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February 19, 2007 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-02-19

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4B - Monday, February 19, 2007


The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Not pretty, but No. 1
gets it done on road

Daily Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS - It was ugly.
It was disappointing.
But it was enough.
By the skin of its teeth, the
undefeated Michigan men's gym-
nastics team pulled off a victory
against No. 7 Minnesota, 209.8-
209.3. The score was Michigan's
lowest point total of the season,
and despite the win, the subpar
performance rankled in the Wol-
verines' minds.
"It's hard to say that we feel
really good about this win," soph-
omore Jamie Thompson said. "It's
kind of a love-hate thing - we're
glad we won, but in reality, back
there in our little huddle, in our
hearts we didn't win this meet. We
could have done so much better."
On paper, the Gophers didn't
stand a chance against the top-
ranked Wolverines. But Michigan,
without the services of senior co-
captain Justin Laury, was ripe for
an upset.
The Wolverines dug themselves
an early hole by scoring a meager
32.00 overall on the pommel horse,

their first event of the night.
Undeterred, Michigan chanted,
"Penn State! Penn State!" - recall-
ing its dramatic comeback win two
weeks ago in State College.
Led by sophomore Kent
Caldwell's meet-topping 9.7 set,
Michigan cut into the Gopher lead
with an impressive floor show-
ing. The Wolverines ran into more
problems on vault, but Thompson
and fellow sophomore Scott Breg-
man salvaged the event.
Thompson, who hadn't com-
peted since the Jan. 20 Iowa meet,
executed a solid Kaz full for an
8.7, while Bregman stuck his new
double full for the first time ever
in competition to post an event-
winning 8.95 score.
Michigan then moved into the
lead with a strong rings rotation.
Five of the six Wolverines post-
ed scores above 9.0. Sophomore
Ralph Rosso anchored the event
with a clutch set, notching the
best rings score of the night (9.6)
just minutes after landing on his
knees on vault.
"I felt like I let the team down
on vault, and I was extremely
disappointed in myself," Rosso

said. "Pretty much I harnessed
the energy, and I did rings for my
But an uncharacteristically poor
showing on high bar put Michigan
behind again. The Wolverines'
struggles were compounded by
suspect judging - three of the
four judges working the meet
were former Minnesota gymnasts,
one of whom still works out with
the team.
Once again, like at Penn State,
the meet came down to the final
event: high bar for the Gophers,
parallel bars for the Wolverines.
But this time, the final outcome
was much less apparent by the end
of the rotation.
"We just kind of started out
flat," Michigan coach Kurt Gold-
er said. "We stayed that way all
evening. ... But the one thing they
didn't do was give up. They fought
like hell at the end. When we were
on the last event, there was a lot
of intensity. I'm proud of them for
never giving up."
The rollicking home crowd,
which had been chanting, singing
along to a trumpeter's rendition of
Minnesota Rouser and roaring for

Freshman D.J. Chan and No. 1 Michigan did just enough to pull a tough win on the road against No. 7 Minnesota,

the Gophers all night, was stunned
into silence by the announcement
of the final score.
Even the Michigan gymnasts
weren't completely certain of their
"I thought we had won, because
I saw them over on high bar strug-
gling and falling," Bregman said.
"Just like what happened at Penn
State, we were over here rocking

out on (parallel bars) and they
couldn't live up to that pressure. I
thought we had it; I wasn't sure."
The meet was a wake-up call for
the Wolverines, who will travel to
California next weekend to com-
pete in the Pacific Coast Classic
to take on several of the country's
best teams.
And another performance
like this one won't cut it against

squads like No. 4 Oklahoma and
No. 6 Stanford.
"We are not unbeatable, we're
going to have to remember that,"
Thompson said. "The minute you
think we can walk through the
season and plow over everybody,
that's when somebody comes up
frombehind you and takes youout.
It was definitely a reality check,
but a good one. We needed it."

Heller caps match for
'M' in perfect setting

Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - In his final trip
to Northwestern, everything was
aligned for Michigan men's tennis
captain Ryan Heller.
Friends and family made up
half the crowd, he had an impres-
sive doubles match victory with
sophomore Andrew Mazlin and a
singles match against long-time
friend, Wildcat senior Matt Chris-
So it was only fitting that Heller
clinched the dual-match, propel-
ling the 22nd-ranked Wolverines
to a 5-2 win over Northwestern.
Up 5-1 in the third set, Heller
seemed to have his match won.
But after freshman George Navas
dropped a grueling straight-set
match, Heller felt the pressure. He
committed three unforced errors,
allowing Christian back into the
match, 5-4.
With Christian serving, an
unforced error gave Heller match
point. Following a decent return,
Heller followed with three cross-
court forehands. Finally, he dealt
the final blow with a winner down
the line for the victory (6-1, 3-6,
The final point was a time for
his father, Jay Heller, to reflect on
his son's career.

"It's a sad thing that it's winding
down, but it's a good thing, too,"
Heller said. "Tennis has been a big
part of the family life. But (mov-
ing past tennis) is another step.
Just like going into high school
or going to Michigan. He's got an
interview tomorrow (for bank-
ing). This is the next step. He's
growing up."
Freshman Mike Sroczynski also
did some growing up against the
Wildcats. Unable to get anything
going during his doubles match,
Sroczynski received a little moti-
vation from Michigan coach Bruce
"Before he went on the court
(to play singles) I told (Sroczyn-
ski), 'Look, if you're going, to go
out there today, you better make
damn sure you're going to compete
a whole let better and have more
intensity than you did in doubles,'
" Berque said.
Sroczynski put those words to
action after losing the first game
of his singles match.
Soon enough, he found his
rhythm and overpowered Wildcat
Alex Samborn, 6-3, 6-1.
But not all of the Wolverines (1-
0 Big Ten, 7-1 overall) jumped on
Following a strong showing in
doubles with junior captain Matko
Maravic, senior captain Brian

Hung never had his game together
in singles.
While battling from behind,
Hung lost most of his momentum
with a controversial call in the
first set.
As Wildcat Christian Tempe
hit a ball near the sideline, Hung
called the ball out only to be over-
ruled by the judge.
Upset with the call, Hung would
go on to lose his second singles
match in a row (6-3, 6-1), and gave
Northwestern (0-2, 5-6) one of its
few team points of the contest.
Michigan can't afford any sub-
par performances next week when
it faces No. 9 Notre Dame. Strug-
glinglately to win singles matches,
the Wolverines have been increas-
ingly relying on the doubles point
to pull out the victory.
Facing a crowd without famil-
iar faces, Michigan can't take its
success for granted.
"I'm hoping this will really
help us, because we're still confi-
dent that we only lost one match
this year and that's been to the
No. 3 team in the country, which
was a competitive match," Berque
said. "But at the same time, it is
pretty clear from this match that
we're far from being good enough
to take any opponent lightly and
we've got some individual skills to
improve upon."


Junior Eric Tannenbaum picked up the 100th and 101st victories of his career in a losing effort for the Wolverines.
Blue ends rough season

Daily Sports Writer
If you were looking for the
Sparknotes version of the Michi-
gan wrestling team's dual-meet
season, this past weekend was it.
Highlighting the past few days
was captain Eric Tannenbaum's
100th and 101st career victories.
Underscoring the 48 hours was
the team's ninth and 10th loss of
the 2006-07 campaign.
And the theme was frustration.
"It's been a real frustratingyear
for me, a real long year," Michigan
coach Joe McFarland said.
The dual-meet season conclud-
ed for the23rd-ranked Wolverines
Sunday night with a 20-14 loss to
No. 14 Northwestern in Evanston.
Michigan lost despite holding a
14-5 lead at one point. The four
consecutive Wolverine victories
at the middleweights, including
two major decisions from No. 3
Josh Churella and No. 2 Eric Tan-
nenbaum, were not enough, and
the team's lack of depth hindered
its ability to pull out a victory once
"We're close but we just needed
one more win," McFarland said.
"That was the difference. It's just
Fridaynight'sloss to No.11Penn
State (21-16) at Cliff Keen Arena
was very similar. The meet came

down to the last pair of wrestlers,
with Michigan yet again finding
itself on the short end.
After Tannenbaum reached
the century mark for wins in his
career and Tyrel Todd had an
electrifying six-point fall in the
evening's second-to-last match,
the closing loss left a bitter taste
in the crowd's mouth on senior
But while disappointment is the
logical way to react after conclud-
ing a 2-10-1 (1-7 Big Ten) season,
Michigan is anything but down
after finishing second-to-last in
the conference.
To the contrary, there is talk
about contending for a national
"If we can get a great effort
from everyone, there is no reason
why we can't be making a run for
the national title," Todd said Fri-
day night. "I thought that at the
beginning of the year, and I still
You could say this is the part
of the season the whole team has
been waiting for.
And that's because it's tourna-
ment time.
The team's glaring weakness all
season long - its youth and lack of
depth - can be left behind, and
Michigan's four wrestlers ranked
inthe top-six can take center stage
in an arena that favors having a

few very strong wrestlers rather
than a more balanced squad.
"I think our tournament team is
going to be tough," Tannenbaum
said following the Penn State loss.
"I think a lot of people are going to
be caught off guard. I think we're
going to do some damage."
Going into a bye week before
the Big Ten Championships, the
Wolverines came away this week-
end with many positives.
With No. 6 Steve Luke return-
ing to the wrestling mat from
injury and Tannenbaum, Churella
and Todd all wrestling very well
against the Nittany Lions and
Wildcats, Michigan appears to
finally be ready for the Big Ten
and NCAA Championships.
"We had a few individuals who
looked really good," Tannenbaum
said. "So, there were some posi-
tives. You look at those things as
you're getting ready for Big Tens
and nationals."
This year, Michigan had more
Big Ten losses then they had the
previous seven seasons under
McFarland. But McFarland real-
izes that it is going to come down
to these tournaments in order to
redeem a dissatisfying season.
"Now it comes down to indi-
vidual performances," McFarland
said. "Hopefully we can just finish
strong here and finish where we
want to finish."


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