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March 31, 2003 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-31

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SPORTS

March 31, 2003

SECTION B

. ,. i ,... -:.. . . . .. ... .

TONY DING/Daily
Michigan diver Jason Coben twisted and turned to a
national championship this weekend.
Cob en wins
NCAA title
in a squeaker
By Walden ar Centeno
Daily Sports Writer
Junior diver Jason Coben's performance helped
push the Michigan men's swimming and diving
team to a ninth-place finish in the NCAA Champi-
onships in Austin, Texas.
Coben became the first Wolverine to.capture a
national title on platform diving by scoring a total
of 575.8, tying him with Auburn's Caesar Garcia.
The last time a Michigan diver won an NCAA title
was in 1984, when Kent Ferguson scored a 560.85
to win the three-meter springboard.
"His performance was really good," first-year
Michigan diving coach Chris Bergere said. "I knew
he could do it, and he just needed chance to break
through. Competing with the best people in the
country is an excellent way to raise the bar. Coben
was nice and consistent."
After scoring 500.00 during the preliminary
rounds, Coben was faced with an eighth-place start.
Following his first three dives, Coben sat in second
place behind Garcia, who scored very high in his
previous dives.
But Garcia's substandard third dive left the cham-
pionship open for Coben to seize. Under pressure,
Coben took'over the lead on his fourth dive.
"I guess I like the pressure," Coben said. "When I
was up there for the last dive, I knew I needed
eight's and eight-and-a-half's to win all the way
through. Coming into the meet, I didn't think I had
a chance to win, I just knew those were the scores I
was going to need. In the finals, everything just
started to click. When Caesar (Garcia) missed his
back, I knew all I needed to do was hit my dive and
I had a shot, and I did it."
Coben proceeded to nail his final dive, which put
him 76.5 points up on Garcia. However, Garcia
scored exactly a 76.5 to place both him and Coben
as national champions.
"It was amazing," Coben said. "I was sweating
bullets the whole time."
Also, freshman Peter Vanderkaay's runner-up fin-
ish in the 1,650-yard freestyle was the highest finish
by a Michigan swimmer in the event since Chris
Thompson won it in 2001. Vanderkaay posted his
best time of the year (14:43.73).
Another noteworthy swimmer was sophomore
Brendan Neligan, who swam in the 1,650-yard
freestyle. Neligan placed 10th in the event, with
senior Justin Drake and sophomore Andrew Hurd
directly behind him.
Senior co-captain Jeff Hopwood swam his final
meet as a Wolverine at the NCAA Championships.
He placed fourth in the consolation finals of the
200-yard breaststroke with the third fastest time of
his career (1:56.8).
"Our individual swimmers were good, but the
field just got better," Urbanchek said. "Most of the
swimmers had their personal best times. What I
estimated what would get a swimmer into the finals,
See TANKERS, Page 6B
Ten crown

JASON COOPER/Daily
Top: Michigan fans and players celebrate the Wolverines' Midwest Regional championship. Right: Sophomore Eric Nystrom can't
believe his eyes as he watches the crowd before exiting the ice at Yost ice Arena.
Odds be damned, icers to Frozen Four

This was needed. More than any-
thing else, this was needed. Al
Montoya standing on his head
while fending off Black Bears and
Tigers was needed.
Jed Ortmeyer turning into a Stevie
Y-incarnate
one more time
in the playoffs9
was needed.
Most impor-
tantly, Michi-
gan going back
to the Frozen
Four was need- KYLE
ed - for the O'NEILL
team and the
Michigan ath- The Daily Janitor
letic family.
For Ortmeyer and John Shouneyia,
this was their time to prove they could
be just as effective without last year's

star and early departure, Mike Cam-
malleri. Both senior captains have had
to endure a lot this season, including
injuries at the beginning of the season.
But after each one of the Wolverines'
nine losses and the resulting failure to
win the CCHA regular season title, the
loss of Cammalleri was staring the two
team leaders right in the face.
For sophomore Milan Gajic, this
season was supposed to be his chance
to break out. In minors, Gajic was
unstoppable with a 50-plus goal-scor-
ing season the year before he came to
Michigan. But after a so-so freshman
year, an academic suspension midway
through this season and being a
healthy scratch for the final two games
of the regular season, it was a wonder
if Gajic would ever produce the way
he was recruited to.
For the defense this season, there

was little doubt it was supposed to be
one of the nation's best. Mike Komis-
arek and junior alternate captain Andy
Burnes were to anchor what was going
to give Michigan a shot at the national
title. But with Komisarek leaving early
at the same time Cammalleri did,
Burnes contracting mononucleosis
early in the season and Eric Werner
losing the second half of his season to
an academic suspension, many won-
dered how the defense could ever be
successful with forwards-turned-
defensemen (David Wyzgowski and
J.J. Swistak) and a youngster (Danny
Richmond) carrying much of the load.
Up until now for Bill Martin and the
rest of the athletic family, this has
been a year that many would like to
forget. While diver Jason Coben (I told
you to learn his name), wrestler Ryan
See O'NEILL, Page 4B

------------ i

Tumblers capture Big

MC a
3 1C
TONY DING/Daily

By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer
CHAMPAIGN - It's one thing
for a team to compete with half of
its scholarship athletes, including an
All-American, out due to injury. It's
something entirely different for that
same team to win a Big Ten Cham-
pionship.
On Saturday, the Michigan
women's gymnastics team did just
that, scoring a season-high 197.450
to hold off Iowa and win its 12th
Big Ten Championship. The win
extends the Wolverines' Big Ten
Championship'win streak to an
impressive five straight meets and is

"It's an incredible feeling," Michi-
gan coach Bev Plocki said. "I told
them before we came out tonight
that I wanted them to come out on
the floor and not compete not to
lose. They needed to put it all out
there on the floor and be aggressive,
and if they made a mistake, I wanted
them to make it giving 150 percent,
and that's exactly what they did."
The most satisfying part about
the event was not that the 10th-
ranked Wolverines (10-1 Big Ten,
17-6 overall) won, but how they
won. Going into the third rotation
(Michigan's second event), the
Wolverines trailed the Hawkeyes
49.250-49.125. The next event for

of problems on this season. Junior
Calli Ryals notched a 9.9 in the
middle of the routine and was fol-
lowed up by freshman Jenny Dei-
ley's career high 9.95. Sophomore
Lauren Mirkovich put the icing on
the cake with a 9.925. Plocki was
visibly pleased, giving an emphatic
fist-pump after each routine. The
score, a 49.450, was a season-high,
and was also good to tie for the
fifth-best postseason bars score in
Michigan history.
"It just goes to prove that the
potential is there, the talent is there,
and you just have to learn how to hit
it mentally, and we did that today, so
we're on a roll," Ryals said.

performance, but the Wolverines
would have none of that. After a fall
by sophomore Kara Rosella on the
first performance on beam, Michi-
gan caught fire. Sophomore Chelsea
Kroll tied a career high with a
9.925, and Deiley and Becca Clan-
son gave solid contributions with a
9.85 and 9.825, respectively. But
those scores just paved the way for
senior Janessa Grieco, who scored a
9.95, which was a career high and
also tied the Michigan record for
postseason beam scores. Ryals fin-
ished off the magnificent series of
performances with a 9.925 of her
own.
"It was really exciting, too,

I

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