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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 15, 2004

4

Laury's recovery on
high bar clinches win

Blue performs well,
but still falls short

By Ian Herbert
.aily Sports Writer
With all of the eyes in Cliff Keen
arena focused on him, Justin Laury did
exactly what he did not want to do: fall.
Laury flew a fraction of an inch too far
on his release, and his hands slipped off
the high bar.
. But Laury refused to let this slipup
bury him.
He took his time, got back on the
bar, nailed the rest of his routine
and stuck the dismount. His score of
.9.2 was good enough for third place
on the high bar, but more important-
ly, it gave No. 7 Michigan the win
over No. 6 Ohio State. The Wolver-
ines squeaked out the victory by
less than three-tenths of a point,
219.725 to 219.450.
"I was very, very pissed at myself,"
.Laury said. "But you have to get back
up there, and you can be a champion, or
you can be a little punk.
"(After the fall) I was just thinking
that I had to be perfect. It was a great
team effort, and I know the team want-
ed me to finish strong. I knew that
every tenth counted. I have been in
meets where we lost by two-tenths. So it
-was all for the team."
Going into the last rotation, the high
bar, Michigan was down by more than a
point and a half - typically an insur-
mountable deficit. But thanks to a

record setting high bar score (37.4) and
some mistakes by Ohio State on parallel
bars, the Wolverines were able to make
up the deficit.
"Even when we were down, the guys
kept their spirit up," Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "Being down by a
point and a half is tough, but I knew
that if we were in striking distance, our
high bar is pretty good. So I knew we
could pull it out if we could put a little
bit of pressure on them. Sure enough,
they cracked on parallel bars, and we
had almost the meet of our life."
One of the most important per-
formances of the night came from
sophomore David Flannery, who
had not competed for the Wolver-
ines since the first meet of the sea-
son. His score of 8.95 to start off
the team's high bar rotation was
thrown out, but his nearly perfect
routine and dismount brought the
crowd and the team to their feet.
"That was huge, because he's worked
his ass off all year, and he's only been
able to compete one time," Golder said.
"For him, I wanted that hit, and it was
great. He stuck his dismount, and he
rocked his routine.
"He actually wasn't in the lineup
until Thursday. Mainly we got him in
the meet because he was looking good,
so the timing was right. And he hadn't
been in a (home) meet. So this was a
great opportunity to get him in."

TONY DING/Daily
Justin Laury fell off the high bar In the Wolverines' meet against Ohio State over
the weekend, but his perseverance helped Michigan win the event.

Flannery was less impressed with
his own performance. He said that he
wasn't worried going into high bar,
and he was confident in his team's
ability.
"There're always nerves, but you
always have to know that you can do
it," Flannery said. "It was my first
meet competing in a while, and it
felt good. It felt good to go in there
and hit the set and have the team
pull it out in the end. I knew my
team was behind me, and I knew
that all of us were just going to
knock it out. We just went up there,

and the whole team did what we had
to do."
Michigan's gymnasts said that
this upset victory sets the team up
well for the Big Ten Championship
next weekend in Chicago. Most
admitted that they have room for
improvement, but they said that they
were confident going into the most
important portion of the season.
"We're ready," junior Eddie Umphrey
said., "We have a lot of talent. We strug-
gled a little bit early in the season, but
we know we have it in us. Tonight, we
came out and finally put it together."

By Jeremy Antar
Daily Sports Writer
In most sports, team performance
is evaluated by wins and losses. But
in gymnastics this is not necessarily
the case.
Entering Friday's meet with Alabama,
the Michigan women's gymnastics team
had lost two consecutive meets. But
more importantly, Michigan had per-
formed poorly during both defeats.
On senior night at Crisler Arena on
Friday, Michigan suffered its third-
straight defeat at the hands of Alabama,
197.025-197.725.
But this loss did not hurt as badly as
the last two. Instead, it was a positive
step for the Wolverines. Michigan's
team score of 197.025 was its second-
highest output of the season.
"This was definitely a confidence
booster going into Big Tens;' said junior
Elise Ray, who captured second place in
the all-around competition.
During the last two meets, Michigan
made costly mistakes that forced the
team to unusually low scores. But on
Friday, the team's execution was back to
the level it has been at for the majority
of the season.
Coach Bev Plocki said she was
pleased that the team was able to end
the regular season on a strong note.
"It was the first meet in several when
we didn't count any major breaks,"
Plocki said. "We had a fall here and
there, but the other five routines were
strong enough that it didn't really affect
us that much.:
Even though Michigan was in need
of a strong performance, the pressure
did not show in the team's body lan-
guage before the meet. During warm-
ups, the team looked loose and relaxed,
shedding bright smiles and laughing.
"I think the past few meets we've
been really tense," senior Calli Ryals
said. "Today we just told ourselves we
have to relax and have fun."
Michigan began the meet on the
vault, where it compiled a team score
of 49.100. Next they moved on to the
uneven bars, where junior Chelsea
Kroll started things off with a strong
performance, earning a 9.850:.Fresh-
man Lindsey Bruck and junior Lauren
Mirkovich each landed scores of 9.825.
Ryals came through for her team,
sticking her landing and scoring a
9.925. Ray imitated her teammate with
a 9.925 of her own to close out the
event.
On the beam, Michigan got strong
efforts from Kroll (9.875), Bruck
(9.825), Clauson (9.825) and sopho-

more Jenny Dieley (9.775). One of
Michigan's few mistakes came when
Ryals fell during her routine. With the
pressure on, Ray followed Ryals with a
nearly flawless performance and scored
a 9.925.
"I kind of change my focus," said
Ray of competing after a teammate has
fallen. "I tell myself that my team needs
me, and that fires me up."
Michigan ended the competition on
the floor exercise, where it earned a
team score of 49.350.
This was a special night for the three
graduating seniors on Michigan; under-
graduate coach Alison Rudisi, Christine
Mantilia and Ryals. The three were hon-
ored prior to the meet with video high-
lights of their careers at Michigan. After
the meet, Ryals said that it hadn't quite
hit her yet that she would never perform
at a home meet again.
"I think I'll feel the impact of it more
once the season is over," Ryals said.
Michigan will move on to Minnesota
next weekend to compete for the Big
Ten championship.
"The goal is, you always want to peak
at the postseason championship meets,
and hopefully that's the direction were
headed," Plocki said.

I

I

Players-only meeting turns Wolverines around

By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
The last couple of weeks have been subpar for
the Michigan men's gymnastics team. The No. 7
Wolverines had not won a dual meet since before
Spring Break. So the gymnasts knew they would
have to make some changes preparing for the
'weekend's home contest against Ohio State.
The captains scheduled a play-
ers-only meeting Thursday night
to try and change the team's atti-
tude.I
"It was all the gymnasts and
just the gymnasts," sophomore
"Justin Laury said. "We made a list
of what was going on in the gym and outside of
-the gym, too. So we got fired up, came out and
worked on those things."
The meeting left the gymnasts feeling confi-
dent for the stretch run.
"We just talked about how the rest of the sea-
son is going to finish up, and what we have to do
to make it happen," David Flannery said. "We
ufeel really good. This meet (against Ohio State)

was a good warm up for Big Tens, and now we'll
really turn up the heat. We'll turn it up at practice
this week, and go and dominate at Illinois."
DRE's COMEBACK: Before his high bar routine, Andre
Hernandez, "Dre" to his teammates, stood next to the
high bar, jumping up and down on the mat. He was
testing his knee for his upcoming dismount.
Hernandez, one of Michigan's most consistent
gymnasts, had been held out of the lineup for the
last two weeks with a knee injury. He came back
against Ohio State to do just three events: high
bar, parallel bars and pommel horse.
"He provides a lot of depth," Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "In some cases, he did a pretty
easy routine. His parallel bars routine had an
easy dismount, and he left off his biggest skill,
but we plan on adding both of those pieces next
week. His steadiness is great. He hit all of his
routines again tonight. He struggled a little bit on
horse, but he fought through and turned what
would be a miss for most people into a hit rou-
tine. It's great to have the most consistent per-
former back."
Despite his injuries, Hernandez placed second
in the high bar with a score of 9.55 and was able

to stick his landing. Golder expects him to be
ready for next weekend with all of his routines
back to normal form. His teammates are excited
to get him back into competition.
"It's getting serious at the end of the season,"
David Flannery said. "We got Dre back, and he
was a soldier tonight, really toughing it through
all his events. That really helped us."
MAKING THE TRIP: Eddie Umphrey's parents made
the 30-hour train ride from Albuquerque, N.M. to
Ann Arbor for their first home gymnastics meet
since their son has been at Michigan. They left with
a little more than just the memories.
Umphrey threw a t-shirt that said "Gymnastics
Superfan" into the crowd for fan appreciation
after he placed second on the still rings, and his
mother caught it.
Then, after he scored a 9.0 on his parallel bars rou-
tine, Umphrey blew a kiss across the crowd to his par-
ents. He said that it means a lot to get them up for this
meet because it's a long trip for them.
"It was awesome to have a great performance
and pull out a great win with my parents in the
stands," Umphrey said. "I'm extremely happy
that they were able to make it."

4

4

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
Junior Chelsea Kroll's performance on
the beam earned her a score of 8.75.

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