern Michigan
underclassmen. As a result, When:10 a.n
senior co-captains Chris and noon Su
Rolf and Chris Shaya will Latest: Mich
have to lead by example 25 straight a
throughout the year. ern Michigar
"There are no superstars has never los
on this team," assistant coach Dan
that Michigan has ever seen. But the
coach feels that the Wolverines more
than make up for this fact with their
team chemistry and great work ethic.
During the Wolverines' break fol-
lowing the fall season, the squad
By Julie Master
For the Daily
an vs. West-
in and DePaul
igan has won
n at home and
st to DePaul.
stayed in shape by work-
ing out with tennis pro-
fessionals back home.
Some also competed in
the Milwaukee Tennis
Classic last weekend.
Jackson led the way,
reaching the third round
at the tournament.
Such hard work will be
put to the test this week-
What could be better than winning?
Last year, the Michigan men's gym-
nastics team was defeated by Okla-
homa - the top-ranked team in the
country. After a 10-point defeat, it is
no wonder that the Wolverines are
excited to face the Sooners once again
at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night at Cliff
Junior Anthony Jackson will rely on the play of underclassmen this weekend.
Goldberg said. "Everyone is going to
have to pull their weight this year."
Goldberg feels that sophomore
Michael Rubin and junior Anthony
end. Michigan faces Western Michigan
and DePaul at home on Saturday and
Sunday, respectively, to open their dual
"I think having two matches really
always fiery and competes well, but both
matches definitely pose a challenge."
Getting off to a good start this week-
end and setting a tone for the rest of
the season is a big key to the success
Michigan is hoping for this year.
But the coaching staff is not solely
worried about how the team performs
in the early part of the season. They are
which is when it really counts.
"Everyone (on the team) is extreme-
ly coachable and works real hard,"
Goldberg said. "I'm looking for
improvement from everyone both
physically and mentally."
As far as the rest of the season, the
Wolverines are aiming to finish in the
upper echelon of the Big Ten and earn
"It's going to be quite a
challenge," Michigan sen-
ior Kris Zimmerman said.
"We have kind of a rivalry
going. It will be tough,
but if we can go out and
hit our routines it will be
a great competition."
Luckily, the Wolverines
know what it feels like to
be the underdog and come
out on top. Last year, the
Who: No. 6 Mic
Latest: After fin
at the Windy Cit
Jan. 11, the Wol,
kick off their ho
ule against thec
Jackson are the strongest players on a gets you ready for the Big Ten season," also looking for constant improvement their fourth-straight NCAA Champi
team that may not be the most talented Goldberg said. "(Western Michigan) is and for the squad to peak in April, onships berth under coach Mark Mees.
LHereux paces strong distance group for 'M'
tion, Kris Zimmerman has been out
due to nagging back trouble. However,
tomorrow night they will be back in
action competing in anywhere from
one to three events.
"Hopefully we will be able to add
Scott and Kris one event at a time as
we progress through the season and
come on strong at the end of the year,"
Because the Wolverines have been
lacking their full lineup, the coaches
and teammates have been looking to
the freshmen to come on
* 0 strong. At last week's
V ARENA Windy City Invite, fresh-
men Derek Croad and
higan vs. Andrew DiGiore took a
first-and second-place fin-
ish, respectively, for Michi-
ishing third gan in vault. This weekend,
ty Invite on DiGiore may add a double
me sched- twist to his vault, giving
defending him a 9.7 start value, as
ons. opposed to his previous
single twist (a 9.3 start
value). Another freshman entering the
ranks is Gerry Signorelli. He will
strengthen the lineup and compete in
four events. Although collegiate meets
may be intimidating, the freshmen
"This one means a lot to us, but I
think we can do it and say bye, bye
Oklahoma," Croad said.
Golder believes that the Wolverines
will need 213 to win the meet. Michi-
gan has an advantage, because tomor-
row will mark Oklahoma's first meet
of the year, and Michigan has already
"Most improvement takes place
between the first and second meet, and
we already have that under our belt,"
Golder said. "Hopefully, this will be
true to form."
By Mike Wolking
Daily Sports Writer
After a tune up at last week's Jack
Harvey Invitational, it's finally time
for the Michigan men's track team to
shift gears. This weekend, the Wolver-
ines will receive a greater challenge
from the likes of Indiana, Kent State
and Michigan State.
"There's certainly a higher level of
competition for us this week," Michi-
gan associate coach Fred LaPlante
said. "When you bring in these types
of schools, there's going to be a top
guy in every event. Indiana and Kent
State are both very well-balanced
teams, and even though Michigan
State has had some injuries, they'll be
good as well."
Adding to the atmosphere is the fact
that the meet, unlike last week's, will be
scored, with head-to-head competition
providing the basis for posted results.
. rs ker
"This is only one of two scored meets
for us until the Big Ten Championships,"
La Plante said. "It makes things pretty
exciting because every competitor can be
clearly identified with his team."
Certainly, Michigan will look to
build on last week's success, when it
chalked up three wins against a field
including Eastern Michigan, Western
Michigan, Detroit Mercy and Sienna
Heights. The Wolverines boasted an
impressive 16 top-three finishes,
including three wins. Senior transfer
Alex L'Hereux, in his first race for the
Wolverines, easily took the mile with a
time of 4:14.58.
"Alex came over from Lehigh where
he was clearly the best guy on his
team," La Plante said. "He trained with
the cross country team this fall, and
now he's finally eligible for us."
L'Hereux's impressive showing hints
at another strong distance group on
this year's team. The Wolverines field
seven runners that helped them to an
eighth-place finish at the 2002 NCAA
Cross Country Championships.
In last week's field events, Michigan
finished with four runners-up - three
from freshmen Adam Kring, Craig
Theissen and Jason Newburn in the
high jump, pole vault and triple jump
events, respectively. But as the general
theme holds true, this week things will
INDOOR TRACK BUILDING
Who: Michigan vs. Indiana, Michigan State and
When: 9:30 a.m.
Latest: Michigan opened the 2003 season last
weekend at the Jack Harvey Invitational, win-
ning three individual running events.
get a little tougher when Indiana's
Aarik Wilson comes to town. The
sophomdre finished last season as the
Big Ten Outdoor triple jump champi-
on, while grabbing runner-up at the
NCAA Championships. Wilson is just
one of a number of Hoosiers looking
to contend in the field events.
team went into the Big Ten Champi-
onships in last place and came out with
an impressive second-place finish. The
Wolverines also went into NCAAs
ranked eighth, and took home a fourth-
place finish and a trophy.
"There's an inner confidence that
runs pretty deep," Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "Even if the ball isn't
bouncing our way, they all believe
deep down in their hearts that they're
going to dig out of it."
Unfortunately, for two of Michigan's
strongest competitors, the ball hasn't
even been in their court. Fifth-year
senior captain Scott Vetere has not
been competing due to a shoulder
injury and, because of the medical red-
shirt he took his senior year, has not
competed in a year and a half. In addi-
Lf ~ ll.i~?'.K 4 IV.......... .... . ... .