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April 19, 2004 - Image 11

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-19

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BRUCK'S LUCK
Gymnast Lindsey Bruck counted
on her lucky bathmat again this
past weekend at NCAAs.
PAGE 6B

'M' NINE SPLITS WITH ILLINI
Jim Brauer was one of the few bright spots this weekend for the Michi-
gan baseball team, which split its series against Illinois.
PAGE 5B

THE SPORTSMONDAY COLUMN
J. BRADY MCCOLLOUGH:
Looks back on his four years
at Michigan and what he
leamed about love.

SP

PAGE 3B
TSA

April 19, 2004

SECTION B

dbe fiftd tm]DaUv

Ray of Light
Team fails to make Super Six, but Ray wins national title on uneven bars

By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - The mood Saturday 1
night before the NCAA women's gymnastics
individual event finals was light. In warmups,
Michigan junior Elise Ray played tag with i
members of the UCLA team on the floor mat,t
and coaches and competitors from all teams
chatted freely.
It was a stark difference from the atmos-t
phere on Thursday, when the Wolverines com-t
peted in the preliminaries, hoping to qualifyi
for the Super Six team competition the follow-
ing day. Michigan drew the most difficult rota-l
tion for the second meet in a row, and it failed,
to qualify in the preliminary meet that featured1
perennial powerhouses UCLA, LSU, Utah and t
Alabama.;
The disappointment of Thursday was- for-
gotten momentarily as Michigan cheered onj
teammates Ray and Lindsey Bruck. Both
competed in the balance beam event final.
Ray - who was the event's national champi-
on in 2002 - led off the event and scored a
9.900, which was good enough to tie fori
third. Bruck followed up with a solid 9.850z
performance, which earned her a tie for
sixth place.
Ray also qualified for the uneven bars, an
event she excelled at during the regular season
despite having just recovered from a shoulder
injury the year before. She earned a 10.0 on
the event at the Big Ten Championships, and in
the NCAA event finals, she nearly replicated
that result. After adding a more complicated
dismount to her routine, Ray performed flaw-
lessly, and half of the judges gave her 10.0
scores. Her final averaged score was a 9.975,
good enough to earn Ray her third National
Championship in four years.
"This means a lot to me because I had to sit
out last year," Ray said. "I didn't like it all Fri-
day sitting in the stands. I'm glad I can end on
this note."
Bar scores weren't nearly so high for Michi-
gan on Thursday night.
The team tallied scores of 9.700 and 9.750,
and there deductions were taken because of
steps during landings. Ray's 9.925 perform-
ance anchored the rotation and allowed the
Wolverines to total a 49.025 on the event. But
while the Wolverines struggled on bars, Alaba-
ma and Utah were surging. Both teams boasted
AP PHOTO large followings in Pauley Pavilion, which
shouted "Roll Tide Roll!" and "U-T-A-H -

Utah!" after almost every performance.
"We made our routines, but we counted so
many deductions on dismounts that it just
kind of deflated us," Michigan coach Bev
Plocki said.
Michigan had a decent start on floor, earn-
ing a 49.225 total. The team tried to continue
to build momentum on the vault. Sophomore
Jenny Deiley's 9.900 lead the team, and the
Wolverines compiled a 49.150 score. After
two events, Michigan trailed second-place
Utah by just a few tenths of a point. Defend-
ing champion UCLA had jumped out to an
early lead with a two-event total of 99.000.
But then Michigan had difficulty on the bars.
As a result, the Wolverines needed an exem-
plary score on their fourth and final rotation
to get past the Utes and the Crimson Tide for
second or third place.
"I thought that we came out and did the best
job that we could on floor and vault," Plocki
said. "I thought we had a lot of momentum
going in to bars. We just kind of lost our
momentum on bars."
Unfortunately, the Wolverines ended the
night on the balance beam, an event that is
nerve-wracking enough by itself without any
added pressure that comes with the last event.
And the pressure piled on even
higher after sophomore
Becca Clau-
son fell off the
beam during Michi-
gan's third routine. Dei-

ley, senior Calli Ryals and Ray anchored the
lineup without a fall, but small mistakes
again added up to a lower score than the
Wolverines needed. They were the kind of
small mistakes that Alabama and Utah just
weren't making.
"We didn't have to count any falls on beam
but we had a couple of wobbles," Plocki said.
"I just think we didn't keep our momen-
tum going."
Failing to qualify for the Super Six for
just the third time in the last 10 years meant
that Michigan found itself in an unfamiliar
position - sitting in the stands, watching
as UCLA cruised to its fourth team national
championship in five years.
"Overall, we did well," Plocki said. "But
this is a national championship, and you have
to do great."
Assistant coach Scott Sherman emphasized
the significance of the missed landings that
plagued the Wolverines.
"Good teams make their routines," Sher-
man said. "Great teams make their rou-
tines and stick their landings. We didn't
stick our landings."
Luckily the Wolverines didn't have to end
on a bad note.
"Not making the Super Six was a disap-
pointment for our whole team, and to be able
to come back in the finals was great," Plocki
said. "For Elise to get another national cham-
pionship was fantastic. This ends it all on a
positive note."

Triple Crown
Junior Elise Ray has done it all. In addition to winning an
NCAA title in each of her years of eligibility at Michigan,
Ray was captain of the 2000 U.S. Olympic gymnastic team.

2001:
All-Around title
Just a freshman, Ray
earned the NCAA All-
Around title. Her 39.625
total was the highest all-
around score ever
achieved by a Michigan
gymnast. This came a
year after being the cap-
tain of the U.S. Olympic
team.

2002:
Balance beam
Ray won Michigan's first
ever NCAA balance
beam title with her score
of 9.925. The then-soph-
omore beat out two-time
defending beam champi-
on Theresa Kulikowski
(Utah) and '99 beam
champion Andree Pick-
ens (Alabama).

2004:.
Uneven bars
Yesterday, Ray added
another NCAA title to
her growing list of gym-
nastic accomplishments
- this time in the uneven
bars. Her nearly flawless
performance earned her
an almost-perfect 9.975.

Junior Elise Ray celebrates her NCAA individual title on the uneven bars.

Blue topples Hoosiers
in OT for CWPA title
Wolverines now focused on getting back to Final Four

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
For a few key moments yesterday at
Canham Natatorium, it seemed like the
Collegiate Water Polo Association Western
Division Championship might slip away
from No. 8 Michigan. But every game
against rival No. 10
Indiana feels that way. f.
When it was all said
and done, the game ended just like so
many games before - the Wolverines (8-0
CWPA, 28-8 overall) edged out a 5-4 over-
time victory, and their third straight Divi-
sion Championship.
"I always think that we're Michigan and
they're Indiana - we just always beat
them," junior Jo Antonsen said. "It's just
something we have to do. It's not an option
to lose."
The Wolverines can now expect a few
days of practice before heading to Buck-
nell, Pa., for the Eastern Championship,
where they could face the Hoosiers again.
If they can survive that bracket, the
Wolverines will advance to their second

Final Four in school history.
Michigan is now 15-0-1 against Indiana
since becoming a varsity program, but
more than a handful of those wins have
been a little too close for comfort, much
like yesterday's matchup. It took a full six-
minute overtime period and part of a sud-
den-death period before a winner emerged
this time around.
But 42 seconds into that sudden-death
frame, junior Meg Knudtsen finally broke
the stalemate, scoring just inside the left
post from four meters out. Senior Julie
Nisbet drew an ejection from her Indiana
defender in front of the cage, giving the
Wolverines a short six-on-five advantage.
"Megan (Hausmann) made an awesome
pass down, and I just shot it near side,"
Knudtsen said. "If I'd have missed it, I
probably would have been in pretty big
trouble. It's a good thing it went in."
The goal was just Knudtsen's 11th of the
year, a small number for a player on a
team that normally bulldozes through its
competition. Michigan scored 18 and 19
goals in its two victories on Saturday over
Salem International and Washington and
Jefferson en route to yesterday's finals.
"Julie did what we asked of her," Michi-
gan coach Matt Anderson said. "Margaret
Knudtsen decided, 'I'm going to be the
player that's going to step up. They don't
think I will.' She rammed it home."
The Hoosiers had their chances to shut
the door on the Wolverines. With seven
seconds remaining in regulation, Indiana
sophomore Bridget McKeon managed to

SOFTBALL
Defense puts
clamps down
on Hawkeyes
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
IOWA CITY - Michigan softball coach Carol
Hutchins constantly explains to her players the
importance of defense. At practice, they work hard
on it, and she tells the team regularly that defense
wins games.
Yesterday's double-header at Iowa was a perfect
example of this maxim. No. 9 Michigan won both
of its games by a score of 3-1, but the outcome
could have been different had it GAME 1
not been for a handful of spec-
tacular defensive plays. MICHIGAN
"Our defense always has lw
amazing plays, and they always GA 2
make it look easy," junior pitch- AME
er Nicole Motycka said. "They
are the key to our success."
In the top of the second
inning, senior captain Angie Churchill made the
play of the day when she dove to her right to snag a
line drive out of the air. Churchill had just come
into the game to replace injured shortstop Jessica
Merchant, a key player for the Wolverines. It was
the first strong defensive play Churchill made, but
was not the only significant play she made this
weekend.
In the bottom of the first inning, Churchill came
to the plate with runners at the corners for her first
at-bat of the day. With two outs, the Hawkeyes
intentionally walked senior slugger Jennifer Olds to
get to Churchill. She made them pay, hitting a sin-
gle into left field and scoring the first run of the
game. The Wolverines never trailed again.

TONY DING/Daily
The Wolverines celebrate their overtime victory over Indiana in the CWPA title game with a
rendition of "The Victors."

freshman Shana Welch's two goals earlier
in the game. The Wolverines were trailing

control of the game until Antonsen's
equalizer.

________________~ ~ ;..~

I

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