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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 31, 2003 - 78

Grieco stars in final
conference meet

'M' finds silver
lining at Big Tens

By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer
CHAMPAIGN - Michigan's Big
Ten Championship victory on Saturday
was a bittersweet one for senior Janes-
sa Grieco. On the one hand, she had
just won her fourth Big Ten Champi-
onship team. On the other hand, in the
back of her mind was the fact that she
was never going to be able to do it
again.
"I think it was a little bit more
nerve-racking because it was my last
one, and I really wanted to go out (on a
good note)," Grieco said.
She did just that, capturing the Big
Ten balance beam title with a career-
best 9.95.
"When I heard them announce (that
Grieco had won the competition) on
the podium, my mouth dropped," jun-
ior Calli Ryals said. "I was so excited,
because you know Janessa is one of
the hardest workers on this team, (one
of the) most dedicated girls on this
team, and she deserves it."
Michigan coach Bev Plocki had a
similar response, although it was bit
more effervescent.
"It always makes me feel good and
warm and fuzzy inside when you see
an athlete like Janessa come through
the program, Plocki said. "She's just a
great kid. She's a coach's dream in
every sense of the imagination. She is
a very hard worker, she's a very good
student, she's a sweetheart of a person,
and we're going to miss her. She's only
one person, but our loss, with her grad-

uation, is going to impact this team
more significantly than anyone realizes
just because of how much she brought
to this program."
"Miss her" is quite an understate-
ment. Grieco has consistently scored
with the best gymnasts over the course
of the season, notching six individual
event titles and winning the All-
Around title twice. She was also
named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week
twice.
What may be missed more than any-
thing is the leadership that Grieco
brought to the team. Grieco, who,
along with junior Elise Ray was named
team captain at the beginning of the
year, has shared her knowledge and
experience with some of the younger
members of the team.
But the one thing that may not be
clear to the common eye is that amid
the vast success that she has had as a
gymnast at Michigan, Grieco has
remained modest, often passing com-
plements intended for herself to her
coaches and teammates. One particular
example of this was what she said
when asked about what it was like to
compete in her final Big Ten Champi-
onship.
"It was one of my most memorable
Big Tens yet," Grieco said. "I was so
impressed with the team and with
everyone."
Grieco's future is still largely to be
determined, but one thing is for cer-
tain: When she finally does leave the
Michigan program for good, she will
be gone, but definitely not forgotten.

TONY DING/Daily
Michigan senior Janessa Grieco posted a career-best score on the balance beam to
win the Big Ten individual title in the event this past weekend.

TUMBLERS
Continued from Page1B
one do beam, but I had seen Kara fall, and so I
was like, 'This is it, we want to win Big Tens.
This is going to be it,"' Grieco said.
After the Wolverines matched their bars score
with an identical 49.450 on floor, it was all over.
Well, almost.
The Big Ten also handed out its season awards.

Deiley grabbed the Freshman of the Year
award, and Plocki also received conference
recognition, as she walked away with the Coach
of the Year title.
The feeling in the gym after it was all over was
one of jubilation for the Michigan fans who had
made the trek from Ann Arbor to support the
team. Perhaps the happiest person of all was
Plocki herself.
"Up until tonight, I think that the 1992 Big Ten

Title - the first won that we won - probably
held the warmest place in my heart," she said.
"But after tonight, this one definitely does
because just what this team has been through.
And to come out here and compete and win this
meet with really only using 50 percent of our
scholarship athletes is just a testament to these
kids' sheer grit and determination.
"I am so proud of them, I could just burst."

By Nazeema Ali
Daily Sports Writer
For the Michigan men's gymnas-
tics team, the weekend in Columbus
for the Big Ten Championships did
not meet expectations, but the
Wolverines walked away with two
important discoveries.
First, outstanding freshmen per-
formances that were comparable
with the best of the Big Ten hinted
the development of a gymnastics
powerhouse in the near future. At
second, the team found a sense of
collective motivation, which they
will need in preparation for the
upcoming NCAA Championships in
two weeks.
The sixth-ranked Wolverines fin-
ished in fourth place out of six
teams with a score of 215.325. Penn
State won its first Big Ten title ever
with a score of 220.550. Ohio State
(218.600) and Iowa (215.600) fol-
lowed in second and third place,
while Minnesota and Illinois took
fifth and sixth place, scoring
214.300 and 211.850, respectively.
"I hoped we could have finished
in the top three," Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "We got off to a
good start on high bar, but we are
not a strong floor team. We missed
two golden opportunities on pom-
mel horse, and we tied Penn State
for first place on the rings."
It was inconsistency in all the
events that cost the Wolverines third
place by less than three tenths of a
point; but then again, that has been
the story all season. With a team
that is full of talent, injuries have
altered the makeup of the lineup
numerous times throughout the sea-
son, resulting in unpredictable scor-
ing patterns.
As soon as all aspects of the team
seem to be coming together and a
rainbow of hope appears in the dis-
tance, there is someone else taken
out of the lineup, once again dis-
mantling stability.
But one thing that has remained
consistent during the course of the
tumultuous season has been confi-
dence. No one on the team ever
doubts that he is better than the
numbers tell. It is inevitable that
things will fall in place, and once
the Wolverines meet the potential
that Golder has repeatedly talked
about all year, they are certain that
no one will see Michigan coming
for them.
Individual performances of fresh-
men Andrew Digiore and Justin
Laury on Friday and Saturday are
evidence of a championship-caliber
team on the verge of breaking out.
Laury finished third in the all-
around competition, and was
crowned Big Ten Freshman of the
Year.
"I felt consistent and focused,"
Laury said. "I went out there and
did exactly what I did in practice."
Laury, who ruptured his Achilles
tendon over the summer, put togeth-
er a solid freshman year that earned
him a spot on the all-conference
team.
"I don't know exactly what the
(all-Big Ten team) is about," Laury
said. "It was unexpected and an

added bonus."
Digiore also did enough to
impress the judges, as he won first
place on the vault in both the pre-
liminary competition and the finals.
He was also chosen to represent
Michigan on the all-conference
team.
"Drew worked hard and definite-
ly deserved to win," Laury said.
Golder agreed after pointing out
that Digiore had unveiled the two-
and-a-half twist vault that he used
in competition just two weeks
before at the Wolverines' final regu-
lar season meet at Ohio State.
Although he was not able to land
the vault the first time he per-
formed it in competition, he domi-
nated the Big Ten Championships
with a score of 9.500.
"The year started out shaky, but I
tweaked a few techniques and
added an extra half twist (to the
vault)," Digiore said. "The whole
year kind of built up to that one
moment. I went to the meet think-
ing I could win, and I'm really
excited about how things went."
For both Laury and Digiore, the
excitement of two nights of intense
competition culminated with the
support and enthusiasm of family
and friends that were present at the
competition.
"It was nice to compete on the
road and feel like you're at home,"
Laury said.
Laury has a lot of family living in
the Ohio area, and many Michigan
fans were able to attend the event
given its close proximity to Ann
Arbor.
"Family and friends were loud
and excited when our names were
called up for the conference team,"
Digiore added.
The Wolverines also showed
strong performances on the still
rings, on which they sent three
gymnasts to the individual event
finals. Conan Parzuchowski led
Michigan with a score of 9.625,
which was more than enough to
capture second place behind Penn
State's Kevin Tan (9.725). Michi-
gan's Scott Vetere took third place
on the event, and Laury finished
seventh.
Golder is confident that the
results of the Big Ten Champi-
onships will only motivate Michi-
gan to work harder in order to
succeed at the NCAA Champi-
onships.
"When we add Eddie Umphrey
and Jeff Corrigan back into the
lineup we will have stronger team,"
Golder said. "The guys who com-
peted at the Big Tens have shown
that they are resilient and can do a
good job. Hopefully everything will
fall into place once we put all these
things together."
Umphrey had been out eight
weeks after breaking his hand on a
parallel bars routine earlier in the
season, and Corrigan was suspend-
ed from competition for two meets
for disciplinary purposes. Golder
believes that its presence in the
lineup will help fortify the team as
it sets out to finish within the top
three spots at the NCAA Champi-
onships in two weeks.

Blue rolls through Southern Division

By Ellen McGarrity
Daily Sports Writer

The Michigan women's water polo
team is so hot right now, even Hansel
and Derek Zoolander couldn't touch
them. For the third year in a row, the
team has dominated in the Southern
Division conference, trampling all
eight teams played.
Four teams were conquered two
weeks ago, and this weekend in Wash-
ington, Pa., the Wolverines finished
what they started, dominating the

remaining four teams. Yesterday,
Washington and Jefferson fell 16-4,
and on Saturday, Slippery Rock (10-
4), Gannon (8-2) and Mercyhurst (19-
5) felt the Wolverines' thunder.
One reason for the Wolverines'
strong showing was the team's abil-
ity to take control in the first half
of the game. In the first two quar-
ters of its games against Mercyhurst
and Washington and Jefferson,
Michigan scored an impressive 13
and nine goals against its oppo-
nents, respectively.

"We wanted to get out quickly in
our games so we could shut them
down defensively," coach Matt Ander-
son said. "We held both Gannon and
Slippery Rock scoreless in the second
half (because of) our first half lead."
But even though the team seemed
to overpower these Eastern teams,
some Wolverines felt that winning
wasn't so easy.i
"The teams weren't as good as
we're used to," senior Delia Sonda
said. "But two of the teams, Slippery
Rock and Gannon, were (harder).
"We may have beat them on the
scoreboard, but they gave us a tough
time in the water."
One disadvantage Sonda pointed to
was that the pool they were playing in
was older, so it had a shallow-deep
feature. In water polo, the entire pool
is normally deep water, but in Wash-
ington's Henry Memorial Center, one
end is deep, while the other end is
shallow.
"It's harder to shoot because the net
is higher and the goalie gets to stand
up," Sonda said. "You have to a shoot
a different way, and the rules change.
Only the goalie can stand up so (it can
be difficult) staying down in the water
while trying to make a goal."
The ease at which the team over-
took its opponents allowed Anderson
to give nearly every Wolverine a
chance in the water. But it was sopho-

more drivers Erin Brown and Meg
Knudtsen who really made waves.
Knudtsen, who has been filling in
for an injured Megan Hausmann,
scored a total of eight goals including
two hat tricks throughout the four
games. Brown rounded out the week-
end with 10 goals for the Wolverines.
"It was really more of a team
effort," Knudtsen said. "We were able
to get up on the counters easily, and
Erin (Brown) gave me a lot of
assists."
Anderson cites the fact that Knudt-
sen and Brown worked together as a
key factor in winning their games.
"Meg and Erin really had a chance
to shine this weekend," Anderson
said. "It gave them a chance to take
over the reins when called upon."
The sweep of the Southern Divi-
sion conference was just the first
obstacle in the road toward the Final
Four, to be held May 10-11 in San
Diego.
Now that the Wolverines have cap-
tured the title of No. 1 seed in their
conference, they will enter the South-
ern Division Championships in two
weeks in a good position.
"Our first goal was to get the
number one seed in the tournament
and win the division again," Ander-
son said. "We (now) need to prepare
for what hopefully will be a confer-
ence championship."

FRANK PAYNE/Daily
The Michigan water polo team defeated four teams this weekend and Is in good
position for another Final Four run, which will be held May 10-11.

1.

The Office of Student
Activities and Leadership
Invites you to a discussion and
review of the University's
"Diag Roflcy"
from 6:00 to 7:00 pm on
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2003
In the Michigan Union,
Welker Room

ATTENTION
TUIDENT ORCANI!ATIONI!
Where can you...
Recruit new members?
Do a service for the University?
Make money for your group?
WELCOME TO MICHICAN 100?
For more information, attend the
MASS MEETING
Thursday, April 3-6:30pm
Wolverine Room, Union
Pizza provided
Ifyou are unable to attend the mass meeting, see
www.onsD.umich.edu/welcome

.

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