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April 14, 2003 - Image 16

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8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 14, 2003
Pep talk from coach makes big difference

0

By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer1
In practice on Wednesday, the Wolverines had just
come off a fall on their bar routines, and had to move
to beam. Michigan coach Bev Plocki gathered the
troops and gave them the scenario. Hit on beam to go
to nationals. They then had one of their best beam sets1
of the year.
An eerily similar situation arose Saturday night,
as the Michigan women's gymnastics team came off1
a fall on bars and moved on to beam in its last rota-
tion. With an NCAA Championship berth and a1
regional championship on the line, Plocki gave her
pep talk.I
'I circled them up after bars, and said, 'Look, we've
practiced it, and you have got to compete to win,' "
Plocki said. "You have got to go out there and be
aggressive."
And the Wolverines did. Posting no scores lower
than a 9.8, Michigan seized the opportunity to prove1
once again that the mental strength of the team is bor-
dering on exceptional.
It's a coach's dream to have a scenario in practice1
play itself out in competition. For Plocki, it was proba-
bly not the scenario she wanted, but she still ended up !
looking like a genius as Michigan rolled on the beam.

"It was amazing what our team did on beam and
bars and coming back," senior co-captain Janessa
Grieco said. "Just the way we went out there and did it
under pressure was just unbelievable."
Earlier in the week, the Michigan coaching staff
said it was pleased with the rotation it had gotten. Nor-
mally, the home team would like to end on the floor,
but the Wolverines drew beam as their last event.
Michigan is very strong on beam, but it becomes a lot
more difficult in pressure situations, and everyone was
having second thoughts Saturday night.
"It's hard to end a meet like this on beam, because
there's a lot of pressure, and there's no room for error
up there," Plocki said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't
nervous, but I did have a lot of confidence in the kids."
The team was admittedly nervous, but those nerves
mixed with confidence.
"I was really nervous, but I just knew I could do it,"
Lauren Mirkovich said.
"We were really confident going into beam just
because beam is one of our best events," freshman
Jenny Deiley said.
Michigan's upperclassman leadership helped pull
the team through.
"I think that's one of our best aspects, everyone is so
good at picking each other up," freshman Becca Clau-
son said. "Especially the older girls, for us who don't

really know what it's like in a team sport and event like
this."
Clauson was especially impressive on the beam, tal-
lying a 9.9 in an event that has perplexed her through-
out the year, both in practice and competition.
"Becca has had a little bit of confidence problems
lately on beam, and we've been really working hard on
that," Plocki said. "This past week has been outstand-
ing for her in practice, and I had enough confidence in
her to put the big flight series back in the routine,
because I knew she could do it."
Plocki asked Clauson afterwards if her confidence
was back, and Clauson replied, "Oh yeah."
The underclassmen once again showed that they are
for real, silencing any remaining doubters. Beam will
be key as the team moves on to the national champi-
onships in Lincoln, Neb., and the Wolverines' mental
toughness will be tested yet again. But there is no indi-
cation that Michigan will crack anytime soon.
The bigger the meet, the bigger this season's
Wolverines perform, and something Clauson said ear-
lier in the week is a perfect illustration of what this
team is all about.
"She (Clauson) had said before that she performs
the best in the biggest meets," Plocki said. "She
proved herself right."
So did the Wolverines.

.0

REGIONALS
Continued from Page 1B
And that was basically it. Just go after
it. That's kind of the attitude we had
going into beam."
Ryals herself was, simply put, on
fire. In addition to being the All-
Around Title winner, she also tied for
first place on both the floor exercise
and the uneven bars.
"It's kind of cool because I've had

kind of a rough season," Ryals said. "It
feels good to be able to pick it back
up.
Freshman Jenny Deiley, who was the
runner-up to Ryals in the All-Around,
also had a very good showing. In addi-
tion to being the runner-up in the All-
Around, she also tied won the vault
title and Ryals for first on uneven bars.
Michigan also got some help in win-
ning the meet. The Sun Devils, who
have been ranked in the top five

nationally for much of the season,
choked on beam, scoring a 49.2 to
hand the victory over to the Wolver-
ines.
"It just so happened that we were a
tenth better," Plocki said. "There's so
much parody across the country, that
on any given night it doesn't matter if
you're number three or number ten,
either team could win. I think that
that's something that we have to take
into the national championship and go

okay they were number, well there's
four through nine that are technically
still ahead of us, but if we could beat
number three we could beat any of the
rest of them too."
In the end, the Wolverines left the
floor tired but elated. All the hard work
over the season had finally put them in
the position that they wanted to be in.
"In the situation we were put in, I
think I was really proud of our team,"
Ryals said "(We) did awesome

REBECCA SAHN/Daily
Junior Call Ryals performs on the floor at regionals this Saturday at
Crisler Arena. The Wolverines advanced to the NCAA championships.

Polo takes home division championship

By Ellen McGarrity
Daily Sports Writer
Some say the third time is a charm - this supersti-
tion held true for Michigan women's water polo coach
Matt Anderson this weekend when he and his team
traveled to Lewisburg, Pa. With Michigan's third
thrashing of rival Indiana this season, the Wolverines
claimed the Southern Division Championship title for
the second year in a row with a 6-2 win.
"Winning the championship was awesome - no
doubt about that," said Anderson about his first year
on the winning side of the rivalry. Anderson was assis-
tant coach for Indiana last year when it lost to Michi-
gan and knows how it feels to be at opposite ends of
the rivalry.
Last time Michigan faced the Hoosiers, victory did
not come easy, as Michigan barely tied the score in the
last quarter and eventually won in overtime.
One of the factors that helped Michigan exhibit
more skillful play was that Anderson has been teach-
ing his team to score goals early in the game and
toward the ends of quarters.

For most of the season, Michigan has tended to
make its goals in the second half of the game, giving
its opponents the chance to claim an early advantage.
In this game, though, by the end of the first quarter,
Michigan had already put three tallies on the score-
board.
Anderson also explained the advantage of scoring
goals near the end of a quarter.
"You've established that you can work a period and
play strong defense," Anderson said. "Then you show
at the end that you can throw a goal on the board. Your
opponents question themselves on how hard they want
to work in order to beat you (in future quarters)."
Michigan's six goals were all scored near the end of
quarters.
Also to Anderson's advantage was that he finally
had his entire team to draw from. For much of the sea-
son, two or more of his top players have been injured
or out with illness.
"I think the difference in this game and the last time
we played Indiana is the fact that we are healthy
again," Anderson said.
Junior Jo Antonsen, who has been out much of the

season due to a broken left finger, was the leading
scorer in the game with her second career hat trick.
"Jo Antonsen was huge," Anderson said. "She real-
ly adds another weapon for us on offense, and she is
an outstanding defensive player. She adds a lot of ver-
satility to the team."
Antonsen poses a unique challenge for opponents
because she is one of the two left-handed players on
the team. She said that all three of her goals were
aimed at the goalie from angles only a left-handed
player could set up.
Michigan goalie Betsey Armstrong also played a key
role in stopping Indiana. With an amazing 17 saves,
Armstrong nearly broke her own school record of 19,
recorded last year in another game against Indiana.
"Armstrong just destroyed Indiana defensively,"
Anderson said. "We were allowing (Indiana) to take
shots we knew she would just eat up."
Now that the Wolverines have proven themselves as
number one in their own conference, they will head to
the Eastern Championships, taking place April 25-27
in Boston. Michigan will likely be chosen as the No. I
seed after its performance this weekend.

NCAA
Continued from Page1B
minutes outside of Philadelphia so I had
a lot of family there. Hearing people
cheer for me brought up my confidence
and helped me perform well."
Other standout performances of the
night came from sophomore Geoff Cor-
rigan and freshman Gerry Signorelli.
The pair posted Michigan's best score
on the horizontal bar with a 9.300. This
was good enough for a fifth-place tie
and matched the season high for the
team. Senior Brian Peterson also posted
his highest score of the season on pom-
mel horse with a 9.300. With these
combined efforts, the Wolverines
advanced to the finals in second place
out of six teams.
On Saturday, Michigan was the only
school that had three people in the top
10 of the all-around event. Vetere
placed third, and freshmen Justin Laury
and Gerry Signorelli grabbed top-10
finishes as well, making them the two
highest-placing freshmen.

"I felt pretty good," Signorelli said.
"Withthe amountaof struggles we've
had all season and all of the injuries, by
bringing everything together we defi-
nitely hit our potential, and I think all of
the guys feel the same way."
At the end of the night, the Wolver-
ines walked away with theif fourth-place
finish behind repeat champion Okla-
homa, Ohio State, and Big Ten champi-
on Penn State. After the night's events,
the Wolverines were able to send top-
eight finishers Vetere (on the pommel
horse), DiGiore (on vault), and senior
Conan Parzuchowski (on the still rings)
to the Individual Event Finals yesterday.
Even though just one national cham-
pion came out of the event finals, Vetere
finished seventh in the pommel horse,
and Parzuchowski finished in fifth-place
on the still rings. It was an amazing
weekend for the Wolverines, and they
were proud to finish on a strong note.
"This season was a lot better than last
year," Golder said. "Although we placed
the same, we had a better and smoother
championship."

0
0

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