The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 6, 2002 - 9
New 'M' trio to make debut
Top 25 next goal for
By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer
Getting outside its comfort zone will be the main
focus of the Michigan women's gymnastics team
tonight. The Wolverines will kick off their 2002-2003
campaign with their annual intrasquad exhibition
meet tonight at Cliff Keen Arena.
Coach Bev Plocki has been looking for the Wolver-
ines to push themselves to do more dif-
ficult routines, and this intrasquad meet
will provide a chance for the gymnasts CLIFF KEI
to show off what they've worked on. who: Maize vs
"We've been talking a lot about peo- Intrasquad Exh
ple that train within their comfort zone, when: 7 pm tc
and compete within their comfort zone, Latest: Fans wi
are never really going to progress," Ploc- first chance to
ki said. "The intrasquad is my little kick 2003 team. Ne
to push them just outside their comfort will be unveiled
zone to take on that new skill." freshmen will
The meet will feature every member Michigan debu
of the team, not just the maximum'of six normally
seen in competitions. It will be a fairly relaxed atmos-
phere with spotters and extra mats if needed. This will
also be the best opportunity for fans to see the whole
team in competition, and the gymnasts are looking
forward to it.
"It's important because everyone gets to go out and
compete for the first time during the year, and it's a
little bit more fun and a little more relaxed," senior
captain Janessa Grieco said.
It may be relaxed, but the gymnasts will be in a
different building than where they practice, and
there will still be a crowd under the lights. Also, the
gymnasts will be performing new and more diffi-
"The intrasquad is really where you get
v ARENA to see how people do in competition,"
Blue Grieco said.
>ition The Michigan coaching staff will get
ight its first look at the three new freshmen
get their that have joined the team. The Wolver-
ee 2002- ines are already high on Becca Clauson,
v routines Rachel Colon and Jennifer Deiley.
and three "We have a lot of great freshmen com-
ake their ing up," Grieco said. "I think that they can
definitely make an immediate impact."
On~e person that may not be able to go tonight is
sophomore Chelsea Kroll, who is battling recurring
foot problems. Despite that, the team has been gener-
ally healthy thus far.
The Wolverines are coming off of a disappointing
A season that began filled with
questions is looking brighter every
day for the Michigan women's basket-
By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
ball team. A 4-0 start has
given the Wolverines
momentum as they cruise
into Cincinnati this week-
end for their first road
trip of the year at the
Provident Bank Xavier
The start is the team's
best since the 1999-2000
season. That team started
the year off 7-0, and
Calli Ryals and the rest of the women's gymnastic team
will begin their season with their intrasquad meet.
finish in last year's NCAAs, where they failed to qual-
ify for the finals for the first time since 1998. Despite
losing five seniors to graduation, Michigan is confi-
dent that it will be ready to compete at the national
level. And with a smaller team than years past, the
impact of each gymnast will be much more evident.
"I think that everyone on this team has a chance to
make an impact in some way or another," Grieco said.
When: 3 p.m. to
Latest: The Wolv
their unbeaten m
the four-team Pr
Bank Xavier Invi
This is Michigan
meeting with St
nearly cut their turnovers in half since
the beginning of the season. Michigan
lost the ball 21 times in its first game,
but improved to just eight turnovers in
Sunday's win over Detroit.
"The kids have been trying very
hard not to make the
same mistakes," Guevara
NATI said. "I think now we
(4-0) vs. St. need to work on our
Ydefense. We had a little
morrow bit of a mental break-
verines take down against Detroit in
nark into the second half."
ovident Thus far, Michigan's
tational. cast.of freshmen has
o'sfirst ever passed the test. Guards
Mie Burlin and Niki
Grapplers roll the dice in hopes of repeat
By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer
The Wolverines will face a deep field loaded
with talent today and tomorrow. Among the
teams No. 5 Michigan will see in Las Vegas are
n Big Ten rivals No. 1 Minnesota and No. 6 Ohio
For the 20th consecutive year, the Michiga
wrestling team will head to Las Vegas to
compete in the Cliff Keen Invitational.
But this year the Wolverines go as LA
defending champions, and coach Joe Who: Mid
McFarland wants the team to do every- Keen Invit
thing possible to remain on top. When: Todc
"We're going out there to defend our Latest: The
title," McFarland said. "(Wednesday) I look to def
spoke to the team about the importance Keen titlev
of that. We don't want anyone to take our teams suc
title from us. It's not going to be easy, but andNo.
we're excited about the opportunity. With a
45 teams, there's going to be a lot of good wrestlers."
higan in the Cliff
lay and tomorrow
e Wolverines will
Mend their Cliff
when they face
h as No.1Min-
o. 6 Ohio State
State, as well as No. 11 Missouri and
No. 13 Nebraska.
Last year, seniors Otto Olson and
Andy Hrovat won individual champions
at 174 and 184 pounds, respectively, to
lead the Wolverines to first place. With
those two gone, Michigan will look for
strong performances from the other
wrestlers who placed at last year's invita-
tional. Last year Foley Dowd finished
second at 133 pounds, Ryan Bertin, fin-
ished third at 157 pounds, and A.J. Grant
Kyle Smith finished fifth last year at 197 pounds.
Two weeks ago Smith wrapped up Michigan's 26-12
victory over No. 8 Lehigh with a 6-4 upset over then-
No. 1 Jon Trenge at 197 pounds. Smith is now ranked
No. 4, and will likely face the new No. 1, Nebraska's
Justin Ruiz , this weekend.
"Everybody looks sharp and is wrestling with a lot
of intensity in practice, which is what I am always
looking for," McFarland said. "We gave them a couple
days off for Thanksgiving and it was good for them
both mentally and physically. They're fresh and ready
for this weekend."
Two wrestlers, Ryan Churella and Mike Kulczycki,
are still sidelined. Churella had knee surgery this
week, and Kulczycki's knee is also hurting. McFarland
expects them both to be back on the mat sometime
after winter break.
eventually finished with a school
record 22 wins, good enough for sec-
ond place in the Big Ten.
History isn't necessarily on the
Wolverines' side, though. Last year's
squad opened 11-1 before combusting
in conference play. This weekend's
tournament will be Michigan's first
test in the away jerseys, and it could
be a good gauge for the rest of the
"I'm really excited about going on
the road," junior Jennifer Smith said.
"We're a good away team and it gives
us a chance to bond."
Smith has been Michigan's force
inside during this young season, steal-
ing a bit of the thunder from senior
LeeAnn Bies, a preseason All-Big Ten
selection. Smith has scored 20 points
or more in three of Michigan's four
games, including a career high 29
against Detroit last Sunday.
Smith's play is only one of many
successful trends that coach Sue Gue-
vara would like to see continue. Gue-
vara's young backcourt players have
Reams have solidified the starting
positions so far. They are backed up
by one of the youngest and deepest
benches the Wolverines have pos-
sessed in years, and the results
they've been posting have been
impressive. Every player on the ros-
ter has already scored, and Guevara
now seems overrun with fresh
options down her bench.
"Seeing them have confidence,
gives me confidence," Guevara said.
"You never know what's going to hap-
pen with injuries or illness, so I'm
hoping that's something we'll have
until we're done in April."
Junior Stephanie Gandy has been
leading the charge off the bench, aver-
aging nine points a game. Her consis-
tent play has carried over from the
end of last year's season.
With all the pieces coming together,
the Wolverines are knocking on the
door of the national top 25. While the
Wolverines have yet to crack that
threshold, a pair of victories this
weekend could change that.
finished fifth at 125 pounds.