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January 10, 1994 - Image 11

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-10

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, January 10, 1994 -

Tyrone Wheatley may have played his last game for Michigan against North Carolina State in the Hall of Fame Bowl this month.E
WW11he stay or will he go?
Junior tailback holding press conference today to announce decision

By KEN SUGIURA
DAILY FOOTBALL WRITER
Tyrone Wheatley has wowed
Michigan fans for three seasons with
* his spectacular moves.
Today, he may make his best one
yet. Wheatley, a running back for
Michigan, has called a press confer-
ence for this afternoon at
Sohembechler Hall, in all likelihood
to end a season's worth of speculation
by announcing his intention to skip
his senior year to enter the NFL draft.
Wheatley, a junior, has been sur-
rounded by speculation all season that
* he would leave following this season.
After earning Big Ten Offensive
Player of the Year and Rose Bowl
MVP honors his sophomore season,
the 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior was

roundly considered one of the top
collegiate players in the country.
Wheatley would undoubtedly be one
of the top picks in the upcoming April
draft.
As late as the Hall of Fame Bowl
in Tampa, Fla., on New Year's Day,
Wheatley seemed to be undecided
about his future. In the days preced-
ing the game, Michigan coach Gary
Moeller said he planned to meet with
him following the game to help in the
decision-making process.
At the postgame press conference
following Michigan's 42-7 victory
over North Carolina State, Moeller,
Wheatley and his teammates refused
to discuss his impending decision.
In the game, Wheatley rushed for
124 yards and two touchdowns to

earn Michigan's bowl game MVP
honors for the second year in a row.
He later said he planned to discuss
his career with former Michigan star
and current Washington Redskin re-
ceiver Desmond Howard, among oth-
ers. Howard passed up his final year
of eligibility to enter the draft after
winning the 1991 Heisman Trophy.
Wheatley would join an impres-
sive list of underclassmen declaring
hardship. San Diego State's Marshall
Faulk, Freso State quarterback Trent
Dilfer, Texas A&M Sam Adams and
Florida State cornerback Corey Saw-
yer all have decided to forgo their
final years of college for a shot at the
NFL.
Wheatley, from Inkster, Mich.,
would leave behind an indelible legacy

on the Michigan football program and
its record books. The running back's
zephyr-like speed and intimidating
strength helped Michigan earn two
consecutive outright Big Ten titles
his first two seasons.
A shoulder injury sustained in
Michigan's loss to Illinois this season
and a disappointing team record pre-
vented Wheatley, a preseason All-
America, from garnering more
postseason honors. The injury forced
Wheatley to the sidelines for the fol-
lowing two games.
His 35 career rushing touchdowns
are the most by a Wolverine, and his
40 total TDs tie him for first all-time
with Anthony Carter. His average rush
of 6.34 yards per carry is the highest
career mark at Michigan.

N RYAN HERRIN TON
The R.H. Factor
Ice skating pick of the
weekend for sports fans
DETROIT - As classes had barely begun in my last semester at
Michigan, I had a little free time Saturday to actually be a fan and
go to a sporting event. Surprisingly, on this cold day in January
there were a number of events to choose from. So at 10 in the morning, I
had a decision to make .
A) Go to the Michigan-Lake Superior State hockey game
This seemed like an obvious choice. After all, the Wolverines are the
No. I team in the nation, surprising everyone but themselves with their
consistent play throughout the young season. And it was their longtime
CCHA nemesis - the Lakers - they were facing, a squad ranked right
behind Michigan in the national polls.
However, I had gone to the game the previous night, seeing Michigan
defeat Lake State in overtime, 4-3, on a brilliant goal from senior Brian
Wiseman. This had been the first time I had ever witnessed the Wolverines
beat the Lakers in my four years in Ann Arbor and just like Michael
Jordan, I decided to quit while I was ahead.
B) Go to the Lions-Packers football game
With the newly-crowned Central Division champions hosting only their
second playoff game in the history of the Silverdome naturally there would
be no way I could get tickets to see this game.
C) Go to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
Actually it's the L'eggs U.S. Figure Skating Championships as the
public address announcer at Joe Louis Arena reiterated on numerous
occasions. (Apparently commercialism isn't isolated to Olympic sports
such as skiing and hockey.) I decided that while never having been to a
figure skating exhibition before in my life, I couldn't pass up the
opportunity to see such an important competition. Thus, in my quest to be
sports literate, I purchased a ticket to "The Joe" to see the Championship
Ladies free skating contest, the final portion of the championships.
Aside from the tragic incident that prevented Nancy Kerrigan from
competing this weekend, the storyline surrounding the event was quite
intriguing in and of itself. Only the top two finishers at this event would
make the U.S. team that will compete in the Winter Olympics next month
in Lillehammer, Norway. Nothing like having the bulk of your life's work
- preparing for the Olympics - riding on two nights of execution.
As if that weren't pressure enough, the 16 participants who would take
to the ice also knew that much of the country thought the event was
tarnished without Kerrigan, the odds-on favorite to win the gold medal in
Norway, let alone her second-straight national title. With rumors that
Kerrigan would be given a spot on the team by the U.S. Figure Skating
Association despite not competing, only winning the event would assure
anyone a spot on the Olympic team as the evening began.
The athletes themselves also provided interesting stories. There was 13-
year-old Michelle Kwan, who took first in the 1994 world junior
championships. And there was Tonya Harding, a former national
champion, who had come in fourth in Albertville in 1992. Looking for a
shot a Olympic redemption, Harding was the most poised of all the skaters.
The tears that flowed following the competition express exactly what this
competition meant to these women. Dreams were made and shattered in a matter of
hours. With her conservative routine, Harding came away from the evening with the
gold, scoring 5.8s and 5.9s as the final performer of the evening.
Following the competition, Kerrigan was given a spot on the Olympic
team, displacing second-place finisher Kwan, who said afterward that she
understood the skating association's decision and that she would have
another chance in the future to make the team. Unfortunately, that makes
two careers that Kerrigan's attacker has now significantly affected.
In the end, I realized I had made the right decision in picking the figure
skating. While the sport might not have the glamour of hockey or football,
the artistic effort and grace that each of the evening's performers displayed
would be difficult to match. And if you like drama, you couldn't have
asked for anything more on this cold January evening.
5

In opener, men gymnasts overcome nemesis
" Minnesota for first time in Darden' s 'career

by JOSH KARP
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
Before the Michigan men's gym-
nastics team faced perennial Big Ten
powerhouse Minnesota Friday night
at Cliff Keen Arena, all odds were
against the Wolverines.
For one thing, they hadn't beaten
the Gophers in the 11-year helm of
Michigan coach Bob Darden.
Secondly, the Minnesota squad
featured two gymnasts with U.S. na-
tional team experience, namely Kerry
Huston and Brian Ottenhoff.
And if that weren't enough, the
Gophers are the favorite to win the
Big Ten conference this season.
But a funny thing happened at the
medet.
The Wolverine team came out on
top, defeating an aggressive Minne-
sota squad by a count of 274.80-
272.70.
"It was a really good way to start
into our regular season," Darden said.
"The guys on the team worked very
hard in our training camp for the last
two weeks (to prepare for the meet).
Everything reached the peak for this
* meet both mentally and physically."
Sophomore Bob Young led the
way as he won the all-around with a
55.35 score, and Michigan rallied to
victory behind his effort.
"'Bob is continually proving him-
self competitively," Darden said. "He
has a real competitive tenacity."
In the first event - floor exercise
- Minnesota nipped the Wolverines,
46.00-45.95.
But from that point on, Michi-
gan took control, as it led in total
score for the final five rounds. On
still rings, Michigan freshman
Flavio Martins led all gymnasts with
a 9.60, a performance that caught
the eye of his coach.
."For a freshman to finish first in
that caliber of competition really

speaks highly for him," Darden said.
"He's doing a greatjob in training and
is really almost setting the pace for
the entire team."
Last year, Michigan didn't fare
as well, losing at Minnesota, 271.10-
256.95.
This year, however, the Gophers
are without John Roethlisberger, a
three-time NCAA champion on all-
around. Darden hinted that his
graduating may have been the dif-
ference.
"On a gymnastics team, one indi-
vidual makes a big difference,"
Darden said. "(John) really impacted
their program over the past four years
and helped Minnesota maintain their
national status. He is a difficult kid to
replace."
Senior Seth Rubin was all smiles
after the win, and felt that taking high
bar, the last event, was vital to their
success.
"The big event was high bar,"
Rubin said. "That's where we've been
working hardest, and we really came
through big time."
"It feels good," Rubin added. "We
just beat the best team in the Big
Ten."
Michigan, although not as aggres-
sive as Minnesota, prevailed due to its
more conservative approach.
"Our emphasis is being able to do
quality routines, and then add in more
difficult skills," Darden explained.
"Minnesota's approach it seemed was
they were training routines with those
difficult skills and just not being able
to handle it at this point."
Minnesota coach Fred
Roethlisberger, however, felt that
Michigan's triumph wasn't only due
to its strategy.
"Michigan is a better team than
us," Fred Roethlisberger said. "They
deserved to win. You just hope to
progress from one meet to the next."

MARKF IEDMAN/Daily
The Michigan men's gymnastics team toppled the Gophers, 274.80-272.70.

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