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January 18, 2005 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-18

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - January 18, 2005

Kroll injured, out for season .

By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
COLUMBUS - Before Saturday night's
meet, the Michigan women's gymnastics
team began its warmups as usual. What soon
transpired would test the Wolverines' will to
win. Returning All-American senior Chelsea
Kroll ruptured her achilles tendon during
the team's warmup on the floor, prematurely
ending her season. As of now, it isn't known
whether or not Kroll will attempt to receive a
medical redshirt.
"To start the meet with one of our veteran
seniors (going) down on the touch warm-up
with a ruptured achilles is a huge blow to
everybody," Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
"You just want to sit down and cry and feel
for her."
But the Wolverines were able to hold back
their tears and dominate the meet with a team
score of 196.025, defeating No. 15 Maryland,
No. 19 Minnesota and host Ohio State. Soph-
omore Lindsey Bruck finished first in the all-
around competition with a score of 39.125
while junior Jenny Deiley took third, posting
a 38.525. The win improves the team record
to 4-0.
"I can't believe how much the team pulled
together," Bruck said. "It was amazing how
close we became."
Michigan ended the meet with an exclama-
tion point on the balance beam. The Wolver-
ines boast the fifth-best team score on that

event in the nation this season. Bruck tied for
first with a score of 9.850 while sophomore
Carol McNamara and senior Shanna Duggan
both tied for third with scores of 9.825. Dug-
gan drew praise from Plocki for her ability to
fill in for Kroll at the last minute.
"(It's) a definite sign of experience and
leadership when you know you're needed and
you step up and you take care of business,"
Plocki said. "That's what she did for us."
Duggan is a senior transfer from Central
Michigan and was originally expected to add
depth at the vault, which was her best event.
With the injury to Kroll, Duggan may have
to fill in at floor and beam for the rest of the
season. But the former Chippewa looked
solid in both events and actually scored bet-
ter in them than she did on her vault. Duggan
placed third on the beam but did not place on
the floor exercise.
The rest of the Wolverines stepped up
as well, especially on the uneven bars. The
event has turned out to be one of Michigan's
strongest during its first two meets, despite
being a liability at the beginning of the year.
The team posted a score of 49.175 - the
highest on any event - and took first, sec-
ond and fourth, individually. The winner,
senior Elise Ray, scored a 9.925 on the bars,
her 13th straight score of 9.90 or better in
the event.
Whether it was nerves or the injury to
Kroll, Michigan struggled a bit out of the gate
on its first event, the floor exercise. The team

had some problems, including extra steps on
landings and falling out of bounds.
"We still have a lot of things to clean up,
and the girls know that," Plocki said.
Plocki added that some landings were a
little short or a little overrotated, which can
cause a gymnast to take an extra step.
But juniors Deiley and Becca Clauson
shined and took first and second, respective-
ly, in the event, boosting the team's score and
leading the Wolverines to a slim lead after
the first rotation.
Freshman Katie Lieberman was another
bright spot for the Wolverines. The Lake For-
est, Ill. native won her first individual title in
the vault, tying Deiley for first place with a
score of 9.875.
The Wolverines not only remained calm
when facing adversity, but they also domi-
nated top-25 competition despite drawing the
worst rotation of the four teams. Michigan
had to start the meet on the floor and end with
the balance beam. The nerves at the begin-
ning of the meet may have hurt the gymnasts'
ability to flow well with the music of their
routine. The beam usually requires the most
mental concentration and physical discipline,
and gymnasts often have a hard time ending
meets on the beam because they have already
competed in three other events.
"I felt everything was against us tonight,
and, in spite of all of that, (the team) just
rocked," Plocki said. "I couldn't be more
proud of them."

a

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
All-American senior Chelsea Kroll ruptured an achilles tendon Saturday and will miss the rest of the season.

Blue drops Iowa in season's home debut

By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
Coming off a shaky season-opening
performance in Chicago last weekend,
the No. 7 Michigan men's gymnas-
tics team looked forward to Saturday
night's home meet against No. 8 Iowa
as a chance to get back into the swing
of things with the help of the home-
town fans. Riding the cheers of fami-
lies and friends, the Wolverines pieced
together a solid performance and
defeated the rival Hawkeyes 219.200-
215.450.
Michigan started strong, with fresh-
man Daniel Rais winning the floor
exercise. In past years, the Wolverines
have established themselves as one
of the top floor exercise teams in the
country. But after struggling with the
event in Chicago last weekend, Michi-
gan coach Kurt Golder was pleased to
see improvement.
"Our floor exercise was a little bet-
ter than it was in Chicago," Golder
said. "We kind of half solved that
problem, and three-quarters solved
the pommel horse."

While Iowa's Curtis Kleffman took
the top spot on the pommel horse,
Michigan took the next four places.
The Wolverines were led by junior
Justin Laury, who took first in the
meet's all-around competition.
"The one thing I am pleased about
is that we stepped it up on pommel
horse," Golder said. "We've had a
really strong pommel horse team in
some years, but, last year, it was a
weak event for us. We still have a long
way to go before we're in champion-
ship form, but we've really improved
from last week to this week on that
event."
Laury had completed a near-perfect
routine on the pommel horse and a
rough dismount was all that kept him
from passing Kleffman for the lead. He
was able to bounce back with a strong
performance in the Wolverines' last
event, the high bar. His performance
gave Michigan a needed boost after
several Wolverines struggled to finish
their routines as planned.
"It felt really good," Laury said. "It
was my first time doing all-around
this year, so it felt good to get back on

there. The high bar is one of my most
consistent events, and I knew we need-
ed a big score. So, mentally, I prepared
to go out there and start something."
After competing in all six events,
Laury was pleased to earn the win
but said that he felt the added burden
of competing in two or three extra
events.
Senior Eddie Umphrey, who had
fallen ill last week, won the still rings
and the vault. After his dismount from
the still rings, his celebratory roar
brought the crowd to life and helped
provide the Wolverines with momen-
tum to close out the victory. Umphrey
earned a 9.625 on the rings, the high-
est score in any event during the meet
and a career best for him.
"I haven't been 100-percent all
week," Umphrey said. "I've been down
with the stomach flu. I had a little bit
of a rough start on the floor, so I knew
I had to pick it up. I just wanted to go
out there and have a little fun with the
crowd and just hit great routines and
get the crowd into it and everything
just fell into place."
Umphrey led the Wolverines, with

a 9.550 in the vault, helping Michi-
gan capture five of the top six spots
in the event. With captain Geoff Cor-
rigan not competing in three events
- including the vault, due to a groin
injury - Golder was pleased to see
Umphrey and his teammates step
up their performances in Corrigan's
absence.
"We vaulted the lights out," Golder
said. "I think we broke our school
record, and I am real pleased with
that."
Riding the momentum from this
weekend's win, the Wolverines must
now bear down on No. 1 Oklahoma.
The Sooners visit Cliff Keen Arena
on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. While there
isn't the rivalry factor that comes
with Iowa, Oklahoma's top ranking
is more than enough to motivate the
Wolverines.
"Iowa is one of our archrivals,"
Laury said. "We definitely have a big
rivalry. Each year we go back and
forth. It's good to get that one under
our belt. And we have Oklahoma next
weekend, and they are No.1, so we'll
have to turn it on then."

TOMMASO GOMEZ/Dai
Junior Justin Laury won the all-around competiton on Saturday with a score of 54.95. It
was Laury's first time this season competing in all six events.

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