The Wolverine

February 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2019 THE WOLVERINE 65 BY ANDREW HUSSEY M any Michigan spring Olympic sports teams begin their seasons right as 2019 opens and look to have success in the Big Ten this season. Here's a look at those squads and some of their key athletes: MEN'S GYMNASTICS First Event: Jan. 26 at Minnesota. Big Ten Predicted Finish: Third. NCAA Best-Case Scenario: Make the NCAA Tournament. Coach's Expectations: "Definitely to make the Super Six," head coach Kurt Golder said. "I think I have a team that's capable of that and hope- fully to win the Big Ten title." Top Athlete: In his first season in Ann Arbor, sophomore Cameron Bock was an All-American on the parallel bars after a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Event Finals and was the Team MVP according to In August 2018, he placed seventh in the all-around with a score of 163.200 at the U.S. Championships. "He's our top all-arounder, and I think he's capable of winning the Big Ten championship this year and defi- nitely placing in the top five at the NCAAs," Golder said. Athlete To Watch: Sophomore Ja- cob Moore was also named a Gym- nast to Watch by the conference. Last season, he earned All-America hon- ors in the floor exercise, finishing tied for second at the NCAA Event Finals — the best showing by a Wolverine since 1992. Don't Miss: Feb. 23 at Oklahoma, the defending NCAA champion. WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS First Event: Took first at the Can- cun Classic Jan. 4 against Iowa State, Rutgers and West Virginia. Big Ten Predicted Finish: First or second. NCAA Best-Case Scenario: Win NCAA Regional. Coach's Expectations: "Our expec- tations never change," head coach Bev Plocki said. "We are at a point where our expectation is to win the regular season, win the Big Ten champion- ship, advance through regionals to quality for nationals and then the ulti- mate goal is to be in the NCAA final." Top Athlete: Freshman Natalie Wojcik has started off her Michigan career as well as possible, earning back- to-back Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors in January. She has won five in- dividual events and two all-arounds in the team's first two meets of the season. She had the top all-around score at the Alabama quad meet and also won vault and balance beam. She was tied for the nation's No. 1 rank- ing on vault with a 9.963 average through Jan. 22, and she also set a school record for the highest all- around score by a U-M gymnast in their debut, winning the all-around at the Cancun Classic with a 39.625. "Her attention to detail and her work ethic in practice every day lead to her confidence in herself in her performances and her consistency," Plocki said. Athlete To Watch: Senior Olivia Karas is currently ranked in the top 50 nationally in the all-around and is second behind Wojcik in RoadToNa-'s team MVP rankings. "Olivia is personality, personality, personality," Plocki said. "She is ex- tremely talented, and she loves to perform. That makes her gymnastics very fun to watch." Don't Miss: Elevate the Stage/Big Five Meet against Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State and Rutgers Feb. 23 in Toledo, Ohio. MEN'S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD First Event: Jan. 12 at home for the Wolverine Invitational (no team scor- ing). Big Ten Predicted Finish: Second- fourth. NCAA Best-Case Scenario: At least three individual champions. Coach's Expectations: "We're al- ways focusing on the Big Ten Champi- onships, and the NCAA-level athletes that make it to that championship," head coach Jerry Clayton said. "We've had two really good meets so far and we're looking forward to the rest of our home schedule." Top Athlete: Fifth-year senior thrower Joe Ellis finished fifth in the weight throw at the NCAA In- door Championships last season and has already started this year season strong, placing second at the Wol- verine Invitational Jan. 12, behind only former teammate and current volunteer assistant Grant Cartwright. "Joe's done an outstanding job ac- tually right from his freshman year on," Clayton said. "He's always been consistently a scorer in the Big Ten championships. He's made it to the NCAA meet every year. He's contrib- uted so much to the program." Athlete To Watch: Junior thrower Andrew Liskowitz set an indoor school record at the Wolverine Invi- tational with his shot put of 64 feet, 5.2 inches, earning him Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors. Can't Miss: Feb. 22-23 Big Ten In- door Championships in Ann Arbor. WOMEN'S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD First Event: Jan. 12 at home for the Wolverine Invitational (no team scoring).   OLYMPIC SPORTS PREVIEW New Year Means More Wolverines Are Ready To Start Seasons Veteran coach Bev Plocki and her gymnasts expect to win the Big Ten and eventually reach the NCAA finals every season. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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