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April 01, 2004 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-01

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 1, 2004

Blue pole vaulters
face daunting task

Gymnastics heads to Regionals after rocky season

By Jeremy Antar
Daily Sports Writer
Like an avalanche storming down a mountain, the
Michigan women's gymnastics team has been gaining
momentum over the last few weeks. On March 12, Michi-
gan bounced back from a poor performance and went toe-

also seen what we're capable of doing," senior Calli Ryals
said. "So I think coming off a good win is ideal for us."
Michigan has to capture either first or second place in
order to advance to the NCAA National Championships;
a feat that the team has accomplished in each of the last
11 years.
Due to past regular-season success, Michigan usually
enters this weekend as a favorite to move on
to Nationals. As a result, the team is used to
looking at this weekend as more of a step-
ping stone to Nationals. But this year, the
s Wolverines have been seeded fourth, and are

Here's a look back at the up-and-down sea-
son for the 2004 women's gymnastics team.
Michigan's scores are listed first.

By Phil Kofahl
Daily Sports Writer
A good memory is a great
quality in an athlete. And when
it comes to pole vaulting, it very
well could be the most impor-
tant. The Michigan women who
take on this daunting event are
able to compress their "to do
list" into a few seconds. They
are constantly reminded to do
a lot of little things before
each vault: run hard, keep the
pole up, plant
quickly, drive your
knees, etc. Txus W
They may be the
bravest athletes at
the track, too. It
takes a little more Dater rida
than ambition to go tUSFTak
upside-d'own over T
an aluminum vault-
ing box at heights
over 10 feet, while holding on to
a pole. Repetition and strength-
training are the keys to reaching
the top of the podium, but no
one vaulter can do it by herself.
Each woman depends on her
coach and teammates to get
through each day.
"In high school, I didn't even
have a pole vault coach, so I
learned everything on my own,"
sophomore Kelly Catino said.
"But in college, the coaches
worked with me all last year and
never gave up on me, even
though I redshirted and didn't
travel with the team. All the
hard work paid off though,
because things are starting to
click this year and I have
improved a lot."
But none of them will com-
plain, because they wouldn't
have it any other way. Constant-
ly training together in such a
demanding event has brought
the vaulters closer together.
"The best part of vaulting at
Michigan is definitely just
being with the other girls,"
sophomore Courtney Doyle
said. "It makes practice every
day so much easier."
Getting a chance to leave the
cloudy Michigan weather
behind for a weekend in the sun
makes things a little easier, too.
The women's track team travels
south for the majority of the out-
door season, taking advantage of
the better weather.

"I love traveling, meeting
people from all over - it's
great," sophomore Elizabeth
Boyle said. "As we travel, we
become very friendly with all
the other vaulters. There's a
great sense of camaraderie
between teams."
Unfortunately, for a Division I
athlete, competing can't be all
fun in the sun. With so many
things required for a successful
vault, there are many things that
can take a vaulter off of her
"At times pole
EEKND vault can be so
frustrating because
F <<da it is so difficult and
<.. technical," Catino
y iSatuy said. "But there are
k <d<; those times when
, Y. n; ' everything just
clicks, and you
jump higher and
make a new personal record for
yourself. That's when you
become addicted to the sport
and all you want to do is jump
higher and higher."
But the vaulters realize that
they're only one part of a very
competitive team. The women's
track team has won four of the
last five Big Ten Champi-
onships, and the pole vaulters
are looking to put up big num-
bers to help win another Big
Ten title.
"The best part is being part of
a team that is so close and sup-
portive of each other," Doyle
said. "We have so many amaz-
ing athletes, but we realize that
being successful is a group
effort and Big Ten Champi-
onships are not won by only one
The Wolverines will be enjoy-
ing the Atlanta sun this week-
end, as they compete in the
Yellow Jacket invitational hosted
by Georgia Tech.
Apr. 22-24 Penn Relays
May 1 Jesse Owens Classic
May 7-8 Len Paddock
May 14-16 Big Ten Outdoor
May 28-29 NCAA Mideast
June 9-12 NCAA Outdoor
* bold indicates home meet



to-toe with No. 5 Alabama, compiling an
excellent score of 197.025. One week later,
the Wolverines captured the team's sixth con-
secutive Big Ten Championship. The team
score of 197.800 was Michigan's best of the
season, and the second-highest total in
school history.
Michigan will now march into the 2004
Northeast Regional Championships on Sat-
urday at State College. There it will compete
against Georgia, Iowa State, Missouri, New
Hampshire and Penn State. This will mark

...... .... .. . . . .. .. ... ..... .
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not expected to advance.
"Usually I worry about Regionals being
an emotional let-down because, when we are
seeded one or two, chances are that we are
going to Nationals," coach Bev Plocki said.
"But this year, we know we're going in as
the underdog, and we're definitely not going

Michigan's 13th consecutive trip to
the NCAA Regional
and its 14th overall.
The timing for Michi-
gan could not be bet-
ter, as its confidence is
the highest it has been
all season.
"I think our setup for
Regionals has been per-
fect because we've seen
our downside, but we've

into this meet with a complacent attitude."
"It's in the back of our minds that people are thinking
we are not going to make it, and I think that that drives us
even more," Ryals said.
Michigan's lower seeding this year comes as a result of
poor performances earlier in the season. But Plocki said
that it is not necessarily a bad thing to have a few bumps
in the road early in the season because, for many athletes,
the drive to correct a mistake is very strong.
"I think that in the early part of the season, what contin-
ues to motivate you to work hard is when you come out of
a competition and you know what you need to fix, what
you need to work on and what you need to improve in,"
Plocki said.
But coming into the biggest meet of the season, Plocki
is glad that Michigan is coming off a great performance.
"If we didn't hit at Big Tens, I think we would be going
into Regionals questioning whether or not we could do it.
I think now we know we can do it, and that's the mentality
we are going into this weekend with."

Jan. 11 No.7 Nebraska
Jan, 17 No, 17 Minnesota
Jan. 24 No, 6 Iowa
Feb. 6 State of
Michigan Classic
Feb. 14 No. 4 Utah
Feb. 22 at West Virginia
with Maryland
Feb. 27 No. 2 Georgia
Mar, 7 No. 1 UCLA
Mar. 12 No. 5 Alabama
Mar. 20 Big Tens

1st out of 5
2nd out of 3
195 .725-198.325
1 st out of 8

Elise Ray

Mandoli falls back on experiences

By Chastity Rolling
Daily Sports Writer

For Canadian native Heather Man-
doli, the 2003 NCAA finals regatta is
her most memorable rowing moment.
Michigan started in last place, but
just as the Wolverines began to doubt
themselves, they pulled together and
finished second.
Teamwork was the key in winning
that race, and it's just the same for any

other. And the closer a team is, the
more synchronized it can become.
"You cannot get random people and
go (compete in) rowing." Mandoli said.
"It's the ultimate team sport."
Rowing creates a scenario in which
all team members must remain iden-
tical in form and speed. That strict
condition of synchronization is hard
to achieve, and is not seen in many
other sports.
It is also a very physically

demanding sport. Rowing requires
the arm and leg strength of a swim-
mer and the speed and endurance of
a runner.
Rowing also gave Mandoli another
type of strength. It helped her endure
college life and being away from her
home in British Columbia.
"When I was a freshman, rowing
helped my transition into college,"
Mandoli said.
Mandoli has enjoyed her experi-
ence at Michigan, especially her
"There is no other program in the
country that you can compare the
coaching staff to," Mandoli said. "They
are all amazing coaches, as well as
wonderful people."
Mandoli's coaches and team-
mates have helped her balance col-
lege and rowing.
"It was pretty tough balancing the
two," Mandoli said. "But I never have
one without the other. The most impor-
tant thing for me was to set priorities."
Mandoli's college experience is
practices and regattas intertwined with
papers, tests and presentations. Now
Mandoli finds herself on the verge of
graduating this year.
"I love Michigan and can't believe
that my time is almost up here. The
team has become part of me, and is
like a second family to me."
After graduating, Mandoli plans to
study physical therapy at the Univer-
sity of Western Ontario next fall, and
she plans to continue rowing.



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