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June 05, 1979 - Image 12

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-06-05

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Page 12-Tuesday, June 5, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Lattany flies up short in NCAA's
But 7-2 leap is
good for sixth place

By GEOFF LARCOM
Last weekend at the NCAA Track
Championships in Champaign, Ill.,
Michigan's mighty mite high jumper, 5-
7 Mike Lattany found out how much dif-
ference two weeks can make. Just
about an inch.
After clearing 7-3% and flying to the
Big Ten championship in Ann Arbor on
May 19, the best Lattany could manage
Saturday was 7-21/4. That jump netted
him sixth place in the meet and gave
the Wolverines their only point in the
competition, putting them in a tie for
51st place.
LATTANY CLEARED 7-0 and 7-1 on
his first two jumps, but missed twice at
7-2/2 before clearing the bar. The Blue
leaper then missed each of his three
tries at 7-3% to finish his Michigan
competition for this season.
Nat Page of Missouri won the event
with a leap of 7-41/, while James
Pringle of Florida and Gail Olson of the
host Illini cleared the same height as
Lattany, but placed fourth and fifth
respectively with fewer misses.
Ironically, it was Olson, the sen-
sational Illinois freshman, who suffered
the same fate at the Big Ten's. Lattany
cleared the bar at 7-31/ on his first try in
Ann Arbor, while it took Olson three,
thus giving Lattany his second straight
conference crown.
MICHIGAN COACH Jack Harvey
wasn't disappointed with Lattany's per-

formance, stressing the iffiness of the
competition at those heights.
"It could have gone either way," said
Harvey. "We figured Mike would score
in the top three. He'd beaten most of his
competition in the regular season, but
Page jumped exceptionally well."
However, if Harvey was somewhat
pleased with Lattany's finish, he must
have been downright delighted with the
race run by steeplechaser Dan
Heikkinen, Michigan's other NCAA
qualifier.
After grinding out a second place
finish in the Big Ten's with a time of
8:45.3, Heikkinen chopped nearly eight
seconds off his time, clocking an 8:37.9.
"HEIKKINEN ran very well," Harvey
said. "He has the strength and en-
durance to run the steeplechase as a
result of his running on the cross coun-
try team in the fall."
Heikkinen is only a sophomore this
year, Harvey happily reports, so he'll
be back in the fall to lead the cross
country squad. But for now, his goal is
to bring his time below the Olympic
trial standard of 8:33.
Texas-El Paso walked away with the
NCAA team title for the second time in
four years, taking a 34-point lead after
the first day of competition, which was
highlighted by Maryland Hurdler
Renaldo Nehemiah's 12.91 in the 110-
meter event. The sophomore gazelle
did not get credit for breaking his own
record due to a tail wind.

THE SPORTING VIEWS State's success.. .
_. .swe

et but short

In The Daily's May 26 edition, sportswriter Dan Perrin
suggested Michigan State's athletic program is "on the
rise. " He supported this argument by citing MSU's
"Triple Crown" of major sports championships in the
Big Ten this year. In today's column, Perrin's colleague
Alan Fanger presents a differing opinion.
By ALAN FANGER
Surely Don Canham was disturbed by Michigan
State's athletic superiority during the 1978-79
season. When you're running a big-time program
and your arch rival slams it to you in the major
sports (hockey included), one wonders whether
such superiority is real.
But there exists a more plausible explanation
for the Spartans' four-for-four mark against the
Wolverines this past year. It revolves around a
"random chance" element - the intertwining of
scheduling and recruiting at crucial times which
produces misleading results.
Of course, one cannot totally rid the Wolverine
teams of fault during the recent course of events.
Indeed, this year was perhaps the worst for
Michigan's major sports teams in the last five
years. Only the football team engaged in post-
season play, compared to the 1976-77 season, when
all four teams were competing after season's end.
The Spartans' road to each championship was
by no means easy, however. And the possibility of
MSU retaining even one Big Ten crown in the next
year looks somewhat slim.
Take football, for example. MSU finished the
season with a commendable 8-3 record and their
first conference title since 1966. They also had the
good fortune of not playing Ohio State. Granted,

the Buckeyes fielded one of their weakest teams in
quite a while, but that shouldn't dilute the fact that
of the three prime contenders for the title -
Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue - the
Spartans played the weakest conference schedule.
The forecast for MSU this season doesn't look
nearly as bright. Although Ohio State remains off
the schedule, Coach Darryl Rogers will be
working without the base for a strong passing
game. The two stalwarts of last year's aerial at-
tack, quarterback Eddie Smith and tight end Kirk
Gibson, have graduated. That leaves either Bert
Vaughn or Bruce Clark, both inexperienced in
game play, to call the signals. The Spartans also
lost two solid defensive players in tackle Melvin
Land and safety Tom Graves.
Magic tricks
Meanwhile, Jud Heathcote will have to prevent
the "return to Earth" syndrome from overcoming
his national champion cagers. Greg Kelser's
graduation and Earvin Johnson's early jump to
the professional ranks will no doubt damage his
team's title hopes next season. The Spartans are
going to be leaderless until they can find someone
to take charge of their fast breaking attack. The
assembled talent is reasonable - Ron Charles,
Terry Donnelly, Jay Vincent, and Mike Brkovich
are all sound ballplayers - but the level of play
drops off steeply after those four.
Look at the most recent NCAA basketball
champions. Kentucky, Marquette, and Indiana
utilized a collective effort to reach the top. Nobody

among those three teams received the acclaim
and attention which "Magic" received this winter.
That was more than just a credit to Johnson's
talents; it was indicative of the fact that without
Earvin Johnson, Michigan State would have been
a good basketball team, but not a great one. Two
years ago, sans Magic, MSU finished with a 10-17
record.
MSU's baseball team can thank Mother Nature
for its second conference title in 25 years. The
Spartan batsmen sported an 11-4 conference
mark, 11 percentage points better than runner-up
Wisconsin. That statistic is misleading, however,
when you examine the role rain played in shaping
the final outcome.
Michigan played 14 of its 18 scheduled conferen-
ce games. Four contests - doubleheaders with
doormats Indiana and Northwestern-were
rained out. Thus the-Wolverines came into the
season's final series with Michigan Statehaving to
win both games, only because the Spartans had
played one more game and won it. Wolverine
coach Moby Benedict doesn't like to blame the
rain for his team's misfortunes, but when you end
up playing everyone in your league except the two
patsies, those final standings are going to be
somewhat tainted.
So with the aid of both the schedule-maker and
Mother Nature, Michigan State captured Big Ten
titles in the three major sports. And though it's
improper to knock the Spartans for their stellar
athletic year, perhaps the folks in East Lansing
will be more modest in their expectations for the
coming year.

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