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August 13, 2007 - Image 46

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-08-13

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34 The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2007

a

Blue get No. five

'M' wins close one

By ANDY REID
Daily Sports Writer
Oct. 30, 2006 - BLOOMINGTON -
Michigan women's cross country coach
Mike McGuire's hand has five fingers.
And, after the Wolverines won the Big
Ten championship at Indiana University
Golf Course yesterday, McGuire now has
five consecutive championship rings to fit
snugly on each of those digits.
Junior Erin Webster, who has led the
Wolverines all year, finished as the top
team runner in five events and won four
events overall. Yesterday, she asserted
herself immediately and stuck with the
top tier of runners.
Eventually, she pulled ahead to take
the individual crown (20:23), winningthe
race by 12 seconds.
"I've put in a lot of time and worked
really hard this year," Webster said. "It
feels awesome to see it all that work pay-
ing off."
Cementing Michigan's dominance in
the race was junior Alyson Kohlmeier,
who finished in second place. Kohlmei-
er hung in the back of the lead pack and
picked off runners as they started to tire.
She eventually pulled into second place
and finished in that position (20:35).
No. 3 Michigan's best five runners on
the day (which are used to tally the team's
final score) all finished in the top 22, giv-
ing the Wolverines a final score of 52.
Wisconsin finished in second place with
91 points.
Although Webster and Kohlmeier stole
the show, McGuire was especially con-
gratulatory of senior captain Arienne
Field - who has been on the team for
all five Big Ten Championships. She red-
shirted her freshman season.
"I just wanted to acknowledge Ari-
enne because she has been such a great
asset to this team as a captain and a run-
ner," McGuire said. "She has run on three
Big Ten championship teams now. I just
wanted to say hats off to her."
Field, who finished in 18th place, was a
little more humble. She took time to thank
her teammates for helping her finish her
career with another title.

"Five in a row - this one was icing on
the cake," Field said. "I've enjoyed watch-
ing the younger girls develop and improve
into great runners. This was a huge
accomplishment for everyone involved."
McGuire noted that the final score
wasn't indicative of the entire meet. Run-
ningin the BigTen, whichboasts six teams
in the top 25, is a brutal experience.
"This is the best the Big Ten has been
in the 15 years I have been coaching here,"
McGuire said. "We took the tough com-
petition as a challenge, and we definitely
exceeded that challenge."
Another factor contributing to the dif-
ficult race was the course itself, which
contains more hills and sloping terrains
than other courses the team has run.
"If you can show me a flat lie on this
course, I'll give you a dollar," McGuire
joked. "I'll tell you, it's cross country at its
finest."
To get ready for the difficult course,
Kohlmeier said that the team did exten-
sive hill training in the Arb, which she
admitted helped her prepare for the tough
hills.
"Usually, I run better on a track-type
course, but I felt really good on the hills
today," Kohlmeier said. "Runningthe hills
in the Arb 14 times a day is a little tougher
than what we had to run today."
Along with the physical training and
hill workouts, McGuire attributed Mich-
igan's victory to the experience the team
has at this level of competition. Four of
the top five finishers had run in a Big Ten
championship race before. That experi-
ence helped the team know what to expect
and kept the younger runners calm.
The record for most consecutive Big Ten
championships in women's cross country
for Michigan is six. The Wolverines, who
lose only two runners who finished in the
top forty yesterday, aren't about to slow
down. They will be viable contenders for
the Big Ten title next year and beyond.
Webster looked at the win as a spring-
board into the National Championship,
which is Nov. 20 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Before nationals, however, the team
will compete will compete in the NCAA
Regionals, which take place on Nov. 11.

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Writer
April 2, 2007 - STATE COLLEGE - As the
Michigan and Penn State women's gymnastics
teams prepared for their final routines, the
hearts of 2,729 fans pounded at Rec Hall in
State College.
And the lives of 14 gymnasts changed for-
ever.
A .375 point Michigan lead seemed precari-
ous at best, and the voracious Nittany Lion
crowd rendered any advantage moot. The
Wolverines held their own in the vault, but
four amazing performances on the uneven
bars by Penn State obscured the outcome. As
the events concluded, both teams headed back
to their locker rooms, clouded in mystery and
ready to put an end to the agonizing wait. Nei-
ther team knew who won, but both experi-
enced a lifetime worth of jitters as the results
were tallied. The announcer said that the top
two teams were separated by a mere 10th of a
point, hushingthe crowd.
The moment of truth finally came and the
response couldn'thave been more pronounced.
The women donning the maize and blue shot
into the air at the news of their Big Ten Cham-
pionship, and the tears ofjoy flooded the stage,
stamping an explanation point on a roller-
coaster season for Michigan.
"I'm just so overwhelmed at how proud I
am of these kids," Michigan coach Bev Plocki
said. "We had so many injuries and so many
bad things happen. These kids fought through
every single setback we had and they never
gave up."
The scoreboard read Michigan 196.575,
Penn State 196.475. The Wolverines' surreal
victory was assured. But it wasn't until the
photographers snapped team pictures and
handed out championship T-shirts and hats
that reality set in.
Their pose was symbolic of their mission
this season. They embraced on a small plat-
form, figurative of their team effort that won
them the championship. As the teammates
stood there, they weren't a group of bodies
composing a team, but a team that overcame so
much to achieve a goal many thought unlikely.
"This was the most emotional season and
the seasonswhere we pulled togetherthe most,"
junior Katie Lieberman said. "We worked

together as a team and have been so close, we
had some bumps in the road, but we overcame
the adversity and came away with the win."
Michigan came into the match as a slight
underdog, which is unusual given it has won
13 of the past 15 titles. But the injury-plagued
Wolverines had to prove they could unite
together and bring home a trophy without
their full roster.
Two-time All-American Lindsey Bruck and
freshmen Jordan Sexton and Sarah Curtis
were all lost for the season with injuries.
"This team is an amazing group of young
ladies," sophomore Huneth Lor said. "We've
been working so hard to pick up from all the
injuries that winning makes it all the better."
The Wolverines followed the Nittany Lions
in the rotation and bested Penn State's perfor-
mance in every event except the uneven bars.
Michigan posted near season-high scores on
all events and pulled away with exceptional
performances on the balance beam and floor
exercise, which are generally two of their
weaker routines.
Becky Bernard led Michigan on the balance
beam.
She captured her first individual champi-
onship in the event, tying a career-high score
of 9.900. She followed this up with another
amazing performance on floor exercise with a
mark of 9.850.
"Becky is my nervous Nellie, she's such a
talented athlete in practice, but she gets so
nervous when she competes and we've been
working on that all season," Plocki said.
Lieberman's second consecutive Big Ten
Individual Championship on Floor Exercise
(9.900) complemented Bernard's effort. Lor
came up just short in the all-around to round
out the individual accolades for the Wolver-
ines.
Michigan finished up the evening on vault,
its most successful event. But a series of amaz-
ing routines reinvigorated the Nittany Lions
and the home crowd. Penn State's CorissaPirkl
and Katie Perretstuck beautiful routines, scor-
ing 9.900 each, but fell just short of Michigan.
The win is an exclamation point in Plocki's
illustrious career and is her most memorable
championship.
"I've been coaching 18 years, and there's no
championship that's ever made my heart feel
as good as this one." Plocki said.

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