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January 29, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-29

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6A - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Wednesday, January 29, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Sampson matures
on and off the floor

Senior becomes

to 1

der, learns how
ove gymnastics
Daily Sports Writer

Michigan freshman wrestler Angelo Latora, who struggled this year in the 141-pound class, has since been benched in favor of redshirt junior Stephen Dutton.
Dutton regains form, starting role

By ZACH SHAW was a round-of-12 guy as a true
DailySports Writer freshman, right on the cusp of
being on the next level. He kept
Another loss by Angelo Latora, wrestling well, but his second
another cringe-worthy moment year had some injuries and didn't
for Stephen Dutton. like the fit at Lehigh. It worked
As the Michigan freshman out that he wanted to leave and I
wrestler fell, 6-1, to Purdue's had just joined Michigan's staff,
Danny Sabatello on Jan. 10 - his so it was a natural fit to get him to
sixth loss in a row and ninth in come here."
13 matches - Dutton could only The pairing of Pritzlaff and
watch from the sidelines, again. Dutton was years in the making.
Yet another injury setback had As an assistant coach at Hofstra
forced him to watch Latora start from 2004-06, Pritzlaff met
over him in the 141-pound class. Dutton, then a seventh-grade
FortunatelyforDutton,Latora's wrestler, at a clinic in New York.
loss in the Purdue matchwilllikely As the years went on, Pritzlaff
be the last time the junior has became family friends with the
to watch from the stands. Since Duttons.
then, Dutton has exploded on the Though the bond didn't take
scene. After nearly two years off, fruition until after Dutton's
a transfer and countless injuries, sophomore year, it paid off
Dutton has won his first three Big when he selected Michigan.
Ten matches by a combined score The same spring that two-time
of 44-5. NCAA champion Kellen Russell
Ithadbeenawhile,butit wasn't graduated from the weight class,
that long ago that Dutton was the Wolverines appeared to have
dominating the national wrestling their next replacement lined up.
scene, albeit for a different team. As spring turned to fall, the
As a freshman at Lehigh, Dutton anticipation grew. But during
went 23-14 and came one win shy a wrestle-off to officially name
of being named -All-American,; him the starter, the injury bug
a rare feat for some one year bit Dutton again. Deciding to
removed fromhigh school. redshirt the season, Dutton was
"He wrestled really well at forced to train without tangible
Lehigh," said Michigan assistant results.
coach Donny Pritzlaff. "He "I came here for one reason,

andthat'stowrestle," Dutton said
on Monday. "It's been frustrating
not being able to compete, I
just tried to lead by going out
in the room and working hard,
competing hard, and that's
basically all I can do."
After a year away from
competing, Dutton was more
than eager to return to the lineup.
But, yet again, that anticipation
was put on hold, as a summer
shoulder surgery from another
injury took longer to heal than
"It's been emotionally up and
down for him," Pritzlaff said. "He
was doing really well in rehab
and was as close as he could get to
returning. But then he regressed
and thought it was re-torn. He
thought it might be the end for
But as the weeks wore on,
Dutton kept pushing. After
Latora's sixth straight loss, it was
now or never forth. seasoned but
rusty veteran.
"After a while, he realized
the pain will always be there,"
Pritzlaff said. "Now he's fighting
through it the best he can. He's in
a good spot, he's not 100 percent,
but he knows that no one's 100
percent at this level, so he's just
got to go."
Making his Michigan debut

against Illinois, Dutton looked
as healthy as ever, cruising to a
14-0 victory. The momentum has
only increased as he's taken down
opponents from Minnesota and
Michigan State by scores of 14-2
and 16-3, respectively.
"It's felt good," Dutton said.
"It's nice to go out there after a
while off and get some points
and win some matches. But for
the rest of the season, I'm going
to have some good competitors,
some top-ranked guys, so that
should be a good test."
The hot start has allowed
Dutton to become the No. 9 141-
pound wrestler in the country.
But the biggest tests will come
this weekend, as he takes on Penn
State's Zain Retherford and Ohio
State's Logan Steiber, ranked No.
2 and 3, respectively.
"It just makes me work that
much harder," Dutton said. "I
have to try and get in better and
better shape every day. I was off
the mat for so long, and Iknow the
guys I'm wrestling have had a lot
more time onthe matthisyear"
In Big Ten wrestling, Dutton's
long-awaited - yet so far
successful - return will be put to
the test early and often. But in a
career full of pain, patience and
waiting, few can handle adversity
quite like Dutton.
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Joanna Sampson's journey
to becoming an NCAA national
champion in the floor exercise
wasn't always pretty.
If you look at her now, you
wouldn't expect that the senior
co-captain of the Michigan
gymnastics team was once a
stubborn freshman who wanted
everything done her own way.
With that adamancy, though,
came an unshakeable desire to
"The thing that I've always
told Joanna is that, because of
her strong personality, she's a
natural leader," said Michigan
women's gymnastics coach Bev
Plocki. "But which direction are
you going to lead?"
Early in Sampson's career,
Plocki knew that Sampson had
the potential for greatness. She
just needed to find her place.
Sampson wasn't enjoying
much at all
right before ,«
she came to But
Michigan. She directic
put too much
pressure on going t
herself, and
her love for the
sport lessened.
Though her
competitive edge has led to
many of her successes, learning
to love gymnastics again
played a significant role in her
"I give her all the credit in
the world because she found
out what she wanted to be and
how she wanted to lead, and
she developed herself into that
person," Plocki said.
And she has. On top of being
a captain who her teammates
can look up to, Sampson is a
2013 NCAA champion, a three-
time NCAA All-American, a
Big Ten Women's Gymnast of
the Year, and the 2012-2013
University of Michigan Female
Athlete of the Year.
"One of my biggest
personality changes I've had
since I've been here is really just
being more open to everything
and just kind of trying to relax
a little bit more," Sampson said.
"I try not to take everything so
According to Plocki, even
Sampson's parents were
shocked by her attitude change

since she's been with the
Michigan gymnastics team.
"Joanna has matured and
grown up big time in the
years that she's been here at
Michigan," Plocki said.
Fellow co-captain and
housemate Shelby Gies has
experienced Sampson's change
"Sometimes, she thinks that
everything has to be perfect,"
Gies said. "But everything she
does is perfect; she just thinks
that it has to be even more
perfect. She's very hard on
herself a lot of the time, but she's
learning to not be as much."
Sampson treats every
practice as if it were an actual
competition, something her
teammates notice every day.
But though Sampson holds
herself to a very high standard
in and out of practice, her
ability to accept her occasional
mistakes has helped her become
the captain that she is today.
"As a freshman,because ofthe
way I was, I didn't necessarily
expect (to be a captain), but it
was always something I had
a desire to be," Sampson said.
"I just always wanted to be
that person
that my
which teammates
could look up
) you to and come
n are y to, regardless
to lead?" of being a
captain or
not. As long
as I was able
to do that for
my team, then I would've been
And she's happy now.
"I don't really have a specific
goal for myself other than to
just embrace everything while
having fun my senior year,"
Sampson said. "The season's
going great. I don't think I
could really ask for anything
more so far."
Sampson's hope is that she
can help create the best season
possible for her teammates
while simply enjoying her
final year at Michigan. She
feels pressure, but now she's
approaching the season with a
different mindset.
"I think the sky's the limit
for her in terms of what her
capabilities are," Plocki said. "I
just want her to relax and have
fun and enjoy her senior year
and get the most out of it that
she can."
Sure, it's not the only
balancing act she practices, but
Sampson has found the perfect
harmony between enjoyment
and her will to succeed.

REILEASE AIE- wednesday, January 2, 20a
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Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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Gymnast Joanna Sampson has become one of the Wolverines'leaders.

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