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February 10, 2003 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 10, 2003 - 7B

Luck aplenty for gymnasts

'M' gains mental toughness

By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer

The Michigan women's gymnastics team
got a gift this weekend, and the card that
came along with it had an interesting mes-
sage: Sometimes it's better to be lucky than
good.
The gift was given by some higher power
to the Wolverines (6-4) on Saturday. Michi-
gan eked out a victory in a tri-meet against
West Virginia (5-2) and Kent State (6-4),
scoring a 195.4. The Mountaineers record-
ed a 195.225, while the Golden Flashes
posted a 194.925.
As the second rotation came around,
Michigan looked to be in good position,
having already scored a 49.35 on vault. But
the uneven bars had a nasty surprise wait-
ing for the home team. In something almost
unheard of in collegiate gymnastics (espe-
cially at Michigan), the Wolverines fell not
once, not twice, not three times, but four
times.
The result was the Wolverines had to
count two falls, and this led to a putrid
47.35 composite score. Fortunately, both
Kent State and West Virginia would falter
down the road, allowing the Wolverines to
win in the fourth rotation.
"You've got to try and look at the posi-
tive in a situation," Michigan coach Bev
Plocki said. "Am I disappointed with bars?
Absolutely.
"But what I think overshadows that is the
fact that we probably had three events that
were our season high, and even more
important than that, the fact that we recov-
ered from such a devastating event and
came back on beam and floor and rocked

the way that we did in the last two events
and were able to pull it out."
The beam breathed some life into the
Wolverines. Senior captain Janessa Grieco
led the way with a 9.925, good enough to
win the individual beam title. Sophomore
Chelsea Kroll also chipped in with a 9.9.
Michigan then brought the floor routine to
its knees, with three gymnasts scoring 9.9
or higher.
Had the Wolverines not won, it would
have marked the second meet in the span of
six days that they were not on the top of the
podium. Last Sunday, the Wolverines fin-
ished third out of five teams in the State of
Michigan Classic, an event that they have
always dominated.
"Sunday we got in a hole, and we contin-
ued to spiral downward," Plocki said.
"That's why I was so consumed with trying
to talk to them ... (and tell them that) every
event you go to is new life.
"If you have a problem on bars, you have
to be able to put that behind you and go to
beam and be just as aggressive and just as
confident (as if everything had gone well
on bars)."
One bright spot for the Wolverines was
the performance of the two freshmen in the
lineup, Jenny Deiley and Becca Clauson.
Deiley took the all-around title with a
career high 39.525, and also won the bar
title with a 9.9. Clauson and Deiley split
the vault title by scoring a pair of 9.9's.
"The freshmen absolutely have come to
our rescue all season long," Plocki said.
"We knew they were capable of this, but as
freshmen, you never know if they're going
to come in and do what they're capable of
right away, or if it is going to take them a

By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer

A remarkably different Michigan gymnastics
team took to the beam in the third rotation Satur-
day. How else could you explain the Wolverines'
amazing turnaround?
Disaster was knocking on Michigan's door. The
Wolverines were coming off their worst uneven
bar routine of the year, with four out of six
gymnasts falling, leading to a dismal 47.350. A
repeat of last week's debacle at Michigan State,
where Michigan scored a 47.850 on the bars and
followed it up with three falls on the beam, didn't
seem out of the realm of possibility. But the
Wolverines had something they didn't have last
week - mental toughness.
"The sign of a true team is really when they can
come back and put something behind them and
go on," senior captain Janessa Grieco said.
The young Michigan team, with the confidence
of seasoned veterans, brushed off its falls on the
bars and hit on its first five beam routines to post
a season-high score. Then, the team nailed a sea-
son-high score on the floor to pull off the tri-meet
victory over Kent State and West Virginia.
"We rebounded from a very bad event and
came back and hit two season-high event totals,"
Plocki said. "So there's a lot to take out of this
meet to be very excited about."
It's fair to say that every single gymnast on the
roster made strides Saturday night, starting with
junior Chelsea Kroll. She had perhaps the worst
time of all of the gymnasts at Michigan State,
falling twice on the bars and once on the beam.
Kroll fell on her bars routine again, and it
looked like it might be a repeat. But she came
back and nailed a career high on the beam, a
remarkable turnaround, and followed it up with a
strong floor routine.

"We were so excited for her," junior Calli Ryals
said. "She has been really struggling in practice
with her injuries. For her to come out here just
showed her mental strength and confidence."
For Kroll, believing was the key.
"I was pretty confident about my beam rou-
tine," Kroll said. "I knew I could do it."
Grieco, as she often has done this year, led by
example also, coming back strong after a fall on
bars. She posted a 9.925 on both beam and floor,
winning the beam title and a share of the floor
title. Grieco listened to what the coaches had been
preaching all week.
"I said to myself, 'That event's over, leave that
behind, let's start again,"' Grieco said.
Despite the team's show of mental strength, Ploc-
ki and assistant coach Scott Sherman are still wor-
ried about the Wolverines' struggles on the bars.
"It's hard to say," Plocki said. "Scott and I pull
our hair out about that question."
Depth may be part of the problem, since some
gymnasts are competing out of position.
"Because of the injuries that we've had, it has
affected our bar lineup more than any other
event; Plocki said.
But every team has injuries, and Michigan will
need to fix its bar problems quickly. That being
said, Michigan may be showing the first glimpses
of championship character.
"Every meet is not going to be perfect, and if
something like that happened at regionals or
nationals, we've got to be able to put it behind us
and keep on going" Grieco said. "So I was really
impressed."
With half of the season left to go, the new
Wolverines can be content in overcoming a large
hurdle.
"That's the one mental thing that we've been
struggling with, and we proved ourselves today,"
Ryals said.

REBECCA SAHN/Daily
Calli Ryals finished second in the all-around to
help Michigan to a win Saturday.
little bit of time to transition to college."
On a day of highs and lows, the Wolver-
ines showed what they are made of by claw-
ing their way back to defend their home
territory.
"Every meet is not going to be perfect,"
Grieco said.

Polo uses West Coast as measuring stick

By Ellen McGarrlty
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's water polo team packed
up their swimsuits and flew to San Diego Fri-
day- but not for the purpose of laying out on the
beach. No, the fun in the sun had to wait until
after the team had completed five crucial games,
including four in the California-San Diego Arena
Invitational.
Sunday, the team faced No. 13 California-Santa
Barbara, losing 6-5. The game against No. 17
Hartwick was cancelled.
On Saturday, the first day of the invitational,
No. 10 Michigan (3-4) knocked off No. 16 Cali-
fornia-Davis 8-6, breaking the Wolverines 16-
game losing streak against West Coast teams.
The Wolverines got off to a shaky start - the
Aggies led 2-1 in the first quarter - but sopho-
more Casey Kerney and freshman Megan Haus-
mann cleaned up with hat tricks in the final
qgarters.
Success at Mey

Before the weekend's games, the players and
their coach, Matt Anderson, believed that Michi-
gan needed to finally establish itself in the West as
a competitive team.
"We need the attitude that we're going to win
these games and that we can win the games -
then we will win these games," said junior Julie
Nisbet. "If we could treat other teams like (we do)
Indiana, I think we could improve out West."
Nisbet was referring to the team's intense rivalry
with Indiana.
"We're going to the West Coast where every
team is either on par or better than the teams on
the East Coast, so we have to raise our game a
level," Anderson said.
At least in their game against California-Davis,
the Wolverines did rise to that level.
However, the Maize and Blue were no match for
the 49ers of No. 4 Long Beach State, losing 13-8.
The first quarter of the game was what set back
the Wolverines. They scored just two goals, com-
pared to the 49ers' five. The Wolverines were con-

sistent with two goals in each remaining quarter,
but Long Beach still outscored them.
"We played a favorite to win the national cham-
pionship, and it was a 9-6 game after three quar-
ters," Anderson said. "The difference in (Long
Beach's) maturity and athletic ability separated
them in the fourth, but the fact that we were.in the
game shows that we are slowly getting where we
want to be."
Considering the ranking of Long Beach State,j
losing by five points isn't something Michigan
was ashamed about.
To start off the weekend, Michigan lost 3-2 in a
close game to No. 8 California-San Diego. Despite
goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong's 14 saves, and
Hausmann and Nisbet's two goals apiece, the Tri-
tons could not be stopped.
"I am disappointed, but extremely happy about
giving up just three goals to the No. 8 (team),"
Anderson said, "We play with a lot of confidence
defensively. As soon as our offense gets hammered
down we are going tohe a very strongteam,"

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o may send harriers to NCAAs

By Mustaflzur Choudhury
Daily Sports Writer
With just a few meets left until the
NCAA Championships March 14-15,
the Michigan women's indoor track
and field team headed into the Meyo
Invitational in South Bend determined
to qualify its top athletes for the post-
season meet.
Keeping that goal in focus, the
Wolverines walked away with six indi-
vidual event victories and an NCAA
automatic bid for the distance medley
relay team.
Freshman Katie Erdman, junior
Vera Simms, junior Lindsey Gallo and
senior tri-captain Rachel Sturtz -
members of the distance medley relay
- placed second in the event behind
Arkansas with a time of 11:21.09. The
team improved its previous season-
best time (11:50.35) by nearly half a

minute.
Four athletes earned an NCAA pro-
visional qualifying mark, which does-
n't guarantee them a spot, but will
allow them to be considered for the
championships.
Gallo won the mile run with a
career-best and NCAA provisional
time of 4:44.52.
"I had the opportunity to run against
some really good athletes, and that
helps you prepare for the Big Ten
(Championships)" Gallo said. "This
year, I'm confident. I would definitely
like to run harder and qualify for the
Nationals."
Her time put her atop the Big Ten
and earned her a spot in the top 10 in
the country.
Continuing the winning stride were
Erdman and sophomore Theresa Feld-
kamp. The duo led the Wolverines to a
1-2 finish in the 800-meter run, with

provisional times of 2:08.04 and
2:08:32, respectively.
Robin Landfair won the 60-meter
hurdles with a career-best time of
8.51. The senior missed Tania Longe's
1998 school record by one-tenth of a
second.
Senior tri-captain April Phillips con-
tinued to dominate in the shot put,
winning the event with a season-best
throw of 51'-4 1/2" to remain unde-
feated in the 2003 season. Phillips was
also victorious in the weight throw
with a season-best throw of 60'-3 1/4".
"It's the best I've done this year, but
not my personal best, so I'm definitely
looking to improve," Phillips said.
"I'm looking forward to the meet next
weekend. I'll have a lot more competi-
tion and hopefully that'll make me rise
to the occasion and perform better."
With the Big Ten Championships
just two meets away, Michigan will be

looking to make some final adjust-
ments in order to defend its Big Ten
title.

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