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February 21, 2005 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-21

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 21, 2005

Ray succeeds in front of brother

.

By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
With her brother - an Army Ranger who
spent time in Iraq - in town for the meet, senior
Elise Ray exploded at the Coaches Care Chal-
lenge at Crisler Arena on Friday, winning her
first all-around title of the season (38.575) and
cleanly sweeping the event titles.
"That's what did it for me," Ray said. "I feel
like I've been in a little bit of a rut lately, and
they just pulled me right out - all the boys that
came. They're like my family - I mean my
brother and all his friends.... It was a really spe-
cial night."
Ray's brother and some of his fellow Army
Rangers were honored for their service in Iraq
during the meet. With her brother in attendance,
Ray certainly did come back in full force after
being plagued by a shoulder injury and a sore
Achilles tendon that has been bothering her all
season. She started out the night with a pair of
9.875s on the vault and bars. She upped her score
to a 9.900 on beam and clinched the sweep with
a 9.925 on floor.
"(Friday) was just (Elise's) night," sophomore
Lindsey Bruck said. "I was so proud of her. She
had a smile on her face. And her brother was

here, and it was great for him to see her."
As phenomenal as it was, Ray's performance
could not overshadow the team's success as a
whole. At least four Wolverines earned a third-
place finish or better in every event. And Ray
(39.575), Bruck (39.325) and junior Jenny Deiley
(39.300) went one-two-three in the all-around
in No 2. Michigan's win over West Virginia
(196.950-193.125).
"All of us put together had a great meet
tonight," Ray said. "I mean, we hit our team
high ... And even so, we didn't have our perfect
meet yet. So we're really excited about our team
score."
The Wolverines did not have to count a single
score below a 9.800 during the meet, coming just
five hundredths of a point short of achieving their
season-long goal of a 197-combined team score.
"We really needed this home performance to
go into the latter part of the season," Michigan
coach Bev Plocki said. "We're changing into
an RQS system, and I hope that this will propel
us to the No. 1 ranking, which I think will be
incredible for our kids' confidence and every-
thing else."
Based on the RQS ranking system, every
team's best six scores - including at least three
from away meets - will be averaged after drop-

ping the highest of the six. The teams will be
ranked according to this average. Michigan
should be announced as the No. 1 team in the
nation today.
Michigan started the meet off solidly on vault
(49.225), where senior Shanna Duggan, fresh-
man Katie Lieberman and Deiley tied for second
behind Ray.
The Wolverines continued their momentum
on bars, where they scored a solid 49.050. But
they really excelled on beam (49.275) and floor
(49.400).
"I thought our beam routines were spectacular
just in general," Plocki said. "I thought that this
was by far the best floor performance that we've
had as a whole."
Plocki said that she got goosebumps three
times Friday - once because of the team's suc-
cess, once during the recognition for the Army
Rangers and once due to the funds raised for the
Coach Carr Cancer Fund at the Silent Auction.
The Wolverines came away from the meet Fri-
day night feeling good - with a little bit more
confidence but also with the knowledge that they
still have a few things they can improve.
"It'll be nice to get back into the gym and keep
working on some stuff and fix some things,"
Bruck said.

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
Senior Elise Ray had a successful weekend, sweeping the vault, bars and beams in front of her brother.

Tumblers fall short in meet's final moments

By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
The Wolverines just couldn't escape the lion's bite
Saturday night, as No. 5 Penn State hung on with a
firm grasp to defeat the No. 4 Michigan men's gym-
nastics team 222.6 to 219.575. When fifth-year senior
captain Chris Gatti mounted the parallel bars, the Wol-
verines were down .4 points and knew they needed to
stick every one of their final six routines to even have
a chance at beating the Nittany Lions.
After Gatti dismounted to a disappointing
score of 8.5 due to a mistaken-ridden routine, the
Wolverines kept on cheering, hoping senior Dave
Flannery could jumpstart the team's momentum
with a solid routine. But Flannery fell short,
and sophomore Andre Hernandez's 8.975 wasn't
enough to lift the Wolverines. With just three
more gymnasts left, the team rallied around
junior Justin Laury, hoping he would overcome
his aching limbs and have a perfect routine
- something the team has come to expect from
him. Despite the team's hopes, Laury's body got
the best of him, and he faltered on the apparatus,
scoring an 8.85.
"Individually I came into the meet tired and beat
up," Laury said. "From the moment I walked into the
arena, I felt so tired, and I knew that it was going to be
a difficult meet."
Next up was junior Gerry Signorelli, who had been
in a "physical slump," according to coach Kurt Gold-
er. But Golder was optimistic that Signorelli would
work his way out of it. Midway through his routine,
Signorelli slipped and fell off the bars. Although he
re-mounted, he finished with a score of 8.25. Senior

captain Geoff Corrigan's first-place finish of 9.5 was
just too late to save the Wolverines.
"It's always important to close out the meet strong,"
Corrigan said. "As a team, we just weren't able to
rally."
Michigan's remaining hope to win the match was
finally deflated when Penn State's Luis Vargas scored
a 9.9 on his team's final high bar routine. That perfor-
mance helped the Nittany Lions outscore Michigan,
38.450 to 35.825 on the last apparatus.
"You have to have a couple guys in a row step up
and have career best performances, and we didn't do
that," Golder said. "That really gives you an emotional
boost to build off of, and we never got that boost.
"In practice we were looking pretty good, and I was
hoping that would get the meet off to a real good start.
And it didn't go that way."
Despite the team's 3.025-point defeat, the Wol-
verines view this loss as a step up from the one
they suffered against Minnesota last weekend.
Their team score - which is crucial during Big
Ten and NCAA Championships - improved from
a 215.925 to a 219.75, and they feel that this is the
turning point in their season.
"Every season has its ups and (downs), and that's
just the way it works," Corrigan said. "We have to have
a low point in the season to get back up, and I think we
are working up from Minnesota. This is a big jump
from as low as we were against Minnesota."
The team attributes its abundance of missed rou-
tines to its weakened lineup - freshmen Dan Rais
is still out with a high ankle sprain - and worn
down physical condition. But, Golder is aware this
is no excuse for posting low scores and will be
looking toward this week's practices to clean up the

team's routines.
"We are going to do some sequence-perfection work
this week," Golder said. "We are going to take a break
from doing routines, which don't focus enough on per-
fection and quality. That way we can have a little more
emphasis on perfection."
With Michigan's final home meet next Saturday
afternoon against Stanford - a team that beat the
Wolverines in their home opener last year - the Wol-
verines will be looking toward this meet to get back on
track and start putting up the team scores necessary to
win the Big Ten Championships.
"Next week is a huge meet," Flannery said. "We
.need to start building the momentum, and this is
definitely the turning point in our season. We need
to turn it around and get focused and concentrate
and put up a score that is better than what we put
up against Oklahoma to turn the season around."
That score of 222.275 was a Michigan record. But,
while the Wolverines want to improve their score in
each game, they are more concerned with the big pic-
ture - next month's Big Ten Championships. The
team knows it has to patch up Saturday's lion's bite
and get back on the winning track to ensure another
Big Ten trophy.
"I know our team is very confident, and we
have a history of stepping it up in the end," Laury
said. "We know from experience that this part of
the season is just like practice and warm ups for
the Big Tens, and it doesn't matter that much that
we had two losses.
"In the end, you look back, and who is really going
to remember Michigan losing to Penn State? All any-
one is going to remember is when the Big Ten (Cham-
pionships) come around."

TONY DING/Daily
Geoff Corrigan's first-place finish in the parallel bars was not enough for a Michigan win.

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