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March 24, 2005 - Image 8

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 24, 2005

Blue banking on home advantage.

FOR EST CASEY/Daily
Senior Elise Ray is ranked third in the all-around heading into the Big Ten Championships.
Tumblers look for
seventh straight titl

By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
With a little extra bounce in its step and
enthusiasm in its voice, the No. 5 Michi-
gan men's gymnastics team kicked off its
final week of practice before hosting the
Big Ten Championships tomorrow and
Saturday at Crisler Arena.
The Wolverines - who have struggled
all year on the road (0-5 in away meets)
- are looking forward to an extra boost
from the home crowd to give them the
edge they need to come out victorious.
Michigan has never lost at home this sea-
son. And, while the championships are
held in Crisler instead of the Cliff Keen
Arena, the gymnasts know, as long as they
are in their hometown, it doesn't matter
where they are playing.
"Having the Big Tens at home will
help us tremendously," junior Gerry
Signorelli said. "Even though it's in a
different arena, we still know the same
people are going to be there watching
us, and we will hear them screaming,
and that will help us along."
Coach Kurt Golder is confident that his
team will leave it all on the mats and bring
flawless routines out to every apparatus,
but he knows the other schools will do the
same.
"I think everyone will really step up,"
Golder said. "I just think it's a matter
of if we are good enough when we all
hit. I think there are a couple of teams
in the Big Ten that are better then us
- not by a lot though. But I think we
have a great competition to bring."
The Wolverines know every single
tenth of a point will count, and the slight-
est slip up could cause them several spots

in the final tally. Inevitably, the burden of
perfection will fall on the all-around gym-
nasts - most likely junior Justin Laury
and senior captain Geoff Corrigan. They
will be competing in most events and will
need to set high scores to allow the lower
ones to get cut.
"Everyone is really trying to work
on their execution and keeping form,"
sophomore Andre Hernandez said.
"At Big Tens, every point matters, and
every little thing can affect the final
standings."
Despite Michigan's past struggles
on pommel horse, Golder is certain
the team's dynamic and burning
desire to win will force it to clean
up its routines and prevent the pos-
sibility of a disappointing weekend in
Ann Arbor.
"Between the home crowds and our
strengths as a championship team, we
should rock this weekend," Golder
said. "If we don't, we won't have the
outcome that we want. It's very, very
close. One mistake and it can cost us a
couple of spots."
Statistically, Michigan's toughest oppo-
nents will be No. 1 Ohio State and No.
2 Illinois. While the Wolverines haven't
seen Illinois since the Fighting Illini won
the Windy City Invitational in January,
the team's most recent loss came at the
hands of the Buckeyes on March 13.
But, the Wolverines feel their biggest
competition will come from within -
the team will have to remain focused
and confident throughout the weekend
to insure success.
"I think it's just about us being men-
tally tough and being able to fight through
everything," senior Eddie Umphrey said.

TONY DING/Daily
Senior Geoff Corrigan will be on of five Michigan seniors searching for their first Big
Ten Championship this weekend at Crisler Arena.

By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's gymnastics
team will compete in the Big Ten Champi-
onships on Saturday at the Carver-Hawk-
eye Arena in Iowa City. The Wolverines
(16-2 overall, 7-0 Big Ten) are looking for-
ward to the start of this year's postseason.
"This is the first and most important
thing in our postseason," Michigan coach
Bev Plocki said. "We are really excited
about it, and we hope to come out with
another win."
No. 7 Michigan - who is also first in
the Big Ten - has faced five out of six of
its Big Ten competitors already this season
and remains undefeated in those meets.
The Wolverines have not yet faced Illinois,
the sixth-place team in the Big Ten.
Only one team in the Big Ten - No. 11
Penn State - has earned a high score that
surpasses the Wolverines' average score
(196.595) this season. Michigan defeated
Penn State at Crisler Arena on Jan. 21,
196.075-194.550.
"I think that Penn State is the team this
year that's going to really challenge us the
most," Plocki said. "Although, Michigan
State and Minnesota are teams that are
playing it consistent, and, if we don't do
ourjob, they can certainly be in the mix."
Michigan's three all-around gymnasts
-junior Jenny Deiley, sophomore Lind-
sey Bruck and senior Elise Ray - are
No. 1, 2 and 3 in the conference, respec-
tively. But both No. 4 Laura Johnson of
Minnesota and No. 5 Meredith Hoover of

Penn State have the ability to put up scores
above 39.000.
Michigan will enter the Big Ten Cham-
pionship with a major advantage - they
are a top-10 nationally ranked team with
the most talent any team brings to the floor
in the Big Ten.
Barring a collapse, the Wolverines are
almost assured to win another Big Ten
Championship.
They have to stay focused and rely on
every member of the team to compete to
her ability, but Plocki doesn't foresee any
problems.
"We had a great week in practice'
Plocki said. "I think the kids are really
excited about going into this weekend, and
we're looking forward to a great meet.:
Michigan has performed consistently so
far this season, except for one meet against
Georgia on March 11, which they lost
197.000-194.875. The Wolverines could
easily run away with the Big Ten title for
the seventh straight year.
Not only is Michigan ranked first in the
all-around and on every event, it has two
Wolverines in three of the four individual
events and has a gymnast ranked first in
three events.
"I just want to go into the University of
Iowa with a great attitude, the team hav-
ing a great attitude and to go out there
with a lot of enthusiasm - and perform
the way we're capable of performing,"
Plocki said. "And if we do that, I think
we'll come out very pleased with our
performance and with another Big Ten
Championship."

"It's just a matter of getting mentally tough
on an event and just fighting through and
getting the job done."
For the seniors, winning the Big Ten
Championships would be their way of jus-
tifying why they do what they do, every-
day. From the hours of icing sore muscles,
to early morning weight training sessions,
to surgery after surgery, one championship
would make all of that dedication to the
sport they love worth it to the gymnasts.
"Right now it's everything - it's four
years of work, injury and pain and every-
thing that I have gone through," Corrigan
said. "It would just be a justification for
all of that, and this is why I have been put-
ting my body through so much pain."

The Wolverines haven't won a Big Ten
Championship since 1999, and the seniors
are eager to taste a conference title for the
first time. While many of the gymnasts
have won individual Big Ten titles in vari-
ous events, they unanimously feel that
nothing compares to winning the confer-
ence alongside their teammates.
"The ultimate thing would be to come
out and win and be the Big Ten Cham-
pions, especially here in Ann Arbor,"
Umphrey said. "Being my senior year,
this is it for me. I don't have any rings and
nothing to show for my time here in Ann
Arbor. I just have a couple medals from
here and there but I want the real thing. I
want the Big Ten Championship ring."

I

0 WOMEN'S GOLF
Weather can't alter practice schedule

By Michael Roarty
For the Daily

Michigan winter weather can make anyone
feel down - especially when it is still snowing
in March. But the women's golf team doesn't let
bad weather slow it down, even if the snow might
change its schedule now and then.
This week, the team travels to Boerne, Texas
to play in the Baylor Tapatio Springs Shootout.
Michigan hopes to keep up the recent success it
has had early in the spring season. In their first
three tournaments, the Wolverines finished fifth,
first and fourth out of at least 15 teams each time.
In Texas, they will face many opponents that
enjoy better weather for golfing all year round.
"Michigan weather is a disadvantage, but it's to
be expected, coming to a cold place like Michi-
gan," Michigan freshmen Rose Cassard said.
"However, we work hard during the winter months

and are very motivated because we each want to
play and help us win."
Ten of the 11 golfers come from cold climates,
so winter is something that their golf games have
dealt with before.
During the winter months, the team can't play
at the University golf course, but it does have
other ways of trying to keep its game sharp. Even
though the Wolverines can't play an actual 18-
hole golf course, they use the Oosterbaan Field-
house to work on their shots from 76 yards or
less.
The team also uses the basement of the club-
house at the University golf course to practice.
"The team can use a miniature nine-hole course
to work on their chipping and putting," freshman
Lindsay Davis said. "Also, there is a mat in which
we can hit full shots into a net and make sure our
trajectory is good."
Although they do have access to a mat indoors,

coach Kathy Teichert won't let Michigan stay
indoors when it gets a little cold or even snows.
"Even though we have a mat, we usually hit
golf balls at the University course driving range
in most every type of weather," Davis said. "We
have been out there when it is pouring rain, freez-
ing wind and even when it is snowing. The only
thing that we are not allowed to practice in is
.when there is lightning."
Sometimes the team will also visit Miles of
Golf in Ypsilanti. This facility is outdoors but has
heated shelters so that the golfers are not as both-
ered by the weather.
Judging by their recent success, the Wolver-
ines haven't let the weather get to them. The
team has been able to compete with most major
universities, regardless of geographical location,
and they hope to continue to be successful this
weekend.

'M' hopes to rebound at Furman

By Kevin Anderson
For the Daily

In last year's Furman Intercollegiate,
the Michigan men's golf team came
through with one of its top performances
of the season, taking third place out of 20
squads. This year, the Wolverines are hop-
ing to repeat their performance in the same
tournament this weekend and turn around
what has been a difficult spring. Michigan
finished a disappointing eighth out of 12
teams in its last tournament, the Conrad
Rehling Invitational in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"We have struggled lately," Michi-
gan coach Andrew Sapp said. "I was
a little bit surprised and disappointed
that we struggled so much coming out
of spring break in Puerto Rico. (The
Conrad Rehling Invitational) was a
tournament that I thought we should
have been top-five in, but we didn't
play very well. I was shocked that our
guys struggled so much."
In spite of the Wolverines' struggles so
far this spring, the team remains optimistic
heading into this weekend's tournament.
"I think it gives the guys confidence,
knowing that this is a tournament that we
have done well in before," Sapp said. "It
helps just to be familiar with the course
and know that you have played well on
it before."
Because the Furman University Golf
Course, at 6,800 yards, plays relatively
short, the Wolverines have focused on

their short games in practice this week.
Sapp said that a large part of Mon-
day and Tuesday's practices would be
devoted to shooting wedge shots of less
than 100 yards.
"It isn't a very long course," Sapp said.
"So if you can hit your drives straight
and hit some good wedge shots, it gives
you the opportunity to shoot some very
low scores."
While playing well inside of 100 yards,
will be important for Michigan, it is just
as critical that players who have struggled
lately return to form.
"I think, when you are in a slump,
a lot of times it's partly a confidence
thing," Sapp said. "I also think a lot of
times the way to break out of a slump is
to get out there and just shoot your way
out of it, like a basketball player. That's
tough when we can't even practice out-
side on our home course yet."
It should help thatjunior Christian Vozza
appeared to break out of his own personal
slump by firing a final-round score of 68 in
Alabama. Sapp identified Vozza and senior
Rob Tighe as two Wolverines with the
potential to finish first individually at the
Furman Intercollegiate.
"Tighe has been very steady for us this
spring, and that has been huge for us,"
Sapp said. "He has been very consistent
and hasn't shot any high numbers, so he's
someone who, if he plays well, will have
a chance to win this tournament. Chris-
tian should be confident because he had a

TONY DING/Daily
Senior Rob Tighe will be shooting for the
top at the Furman Intercollegiate.
chance to win this tournament last year and
he's coming off a really good last round."
The Furman Intercollegiate will run
tomorrow through Sunday with par set
at 72. This year's edition will include 19
teams, almost all of them hailing from the
south.
"It's tough going against all these
schools from South Carolina and Geor-
gia who can practice at their own courses
already," Sapp said.

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