The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JANUARY 2017 THE WOLVERINE 63   OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE MEN'S GYMNASTICS LOOKS TO BOUNCE BACK FROM DISAPPOINTING 2016 Men's gymnastics head coach Kurt Golder will be entering his 21st sea- son at the helm in 2017, and his team will be looking to bounce back fol- lowing a disappointing 2016 cam- paign. Though the Wolverines did not enjoy the success they'd hoped for last year, Golder admitted the ap- proach isn't going to change. "It's pretty much the same," he said, regarding his approach to this season. "No two teams are the same, so your approach has to vary a little, but I still use the same one that I used when I first started here." Golder also discussed some of the keys to his team's success this year. "It's always pretty much the same two principles for success in our sport — the team that works the hardest and develops the most," he said. "Now we are actually starting from a lower point than we were during those champi- onship years. In our sport, it's pretty simple math — get your start value real high so you can get a high score, and then keep your deductions low so that you don't lose it with your execution errors and mistakes." The program received a huge boost of positive momentum for the future, when StickItMedia an- nounced in November that Golder and his staff had signed the No. 1 2017 recruiting class in the nation. "They're a bunch of good ath- letes," Golder said. "Cameron Bock, according to our rankings, is the No. 1 kid in America. Anthony Taw- fik is the No. 1 kid in Canada. Jake Moore is a local kid, and the first one from the state of Michigan to be a Junior National Team member since Stacey Ervin [who finished his U-M career in 2015]. Nick Guy is also from our region, and he's a fill-in guy; he doesn't stand out like those other three, but he does very well in a couple events. He'll get us some championship-level scores in a number of events, and he has the potential to develop. "I'm really excited about this year and just seeing how far we can get, while building a foundation to add those guys to the following year. It's a pretty exciting time for me; I feel like I'm a freshman coach again." The veteran coach has shown no signs of slowing down. "I absolutely love it," he said. "I get here early every morning and have a few cups of coffee, and I'm still hav- ing as much fun as ever." Golder also made it quite clear what his team's goal is for 2017. "To get into the top six [nationally]," he said. "You get a trophy if you fin- ish in the top four, so that's also where we'd like to be — to come home from the NCAAs with a trophy in our hand." — Austin Fox BEV PLOCKI EXCITED ABOUT POTENTIAL OF 2017 SEASON The U-M women's gymnastics pro- gram has experienced incredible suc- cess under head coach Bev Plocki and will look to continue that excellence during the 2017 season. Throughout her 27 years as head coach, Plocki has led the Wolverines to 21 Big Ten cham- pionships, two conference regular-sea- son titles, 22 NCAA Championship appearances and 10 NCAA Super Six berths. So what has been the key to the program's success under her tutelage? "We took the time to create the kind of culture and foundation that we believe our program should be built on," Plocki said. "That foundation has been fundamental for us to not only climb to where we are now, but also to sustain our level of success." Despite the success, Plocki ex- plained that a belief has to be instilled early on in the student-athletes that complacency is not an option. "We're coaches — we worry about everything all the time," she said with a laugh. "Part of my job is making sure every new class of athletes have the same understanding and appreciation for the Michigan athletic [program] they've been invited to be a part of. It's actually easier to do when we have a smaller class of student-athletes, be- cause they are the minority. "It's more challenging in a year like this, where 50 percent of our team is new — we have five freshmen and a transfer [junior Paige Zaziski]. Some years are harder than others, but it's our job to make sure they learn the culture, traditions and expectations, and that they fall in line and carry their share of the load." Overall, the 2017 roster features a group of student-athletes who could once again be in store for a great season. "I'm excited about the potential of this group," Plocki said. "Poten- tial isn't going to win any champi- onships, though — you have to see that potential come to fruition, but that's the exciting part. With a very young team, I don't know if we're going to be where we'd like [to be] coming out of the gate. "The goal is to develop the talent and also for the young freshmen to learn as the season goes along. If that happens, we should ultimately be hitting our peak once we near the end of the season." Though there isn't one specific thing that needs to occur in 2017 for Plocki to deem it a success, she did single out one element that needs to occur. "I need to see the continued de- velopment and maturation of this freshman class," she said. "With them being as large of a piece as they are, we're counting on them to provide the depth we're looking for in our lineups, and that's going to be a key part of where our suc- cess comes from this year." — Austin Fox Although head coach Bev Plocki noted that half of her women's gymnastics roster is comprised of fresh- men and a transfer, senior and six-time All-American Nicole Artz (above) is back to lead the squad. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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