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January 17, 2006 - Image 16

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - January 17, 2006

Mirkovich undergoes
minor heart surgery, but
already back on mat
By Eileen Hengel
Daily Sports Writer
Heart surgery.
Out of context those words carry a heavy load. Rarely are the words minor and heart surgery side-
by-side. But over the semester break Michigan senior gymnast Lauren Mirkovich had just that.
Mirkovich went under the knife to repair a rapid heartbeat. The procedure required doctors
to remove extra electrical tissue around her heart. According to arrhythmia.org, the arrhyth-
mia originates in the nervous tissue around the heart - the electrical structure that transmits
impulses between the upper and lower chambers. Mirkovich's circuit$ went haywire, causing
the rapid heartbeat.
"During practice, my heart would skyrocket to 240 beats per minute," Mirkovich said. "And
then it would drop back down to 100 beats a minute within a couple of minutes."
While the procedure is fairly common, Mirkovich did not expect to feel so fatigued after-
ward. Still, she found herself back in the gym and working out just two days after the surgery.
"Each day, I continue to get stronger and stronger," Mirkovich said. "And hopefully in the
coming months, I will be able to not only make the lineup for vault and bars (but also) floor."
Still, Mirkovich needs to perform her best not only for herself, but also for the team. In the
hierarchy of women's gymnastics - specifically the Olympics - the individual all-around is
seen as the pinnacle of the sport. But the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the team rather
than the individual. The need for experience and determination far outweigh individual glory.
As the only fifth-year senior on the women's gymnastics team, Mirkovich will face challenges
and responsibilities she never faced in her previous seasons.
With the graduation of Olympian and first-team All-American Elise Ray, the Wolverines
find themselves without a leader. Still, Michigan coach Bev Plocki adheres to the theory that
after the first few meets, a natural leader will emerge. She was careful to pointout that although
the team has no captain, Mirkovich is more than qualified to fill the position.
"Lauren is the most experienced member of the team," Plocki said. "And she has the leader-
ship capabilities. (She also) has the unique ability to look at things from an athletes' perspective
and maybe say things that sometimes aren't always popular but are right."
Along with leadership abilities, Plocki also stresses a desire to win and to perform well in
competition as necessities for ateam captain. Mirkovich, a two-time All-American on bars, has
had little trouble in the past placing at the top of her team. Still after the surgery, Mirkovich will
just try to compete with all her heart.

0

LEFT: Senior Becca Clauson hit her routine on beam with a 9.85. RIGHT: Freshman Huneth Lor's performance on beam also helped secure the tie for Michigan.
uges ecision results InM' tie

By Eileen Hengel
Daily Sports Writer
With just its second tie in program history, the
Michigan women's gymnastics team matched the
score of the No.6 Nebraska. in Lincoln, Neb., on
Friday. Led by freshman Becky Bernard's 9.950
on bars, the Wolverines ended the meet with
195.675 total.
But that doesn't tell the whole story.
The Wolverines appeared to have won the
meet until Nebraska coach Dan Kending con-
tested the score of a single apparatus. Judges sus-
tained the protest, giving the Huskers just enough
to tie Michigan. The disputed score came on the
floor exercise, but the athlete involved remained
unnamed..
Despite the scoring changes, coach Bev Plocki
said that the tie is not as crucial as the number
of points scored. At the end of the season, the
scores of the squad will be tallied, making the
finishes less important.
"If the judges put up a score and the coaches

disagree with that score, they have a process
called an inquiry process" Plocki said. "Basical-
ly you ask the judges to reevaluate the score."
Plocki noted that the process is usually
reserved for when the judges have based their
scores on an incorrect start value. But in this
case, the start value was correct. The reason for
the change was not divulged, but Plocki pointed
out that the change would have been more upset-
ting had it resulted in a loss.
"In our sport the win-loss record is not what
makes a difference for us," Plocki said. "It's the
RPS - a composite of the scores throughout the
season - so for the first meet of the season, I am
just coming away really pleased that the team
did such a great job."
Plocki had much to be proud of, especially
from the freshmen. In her NCAA debut, Bernard
posted a high score on the beam. Bernard is the
first Wolverine freshman to win an event in her
opening meet since 2002. Senior Lauren Mirkov-
ich also tied for second on uneven bars with a
score of 9.9. Bernard's performance, along with

freshman Huneth Lor's 9.625 on beam, helped
Michigan more than Plocki had anticipated.
"All the freshmen, their ability to go into this
first meet and have a positive experience is awe-
some," Plocki said. "Because they were all so
nervous to compete in this meet with their first
college experience, even though we told them
that there is less pressure on them (individually)
because they have their team behind them. They
don't really get that until they do it."
Going into the beam, the team's last appa-
ratus, Michigan had a slight lead of 0.175. The
team's beam specialists, junior Lindsey Buck
and senior Becca Clauson were on deck.
"I actually ran this scenario by the girls last
week," Plocki said. "I told them we're at (Nebras-
ka), we're coming the beam and Nebraska is
leading by half of a tenth and you have to
hit. What's funny is that's almost exactly the
scenario that happened."
Both Bruck and Clauson hit their routines
with 9.9 and 9.85 respectively to end Michi-
gan's season opener.

MIi ULEBUS/Laily
Senior Lauren Mirkovich, a two-time All-American on bars, looks to return to full health.

Pommel horse still thorn in Blue's side

JOIN THE DAILY.

MASS MEETING. WEDNESDAY AT
6 P.M. 420 MAYNARD ST.
BE THERE.

By Colt Rosensweig
Daily Sports Writer
CHICAGO - So far, so good. The men's gym-
nastics team, after one meet, seems to be right
on track.
On Saturday night, the team competed against
five other schools in the Windy City Invitation-
al, hosted by the University of Illinois-Chicago.
After five rotations, Michigan sat less than a
point behind first-place Ohio State, and it seemed
poised to exceed Michigan coach Kurt Golder's
third-place expectations. But the final event for
the Wolverines was the pommel horse, their old
nemesis.
Just three of six Michigan gymnasts cleanly
completed the event, as cheers exploded from
the floor exercise and vault areas, where Ohio
State and third-place Illinois seemed to be hit-
ting every routine. After that final event, Michi-
gan fell to third place but still kept a positive
outlook.
"(We expected to do) just about what we did,"
Golder said. "I was hoping that we could finish
in the top three. Illinois and Ohio State are very,
very good. I wanted to stay ahead of Minnesota

and UIC and Iowa, and we did that."
Golder said he was pleased with his young
squad's showing. He noted that 22 of Michigan's
36 routines were performed by new members of
the team. Freshman Joe Catrambone finished
fourth in the all-around competition, a great
accomplishment for his first collegiate meet.
"It feels pretty good," Catrambone said. "I'm
pretty excited to be out here. I love Michigan.
The guys are great, and the team spirit is amaz-
ing. We came out and did our job today. We just
have to get a couple more hits on pommel horse,
and we'll be set for the year."
One thing the Wolverines won't have to worry
about is being steadfastly supported by their
teammates. Though no cowbell made the journey
to Chicago, each gymnast was greeted enthusi-
asm, regardless of his score.
At the beginning of the meet, Catrambone
was extremely nervous, but because of his team-
mates' encouragement, the freshman was able to
quickly relax and perform like a veteran.
"The guys were cheering everyone on, every-
one was pumped up," Catrambone said. "That
makes it that much easier to hit a routine."
In addition to the freshman's quality perfor-

mance, senior Gerry Signorelli always seemed
to be ready with a clean, "hit" routine whenever
the team needed it most. Signorelli finished in
the top-10 in the parallel bars, floor exercise and
high bar, and in the top-20 for vault.
"If I were giving a performance of the night, it
would be Gerry Signorelli on high bar," Golder
said. "He gets what I call the Newt Loken Award:"
(Former gymnastics coach Newt Loken was the
coach of the gymnastics team from 1948 to 1983.)
Signorelli's high bar routine features a show-
stopping release skill in which he performs a
double back over the bar with a full twist. On
Saturday night, he hit it perfectly, and to top it
off, stuck the landing for a 9.1 score.
The team's main focus before next Saturday's
meet against Penn State will be on improving their
pommel horse routines. Golder may change the
lineup somewhat for that event, possibly inserting
Signorelli or sophomore Paul Woodward.
"We'll have several intrasquads during the
week, and judge them and really put pressure on
the guys," Golder said. "Hopefully some of the
guys who weren't in (the lineup for the Windy
City Invitational) can make their way into the
lineup."

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