6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 6, 2006
Wrestling places third in tourney
Freshman pitcher Stacy Delaney established herself as an emerging star.
anew spot on top
By David VandeVusse
Daily Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON - After sitting atop the stand-
ings for the entire conference season, the Michigan
wrestling team was only able to finish third at this
weekend's Big Ten Tournament.
The second-ranked Wolverines - who took third
for the second straight year - posted a score of 115
points, behind Illinois' 125 and champion Minneso-
"We would've liked to have done a little bit better,"
Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. "We wrestled
hard, and we lost some tough matches."
Despite the disappointing place, nine of Michigan's
10 starters qualified for nationals by finishing in the
top seven in their weight class.
Most notable was senior co-captain Ryan Churel-
la's championship in the 165-pound weight class. It
was his second straight conference title at 165, but his
In the final, Churella faced off against Minnesota's
Matt Nagel, who Churella forced into five stalling
violations en route to a disqualification in February.
Once again, Churella set the pace from the start and
dominated Nagel in his 7-0 win.
"I made sure I was attacking in all my matches,
and I was able to come out on top," he said.
Churella won all three of his matches during the
weekend, improving to 25-0 on the year.
Fellow senior and co-captain Greg Wagner made
the finals as well. But the Fort Wayne, Ind. native
wasn't able to pull through, and was defeated 6-1 by
top-ranked Cole Konrad of Minnesota. The match
was wrestled very defensively, and the two standouts
entered overtime tied at one apiece. Wagner almost
mounted a takedown in the extra session but was
caught out of position, and taken to the mat where
Konrad held him in the near-fall position for three
seconds. The five-point sequence ended the match,
leaving Wagner in the runner-up position.
"(Wagner) gave Konrad a great match." McFarland
said. "He's getting closer and closer to beating him."
Redshirt sophomores Eric Tannenbaum and Josh
Churella had big expectations coming into the tourna-
ment, after both won individual titles at last year's confer-
ence tournament. Neither matched last year's success.
Tannenbaum was the No. 3 seed in the 149-pound
class but was stunned in his first match by unseeded
Troy Tirapelle of Illinois. Tannenbaum finished a
disappointing fifth after a forfeit victory over Ohio
State's J Jaggers.
Josh Churella garnered the top seed in the 141-
pound class and looked strong in his first two matches
Saturday, outscoring his opponents 14-0. But he fell
EyC n tMAfsOLAwN-kdRsCMIANpsds/ Dily
Senior Ryan Churella en route to one of his three weekend wins. Churelia pushed his overall record to 25-0.
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ga. - After shock-
ing the nation by becoming the first
team east of the Mississippi to win
the Women's College World Series,
the No. 8 Michigan softball team
spent its Spring Break delving into
uncharted territory - playing as
the defending National Champions.
The team has won 11 of its first
16 games to start the year. The
record has helped Michigan remain
in the nation's top 10, but Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins believes the
team's performance in the early
part of this season is not an indica-
tion of how the Wolverines' season
might go. In these first few games,
Hutchins is hoping the team, which
includes three freshmen, can gel
"We're always looking to get into
a groove," Hutchins said. "We try to
get better as a team and evolve as
a team. The most important thing
is to get together as a group so that
everybody's rojes evolve."
The team traveled throughout
the southeast United States during
the break, competing in the NFCA
Leadoff Classic, the Sunshine State
Tournament and a handful of other
The Wolverines' trip began in
Columbus, Ga. for the NFCA Lead-
off Classic, which featured many
of the nation's top teams. Hutchins
was looking forward to seeing how
Michigan stacked up against stiff
competition. But the tournament
was cancelled after the Wolverines'
two Friday games when the Colum-
bus area was hit with more than two
inches of rain on Saturday.
Michigan split its two Friday
games, losing to No. 7 Alabama in
extra innings before knocking off
Hofstra immediately after. Senior
Jennie Ritter was the star of the
Alabama game, pitching a complete
game including two extra innings.
In the process, she showed Hutchins
that she will likely continue her
dominant form of last year.
In the Hofstra game, freshman
pitcher Stacy Delany emerged as a
new star. After junior Lorilyn Wil-
son struggled, allowing three runs in
the second inning, Delaney came on
in relief and shut the Pride down in
the remaining five innings. Hutchins
was pleased to see Delaney bounce
back after a rough outing in her
debut one week earlier.
Delaney didn't seem to command
the same authority as Ritter, but
Hutchins remembers Ritter looking
very similar during her first year
donning the Maize and Blue.
"(In Delaney), I see a lot of Jen-
nie Ritter as a freshman," Hutchins
said. "She's not as confident as Rit-
ter was, but people don't remember
Ritter as a freshman. Since then,
Ritter has raised her mental game to
Even as the Hofstra game pro-
gressed, Hutchins believes that Del-
aney's confidence began to build.
"I thought that inning after inning
she got better," Hutchins said. "Con-
fidence is really important in pitch-
ing, and her confidence got better as
the game went on. And you have to
be confident to be in control of your
Delaney earned another win at
Georgia last Monday, in the sec-
ond of two games that Hutchins
scheduled because of the shortened
tournament. She dropped her first
decision against Troy in Auburn,
Ala. on Tuesday, but Delaney was
responsible for just two of the Tro-
jans' four runs.
After seeing both Delaney's solid
pitching and the consistent play of
freshmen shortstop Teddi Ewing
and outfielder Allison Kidman,
Hutchins is content with the play of
her newest Wolverines.
"I have been more pleased with the
freshmen than any other group on
the team," Hutchins said. "They're
not trying to live up to other expec-
tations; they are just trying to play
After the loss to Troy, Michigan
defeated No. 17 Auburn 1-0 before
moving on to Tallahassee, Fla. The
Wolverines shut out Florida State
9-0 on Thursday. Ritter allowed
just one hit and struck out 12 in the
The final games of Michigan's trip
were in the Sunshine State Tourna-
ment, where it went 2-1, defeating
Maryland and Florida State before
losing to Western Michigan. With
their two wins, the Wolverines
qualified for the championship,
where they defeated Florida State
This time, the score read 5-0
behind a 16 strikeout performance
by Ritter, which matched her career
high and was just one shy of the
short in his semi final match against Northwestern's
Ryan Lang. Churella ended up fourth after Alex
Tsirtsis, the No. 2 seed from Iowa, defeated him in
the third-place bout.
Like Josh Churella, redshirt freshman Steve Luke,
redshirt junior Mark Moos and fifth-year senior Wil-
lie Breyer all took fourth.
Still, Breyer was a pleasant surprise for the Maize
and Blue. Not normally part of the starting lineup, he
was named the starter at 197 in place of injured Casey
White on Thursday.
Breyer's weekend didn't start off well. He was
pinned in his first match, immediately demoting him
to the loser's bracket. But the veteran rebounded with
three straight wins, including a pin of his own. He
eventually fell to the No. 3 seed Matt Delguyd of
Northwestern, but his finish qualified him for what
will be his first and last NCAA Championships. .
"My first match I was really nervous," Breyer said.
"I lost and thought, well I'll just go for it. If I win, I
win. If I lose, I lose."
Also qualifying for the Wolverines were red-
shirt freshman Tyrel Todd at 184 and true freshman
Michael Watts in the 125-pound class. Todd knocked
off the sixth-seeded No. 6 seed Mike Tamillow of
Northwestern on his way to a fifth-place showing.
Watts pulled off a dramatic pin in the first period of
his seventh-placematch against Ohio State's Nathan
Redshirt junior Nick Roy - the lone Michigan
wrestler not to qualify for nationals - suffered a sea-
son-ending knee injury in his second match Saturday
and had to forfeit his remaining bouts.
Michigan had big performances from several wres-
tlers but had sub-par outings in a few classes.
"The key (to winning) a Big Ten Championship
is having everybody firing in the same weekend,"
McFarland said. "We weren't able to do that."
Baseball deals with disappointment
By Dan Feldman
Daily Sports Writer
Even though they spent their spring
break in the sun of Alabama, Florida and
Georgia, last week was an educational one
for the Michigan baseball team.
The young team learned about playing
college baseball, and Michigan coach Rich
Maloney learned a lot about his players.
Playing in the Wiregrass Classic, at
Central Florida and in the GSU Invita-
tional, the Wolverines finished a disap-
"These guys don't want to lose," Malo-
ney said. "I'm not happy with 3-4.I don't
think anyone is around here, even though
we're working out any kinks.
Despite that sentiment, Maloney has
continued to believe in the mantra that it's
not how his team starts, but how they fin-
Michigan can only hope that its finish
is sweeter than its sour start. In their sea-
son opener against Alabama-Birmingham
on Feb. 24, the Wolverines built a 4-1 lead
through eight innings. They benefited from
the strong pitching of fifth-year senior Drew
Taylor, who at that point had surrendered
just one run on three hits and two walks.
Butinthetopofthe ninthinning,the Blaz-
ers exploded for four runs - the first two of
which were credited to Taylor, the latter two
to senior Jeff Niemiec, who got the loss.
In the bottom of the inning, the Wol-
verines had a chance to tie when fifth-
year senior Jeff Kunkel singled with one
out. Senior Mike Schmidt came on to
pinch run, and he stole second base before
advancing to third on a fly out. But he
was stranded 90 feet from forcing extra
innings when senior A.J. Scheidt flew out
to center field.
"It was tough," Taylor said. "For eight
innings ... they were never really threat-
ening. It was kind of a crushing blow
when they came back in the ninth."
Two days later - after its Feb.25 game
against Troy was rained out - Michigan
played a doubleheader against South Ala-
bama and the Trojans.
After the Jaguars pounded the Wolver-
ines by a 9-4 margin, Michigan got its first
win of the season, 7-5 over Troy.
The Trojans scored five runs in the bot-
tom of sixth inning to tie the Wolverines.
Troy still had two runners on with two
outs when Michigan freshman Adam
Abraham came in and got shortstop Tom
King to ground out.
Abraham continued his perfect pitching
for the final three innings, and Michigan
scored the winning run when sophomore
Doug Pickens doubled in junior Brad Rob-
lin in a two-out, seventh-inning rally.
The Wolverines beat Central Florida
6-3 on Wednesday. Senior Craig Mur-
ray allowed two runs on three hits in six
innings for the win. Abraham pitched the
final third and got the save.
Abraham's play has temporarily ended
Maloney's search for a closer.
"We found someone who can handle
that kind of pressure, who has some
moxie," Maloney said.
Michigan lost 8-6 to North Carolina-
Asheville on Friday in what Maloney
described as his team's worst game.
Although Maloney was impressed with
his team's defensive play in six of its
seven games - especially since it has
been limited to practicing indoors since
the fall - this loss was the exception.
"Friday, for whatever reason, was the
Fifth-year senior Drew Taylor pitched eight strong innings for the Wolverines.
one game we didn't play well which was
very disheartening," Maloney said.
The Wolverines scored two runs in
both of the eighth and ninth innings, but
their comeback bid fell short when sopho-
more Nate Recknagel struck out with run-
ners on the corners in the ninth.
Michigan played much better Saturday,
but the result did not show it. Down 3-0
to Georiga Southern in the eighth inning,
the Wolverines scored two runs on three
doubles by Scheidt, Pickens and junior
In the ninth inning, Kunkel drew a
two-out walk and was pinch-run for by
Schmidt, who once again wreaked havoc
on the base path. He stole second and
when the catcher's throw went into center
field, took third. The centerfielder could
not cleanly come up with the ball, and
Schmidt came around third and scored.
"My job at that point was to find any
way on and keep the game alive ... '
Kunkel said. "(Schmidt) was able to make
something happen ... Shmidty never
But the momentum was shortlived. The
Eagles scored on Abraham in the bottom
of the tenth for a 4-3 win.
Michigan parlayed its improvement
into a 9-4 win over LeMoyne yesterday.
Junior Adam Hess - who was particu-
larly impressive to Maloney over the
week - earned the win.
0 MEN'S GYMNASTICS
Tumblers can't handle Stanford
0 WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS
Freshman is a force for 'M'
By Colt Rosensweig
Daily Sports Writer
PALO ALTO, Calif. - Saturday night,
the No. 6 Michigan men's gymnastics
team was good. But Stanford was sensa-
The third-ranked Cardinal.set a team
record with a total score of 217.15, while
Michigan turned in a solid 207.35.
The Wolverines began the night on
their weakest event, the pommel horse.
Three of the six gymnasts came off dur-
ing their routines, and only freshman Joe
Catrambone scored above an 8.0. But with
the floor exercise coming next, Michigan
could be confident of putting up some big
"We all need to go out there and be
confident and know that we can hit as a
team," Catrambone said. "(We need) to
feed off each other's hits. Right now we're
hitting maybe two people, then we'll miss
three, hit one, miss four. We have to all
hit at the same time."
This elusive consistency, a goal Michi-
gan has been striving for all season, was
not present at Stanford.
"Putting together a good team is like
a jigsaw puzzle," Michigan coach Kurt
Golder said. "You get some of the right
pieces and put them in, and some of the
other pieces are missing. I feel like we
took some more steps forward again this
time, but maybe some different guys had
award for his floor routine.
Golder remains confident in his team's
chances to make NCAAs and possibly
bring home a national championship.
"We've been working on trying to fix
some of our problems with guys having
trouble competing,"Golder said. "(We just
have to) remain optimistic; that's the best
solution. Certainly, we demonstrate all the
time the potential we have, but it's not very
often that we realize it all at the same time.
Hopefully, it will just all come together in
the end. In 1999, we didn't win a meet until
this weekend, until we were out (in Cali-
fornia) during Spring Break at the Santa
Barbara Invitational. That was the first
meet that we won, and we went on to win
the NCAA championship. (This year), we
This freshman is making her
On Saturday, Tatjana Thuener-
Rego won the all-around title with
a 39.350 against No. 18 Denver at
the Hamilton Gymnasium.
"Winning the all-around, I was
really happy about that," Thuener-
Rego said. "I have had it in the back
of my mind that I wanted to accom-
plish it, and the fact that I did it,
tonight, it really meant a lot to me."
Saturday served as the third time
she posted a score above 39.000 in
her five times competing in the all-
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
trol that. I was just really pleased, I
think we got things back on track.
The team had a lot of energy and
a lot of focus. And that's exactly
what we need to be doing."
Michigan started the meet with a
strong showing on bars, capped off by
the first-place performance of senior
Lauren Mirkovich. But it wasn't until
sophomore Katie Lieberman round-
ed out the Wolverines' vault lineup
with a winning score of 9.875, and
Michigan posed just its second score
above a 49.000 on the event that the
tumblers could relax.
"We did one of our best vault
performances of the season,"
Plocki said. "I think we're definite-
was a key moment to follow it all
the way through and have a great
last event on balance beam."
Heading into possibly the biggest
meet of the regular season against
No. 1 Georgia, the importance of
finishing an entire meet cleanly is
more apparent than ever. With the
consistent performances of veterans
like junior Lindsey Bruck and senior
Jenny Deiley, who placed third and
fourth, respectively, in the all-around
and the ability of younger gymnasts
like Thuener-Rego, Lieberman and
Kipley to keep improving and make
a bigger impact each week, Michigan
can compete against the top teams in