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April 17, 2007 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-17

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

SPORT S

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 -15

MEN'S GOLF
Early rounds
plague u e

Back on the podium

Senior Ryan Heller and the Wolver-
ines can win the Big Ten regular-sea-
son title with wins over No. 66 Indiana
and No. 3 Ohio State this weekend.
M' has
Isights set
on Big
T'en title
By JASON KOHLER
For the Daily
The Michigan men's tennis
team controls its fate.
With a nonconference win
over No. 27 Rice Sunday, Michi-
gan increased its winning streak
to eight. The win propels the
19th-ranked Wolverines into
this weekend's contests.with No.
66 Indiana and No. 3 Ohio State.
"This is the first time since
I've been here that we've been
able to control our own destiny,"
Michigan coach Bruce Berque
said. "The bottom line is if we
win both of these matches, we
are going to be the Big Ten tour-
nament first seed."
For the seniors, this season
has been especially invigorating.
"The last three years we have-
been improving, but we were
never in the pesition ef having
the possibility of winning the
Big Ten regular season," senior
co-captain Brian Hung said.
But despite the winning
streak, it hasn't been all positive
for the Wolverines. Michigan
fell behind early to Rice, losing
the doubles point for the third
straight match.
"Just because we are winning
it doesn't mean that we don't
have a lot of serious things to
improve upon, and most obvi-
ously it's doubles," Berque said.
Earlier in the season, doubles
had been a consistent for the
Wolverines, who had won the
doubles point for four straight
matches until Illinois snapped
the streak on April 6.
"I realize we are not going to
win every single doubles point,
and that would be OK if we lose
and get outplayed," Berque said.
"But I think the trend lately is
that we arenotgettingoutplayed,
we are beating ourselves."
Despite the poor doubles play,
Michigan (7-1 Big Ten, 17-4 over-
all) rebounded to win a majority
of its singles matches. On Sun-
day, the Wolverines overcame an
early 2-1 deficit.
fAfter Ryan Heller conceded
the team's lone singles match of
the day, Michigan bounced back
to win the final three singles
matches, including three-set vic-
tories by No.1 singles Brian Hung
and No. 5 Mike Sroczynski.
Sroczynski's 1-6, 6-4, 6-3
comeback victory sealed the con-
test for Michigan. Later, Hung
finished the day with a 6-3, 3-6,
7-5 upset over 28th-ranked Ben
Harknett.
Even though Michigan has
struggled early, Berque has been
impressed with his team's sin-
gles play.
"Every time we do that, the
guys just get more and more con-
fidence in each other and their
games, so if we are ever tested
again, they will believe in them-
selves," Berque said.
The Wolverines are sure to be

tested next weekend when the
Hoosiers and Buckeyes come to
Ann Arbor.
"I don't think it's going to
be very hard to motivate them.
They know we are playing two
very good teams," Berque said.
Berque hopes to use the dif-
ficulty at doubles to continue to
motivate his team.
"Now that we have lost three
doubles points in a row, it's time
to refocus and get back to doing
some of the things that made us
have some pretty good doubles
teams earlier in the year," Ber-
que said.
The Wolverines get that
chance next weekend, when all
that's at stake is the Big Ten reg-
ular season title.

By MATT JOHNSON
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's golf team
had its tournament cut short
because of inclement weather
for the second straight week.
But another pattern frustrates
Michigan coach Andrew Sapp
even more.
The Wolverines have had
slow starts lately and have been
forced to fight from behind in
tournament play. Two week-
ends ago, Michigan was in ninth
place at the Boilermaker Invita-
tional after the first day before
recovering to finish fifth out of
15 teams.
And this past weekend, the
Wolverines didn't improve much
at the Robert Kepler Intercolle-
giate in Columbus.
Finishing tied for 11th out of
16 teams after play on Saturday,
Michigan ended the tournament
in eighth place.
But Sapp didn't use the poor
weather as an excuse. Instead, he
placed the blame directly on the
Wolverines and their inability to
get out of the gate quickly.
"We need to do better in the
first round so that we're not try-
ing to play catch-up," Sapp said.
"We were fortunate to pass a few
teams today because we played
better in the conditions than the
other teams did."
No player stood eut for Michi-
gan. Freshman Billy McKay fin-
ished in a tie for 18th while junior
Brian Ottenweller tied for 23rd.
Sapp was happy with their play
on Sunday, as both stayed around
par, but overall he said the team
was too inconsistent.
"Some of the guys this week
had four- and five-hole stretches
where they were way over par,"
Sapp said. "There weren't a lot
of opportunities to make birdies.

You had to manage your game
well and leave yourself in a good
spot to chip it close to the hole
if you missed the green. A lot
of times we weren't able to dio
that."
The tournament served as a
preview for the Big Ten Cham-
pionships. Every Big Ten team
was there except for Minnesota,
one of the conference's stron-
gest teams. Michigan State,
Penn State, Northwestern, Illi-
nois and Ohio State all finished
ahead of the Wolverines. Purdue
tied Michigan for eighth with
Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa
finishing at the bottom.
The Wolverines also took thor-
ough notes on Ohio State's Scar-
let Course, which will be the site
of the Big Ten Championships
in two weeks. Last year, Jack
Nicklaus, Buckeye alum and golf
legend, redesigned the course to
increase its difficulty, making it
longer and adding more bunkers.
Sapp said the course was so
long that some of Michigan's
players were forced to use fair-
way woods on par fours, which
they rarely do. That made it
harder for the team to hit greens
in regulation.
Tim Schaetzel leads the Wol-
verines with a scoring aver-
age around 74. But the rest of
Michigan's lineup has a scoring
average around 75. Without one
dominant player, Sapp stressed
the need for every one of his play-
ers to perform at a high level in
the next two weeks.
"They need to have the mind-
set where every one of them com-
petes to win the tournament,"
Sapp said. "When you look at our
guys their stroke differential is
not that great. It's going to need
to be a team effort where every-
one steps up to help us win a
championship."

By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
It was a moment years in the
making.
Last Thursday night, four paral-
lel bars scoreboards twirled slowly
at Penn State's Recreation Hall.
All eyes focused on the members
of the Michigan men's gymnastics
team - could they get the 9.0 score
to snatch a Super Six berth from
arch rival Ohio State?
Calculations whirred at light-
ning speed in the gymnasts' heads.
A millisecond later, the explosion
hit.
Senior co-captain Andrew
Elkind ran back out onto the
mats, swinging from the bars
with irrepressible joy. Teammates
embraced and rejoiced as their
families and fans, seated as close
to the bench as possible, screamed
with glee.
Michigan gynnastics, after
finishing fourth at NCAAs and on
the podium for the first time since
2002, is back on the map.
"I feel like we're redeeming
Michigan from the 2000 (season),"
Elkind said. "(The 1999 champion-
ship team was) basically starting a
dynasty like Oklahoma, and then
just hit a real down trend in the
program. I think we're starting
to spark Michigan as an elite pro-
gram again."
Despite its youth - eight soph-
omores and six freshmen - the
team dedicated itself to one goal
this season: It would not watch
team finals from the stands.
"I was on podium freshman and
senior year," said fifth-year senior
co-captain Justin Laury, the only
current Wolverine who had ever
stood on the NCAA podium before
last Friday. "Definitely by far this
one (feels better). ... Freshman
year, I didn't know what else to
expect. This year it meant a lot
more because of what we had to go
through the whole season."
From the start, the Wolverines'
newfound resolve was obvious.
They tacked up preseason rank-
ings and articles in the gym, all
predicting another disappointing
year, determined to prove their
doubters wrong.
And in the first meet of the
season, the Windy City Invi-
tational, Michigan blew the
competition away, claiming
the Invitational's top award as
a team - the way it would do
everything this season.
The Wolverines continued their
reemergence as a gymnastics
pewer, obliterating Iowa in their

Senior Aaron Rakes helped Michigan return to the podium for the first time since
2002, and the Wolverines expect the finish to be even higher next year.

first dual meet before notching
two historic wins - one against
then-No. 3 Oklahoma in Ann
Arbor, the other against then-No. 2
Penn State in State College. Michi-
gan was the only team to best Penn
State at home in 2007.
"Beating Penn State in our dual
meet (was my favorite moment of
the season)," senior Aaron Rakes
said. "I almost cried I was so
happy."
Though they struggled in the
second half of the season with
consistency and injuries, the Wol-
verines hit at NCAAs when it mat-
tered most. And even though they
didn't finish first, this season will
always sparkle in their memories,
especially for the three seniors.
Elkind gained All-America sta-
tus for the first time in his career
with his fourth-place finish on
parallel bars. Laury, despite inju-
ries that limited him all season,
realized his dream of making it
back to the all-around at NCAAs
and also earned All-America hon-
ors. And Rakes won a Big Ten high

bar championship.
"This was the most enjoyable
seasonofmy career, and Iwouldn't
change any of the experiences that
I had," Rakes said. "I don't have
regrets this year. ... I love this
team, and at NCAAs when I saw
the other teams and their friend-
ships I realized that I made the
right decision with competing for
Michigan."
Said sophomore Ralph Rosso:
"It's pretty sad to see (the seniors)
go. But we'll never stop being
teammates. We'll never stop being
family."
With the majority of the team
returning and several top-notch
recruits scheduled to arrive, next
year should be just as jam-packed
with excitement and amazing
memories as this one.
"I think they better rank us No.
1 (going into next season)," Rosso
said. "(With) our freshmen com-
ing in, junior national team mem-
bers, (and) having pretty much our
whole team back because we're so
vounge- people better watch out."

The year may be over, but the
Daily isn't going anywhere.
Our summer weekly
edition begins May 1.

Until then, go to michigandaily.com
for Web updates and blog posts.
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