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March 27, 2007 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-27

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10 - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Michigzan Dailv mihanilco

10 -TuedayMarh 2, 207 Te Mihi n Dily mihinadaivr.

I

01

ALLISON GHAMAN/Daily
The 2nd-ranked Michigan
men's gymnastics team
hopes that a return to the
underdog role with suit it
perfectly this weekend at
the Big Ten Championships
in Minneapolis, Minn. After
enjoying the nation's No.1
spot for most of the season,
the Wolverines have dropped
to No. 2 after a recent loss
to the now-top-ranked Buck-
eyes.
Tumblers poised to take toprize,

BASEBALL
From page 9
the last three years, but I've always
wanted to.... I think it's something
everyone should do at least once in
their college career, make it out to
Opening Day."
THE OTHER SIDE: Recknagel has
been in both dugouts at The Fish for
Michigan home openers during his
collegiate baseball career.
Friday's game marked the sec-
ond consecutive home opener that
Recknagel has played against his
former team.
As a freshman at Oakland, he
collected All-American honors
and a had a team-high .351 batting
average, but he went 0-for-4 in one
game against the Wolverines.
In his first home game as a Wol-
verine last season, he went 2-for-6
against his former team. On Friday,
he was 2-for-4.
"I felt maybe there was some
pressure last year, but it kind of
subsided after I got my first hit,
first at-bat," Recknagel said. "Most
of the team is revamped now, so I
only know a couple of the guys. It
was important because it was our
first home game, soI saw it more as
that than (important because) we
were playing my old school."
PITCHING ON THE OFFENSIVE: Soph-
omore pitcher Zach Putnam had
twice as many RBI as earned runs
in Friday's home opener.
Batting cleanup, he was the only
player to have multiple RBI, with
four in as many at-bats.
"Obviously me being in the four-
spot, my job is to drive in runs,"
Putnam said. "So whenever I see
guys on base, that's just what I do.
My mission is to get guys across the
plate."

0

By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Dily Sports Writer
It was just practice, but it was
impossible to tell from the atmo-
sphere in the
gym.
Six gymnasts Michigan at
clustered around
the high bar, the Big Tens
usual jokes and W
chatter muted, When: Friday
chalking their and Saturday
hands and adjust- Where:
ing their grips. Minneapolis,
As sophomore Mines't
Joe Catrambone
clambered onto
the blue foam
block and saluted the judge - assis-
tant coach Scott Vetere - other
action in the gym ceased like some-
one had pressed the pause button.
As the routine began, Catrambo-
ne's teammates shouted to him as
if the Big Ten Championships had
already arrived. And the Deptford,
N. J., native nailed his set almost
perfectly.
"Start value 9.9, score 9.4," Vetere
called as applause echoed around
the gym, and senior co-captain
Andrew Elkind climbed onto the
block.
. These are group sets on high bar.

In group sets, all the gymnasts
that compete in an event are judged
on their routines together. The
system originally started with the
pommel-horse squad - now 6-for-
6 in two straight meets. A similar
performance on high bar, as well as
parallel bars, would be a welcome
change that could get the Wolver-
ines rollingtoward a Big Ten title.
This Friday, No. 2 Michigan
heads to Minnesota for the second
time this season, looking to unseat
defending Big Ten champion and
now-No. 1 Ohio State. All six Big
Ten teams are ranked in the top 10
nationally, with Ohio State, Michi-
gan and Penn State in the top five.
"Our (recent) performance gives
people the right to discount us,"
senior Aaron Rakes said. "(But) I
think it's a lot easier to train and be
better when you're chasing some-
one rather than being chased, so
dropping in the rankings, I think, is
a good thing for us."
With the pressure of keeping its
No.1 rankinggone, Michigan seems
to have come full circle.
Similar to the start of the sea-
son, other teams are counting the
Wolverines out. And just like at the
season-opening Windy City Invi-
tational, where Michigan served
notice that it was a team to be reck-

oned with, the team will start Big
Tens on parallel bars - one of its
strongest events.
"We're keeping that feeling from
(the Ohio State meet) in our heads,
because that's the feeling of last
year," Elkind said. "We've come a
long way from that, so we really
want to get back to that feeling of
Windy City."
Sophomore Jamie Thompson
has been out of lineup due to a knee
injury and hopes to be back on floor
for Big Tens. Aside from the elabo-
rate tape wrapping on his tender
joint - and the sharp, almost-inau-
dible grunts of pain at the end of
each practice floor pass - he seems
to be good as ever. Senior co-captain
Justin Laury will also returnto bol-
ster the floor lineup.
Against Ohio State, Michigan was
forced to use just four gymnasts on
floor - and count all of their scores
- in an uncharacteristically rough
performance.
The Wolverines will have further
motivation with the loss of sopho-
more Scott Bregman, the No. 3 floor
man in the country who is now out
for the season with a torn ligament
in his foot.
"It makes me want to do even
better on floor because I wantto try
to do it for him," Thompson said.

"I'm always used to Scott yelling at
me in practice, 'Do this, do that!' I
want to make it so he doesn't have
to yell at me."
The rest of the team's walking
wounded made the most of the rare
weekend off. Most of the gymnasts
have had just one weekend off since
the season began in mid-January,
and those who competed at Winter
Cup had none. The long season has
taken a physical and mental toll, and
the Wolverines hope that the brief
respite will help them recuperate.
"You can definitely feel it's the
end of the season," sophomore Joe
Catrambone said. "Everyone's body
is hurting a little bit here and there.
But you've got to push those things
aside, because we're all here for the
same goal. We all want to get those
Big Ten rings and NCAA rings (and)
have a bunch of finalists. You just
can't let those little nagging injuries
affect you mentally."
A strong start will be one of the
crucial factors in a Michigan vic-
tory. In the season opener in Chi-
cago, the Wolverines jumped to the
lead and stayed there all night. They
hope to do the same in Minnesota.
"If we have the momentum, if
we're (in the lead), it'll carry us
through," Laury said. "I think the
key thing is us getting a good start;

BY THE NUMBERS
Michigan's rank nationally
Number of BigTen teams in the nation's top 5
Number of BigTenfteams inthe nation's top10
rocking it out, and them saying,
'After the first rotation, Michigan,
first place.'
"If every (team) has a fantastic
day, just like we proved all season, I
think we're the No. 1 team. We just
have to stay in our own mindset and
just realize that yeah, we're in Min-
nesota, but this is our house." A

0

Sophomore Mike Wilson enjoyed succe
pitching against Oakland last weekend.

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