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February 18, 2010 - Image 8

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8A - Thursday, February 18, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Blue gymnasts ready for top talent.

Wolverines face two
top-five teams in
coming Weeks
By MICHAEL LAURILA
Daily Sports Writer
For the No. 3 Michigan men's
gymnastics team, the schedule
doesn't get much more intimidating
than it is in the next three weeks.
On Saturday Michigan will face
No. 2 Oklahoma, followed by No.
4 Stanford and top-ranked Illinois
the weekend after. In 2007, the
Wolverines were in a similiar posi-
tion, yet were unable to sustain suc-
cess late in the season, in part due
to injuries.
"We're just going to have to be on
top of our game and stay healthy,"
Michigan coach Kurt Golder said.
"We do have enough depth, so if we
do experience sickness or injury,
we should still be able to overcome
anybody. The teams are so close
that when you're in the top three
or four teams anyone could win
it. I think we have a little advan-
tage because of our depth, but that
remains to be seen."
That depth that was evident last

weekend. With top athletes such as
juniors Chris Cameron and Thomas
Kelley resting after their two-day
performance in the Winter Cup
Invitational, the Wolverines still
beat the No. 11 University of Illinois
at Chicago.
Barely graduating any seniors
after last season's NCAA runner-
up finish, Michigan has an arsenal
of battle-tested veterans on its side.
"I think experience does play a
huge role in winning meets," Cam-
eron said. "The best thing about
this team is that it's so fresh. We're
really coming to realize the level of
gymnastics that we're doing is more
than it was back in'07,'08, and even
last year. That's why we're so con-
fident in winning. We're using that
past experience to make us way bet-
ter right now."
Cameron is currently nursing a
hand injury, which will not hinder
him from competition, but he will
compete in different events from
his usual slate. After his perfor-
mance at the Winter Cup, he is cur-
rently the second-ranked gymnast
in the nation.
Even with several talented ath-
letes accustomed to the national
stage, the Wolverines are not flaw-
less.

"We still have to improve," Gold-
er said. "We're not good enough
right now to win a champion-
ship, but were certainly pointed in
that direction and we can be good
enough. We're not a good enough
team where we can just coast from
this point on."
Two years ago, Oklahoma visited
Michigan at about the same time in
the season, in an almost identical
position as well. In front of 1,760
fans, the Wolverines won by a mar-
ginal three points.
"It was the most fun meet I've
ever competed in," redshirt senior
Kent Caldwell said. "We sold out
Cliff Keen and there was really
good energy there.
"Hopefully, all those things will
come together again for a really
good meet."
Along the stretch, not only will
the Wolverines' experience come
in handy, but also the camaraderie
they have developed.
"We know what to expect and
how to encourage one another,"
Cameron said. "We also know little
ticks that people have so we avoid
those. It makes everything really
smooth. There's a trust there that
you develop with teammates over
time."

Junior Chris Cameron sat out last week's meet against Illinois-Chicago after qualifying for the U.S. Nation
Cup Invitational two weeks ago.

Over career, Curtis emerged
as leader in Maize and Blue

Fuzetti takes his talent from .
Ann Arbor to Kansas City

By STEPHEN NESBITT
Daily Sports Writer
Senior Sarah Curtis stood up,
smiled to the crowd, accepted a bou-
quet of flowers and hopped onto the
awards podium last Saturday. She
had completed that routine four con-
secutive times, beaming with each
announcement.
In her final home Big Ten meet
for the No. 16 Michigan women's
gymnastics team, Curtis took the
all-around crown, placing in the top
three spots in three events.
"She puts 100 percent of her-
self into everything that she does,"
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said of
the senior. "She is a very passionate
gymnast. When she walks into the
doors of the-gym she puts everything
into her gymnastics. She also puts all
of herself into her academics."
For Sarah Curtis, it was the aca-
demics and gymnastics program
at the University of Michigan were
enough to make her to reject other
top-notch schools like Stanford,
UNC, Alabama, Arizona and Oregon
State - most of which were closer to
home - and choose Ann Arbor.
"I chose Michigan for it's great
combination of everything that was
important to me," Curtis said. "I'm
huge on academics, and this is obvi-
ously one of the most prestigious
universities, and there is also a very
good gymnastics team. They really
had the whole package, unlike every
otherschool that I was looking at."
The day before former Michigan
assistant coach Joanne Bowers came
to visit her in Reno, Curtis received a
call from her front-runner, Stanford,
saying the university had insufficient
funds to offer her a scholarship for

her freshman year.
When Bowers invited her to visit
the University of Michigan that
August, Curtis who was interested
in Michigan's pharmaceutical pro-
gram accepted. And Michigan's call-
ing card for her academically was the
pharmaceutical program.
"When Joanne came I wasn't
really thinking about Michigan too
much," Curtis said. "But in light of
what Stanford said, I told her, 'Sure,
I'll take a trip there.'"
To make things easier, she took a
call from Oregon State - the univer-
sity she followed growing up - the
day before stopping at Michigan.
They said that they only had one
scholarship left, and that she needed
to make a decision soon so the money
would not be wasted. Resenting the,
added pressure, Curtis stepped away
from the offer. Finishing her stretch
of East Coast visits, she stepped onto
the Michigan campus.
"It was just one of those things
where I really could already tell that
I fit here in Ann Arbor," Curtis said.
"I felt that I was really here, right
where I was supposed to be. It was
a hard decision to make, but I finally
made the call."
After arriving at Michigan for
her freshman year, Curtis jumped
right into a position in the all-around
.behind then-junior Nellie Kippley,
taking third in her first two meets
and surpassing Kippley for second
place in her third meet.
But disaster struck as Curtis took
a tumble and ruptured her Achilles'
tendon during warm-ups for a home
matchup against Denver. The injury
required surgery, effectively ending
her season and leaving her future as
a gymnast in question.

"How do I describe my freshman
year? Turmoil," Curtis said. "Not
being able to compete when I could
have been a stronger contributor to
our team was disappointing, but it
kind of let me find my niche on the
team."
The highly touted prospect recov-
ered from an unsuccessful freshman
campaign to set her high marks as a
second-year gymnast and was named
the team's co-most valuable gymnast.
She now carried a new mentality.
"Every time you put on the block
'M' leotard, you never take it for
granted," Curtis said. "You never
know what's going to happen."
Curtis was named team captain
as a junior, and currently ranks
seventh in team history with 23 all-
around scores posted over the elite
39.000 mark.
"I think Sarah has matured into a
real leader of this team," Plocki said.
"She isn't an extremely vocal person,
butshedefinitelyisalead-by-example
type of athlete. She is one of the hard-
est workers, doesn't ever complain,
she competes like she practices, and
she practices like she performs."
Curtis earned a spot on the All-Big
Ten first team after her sophomore
and junior years. For a career full of
gaudy results, the team element has
risen above her own feats: in her ten-
ure Michigan has gone 32-2 in BigTen
performances, the two losses coming
duringherinjury absence in 2007.
"My goals coming here were to do
well in school here, enjoy school, and
still participate in gymnastics at the
same time," Curtis said.
Just as the team's motto is "Mis-
sion: Possible," with Curtis's success-
ful career, her personal maxim could
read, "Mission: Accomplished"'

By BRIAN MECHANICK
For the Daily
It was 5:22 p.m. on Jan.14. Some
Michigan students were in class,
some were studying, and some
were sleeping. But one Michigan
senior sat anxiously on his com-
puter as he found out his dream
had come true. Mauro Fuzetti had
just been drafted by Major League
Soccer's Kansas City Wizards.
Fuzetti's journey began in Rio
de Janeiro, where he was born. The
son of a former Brazilian profes-
sional soccer player, Fuzetti found
his love of the game in the futebol
obsessed culture. Fuzetti modeled
his game on Brazilian superstars
Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.
However, it was in his move to
Houston where Fuzetti became a
star in his own right.
At Stratford High School,
Fuzetti was a playmaker and
three-time team MVP. After
choosing to play collegiately at
Michigan, Fuzetti began a stellar
career, in which he was a four-year
starter for the Wolverines, garner-
ingAll-Big Ten honorsin his junior
and senior seasons. As his time
in Ann Arbor came to a close, his
attention turned towards the 2010
MLS draft.
Luckily for Fuzetti, he had a
friend to help him through the
process. Peri Maroievic, Fuzetti's
teammate for three years at Michi-
gan, experienced the same process
the previous year. He was drafted
No. 5 overall by FC Dallas.
"We talked alot about the whole
process," Fuzetti said. "Every-
thing I was going through he had
gone through. Step-by-step he was
giving me advice with the agents
and the combine."
The MLS combine, which took
place Jan. 9-12 would prove piv-
otal in determining Fuzetti's
MLS prospects. More than 60 of
the best prospects came together
to demonstrate their skills and
scrimmage against one another
fighting to prove their draft stock.
"It's different than playing for
your college team," Fuzetti said.
"On a college team everyone is a

good player, but they are still on
certain levels, being freshmen,
sophomores and upperclassmen.
But at the combine everyone is at
the same level of quality, so the
speed of play and the level is just a
little bit higher. It's a lot more fun
to play and it's a lot better quality
soccer."
Coming out of the combine,
Fuzetti caught the Wizards' eye.
"At the combine we wanted to
address a couple of our needs,"
Kansas City assistant coach Kerry
Zagavin said. "One of them beinga
good, solid midfield player. Mauro
at the draft looked to possess some
of the qualities that would make
him attractive within our team."
And while he hadn't been one
of the most heralded players going
into the combine, Fuzetti held his
own against the best in the nation.
"He makes good decisions on
the ball," Zagavin said. "Some
guys play more with athleticism
and some guys play more with
their intelligence within the game
and I think Mauro bringsthe latter
of that. ... Mauro is good with his
right foot and his left foot but his
timing coming out of midfield and
ability to get himself involved and
integrated into the game is pretty
good."
With only two days between the
end of the combine and the MLS
Draft, Fuzetti was left with noth-
ing left to do but wait for his name
to be called.
On draft day, Fuzetti had to wait
through forty picks until he was
drafted 41st-overall in the third
round.
"Only the first round was shown
on ESPN," Fuzetti said. "So after
that you had to follow it on your
computer, which is even worse.
You have to wait name by name to
pop up on the computer, but once
you finally see your name it's the
best feeling ever."
The elation over being drafted
was short lived however, as he was
soon off to Kansas City to partici-
pate in training camps and fight
for a roster spot. Looming over the
league, however, are labor negotia-
tions that have threatened a lock-

out this season. Fuzetti admitted
that he does think about a poten-
tial lockout, but as it's outside of
his control, he tries to prepare for
the season as best as he can.
The Wizards' experienced
players like Josh Wolff and Davy
Arnaud, both U.S. National Team
members and MLS veterans -
have provided leadership for
Fuzetti, making the adjustment to
his new team easier.
"I've actually had a chance
to have dinners with both as a
group," Fuzetti said. "It's nice to
have people like that who are will-
ing to share information with you
and try to make you more success-
ful."
After only the beginning of the
preseason, Fuzetti has experi-
enced a level of soccer far more
difficult and intense than he expe-
rienced at Michigan. Zagavin says
that Fuzetti has shown himself
well so far in camp.
Still, neither Fuzetti nor Zaga-
vin can make any guarantees for
his MLS future. As a middle-round
draft pick, nothing is a given for
Fuzetti. The whole Wizards orga-
nization understands that in an
MLS where over 80 percent of its
players have non-guaranteed con-
tracts, player will be cut if he stops
producing.
Fuzetti has an opportunity
though, playing for a Wizards
team that was third worst in the
MLS last season. Zagavin admit-
ted that the Wizards are going
through a youth movement and are
looking for rookies to contribute.
"Just getting some playing time
as a rookie," Fuzetti said when
asked about his goals, "establish-
ing some sort of role on the team
where I can come in and make an
impact in the game."
But, even though he is taking a
pragmatic approach to this season,
that does not mean he doesn't have
bigger goals for the future.
"As far as my highest goals go,"
Fuzetti said. I probably am looking
to play in the MLS three, four, or
five years and then depending on
how well I do, be able to go play in
Europe somewhere."

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