Page 10 - The Michigan Daily --Wednesday, February 21, 1990
Wrestler overcomes obstacles to captain team
by Jeff Sheran
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan wrestler Justin Spe-
wock could use another four years of
college to accomplish everything he
wants to do. Because only now, after
overcoming a series of obstacles, has
the fifth-year senior established him-
self on the mat.
Spewock has always beenan in-
trospective sort. And while this in-
trospection has helped him overcome
his problems, it has also created a
slate of self-imposed complications.
"I always lacked focus. I always
thought too much about other
things," Spewock said. "When I got
here, I wanted so much to be diver-
sified, so I wrestled, I concentrated
on my grades, I joined a fraternity, I
tried to do it all. But really I was
spreading myself too thin."
Though Spewock has shown
flashes of wrestling excellence, he
has had a checkered career at Mich-
Spewock was redshirted his soph-
omore year, after which he captured
the National Espoir Greco-Roman
Championships at 163 pounds. He
then lettered for the Wolverines at
177 in his third year, placing sixth
in the Big Ten amidst injuries and
competition from teammate James
However, last year he watched his
chances to start slip away to Dye. In
their final challenge match, Spewock
lost the decision and suffered a knee
But Spewock faced even more
'My entire life, no
one has ever
encouraged me to
quit ...It's just not the
way I was taught to
- Justin Spewock
"Last year my dad passed away,
and that really threw me for a loop.
It made me look at all the other
things that mattered, and it made
wrestling seem secondary.
"It took a long time for me to
decide whether or not wrestling was
important to me."
This year he returned as the elder
statesman of the Wolverines. And
the team greeted him by voting him
"That was overwhelming," Spe-
wock recalled. "I couldn't figure out
what I was doing as a captain with
guys like Fritz (Lehrke) and (Larry)
Gotcher, who have wrestled really
"Then one night (assistant coach
Joe) Wells said to me 'There are
other reasons besides performance for
being voted captain.' And that made
me realize I did have a lot to offer."
And this season he has had a lot
to offer over and above his per-
sonable nature. He holds a dual meet
record of 6-5 (3-3 in the Big Ten),
and has been even more consistent
since dropping down from 177 to
Spewock decisioned Iowa State's
ninth-ranked Matt Johnson, 9-8, in
Michigan's recent dual meet with the
Cyclones. Spewock's upset proved
pivotal in the Wolverines' 21-16
surprise over Iowa State.
However, his 2-1 record at 167 is
not the only benefit of the change.
"Ever since he made the decision to
drop down," Wells said, "he's had a
positive change in attitude. I see a
permanent resolve to make a com-
mitment and give 100 percent. He's
taken more control of his situation."
"Now I'm more focused, and I
have more confidence," Spewock
said. "And with more confidence,
I'm more consistent. It's a vicious
circle, but I think I have control of it
Aside from external barriers,
Spewock faced several obstacles in
the wrestling room. He came to
Michigan in the same recruiting
class as two-time NCAA runner-up
Joe Pantaleo,who displaced Spewock
at 158 pounds. He then fell behind
All-American 167-pounder Mike
So now, finally, Spewock can
settle into his job as a starter. But he
keeps in mind what kept him going
through the adversity that confronted
him along the way.
"My entire life, no one has ever
encouraged me to quit. And quitting
would have been really easy, and
probably pretty understandable. It's
just not the way I was taught to
Now, with a renewed com-
mitment to succeed, Spewock only
wishes he had another year. Or four.
Late night with sports:
rocking and rolling
WWF wrestling was bad enough. But then some genius had to go and
put it on wheels and add cheerleaders. And now we have Rockin' Roller-
Games, the latest in a nauseating litany of made-for-television "sports."
This late-night show (it certainly isn't a sport) actually insults our
intelligence. It doesn't just insult - it probably lowers the IQ of every
viewer by 10 to 20 points. That's how mind-numbingly stupid this is.
But evidently there is an audience for this, an audience that found this
garbage more entertaining than something normal.
The advent of television in the sports world brought about many
positive effects. While watching the tube doesn't have the same feeling of
being in the ballpark, it gives every fan a free seat to even the most
But now we've begun to actually create games just for television
consumption. Do enough people get turned away at the RollerGames gate
that we need to televise the affair? I can just imagine the day when we read
about the first network battle for the television rights to RollerGames.
I guess it can't be all that exciting since the producers had Warrant
playing at halftime to keep the fans' interested - or maybe heavy metal
poser music is just part of the ambience. Mel Torme apparently was
unavailable for the weekend.
Hey, maybe if there's such a huge demand for the "sport", I could go
into business as a RollerGame ticket scalper. I could even expand my
enterprise into the other imbecilic events now found on TV.
"Hey, who needs bleacher seats for the Babe Winkleman Fishing
And just picture a father taking his 10-year-old son to his first Monster
Truck and Tractor Pull at Madison Square Garden. But they find out that
all 20,000 seats have been sold. Not to worry - this great American
"sport" is on the tube live tonight. Thank God there's no blackout.
These "sports" even try to create an impression they are real. The
announcers couldn't stop talking about RollerGames' long history, in-
cluding veteran Ralphie Valaderez of the L.A. T-Birds, who was scheduled
to enter "The Rockin' RollerGames Hall of Fame."
And you thought Wayne Gretzky was the greatest skater in LA.
I'm kind of wondering what kind of brain-dead moron attends this
thing - and how much the producer pays him or her to watch. Actually,
I think they just come for the parting gifts - you know, the Chico San
Rice Cakes and Turtle Wax.
It's almost to the point where I'm scared to see what "sport" will pop
into my television next. Maybe we could start televising Pop-a-Shot live
from Rick's. We could hire cheeseball announcers who spew cliche after
stupid cliche and try to hype their game as real. Dokken will play between
contestants and maybe preliminary losers could thumb wrestle on the bar.
You never know.
Drop off your picks at 420 May-
nard by Friday, 5 p.m. If you're
good, and a little lucky, you'll win
breakfast or lunch for two at
O'Sullivans Eatery and Pub.
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