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January 16, 2007 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-16

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6B - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TUESDAY

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

M' claims win in Chi-town

By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
CHICAGO - The Michigan
men's gymnastics team opened its
season on Saturday night, and the
scene was a far cry from the team's
final meet of last year.
On the night of last season's team
qualifiers at NCAAs in Oklahoma,
the Wolverines sat dejected and
silent, trying to absorb the fact that
they wouldn't be competing for a
team title in 2006.
But on Saturday at the Windy City
Invitational, the victorious Wolver-
ines emerged to claim their award
injubilant clusters rather than asin-
gle-file line, arms over each other's
shoulders, shouting, "It's great to be
a Michigan Wolverine!"
No. 8 Michigan outperformed
the meet's five other squads with
surprising ease, notching a total
score of 212.75 - 1.05 points shy
of last year's season high. Illinois
was a distant second (209.75), with
rival Ohio State even further back
(209.5).

What was different about this
year?
Start with sophomore Ralph
Rosso.
The Morganville, N.J., native
competed in five of six events and
never scored below an 8.0. His pic-
ture-perfect vault scored an 8.75,
good for third place. His teammates
mobbed him before he could even
return to the end of the runway.
Once vault, Michigan's final
event and a source of some trouble,
was complete, it would have taken
a miraculous score of 39 points (out
of a possible 40) for Illinois or Ohio
State to catch the Maize and Blue.
Freshman Torrance Laury took
fourth place on the still rings and
parallel bars at his first collegiate
meet. Finally, after Rosso's vault, he
could look at the scoreboard.
"(After vault) was when I found
out for the first time that we had
clinched it and won," Laury said. "It
was such a great feeling. I couldn't
believe it."
Though Michigan finished first
in every event but vault, no single

apparatus went without a hitch.
The Wolverines began the night on
parallel bars, where two of the first
three gymnasts did not hit their
routines.
The next three, with little mar-
gin for error available, posted three
straight scores above 9.0, boosting
Michigan into first place, where it
remained for the rest of the night.
"I knew we were going to win
when we finished parallel bars,"
Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. "I
said to myself, 'This is just like '99,
when we won the NCAAs.' So many
times by the time we were halfway
through an event, we'd have one
foot in the grave and one foot on a
banana peel, and we'd walk away
with four good hits."
The same pattern continued
throughout the night, with the team
perpetually following up missed
routines with hit sets.
"We were able to miss a routine
and then get right back up and hit
a good set," said sophomore Scott
Bregman, who tied for second
place on floor exercise with a 9.25.

"I think one thing that's really dif-
ferent this year is that a missed set
doesn't mean ascore in the fives - it
means a score in the low eights."
There was at least one Wolverine
in the top three on each apparatus,
with senior co-captain Justin Laury
winning pommel horse (9.05).
Senior co-captain Andrew Elkind
and sophomore Joe Catrambone
shared the highbar title (9.1).
Laury, in his first competition
since 2005, looked like injury-
marred 2006 had never happened,
hitting all three of his routines. His
pommel horse score was the only
one to break into the 9.0 range.
The victory to open the season
provides a huge confidence boost to
the young Michigan team. But the
Wolverines will not lose the intense
focus that has marked them ever
since their disappointment in Okla-
homa.
"Obviously we're real excited
tonight about our victory," Elkind
said. "But we're not going to think
that this has us set up to win the rest
of the season."

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FORTUNE
100 BEST
COMPANIES
TO WORK FORĀ°

HOOSIERS
From page 3B
said. "I think it's happened to
every swimmer once in a while.
You just have to know what to do
when it happens."
No. 12 Michigan knew how to
respond to the weekend's individ-
ual and competitive challenges as
it soundly defeated No. 19 Purdue,
153-90, on Friday.
Michigan took first place in
every swimming event against
the Boilermakers. Sophomore
Bobby Savulich and junior Alex
Vanderkaay both had three first-
place finishes, earning 29 points
each. Savulich won the 100- and
200-yard freestyle and was a
member of the winning 400-yard
medley relay, while Vanderkaay
had victories in the 1,650-yard
freestyle, 200-yard butterfly and
400-yard freestyle relay.
"The training hasn't stopped,
but we're recovering and swim-
ming better," said Savulich about
the team's increase in individual
victories. "Everyone's doing their
job. We're figuring out where we
are for Big Tens, and (Friday's
meet) was a good confidence
booster."
Sophomore Kyle Schroeder fin-
ished second in both the one- and
three-meter diving events while
earning a personal best and two
NCAA Zone qualifying scores.
The highlight of his performance
was earning two 8.0s on an inward
two-and-a-half pike, a dive that
has challenged him all season.
"I've been really nervous about
doing that dive because I've actu-
ally hit my ankles on the tower
going inward and it freaks me
out," Schroeder said. "It feels
really good to get a good score on
that dive, but it still needs a lot of
work."
SUGIYAMA
From page 3B
12-8record in singles play, includ-
ing a 6-1 performance against Den-
ver. But the team has struggled in
doubles play, finishing just 4-7..
InSunday's most excitingmatch,
junior Allie Shafner rallied from a
sizeable deficit to defeat Denver's
LorindaBoothman.
After dropping the first set and
struggling at times in the second,
Shafner regained her confidence
and took the set in a tiebreak.
"Allie is a ig-time competitor,"
Sugyama said. "Everyonesees how
hard she works, and we can build
off that. As a team we feed off of
each other's energies."
As her teammates circled the
courts to cheer her on, Shafner
began the final tiebreak in a dead
heat with Boothman. Even though
she dropped two crucial points,
Shafner was not deterred, and her
cheering teammates propelled her
to winthe tiebreak 10-7.
"The girls are constantly encour-
aging each other while playing,"
Michigan coach Amanda Augustus
said. "This can really help change
the momentum of the match and is
why we love to play at home."
Shafner's mental toughness
proved to be resolute, a character-
istic that Augustus hopes all of her
players will exemplify. To gain an
edge, Augustus has implemented
a mental training program to help
players maintain their confidence
during matches.
"You can put two similar players
on the court, and it's the mentally
tougher one that's usually going to
come out on top," Augustus said.

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