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March 07, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-07

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 7, 2005 - 3B

Seniors'
careers
end on
highnote
By Lindsey Ungar
For the Daily
Brian Berends wasn't the only Wolverine
choked up after the men's gymnastics meet
against No. 10 Stanford on Feb. 26. Berends,
along with the other five seniors on the team -
Geoff Corrigan, David Flannery, Chris Gatti,
Brian Skvarla and Eddie Umphrey - closed out
their final home appearance with a compelling
221.200-214.750 win. Four of the six seniors
also recorded personal bests in the meet.
It was an emotional victory for the bunch not
only because of the way the team performed
but because it was the close of four years of
memories at Cliff Keen Arena.
"I don't think it's really sunk in yet," Berends
said. "It doesn't feel like my last home meet
here. My adrenaline is still pumping from the
meet, the way the team performed - I couldn't
have asked for a better way for it to end."
For Berends, it was more than just the final
home meet of the season - it was also his
first. Berends had struggled all season long
and was unable to make the lineup. But he
came through on high-bar with a 9.45, earn-
ing high-fives from all of the coaches after he
stuck the landing.
"He finally hit his first (routine) this week,
and I just said to myself, 'That's it, I'm going
to put him in,' " Michigan coach Kurt Golder
said. "We made some adjustments to his rou-
tine, and he's able to lead us off and get us off
to a great start (in the fifth rotation)."
Berends never doubted himself or the team.
"I went into that routine today knowing I
wasn't going to let anybody down, and that's
what happened," Berends said.
The meet opened with a special presenta-
tion for the seniors who walked out with their
parents, evoking both memories and gratitude
from Golder.
"It's just a flood of emotions," Golder said.
"Every year it's just the same thing for me.
I'm just very happy for these guys. It was the
last time they get to compete in (Cliff) Keen
Arena, and they all did a great job."
Although Stanford was, without one of its
best all-around gymnasts, David Sender, who
was competing at the American Cup, No. 3
Michigan still performed crisp routines in
order to break their losing streak. The Wol-
verines hadn't won since Jan. 22 against Okla-
homa.

Even in sports,

the

rich take advantage

TONY DING/Daily
Senior Eddie Umphrey helped lead Michigan to a victory in its last home meet of the season.

"It feels great to win again after you've been
in a slump," Golder said. "I could feel we were
coming out of it at Penn State, and then, of
course, it's always a little easier to compete at
home."
Per usual, the dynamic senior duo of Cor-
rigan and Umphrey led the way for the Wol-
verines.
Corrigan scored 9.50 or above on four of
his five events, including a first-place on vault
(9.60). And, he rounded out the meet with a
stellar high bar routine (9.65) that earned a
standing ovation from the 465 in attendance.
Umphrey wasn't shy with big scores either.
His intensity showed throughout his still rings
routine. Umphrey maintained a calm, col-
lected attitude while nailing every strength
maneuver to tie for first on the event (9.55).
He stuck the landing and clenched his fists to
celebrate another clutch performance, elicit-
ing cheers from his teammates.
"During the competition, he's the spirit of
our team," Golder said. "You see him pump his
fists in the air to the crowd and motion for them
to applaud and get behind us. It's a lot of fun,
and we're going to miss that a lot."
Skvarla is another senior that has made a
late-season push to get into the champion-
ship lineup. Shoulder problems have plagued
Skvarla, who earned a personal best on still
rings for the second week in a row with a score
of 8.85. He credits his teammates for allowing
him to finally crack the roster.
"They've been pushing me, and I've been
pushing myself," Skvarla said. "These guys are
my family, my team. I love each and every one
of them, and it's just a good feeling to have a
win at our last meet."

The Wolverines closed the meet on their
best event, the high bar. Proving just why they
sparkle on the apparatus, the team swept the
first four spots with Corrigan, sophomore
Andre Hernandez (9.50), Berends and Flan-
nery (9.425) earning top scores en route to
their final home win.
All six seniors made the score sheet for the
Wolverines.
"They're all a bunch of great guys, and they're
very responsible;" Golder said. "They've car-
ried on a tradition that has not been an easy
one to carry on. We've been in the top-five in
the NCAA championship for six consecutive
years. That started before they came here, and
they've carried it through."
The team caught a plane to France after
the meet. There, they trained with the French
National Team, who placed ninth at the Olym-
pics in Athens in 2004. The trip ended with
a competition against the French nationals.
The Wolverines lost by a narrow margin of
206.800-206.000.
Skvarla called it a "total learning experi-
ence" for the team, allowing the Wolverines
to exchange ideas about routines before the
final meet of the season at rival Ohio State on
March 13 and the upcoming Big Ten tourna-
ment. Michigan will host the meet for the first
time since 1998 at Crisler Arena from March
25-26.
Golder knows the Wolverines only need to
make a few tweaks on floor exercise and pom-
mel horse to become a strong contender. And
he'll be counting on his senior class to lead the
way again.
"Maybe they can make their mark here as
national champions - they've got just as good

Headlines over the last couple weeks
revealed that Alonzo Mourning
was traded to the Raptors but never
reported. When the Raptors responded by waiv-
ing him, Mourning signed with his old team,
the Heat. Then when
the Celtics traded Gary
Payton to the Hawks,
Payton did the same
thing, re-signing with
the Celtics a couple days
later. Somehow, Boston.
managed to trade Payton
for himself. s.N
Does anyone else see HERBERT
how selfish Payton and TheRBrt
Mourning are being? The SportsMonday
When you decide to Clm
become a professional
athlete, you get a lot of perks - you get great
hours, you get great pay and you get to play a
game for a living. But there are downsides: it's
physically grueling, your career is pretty short
and, until you are a free agent, you don't get to
decide where you want to live. You don't get to
decide where you play. That's the way it works,
and you shouldn't decide that you don't want
to play by the rules just because you have the
money to do it.
I'm sure that Payton didn't want to play for
Atlanta. That's understandable. The Hawks are
10-47, and they only won one game in Febru-
ary. But what about the half-dozen Hawks who
make roughly one-twentieth of what Payton
makes? Those guys, like every other athlete,
have to stay in the situation they are in. And
now they have to do it without their point guard
or the forward they traded for him. Rich players,
like Payton and Mourning, seem to be simply
above the rules.
With that in mind and my new Kwame
Brown jersey in tow, I went to Washington's
MCI Center last week with my girlfriend. We
were there to watch a bunch of millionaires
play a game of basketball, and we paid almost
100 bucks to do so - which by the way, is way
more than any average American can be expect-
ed to pay. But when we were there, we ended up
spending a good deal of time talking about the
people who work every game at the arena.
We weren't talking about Larry Hughes, who
will make $5 million this season, or Gilbert
Arenas, who is making even more. It wasn't
Abe Polin, the owner of the Wizards, or Susan
O'Malley, the team's president, who we were
concerned about.
Looking around the MCI Center, I saw ushers
at each section, people running the concession
stands at each level and security guards at each
entrance. Each of them makes less per game
than the $100 we spent on the tickets.
From our seats in the upper level, we could
see the hockey boards. That's right, the Wash-

ington Capitals play hockey here too - or at
least they used to. As we all know by now, there
won't be any hockey games this year. And that
means 41 home games where the ushers, secu-
rity guards, and concession stand attendants
will be out 50 bucks.
But the NHL players and owners clearly
don't care about the people working in the
arenas, or they would have come up with an
agreement to keep the season going. The play-
ers who need the money are playing in Europe
and in the AHL. And some of the owners
have openly said that they will save money
by not having a season. Neither the owners
nor the players cared enough to get the season
going, but they were the only ones negotiating
and making all the decisions. In the mean-
time, the workers got screwed.
I can't say I'm surprised. The American capi-
talistic system is one that rewards looking out
for number one. Sports have always been, and
should always be, indicative of the society in
which they are played. And we live in a society
that rewards the rich.
So I should have known. But sports have
always seemed so pure to me - and that's what
I like about them. They are hard-nosed com-
petitions with a winner and a loser, and they're
pretty straight forward.
But somebody has to look out for the little
guys because, even in sports, it seems like
those with less money don't get a say. Maybe
I'm missing something, but I feel like it's not
fair when Payton and Mourning can choose
where they go simply because they have the
money to do so while everyone else has to sit
idly by and go where they're told. Eli Man-
ning can choose not to play for the San Diego
Chargers just because his dad is Archie Man-
ning and his brother, Peyton Manning, signed
the NFL's biggest contract just months before.
Meanwhile, Byron Leftwich - who grew up in
the ghetto of Washington - has to go wherev-
er he's drafted because he can't afford to sit out
the season. And at the same time, the low- and
middle-class workers at the MCI Center don't
get a union lawyer arguing for them when their
jobs are on the line.
It's more than just a bunch of millionairesN.
playing a game. Way more people than that are
involved, and I wish Gary Payton would think
more about that when he complains about hav-
ing to play basketball in Atlanta instead of Bos-
ton. I wish Eli Manning would think about that
a little when deciding he doesn't want to live
in San Diego. I wish the NHL owners and the
players union would think more about that when
they are deciding to cancel the season.
Even if the rest of society is that selfish, I
wish sports weren't.

Ian Herbert can be reached at
iherbert@umich.edu.

Michigan comes up short,
finishes fourth at Big Tens

Tired of being a

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE - As the
competitors in the mile run came
down the final straightaway, it
appeared that Nick Willis would
win by a few meters. But in the final
strides, Sean Jefferson of Indiana
pulled even with Willis. The times
revealed that Jefferson beat Willis by
one-hundredth of a second.
The finish in the mile epitomized
Michigan's showing at the Big Ten
Indoor Track and Field Champion-
ships in West Lafayette on Feb. 26-
27. The Wolverines lost three races
by a combined .04 seconds, which
cost them eight points. Michigan fin-
ished fourth overall with 88 points
and won just two 'races.
"I knew we couldn't get any better
than third," coach Ron Warhurst said.
_ "We lost a few places in the middle
(of the meet), and Illinois won a few
places in the middle (of the meet)."
In the 800-meter run, senior Nate
Brannen trailed Trammel Smith
of Illinois on the final lap. At the
finish line, Brannen attempted to
outlean his competitor but came
up inches short. He finished with a
time of 1:49.93, one-hundredth of a
second behind Smith.
"Right on the line, I finally got
beside to almost catch him, but I just
ran out of distance," Brannen said.
Another Wolverine who failed to
win a close race was sophomore Jeff
Porter, who was trying to defend his
Big Ten Indoor Championship. He
finished .02 seconds behind first-
place finisher Ricky Pickney of Pur-
due to garner third-place points with
a time of 7.91.
Both of Michigan's victories dur-
ing the Championships came in
the first day of competition. In the
3,000-meter run, Nick Willis han-
dled multiple attacks by his com-
petitors to win his third straight Big
Ten Championship in the event, set-
tinE a meet and Lambert Fieldhouse

Want to be a

iUNY DING/Uaily
Junior Nick Willis just missed winning the Big Ten Championship in the mile run.

by his competitors.
Sophomore Stann Waithe per-
formed well for the Wolverines,
earning 11 points for the team with
two individual top-five performances
while contributing to the third place
4x400-meter relay. He placed fifth
in the 400-meter dash with a time
of 47.81 and fourth in the 200-meter
dash with a time of 21.65.
"I wanted to do better than I did,
but I guess I was happy with that,"
Waithe said.
Michigan scored in two field
events. Michael Whitehead placed
fourth in the triple jump with a leap
of 50-5 1/4. In the high jump, senior
Darren Adams and junior Brad Mill-
er both earned sixth-place finishes

times for next week's NCAA cham-
pionships in Fayetteville, Ark. The
Wolverines took advantage of the
opportunity by earning two auto-
matic qualifying times.
In the 800-meter run, Brannen
did more than post an automatic
qualifying mark with a time of
1:47.91 - he set a Michigan indoor
record and looked poised to win his
third straight NCAA indoor title in
the event.
"I am relieved that everything
worked out, and I'm very confident
going into nationals," Brannen said.
Michigan's distance medley relay
will also be in Fayetteville to defend
its national title after a posting a time
of 9:28.12. The relay team of senior

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