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April 06, 2009 - Image 9

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U The Michigan Daily I michigandaily.com ( April 6, 2009

AT LAST!
TUMBLERS CLAIM FIRST BIG TEN
CHAMPIONSHIP IN NINE YEARS

Palushaj jumps
to NHL after
two seasons

Sophomore signs
with St. Louis
Blues, reports to
AHL affiliate
By GJON JUNCAJ
Daily Sports Writer
Saturday night marked the end
of a one-week offseason for Aaron
Palushaj.
The former sophomore for-
ward for the Michigan hockey
team made his professional debut
in Moline, Ill., for the Peoria Riv-
ermen of the American Hockey
League after foregoing his final
two years of NCAA eligibility.
Palushaj's first game came just
two days after he signed an entry-
level contract with the St. Louis
Blues, who drafted the Northville
native in the second round (44th
overall) of the 2007 National
Hockey League Entry Draft.
Palushaj first thought about
leaving college early last sum-
mer, when roommate and close
friend Max Pacioretty signed with
the Montreal Canadiens after
his freshman year at Michigan.
Palushaj said he put some thought
about turning pro throughout this
season and expressed his interest
with his parents during the year.
After Air Force knocked the
Wolverines out of the opening
round of the NCAA Tournament
on Mar. 27. Palushaj said he start-

ed weighing his options. He con-
tacted St. Louis early last week to
express his interest in joining the
Blues, and said he and the team's
front office were on the same page
in their discussions.
"Theyfeel that if I'm ready, then
they'll welcome me with open
arms," Palushaj said. "It'd be an
opportunity for me, but there are
no guarantees or promises in this
business. It'll be a really hard sum-
mer, and I'll just keep workingvery
hard."
Palushaj met with Michigan
coach Red Berenson and assis-
tants Mel Pearson and Billy Pow-
ers last Thursday to notify them
of his intentions. The Wolverines'
staff, and Berenson in particular, is
traditionally adamant that players
should stay four years to earntheir
degree and to fully develop their
on-ice skills before jumping to the
next level.
Despite the conflicting philoso-
phies, Palushaj said the 90-minute
conversation was neither confron-
tational nor combative.
"It went really well," Palushaj
said. "I just told them how I felt,
where I was. They gave me their
input and their opinions, and I took
it for what it was worth.
"As much as they maybe think
I should stay for another year, I
think all three of them were pret-
ty supportive. They understand
where I'm coming from and there
are definitely no bad vibes leaving
Michigan."
Palushaj believes his maturity
See PALUSHAJ Pa AB

ARIEL BOND/Daily
Sophomore Thomas Kelley beat out teammate Chris Cameron for the conference all-around championship on his way to Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors.
'M' splits title Kelley wins all-
with Illinois around crown

After judges'
conference, Blue
earns title
By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
The No. 5 Michigan men's
gymnastics team appeared
shell-shocked, staring silently
out at the competition floor
while the fourth-ranked Fight-
ing Illini started roaring in tri-
umph, holding up the Big Ten
Championship trophy.
But a few minutes after
Illinois started celebrating,
a whisper began to spread
around Crisler Arena.
Michigan's last parallelbars
score was wrong.
Suddenly, the scoreboard
changed, and sophomore Chris
Cameron was awarded a 14.45
instead of a 13.85 - a correction
that moved the Wolverines into
a tie for first place with the Illini
at357.10 points.
The maize-and-blue clad
competitors were already in the
tunnel, waiting to re-enter the

arena for the post-meet ceremo-
nies. Their non-
competing
teammates
See BIG
TENS,
Page 3B

By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
No one could blame sophomore
gymnast Thomas Kelley for being a
little surprised.
At Friday night's Big Ten men's
gymnastics championships, his
teammate, sophomore Chris Cam-
eron, was whisked away for a TV
interview as the all-around champi-
on before the six N
teams marched NOTEBOOK
out on the floor
for awards. But when the results
for the all-around were announced,
Cameron was called second.
Kelley won the all-around title by
just a quarter of a point.
"I was not expect-
ing it at

all," Kelley said. "My goal was to
get in the top six, and I had the meet
of my life tonight. I've never been
more on in my life. I stuck floor, six
dismounts - I don't do that."
Kelley posted scores of 15 or
above on four of his six events,
including an astronomical 15.65 on
high bar and a season-high 14.70 on
his last event, parallel bars.
But the sophomore was so
immersed in the team competition
that his individual performance
took a back seat.
"The meet was over, I thought
we'd lost, so I don't even remem-
ber anything that happened in my
p-bars routine," Kelley said.
- The Libertyville, Ill.,
native's success carried
into Saturday night's event
finals. Kelley finished third
on the parallel bars with a
new season-best 14.75 score and
second on the high bar (14.975). To
cap his weekend, Kelley, who was
named Big Ten Freshman of the
Year in 2008, was named Big Ten
Gymnast of the Year.
He is the first Wolverine to win
the award since Justin Laury in
2005 - the last year Michigan
hosted the Big Ten Champion-
ships.
See KELLEY, Page 3B

SAID ALSA LAH/Daily
Sophomore Aaron Palushaj is now a member of the AHL's Peoria Rivermen.
SOFTBALL
Blue sweeps Purdue
for third straight year

ARIEL BOND/Dal y F

Wolverines allow 12 unanswered runs

By CHANTEL JENNINGS
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan dugout looked
stunned. Wolverine coach Rich
Maloney stared at the scoreboard in
disbelief. The young fans stood pas-
sively, wondering whether to ask for
autographs.
The Wolverines had just allowed
the Nittany Lions to score 12 unan-
swered runs en route to a16-5 loss at
RayFisher
Stadium, PENN STATE 16
which MICHIGAN 5
sealed a
2-1 series loss on the weekend.
The loss yesterday wasn't on the
tail of a major catastrophe or break-
down, and the team hadn't fallen
apart.
On Saturday, the Wolverines and
Nittany Lions (3-3 Big Ten, 17-12
overall) had split their doublehead-
er, with Penn State taking the first
F game 6-4 in the 10th inning. But the

Wolverines fought back from a 5-2
deficit in the second game to win
9-4 with the help of five home runs.
But on Sunday, the Wolverines
just failed to do the little things.
"It all added up over time, one
mistake after another," sophomore
Ryan LaMarre said. "A few plays, a
few inches, a few bounces, then it's
a whole different game. But today, it
just all added up."
Unlike other games where the
Wolverines (3-3, 18-10) have found
a way to fight back, the hole they
dug themselves into was too deep to
escape. As the game went own, the
little miscues became more glaring.
Maloney worked hiswaythrough
the bullpen, using six different
pitchers, but all failed to slow the
Nittany Lions' offensive surge.
And when the Wolverines looked
for a game-changing performance,
no one answered the call.
"It takes one or two guys to step
See NITTANY LIONS, Page 4B

By AMY SCARANO
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan softball team
practices like it's on ESPN
- and on Saturday, it paid
off.
The Wolverines have a drill
named after the sports channel.
With-
out a PURDUE 1
ball, the MICHIGAN 3
players
imagine PURDUE 3
diving, MICHIGAN 4
making
spec-
tacular catches and completing
highlight reel, SportsCenter-
worthy plays.
On Saturday, senior co-cap-
tain Teddi Ewing made her
ESPN-caliber play.
And later, she was thrown
out at first base when she was
on the wrong end of a highlight
play nearly as impressive.
With a 3-2 lead in the fifth
inning of Saturday's second
game, Ewing displayed amazing
athletic ability.
Boilermaker second base-
man Kelly Miller led off with
a strong hit to mid-leftfield
for what looked like a base
hit.
Ewing, a shortstop, threw
herself in the air and managed
to turn 180 degrees before land-
ing feet toward home base, her
stomach in the dirt, ball in her

glove.
The play helped close out the
4-3 win to complete the week-
end sweep.
"I always say with diving,
you never know unless you try,"
Ewing said. "So if I think there's
any chance of getting it, I just go
for it. And it's always nice when
it lands in the glove."
In the sixth inning, Ewinggot
a taste of her own medicine.
She made solid contact at
the plate for what 'looked like
a potential double, but Purdue
outfielder Beth Cinadr made a
diving catch in leftfield for the
out.
Cinadr's dive was character-
istic of the scrappy Boilermak-
ers.
After No.10 Michigan won 3-1
in the opening game, spurred by
a 2-0 first-inning lead, Purdue
found its confidence and rhythm
in the second contest.
"The bottom line is, you can't
get your confidence or your lack
of confidence from the other
team," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said.
"And they stayed confident
for two reasons: One, because
they were in the game. When
you are in the game, you have
a chance to win it. And two, if
you look at it on paper - who's
supposed to win - they have no
pressure."
The second game went to
See PURDUE, Page 4B

Sophomore Ryan LaMarre went 7-for-12 and hit three homers against Penn State.

BLUE MISSES OUT CENTURY MARK
U The Michigan women's gymnastics team's Senior Chisako Sugiyama tied the all-time
streak of 16 straight NCAA Championship Michigan singles record for wins with 100. She
appearances was snapped. Page 2B. could break the record Thursday. Page 3B.

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