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March 24, 2008 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-24

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

March 24, 2008 - 5B

Tumblers perfect no longer

At NCAAs, six near-misses

Miscues and alternate
lineup lead to first
loss of season
Daily Sports Writer
Freshman Kylee Botterman
flipped through the air, bounced
off the vault and landed hard on
her knees - instead of her feet.
One second, fifth-year senior
Lindsey Bruck glided smoothly
across the balance beam, and the
next, she fell onto the mat.
Immediately after Bruck, soph-
omore Jordan Sexton wobbled in
the middle of her routine and fell,
The three uncharacteristic falls
defined the Michigan women's
gymnastics team's first loss of the
season, a 197.425-196.325 defeat at
the hands of No. 3 Utah (11-1).
"We're a little tired," Michi-
gan coach Bev Plocki said. "It's a
long season, and I think some of
that caught up with us a little bit
tonight. We're still a very good
team, but we just weren't as crisp

and cleantonight as we need to be.
We were just flat."
While a majority of Michigan's
routines ended in stuck landings,
the minor bobbles and mistakes
cost the Wolverines fractions of
points each time, and that added up.
Only junior Becky Bernard earned
average scores in the 9.900-point
range. She won her sixth uneven
bars title of the season.
Michigan's two falls on beam
- each an automatic half-point
deduction - meant that Wolver-
ines were forced to count a fall on
beam for the first time since Jan.
19. The teambeam score of 48.600
on the apparatus this season.
Michigan ranks fifth nationally
on beam.
"It wasn't our normal 'get out
there and nail our beam routines,'
but I think we got out our little jit-
ters for next weekend," Bruck said.
Next Saturday, the fourth-
ranked Wolverines (5-0 Big Ten,
18-1 overall) host the Big Ten
Championships at Crisler Arena,
looking to defend last year's title.
While this past weekend's match-
up was the last obstacle to Mich-
igan's undefeated regular season,
the team says the postseason is
more important.

"We made a couple decisions
in lineups tonight to rest some
people," Plocki said. "Looking
forward to next weekend was our
Freshman Kari Pearce was
absent from the floor exercise
lineup. Plocki said Pearce has been
struggling with some leg pain.
The Wolverines have been fight-
ing through minor aches and pains
throughout the long season, going
11 straight weeks without rest.
Their first bye weekend comes after
the conference championships.
"We all have our injuries, but
we're all really tough girls," Ber-
nard said. "We don't even think
about what's hurting when we get
out there to compete."
Michigan has looked forward to
the postseason and the possibility
of standing atop the podium at the
NCAA National Championships
in April all year. Sacrificing an
unblemished record to give gym-
nasts some rest was a small price
to pay for a shot at a national title.
"I look at this and try to take
the good out of everything," Plocki
said. "I think maybethis is whatwe
needed to make us rebound back,
take that last deep breath and go
out and finish the postseason the
way we're able to compete."

By IAN KAY way he wrestled in the final but said
Daily Sports Writer he plans to use the match as a confi-
dence builder for next season.
Five times, Michigan redshirt "He was able to get that take-
junior Steve Luke struggled to his down on me, and after he got riding
feet in an attempt to break the hold time, I knew I was in trouble," Luke
of Pittsburgh's Keith Gavin. said. "I wasn't shooting much. I was
Five times, the top-seeded Gavin too hesitant."
calmly tripped him back to the mat, Luke was joined in the finals by
refusing to jeopardize his 3-1lead in redshirt senior Eric Tannenbaum,
the final period of their 174-pound the top seed at 165 pounds. The pair
NCAA championship match. gave Michigan two finalists for the
Luke finally escaped with 20 first time since 1994, but neither
seconds remaining in the bout, but broke the Wolverines' three-year
Gavin's frustrating legwork left championship drought.
little time to mount an attack and Like Luke, Tannenbaum couldn't
the Panther easily stymied Luke's complete a comeback after falling
desperate final attempts to hang on behind early against the defending
for a 4-2 decision win. NCAA champion - Iowa's Mark
It was a fitting end to the NCAA Perry.
National Championships for the Two weeks ago at the Big Ten
Wolverines. Michigan sent six Championships, Tannenbaum
wrestlers to St. Louis and saw four scored an early takedown against
garner All-America honors with Perry, and claimed victory on rid-
top-four finishes. But each was ing time advantage when the match
tripped up in his quest for an indi- endedinatie.This time, itwasPerry
vidual title. who struck first with a takedown in
Michigan tied Central Michigan the match's first 30 seconds. The
for seventh in the final team stand- Hawkeye appeared comfortably in
ings with 69 total points. Iowa was control of the match with a 3-0 lead
the runaway winner with 117.5 until midway through the second
points, a whopping 38.5 more than period, when he hyperextended his
runner-up Ohio State. already injured right knee on a Tan-
Luke was disappointed with the nenbaum single-leg shot.

Tannenbaum emerged from
the ensuing injury timeout with
renewed aggression and came close
to scoring on several single leg shots
before driving Perry to the mat on
a powerful double-leg takedown
with about one minute remaining
in the match. Still down by a point,
Tannenbaum elected to try to turn
Perry and score back points instead
of cutting him loose in hopes of
scoring two more takedowns in the
match's waning seconds.
But the Hawkeye proved too
nimble to turn, hanging on for a 5-2
decision to defend his title.
"I don't really think there was
much more I could have done,"
Tannenbaum said. "Mentally and
physically, I was ready. I got up for
it and did everything right. So, I
can't have any regrets."
Tannenbaum's classmate Josh
Churella repeated as an All Ameri-
can but lost a close decision in the
third-place match to close out a
brilliant Michigan career.
Third-seeded redshirt junior
Tyrel Todd was the only Wolverine
to end the season on a positive note,
rebounding from a second-round
fall with the only takedown of the
consolation final to claim third

'M' successful against ranked foes

Daily Sports Writer
The last time the Michigan soft-
ball team played four consecutive
contests againstranked opponents,
it came out wounded with a 1-3
Two years later at the same tour-
nament - the Judi Garman Classic
- No. 6 Michigan flipped the script
"We came out and showed that
we're a ranked team as well,"
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
said. "We belong where we belong.
We're definitely a top-10 program
and I'm pleased with our perfor-
The lone blip came early when
Michigan squared off with No. 19
Fresno State (30-5) on Thursday.
The Bulldogs scored right away
off freshman pitcher Jordan Tay-
lor, who gave up her only three
earned runs ofthe weekend.
But being down 6-1 after four
innings proved too much for the
Wolverines, as a spurt in the final
innings was not enough to pre-
vent a 6-5 loss. The defeat was
their first in 16 games.
Michigan (25-3) rebounded
the next day, putting down No. 7
Arizona (21-8). As it had in Lou-
isville the previous weekend, the
Wolverine offense resorted to
late-inning heroics.
This time, it was sophomore
Maggie Viefhaus in Michigan's
final at-bat. With one out and one
on, the third baseman hit a home
run off Women's College World
Series winner Taryne Mowitt to
right-center field.
Sophomore Nikki Nemitz
finished off the Wildcats, who
batted .340 as a team before the
weekend, in the top half of the
seventh, sealing the 2-0 victory.
Solid pitching propelled the
Wolverines to a 4-1 record for
the tournament, including three
shutouts for the weekend.
"We have a very tough 1-1
punch, as I like to call it, because
I don't feel that we have an ace,"
Hutchins said. "We have two top,
No. 1 pitchers. That's what makes
Michigan softball what it is."
Just as Nemitz did the day
before, Taylor registered her
own 2-0, complete-game shutout
against No. 25 San Diego State
But unlike in the previous con-
test, the Wolverines didn't have
to wait long to get on the board.
In the bottom of the second,
freshman Dorian Shaw blasted
a homer to left field. Taylor took
care of the rest, allowing just one
hit thereafter.
After some freshman growing
pains Shawhad amuch-improved
.461 mark in Michigan's four
games against ranked teams.
But Viefhaus was the Wolver-
ines' best bat in the Classic. Tal-
lying six RBIs and three runs, the
Eureka, Mo., native played a part
in Michigan's first score in each
of the contests.
"Maggie's blossomed in her
sophomore year," Hutchins said.
"She's playing the type of softball
she's capable of. She's a leader on
the field for us both offensively
and defensively."
The Wolverines ended the
weekend just as they started it
- scoring seven runs. And while
a 7-0 victory against UNLV (19-
19-1) may not stand out, a 7-2 win

over No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette
(20-8) does.
In the second meeting between
the two teams this season, the
Wolverines put forth a steady
offensive effort, scoring in four
different innings, the most this
season. Michigan finished the
weekend with an on-base percent-
age nearly 80 points higher than
its ranked opponents. Doubling its
top-25 opponents in runs produced
over the weekend, it has solidified a
spot in the top-tO.
With a strong showing against
some of the best teams in the

nation, the young Wolverines are
starting to figure out what they're
capable of as they enter the Big Ten
"These kids are starting to
realize what it takes to be cham-
pionship caliber," Hutchins said.
"As I told them this weekend, I
borrowed a quote from Pat Sum-
mitt: 'There's a lot of teams that
are good,' and we're certainly a
good team, 'but there are very few
teams that are great.' And our goal
is to become a great team. And I
thought this weekend we made
steps toward that."

January 27-
April 5, 2008
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