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February 20, 2006 - Image 14

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 20, 2006

Injury stalls meet, slows 'M' finish
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer

Just like two young fans who participated in a mid-
meet contest, it looked like the Michigan women's
gymnastics team might be putting all the pieces of the
puzzle together Friday night. The Wolverines started
the night on vault, an event
they've been struggling with. But
Friday night, Michigan started
things off right.
By hitting four vaults with a 9.800 or higher, the
Wolverines posted their first score above 49.000 on
vault this season.
"We went back to the gym last week, and we just
said hey, 'We've got to get better here,' " Michigan
coach Bev Plocki said. "And we put a lot of effort into
that, and it showed. I was just really pleased with that.
Everybody (did well) on vault. Katie Lieberman did a
great vault."
The sophomore Lieberman won the event with
a 9.875. This win was just the first of many for
the Wolverines, who defeated New Hampshire
195.600-190.850 at the Coaches Care Challenge at
Crisler Arena. But despite the strong start, the night
turned into an anticlimactic one.
As the Wolverines continued to their best event,
bars, the Wildcats moved to vault. And in the final sec-
onds of the touch warm-ups, New Hampshire junior
Jaime de Mello suffered a neck injury and could not
be moved until an ambulance arrived. While everyone
else in the arena fearfully waited, Michigan completed
its bar rotation.
"Bars went okay," Plocki said. "It wasn't our
very best performance, but bars went okay. And,
I think it's just unfortunate because when you have
an injury like that, you have to take every precau-
tion. You just have to. It took the ambulance forever
to get here."
With their second rotation complete, Michigan
could do nothing but wait until de Mello was taken
out on a stretcher, and the Wildcats had completed
vaulting.
When the Wolverines resumed competition it was
obvious the interruption had affected everyone.
"It just deflated the energy, it just sucked it right out
of the arena," Plocki said. "And the fans and every-
thing else, it was just really hard. For our kids to fin-
ish bars and then have that long a break before beam,
I think was hard. It obviously had an effect on New
Hampshire's team and their performance.

0

EUGENE ROBERTSON/Daily
Senior Luke Bottke hit both his floor exercise routine and vault, but the
championship-like performances couldn't save the Wolverines' meet.
Season-low point
total doo-ms Blue
in Iowa t-meet

TREVOR CAMPBELL/Daily
Freshman Tatjana Thuener-Rego tied teammate Lindsey Bruck for the balance beam title in Michigan's win.

"It just really ended up being a disappointing eve-
ning all the way around. Not because we didn't have
some high points in our performances, but overall, this
was not how I thought the meet was going to finish
after the start that we had."
Junior Lindsey Bruck stole the show, winning both
bars and floor with two scores of 9.900, tying freshman
Tatjana Thuener-Rego for the balance beam title with
a 9.850
Bruck (39.425) won the all-around, followed closely
by Thuener-Rego (39.300) and senior Jenny Deiley
(38.900).
"We've improved some things and built our con-

fidence a little more," Bruck said. "And that's what
we need to do, just keep improving. We were work-
ing on landings, working on technique. Each week,
we're just going to keep improving, and, hopefully,
it'll pay off."
Despite the length of the meet due to injury, many
fans stayed until the end. The event raised more than
$6,000 for the Coach Carr Cancer fund.
"I was thankful to the people who did come out and
stay until the end," Plocki said. "The most important
thing about tonight wasn't as much the gymnastics
meet, as it was the fundraiser that we did for the Coach
Carr fund."

By Colt Rosensweig
Daily Sports Writer
One week after posting its high-
est team score of the season, the No.
5 Michigan men's gymnastics team
posted its lowest, 196.10, and dropped
a tri-meet against No. 3 Illinois and
No. 6 Iowa.
The Wolverines began the night on
the still rings, which is typically one
of their stronger events. But the team
struggled, and three consecutive gym-
nasts made major mistakes. Despite
that, after a solid performance on the
floor exercise, Michigan led the meet.
"We got off to a rough start, and
we didn't have our strongest lineup in
(because this wasn't a target meet),"
Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. "So
it would be reasonable to expect that
we wouldn't have the highest team
score. It just seemed like a lot of times,
if something could go wrong, it would
and did."
The pommel horse was also a weak
point, in contrast to the team's 6-for-
6 performance against Minnesota on
Feb. 11. But, there were several bright
points to build on.
Senior Luke Bottke performed as if
he was in a championship meet, hitting
both his floor routine and vault. With
a 9.45 score on floor, Bottke won the
event, beating out both national team
member Justin Spring of Illinois and
U. S. floor exercise champion Michael
Reavis of the home-team Hawkeyes.
"A guy like Luke is above (meet
classifications)," Golder said. "He
nailed his vault, and he nailed his floor
routine. You call it a target meet or an
opportunity meet - no matter what
you call it, he gets out there and per-
forms. He's a championship performer
nearly all the time, and that's what
everybody has to learn how to do."
Michigan also got a got strong floor
routine from freshman Scott Bregman,
but he received only an 8.8.

"I thought (after Bottke's routine),
'(Bregman is) set up perfectly, he
just has to nail his set,' " Golder said.
"Which he did, and then he got an 8.8.
I just thought, 'What the heck? What's
going on here?' Sometimes in football
or basketball, the official's standing
right in front of the player and still
makes a bad call. And you just won-
der, 'How could he not see that?' But it
happens repeatedly, so I guess it's just
an unfortunate part of sport and human
judgment."
Golder said that With repeated high-
deduction routines, judges can get into
the rhythm of taking off a lot of points,
hurting gymnasts down the line.
The chaotic environment of the meet
may have affected the team's perfor-
mance as well. Three men's teams
competed against each other instead of
the usual two, and two women's teams
were locked in their own competition.
"If anything, I think they were just
holding back too much," Golder said.
"They looked like they were a little ten-
tative in their effort to be perfect, and
it doesn't work when you go that way.
It's like a 40-meter race - it's pedal to
the metal. That's what I think some of
them (still) need to learn how to do."
Next Saturday, Michigan will
look to avenge itself against Iowa
and Illinois, along with four other
teams, at the Pacific Coast Classic
in Oakland, Calif. In contrast'to the
tri-meet, the team's top lineup will
be in place for this important com-
petition, just as it was for the meet
against Minnesota.
"I've never coached a team that
didn't have a bad meet during the sea-
son - it's a matter of how you rebound
from it," Golder said. "Every team that
I've ever coached since I've been at
Michigan has always put it together at
Big Tens and NCAAs ... I think we'll
put it together. We'll get a lot of incen-
tive from this."

After quick start, Netters can't close,,

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer

Halfway through Saturday evening, things looked
good for the No. 42 Michigan men's tennis team at
their home meet. The Wolverines were up 2-0 against
No. 31 Notre Dame and needed just two more singles
wins to seal the victory.
But looks can be deceiving.
The Fighting Irish turned up their intensity to roll
over the Wolverines with five straight singles victories,
defeating Michigan 5-2.
"On each individual court, I think we still have a
few holes in our game that we need to plug up," Michi-
gan coach Bruce Berque said. "But we're getting there.
We're capable of beating a team like (Notre Dame),
but today, we didn't quite play well enough. They are a
good team. I think they're even better than what they're
ranked."
Michigan (5-3) certainly looked like it was up to
Notre Dame's challenge at the beginning of the con-
test. The Wolverines sealed the doubles point with two
solid victories. Michigan's No. I duo of sophomore
Matko Maravic and junior Brian Hung relied on quick
hands at the net and exploited the angles of the court to
defeat the Fighting Irish tandem of Ryan Keckly and
Barry King, 8-6.
"We've been playing solid throughout the whole
year" Maravic said. "We're not doing anything spe-
cial. We're just sticking to the basics."
At the No. 3 position, the pairing of junior Steve
Peretz and freshman Scott Bruckmann held off Notre
Dame's Brett Helgeson and Andrew Roth in similar
fashion, 8-6.
But in the singles competition, Michigan ran into
trouble. The only bright spot for the Wolverines was
a statement performance by No.58 Maravic at the No.
2 slot against No. 14 Sheeva Parbhu. Last November,
Maravic suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of
Parbhu in the quarterfinals of the Wilson/ITA Midwest
Regional Championships. Maravic couldn't secure the
win despite having three match points.

But on Saturday, the Wolverines' emotional leader
replaced that bitter taste of defeat with the sweet fla-
vor of revenge. Maravic redeemed himself in straight
sets, 6-3, 6-4, taking out Parbhu with a combination of
short-game and baseline weaponry.
"It was a good win for him," Berque said. "He was
pretty determined. As soon as I announced the lineup
and who each guy would be playing, Matko pumped
his fist. He's been playing very well. He's just been los-
ing close matches to a lot of good players. So, it was
nice to see him get back on the board:"
Maravic, who usually competes at the No. I singles
position for Michigan, hardly skipped a beat at No.2.
"I was very pleased with howI played today," Mara-
vic said. "I was really aggressive with my returns. I was
serving pretty well throughout the whole match too."
But the rest of the Wolverine contingent came up
short on the singles end. Hung - playing at the No. 1
position for the first time this season - made some
uncharacteristic unforced errors at the net and fell to
No.8 Stephen Bass, 7-5,6-2.
In the remaining four singles matches, Michigan
found itself gridlocked in three-set contests. And in all
four, Michigan bit the dust.
At the No. 3 position, freshman Andrew Mazlin
appeared to be on his way to yet another win in his
typical "comeback kid" fashion. After dropping the
first set to Helgeson, Mazlin turned up his service
game to steal the second set. But unforced errors
plagued the rookie in the third set, leading to a tough
6-4,3-6,6-2 defeat.
The usually reliable Peretz also found himself
in a nail-biter at No. 5 singles. After losing a close
first set, Peretz trailed 2-4 in the second but battled
back to win the frame in a tiebreaker. The match
went to a third-set, 10-point tiebreaker, but Peretz
couldn't bury Notre Dame's Eric Lagenkamp and
suffered just his second singles loss of the season,
6-4,6-7(4), 1-0(2).
Peretz's visible frustration on the court seemed to
represent the Michigan squad's tenor. Despite the dis-
appointing defeat, Berque recognizes his team's grow-

e

JUSTIN BASS/Daily
The No. 1 duo of sophomore Matko Maravic
(pictured) and junior Brian Hung won another match.
ing potential.
"I definitely do feel like our team is improv-
ing," Berque said. "We're closer to beating a
team like (Notre Dame) than we were before.
Making the schedule intentionally tough was
done by design to push us to get better. And we
are getting better."

Dashers pace Blue
in home meet

0 WOMEN'STENNI
Exon stumbles, but recovers

By Eileen Hengel
Daily Sports Writer

By John Geise
Daily Sports Writer
Morgan Trent knew the race
was over as soon as he got out of
the blocks.
Running his first 60-meter race
since high school, the redshirt
freshman didn't get the start he
was looking for and trailed fresh-
man teammate Adam Harris the
entire race.
"My start was pretty slow,"
Trent said. "I never really thought
I had (Adam) after that. He got
out good, and I tried to run with
him instead of running my race."
Trent's fears proved well
founded, and he ended the race

many of the top runners sat out
in preparation for next week's
Big Ten Championships, the two
freshmen stood out, finishing first
and second in the 60-meter dash
and 200-meter dash. Trent won
the 200 with a time of 21.92, 0.21
seconds ahead of Harris. The two
raced in different heats.
" I wasn't trying to match Mor-
gan's time," Harris said. "Honest-
ly, I was just trying to get through
the finish line."
Harris and Trent were the Wol-
verines' most noteworthy perform-
ers, but their performances were not
the only highlights for Michigan.
"Adam and Morgan obvi-
ously showed up," coach Ron

The Michigan Varsity Tennis Center erupted with
sound Sunday afternoon, but not from the fans.
Elizabeth Exon grunted and heaved her way
to a three-set win (6-4, 4-6, 6-4) over Tennes-
see senior Melissa Schaub. The junior came back
from a two-game deficit to close out the first set of
the best-of-three match. After falling in the sec-
ond set, Exon garnered the attention of the entire
crowd during Michigan's 5-2 victory over No. 22
Tennessee.
"After the second set, I was really frustrated that I
lost because I really felt like I should have closed out
(the match)," Exon said. "But I knew that I needed
to just forget that second set and focus on what I
needed to do to win."
Still, frustration lingered on Exon's face, and the
grunts became louder and more poignant with each
missed shot. She didn't take command of the match

streak: the losing kind.
After dropping the best-of-three doubles point,
the Wolverines went on to claim 5-of-6 singles
matches - three of which went to a third set. Before
Exon's dramatic finish, junior Kara Delicata outlast-
ed Tennessee junior Victoria Jones (6-4, 3-6, 7-5)
at No. 1 singles, stifling the Volunteers' attempt at
a comeback. The win ended Delicata's four-game
losing skid, and marked her first career win at No.
1 singles.
"Even though doubles didn't go our way, we start-
ed off with a lot of energy," Michigan coach Bitsy
Ritt said. "I think that really carried through into to
the singles matches."
Senior Nina Yaftali and freshmen Lindsey How-
ard got the Wolverines off to a quick start with
straight-set wins at No. 2 and No. 6 singles, respec-
tively. Yaftali's victory was her first singles win of
2006, ending a six-game losing streak.
Samantha Orlin defeated freshmen Chisako Sugi-
yama at No. 5 singles, providing the Volunteers with

0

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