6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 13, 2006
against No.,2 Utah
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
Stick your landings!
These words will ring in the heads of
every Michigan gymnast after Saturday
night's meet against No. 2 Utah. Starting the
night on vault, the Wolverines took a step or
a hop on all six landings and failed to post
a single score above 6.4° o
a 9.80. After the first
rotation, No. 4 Michi-
gan fell seven-tenths of a point behind the
Utes, who started on bars. The Wolverines
just couldn't climb back into contention and
lost for the first time this season, 196.400
"Vault is the area that we as a team need
to improve on the most," Michigan coach
Bev Plocki said. "(Tatjana Thuener Rego is)
upset because she touched down on floor. But
I said, 'You know ladies, it wasn't a wobble
on beam or a touchdown on floor. It was
vaulting. We as a team need to go back to the
gym. What are we going to do to improve
our vaulting?' Because we can compete with
anybody in the country if we get vault where
it's capable of being. Until we do that, we're
going to come up a hair short."
During the vault exercise, every Michi-
gan gymnast stepped out of her landing and
scored between 9.650 and 9.775, while the
Utes stuck their landings and posted scores
in the 9.8s.
With bars - the Wolverines' strongest
event - following vault, Michigan saw a
good opportunity to make up lost ground.
But it looked like it might turn into a night
of missed landings until veteran junior
Lindsey Bruck (9.900) landed her dismount,
earning third place in the event. Following
suit, senior Jenny Deiley (9.925) and bars
specialist Lauren Mirkovich (9.925) exited
the apparatus in similar fashion to share
the event title. With that, the Wolverines
jumped to within half a point.
But Michigan knew it just wasn't going
to be its meet when balance beam All-
American Bruck almost fell off her spe-
Despite the loss, the night was character-
ized by some solid individual Wolverine
Deiley earned the all-around title, notch-
ing a top-five finish in every event.
"Each week, I am improving, which is
exactly what I want to be doing right now,"
Deiley said. "My vault still needs a little bit
of work. I think it was my lowest score (Sat-
urday) night, but overall, I was very happy:'
But the most exciting routine to watch
may have been sophomore Megan Moore's
performance on balance beam. Moore, a
walk-on from Rochester Hills, performed
beam in exhibition for the first time and
earned a competitive score of 9.725.
"Megan trains hard every day, and she
doesn't get the opportunity too often,"
Plocki said. "I was just so happy for her
tonight, to be able to have the chance to per-
form her routine in front of a great crowd
and do as well as she did."
Without having to count a single fall dur-
ing the night, the Wolverines did post a solid
performance. But Michigan knows that it's
more than just falls that matter when the
No. 2 team in the country is at the other end
of Crisler Arena. In gymnastics, every little
step and every landing counts.
"If we're going to beat a team like
Utah, which is one of the nation's top
programs, we have to be at our best,"
Plocki said. "And we weren't quite at our
best (Saturday) night."
MEN'S SWIMMING AND DIVING
By Anne Ulble
Daily Sports Writer
The sport of diving is about how a diver fixes his mistakes
the second time he gets on a board. Michigan junior diver Kyle
Howard has learned firsthand how to take advantage of a sec-
When he came to Michigan in the fall of 2003, Howard was
expected to fill some large shoes. Jason Coben, the 2003 NCAA
platform champion, was finishing out his final season with the
Wolverines, and head diving coach Chris Berg6re believed
Howard would be the team's next point man.
"I put a lot of faith in Kyle," Bergre said. "He had tremen-
dous ability and focus on the board. I knew that he could push
the rest of our team to do better."
Howard's diving improved tremendously during his first year
at Michigan, but his academics began to slide. By the end of his
first semester, Howard had failed three classes, and his grade-
point average was a dismal 0.883.
"I had slacked off a lot during senior year of high school,"
Howard said. "I think I was still in that mode. That, plus a lot
of extra stress that comes along with being a freshman, made
for a bad first year."
After reviewing Howard's academic standing in the spring
of 2004, the University put his record on hold. It suspended
Howard from school until he could prove that he was fit to
return to Michigan. Howard was given a set of guidelines
to fulfill before the academic board would review his case
"When I got the guidelines, I focused all of my energy on
getting back here," Howard said. "I screwed up a huge opportu-
nity, and my only hope of returning was to earn it back:'
His parents lived in Turkey on a military base when he was
asked to leave school, so Howard had to pack up and move thou-
sands of miles away from his friends, coaches and the pool.
Howard arrived in Turkey in April 2004 and began taking
classes through the University of Maryland military base.
"It was a big transition," Howard said. "I was taking my
classes at night because that's when they were offered, and
. then, I was only studying and working out during the day."
For the next eight months, Howard pushed himself and
stayed focused on attaining his goals, never once getting into
a:pool. In January 2005, Howard convinced his parents he was
ready to return to Michigan.
"They knew how hard I'd worked," Howard said. "They had
a lot of confidence in me."
Howard returned to Ann Arbor and took at Washtenaw
Community College to bolster his credit numbers before the
Michigan re-examined his case
"I was taking classes, working at a restaurant and diving
with a club team," Howard said. "And I was still getting good
grades. I felt like I was back on track."
This past fall, Howard was admitted back to Michigan on
the condition that he maintain good grades and stay eligible to
compete each semester.
"I felt like I demonstrated my focus to the University," How-
ard said. "This experience taught me that I can achieve any goal
that I fight for"
Bergdre said he is excited to have Howard back on the team
and feels like the re-addition has taught an invaluable lesson to
the younger members of the team. This season Howard already
leads the team with points on the three-meter spring-board.
"Kyle has helped the team out tremendously this season,"
Bergere said. "Not only does his ability on the board push the
other guys to improve, but what he's gone through has helped
them stay on target in school. Not many people get second
chances. And I think Kyle is taking advantage of the fact that
he got lucky in getting another here at Michigan."
Delley on the balance beam en route to an Individual all-around first place finish against Utah.
'Coach' DeEley inspires younger girls and team
By Bryan Hamilton
Daily Sports Writer
Back-flipping on a precariously narrow
beam with no one to spot you.
A strong, yet elegant solo dance across a
Soaring through the air with just bars to
grab hold of.
In the individual sport of gymnastics, ath-
letes take turns as loners in the spotlight.
As the performer steps onto center stage,
there is nothing but the thoughts of a cho-
reographed routine on her mind - that is,
until a group of 10-and li-year old girls start
screaming her name.
For four years, this has been the experi-
ence of Michigan women's gymnastics stand-
out Jenny Deiley. Now a senior, Deiley has
enjoyed many accomplishments throughout
her career. Deiley was a 2005 team co-MVP,
was named an All-American a year ago and
claimed five Big Ten player of the week hon-
ors, including last week's award after a first-
place overall finish against Ohio State. The
highly decorated Wolverine has earned much
success during her time in Ann Arbor, but
her proudest moments have come before she
even begins her performances.
"My absolute favorite thing has been the
girls that come and support me," Deiley said.
"They make it to all of my meets, and won't
stop yelling my name out until I wave at them
in the stands"
The girls that come out to cheer on their
favorite Michigan gymnast are a small group
of elementary-aged school girls who are
aspiring gymnasts themselves. Gymnastics
is a sport that starts at a very young age, with
clubs, coaches and big dreams all happening
before girls reach junior high. One of these
coaches who has instilled big dreams in this
group of girls is the very gymnast they come
"The girls come to our camps that we
have" Deiley said. "So I get a, chance to
coach them a little bit and talk to their moth-
ers about how they are doing and coming
along in their gymnastics."
This experience of supporting younger
gymnasts resembles the kind of support and
teamwork seen on the Michigan gymnastics
team this season. Though classified as an
individual sport, gymnastics at the collegiate
level requires a great deal of teamwork to be
successful. Deiley's actions this season have
reflected this concept.
"I have the most competing experience on
the team:' Deiley said. "So I feel I need to
help relax people before they go out and per-
form, and also just have confidence in what
Deiley's confidence has not been mis-
placed. Coming off a fifth-place finish last
year at the NCAA Championships, the Wol-
verines are hot on the path once again, con-
tending for a national title. The Wolverines
recently won their 23rd consecutive Big Ten
event and are currently ranked fourth in the
nation. Yet, despite such early success, the
athletes know that winning a national title
requires something special.
"This year has been different," Deiley
said. "We all have been coming in every day
and staying later than usual. Everyone is very
dedicated this year."
It is also the final year for Deiley - and
one she wants to end on the highest note.
"We definitely want to win it all,"
"We." Whether it's been her young fans
cheering her on or the team pulling for one
another, it's this collective "we" that Deiley
has enjoyed throughout her career. And it
may be that in an individual sport, it is the
teamwork and support of everyone that gives
this Wolverine team that special something
needed to bring a title to Michigan.
Struggling 'M' serves loss to Crimson Tide
By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
Against No. 11 Louisiana State on Friday, the Mich-
igan men's tennis team suffered its second consecutive
defeat, losing 5-2. It was the first home loss of the sea-
son, so the Wolverines were in need of a pick-me-up.
And yesterday, a little Southern hospitality did the
In Tuscaloosa, Ala., Michigan
pummeled No. 58 Alabama, 6-1,17,
and tarnished the Crimson Tide's
previously undefeated record. Mor 6
"The effort was very competi-
tive," Michigan coach Bruce Ber-
que said. "We played some good tennis. Losing at
home on Friday, we didn't play as well as we hoped
to against Louisiana State. (But yesterday), we beat a
pretty good team on the road and bounced back. The
guys played real well."
The Wolverines started off the day on the right
foot, winning the doubles point with two victories
in three matches.
At the No. 1 doubles position, the tandem of sopho-
more phenom Matko Maravic and junior Brian Hung
found itself down an early break in the third game
to Alabama's pairing of Joseph Jung and Mathieu
Thibaudeau. But the Michigan duo persevered to pull
an 8-4 victory.
"Matko and Brian hung in there and didn't panic,"
Berque said. "They got back to executing like they nor-
Michigan clinched the doubles point when junior
Ryan Heller and freshman Andrew Mazlin defeated
Andrew Felsenthal and Dan Buikema, 8-6, in a very
competitive match. Berque said that the No. 2 doubles
team came away with the win by keeping its game sim-
plistic and basic.
Michigan rode this tide of momentum to the singles
end, where it picked up five wins in six matches.
Wolverine freshman Scott Bruckmann earned his
first career dual-match singles victory against the
Crimson Tide's Sammy Struyf. The newcomer looked
more like a veteran in his 6-2 match, pummeling of
"I was really happy for Scott," Berque said. "He
played very well, competed very well and is showing a
lot of improvement."
Mazlin's singles play did not go unnoticed by Berque
either. The first-year player had a successful weekend,
notching two singles wins at the No.4 position. In what
has become his typical comeback fashion, the rookie
bounced back after losing the first set to Alabama's
Billy Mertz. Mazlin hammered Mertz in the next two
sets to secure a 6-7, 6-2, 6-0 victory.
Singles success was also shared by the Wolver-
ines' veterans, with Heller clinching the competition
for Michigan with a solid three-set performance.
After breezing through the first set, the co-captain
dropped the second frame. But Heller wasn't rattled
and went on to win six straight games to seal the
victory, 6-0, 4-6, 6-0.
Hung and junior Steve Peretz dominated their com-
petition, as well, improving their individual singles
records to 5-2 and 6-1, respectively.
With a very tough schedule this year, the Wolver-
ines have faced many of the top collegiate programs
in the country early on this season. Michigan has had
to travel away from the Varsity Tennis Center to play
against many of these highly competitive teams. The
Wolverines are hoping to make a national reputation
for themselves by securing important road victories
like yesterday's against the Crimson Tide.
"That was not an accident to have a tough schedule:"
Berque said. "It's kind of sink-or-swim. We have no
false sense of security or satisfaction. If we get a win,
then the guys know that they really earned it.
"What they're gaining is that they realize that
they can't be soft at all in terms of their competi-
tiveness. They have to bring their competitive best
every time. It also places more burden on them
during the week with an urgency on improvement. JUSTIN BASS/Daily
They know that if they want to win and be success- Steve Peretz was dominant In his singles competition while helping Michigan
ful, they have to (develop) quickly." pummel Alabama.
Blue running well in final stretch of season
By Chris Herring
Daily Sports Writer
Junior Erin Webster would have loved to
put together the fastest 5,000-meter run at the
Tyson Invitational in Arkansas on Saturday.
She may not have set the track world on fire
with a new collegiate record, but Webster's fin-
ish is nothing to scoff at.
She'll have the chance to go back to Fayette-
ville in just four weeks to win that 5,000-meter
Sophomore Nicole Edwards claimed second
place in the 800-meter event. At last week's
Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame, Edwards
gained a provisional qualifying time in the
"The last two meets were really good, just
because the competition level was higher than
what we had been experiencing in the earlier
part of the season," Edwards said. "Just having
the better competitors around puts you in the
mindset that you really have to step it up for
ley relay) and possibly another event with it.
The (distance medley relay) is definitely the
main focus, because our team has a shot at
winning the national championship in it."
Like Webster and Edwards, Erdman nar-
rowly missed a win as well. But she managed
to take second in the mile run with a personal
best of 4:44.34. She earned a provisional quali-
fying time with the run, her fourth of the year.
The meets at Notre Dame and Arkansas pro-
vided the team with solid competition, which