The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 8, 2005 - 9A
' Three new faces make
* debut fc
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
At the start of the season the
Michigan women's gymnas-
tics team finds itself in the
same place as it was at the Tk
end of last season - No. 5 in
the country. Mic
Led by senior Elise Ray, r1
the Wolverines placed fifth >
at the NCAA Championships Ti
in April, but this is a new :
year for Michigan. Now the
Wolverines aim to improve
on the No. 5 ranking.
Michigan lost substantial
contributors in former Olympian
Ray and seniors Chelsea Kroll,+
Shanna Duggan and Kara Rosella.
But with three new faces - fresh-]
men Becky Bernard, Huneth Lor
and Tatjana Thuener-Rego - +
Michigan has high hopes for thisI
"Obviously, (we lost a lot) every-I
where - Elise was a great all-1
arounder, the other kids that we lost
were more specialists," Michiganj
coach Bev Plocki said. "But I thinkj
that, between these three freshmen,
we've got people with strengths in
every event, and I think that ouri
incoming freshmen are going to
help us a great deal this season....
As a group, this freshmen class has
made a great impact on our pro-
gram. They have
fit in so incred-
S ibly well and
have worked so
very, very hard
Sd this whole fall."
e 4Maize and Blue
Crs r enIntrasquad will
be the first
the new Wolver-
ines to compete
under the collegiate format in front
of a home crowd in Crisler Arena.
"I just hope that they all stay
healthy and they can show to the
Michigan fans what they're capable
of doing," Plocki said. "Because
they will have a great four years
here if they are able to perform up
to the potential that I think they
The intrasquad will be important
for the Wolverines because they will
face top competition right off the bat
at No. 8 Nebraska on Jan. 13.
"We always have a tough sched-
ule because that's what I believe
in," Plocki said. "The only way you
prepare yourself for the postsea-
son is by competing against those
teams throughout the year."
Michigan will face the No. 12
Nittany Lions in its second meet
at Penn State. But the Wolverines'
biggest tests will come later in the
season against No. 2 Utah and No.
"It's hard to pick one or two
highlights because I really do think
that we have a lot of great compe-
tition this year," Plocki said. "But
obviously with Georgia and Utah
coming into Crisler Arena, those
are definitely going to be highlight
meets for us in terms of our home
With the return of fifth-year senior
Lauren Mirkovich and all-around
competitors senior Jenny Deiley and
junior Lindsey Bruck, Plocki antici-
pates a successful season.
"I think there's no doubt that
Lauren Mirkovich, who is coming
back for her fifth year, will definite-
ly be an inspirational leader of our
team," Plocki said. "Our leadership
this year is really going to be more
spread out. I think we have a lot of
people who are showing a lot of
Fifth-year senior Lauren Mirkovich returns to lead the Wolverines against a tough schedule, including defending national
M WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD
Gall outpaces elder at intrasquad
By Chris Herring
Daily Sports Writer
Normally, it would be safe to assume that most
freshmen don't immediately impact their teams at
the collegiate level.
But this year, there's no way this assumption is
fair to make of the freshmen on the women's track
team - especially freshman Geena Gall.
"She's coring in at a higher level than any
middle-distance runner we've ever had," Michigan
coach Mike McGuire said.
* Gall won three national championships in high
school, including one outdoor and two indoor titles.
Her indoor 800-meter run time of 2:08.77 stands
as the best in Michigan high school history. After
redshirting during the fall cross country season,
she now has the chance to show off her capabilities
"I've been waiting all fall to be able to run
indoor, and I've been putting a lot of training in
just to get to this point," Gall said. "I knew I was
going to get redshirted this fall (for cross country),
so I'm very eager."
Last Saturday, she impressed at the Maize and
Blue Intrasquad meet by holding off teammate and
reigning Big Ten Champion Theresa Feldkamp in
the 800-meter run. Gall was pleased with her time
"I was definitely satisfied," Gall said. "I didn't
think I would run that fast of a time. I've been sick
lately and my shins have been bothering me a little
bit. It took me about half the season last year to get
Her achievements in high school, coupled with
her win on Saturday, seemingly create huge expec-
tations for the upcoming season. But Gall's goals
may be even more ambitious than those other peo-
ple are setting for her.
"There is some pressure because there are a lot
of good 800-meter girls on our team," Gall said.
"Some of it goes away because people say the
things you do in high school don't really matter
once you get to college - because you end up hav-
ing to prove yourself again."
She added that she would like to be Big Ten
Freshman of the Year and win an individual event
at the Big Ten Championships.
McGuire thinks that there are things Gall can
do to improve her chances at reaching those goals.
"It will be a combination of several things,"
McGuire said. "Obviously, staying healthy, but also
refining her speed. I think that getting her stronger
within the framework of how we do things here
will help ... but she's got a lot of good basic tools
to start with."
Gall also has a lot of support, ranging from her
coaches to her teammates, and her roommate, Tif-
Ofili - also a freshman - won three events in
Saturday's intrasquad. Gall and Ofili ran with each
other on a club team prior to coming to Michigan.
Gall could be seen rooting for her roommate along-
side the track prior to Ofili's 60-meter race on Sat-
urday. She explained that the support is mutual.
"We don't run the same events, but we definitely
cheer each other on," Gall said.
Gall is a high school national champion who
comes in with a good work ethic, high goals and
moral support. Only time will tell what she can
accomplish this season, but it seems as if every
intangible is on her side for now.
70 Wolverines named
Academic All-Big Ten
The women's cross country team
frequently outperforms the rest of the
Big Ten. Now - for the third consecu-
tive year - the team has led the rest of
Michigan's fall sports in Academic All-
Big Ten Honors.
Sixteen runners who are varsity letter
winners have earned a cumulative GPA
of 3.0 or above. Football and women's
soccer were a close second, with fifteen
honors each. Overall, there were 70 Aca-
demic All-Big Ten Wolverines, placing
them at third in the conference behind
Penn State and Indiana, who each took
home 71 honors.
Wide receiver and football co-captain
Jason Avant, field hockey captain Lori Hill-
man and cross country captain Rebecca
Walter are a few of the notable three-time
recipients. Avant was also a second-team
pick for ESPN The Magazine's 2005 Aca-
demic All American.
Continued from page 8A
The Wolverines need to recover quickly
before traveling to South Florida on Satur-
day, where they will try to maintain their
"Any road win you can get in the
course of season in college basketball is
a monumental victory, and I'm not saying
that for 'coach speak,' " Amaker said. "If
we can somehow muster up enough to win
that game at South Florida, that will be a
tremendous accomplishment to get three
Continued from page 8A
Amaker gameplanned effectively and
exploited the Hornets' obvious height dis-
advantage. Early in the game, Amaker told
Sims that he could drop 40 points if he
wanted to. And even though Sims fell short
of that lofty goal, there's no doubt that it
was the best game I've ever seen him play.
- Matt Singer has lots offunny dreams.
If you want to hear about more of them, he
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.