8- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 12, 1995
Indoor track teams chase repeat performance
Losses to graduation stand
between women's team and title
Distance runners look to propel
men to another Big Ten triumph
By EUGENE BOWEN
Daily Sports Writer
"The last two years were our best
years ever," Michigan women's track
and field coach James Henry said.
And the facts prove him right.
The 1994 season was the best sea-
son in Michigan women's track and
field history. Athletes won a variety
of individual events, awards and titles.
The distance medley relay team
- comprised of Courtney Babcock,
Molly McClimon, Richelle Webb and
Kristine Westerby - won its first
ever NCAA title.
The icing on the cake came when
the team became only the second team
ever to capture the triple crown of Big
Ten championships, winning confer-
ence titles in cross country and in both
indoor and outdoor track. The team
also set Big Ten records for number
of points scored in the latter two meets.
Riding the coattails of last year's
victorious season, the Wolverines plan
to make this year's effort one of re-
However, everything is not rosy
for this Michigan team.
"Our biggest problem is that so
many of our great runners have gradu-
ated," Henry said.
Runners Laura German (Big Ten
champion in the heptathlon), Molly
McClimon (All-American in the
3,000-and 5,000-meter runs), Richelle
Webb (Big Ten record holder in the
100- and 200-meter runs) and Jessica
Kluge (Aig Ten 800-meter run champ)
have all departed, and the points they
scored for the team will be missed.
What is Michigan's greatest as-
"I think we're the most balanced
team in the Big Ten," Henry said.
"However, Minnesota will probably
be the biggest surprise this season. It
is also coming along as a balanced
team. Its greatest strength, however,
is its throwers and jumpers."
Although many of the Wolver-
ines' prized runners remain, the team
will be forced to rely heavily on the
"We're going to need their contri-
butions to hold off schools such as
Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota,"
Freshman shotputter Tonia Long
could strengthen a spot that has often
been weak for the Wolverines.
"We've never been deep in that
area, but Jayna (Greiner) and Tonia
(Long) help out there," Henry said.
Greiner is the team's top shot
Long said she isn't too sure how
she will help out, but said she will do
whatever she can.
"I will do my best to give my team
points," she said. "I need to control
my temper more, though. I some-
times get mad at myself when I per-
form badly and that can negatively
affect my other events."
The Wolverines will find out how
ready they are Saturday at noon when
they take on Indiana.
By DOUG STEVENS
Daily Sports Writer
Last season, the Michigan men's
track and field team surprised many
people by capturing its first indoor
Big Ten title since 1982. Saturday,
the Wolverines face Indiana in a dual
meet to begin a 1995 campaign in
which a second consecutive Big Ten
title is the primary goal.
The team is optimistic about the
"I feel we have a very strong team,"
co-captain Brian Smith said. "Stron-
ger than last year's Big Ten title team.
We should have a very good chance
of winning this year. Last year we
thought that we could win. This year,
we know that we could win. We'll be
disappointed if we don't win."
Part of the reason for the excite-
ment surrounding the Wolverines is
that many of the underclassmen who
showed flashes of brilliance last year
are primed to come of age this season.
Sophomore Neil Gardner and jun-
ior Trinity Townsend are primed for
big seasons this year. Gardner is one
of the best 55-meter hurdlers in the
Big Ten and last season, Townsend
achieved All-America status by be-
ing part of the Wolverines' third place
distance medley relay team at the
Junior Jon Royce is Michigan's
premier high jumper and should be
a threat to win the Big Ten title. Last
season, Royce attained All-America
status with an eighth-place finish at
Felman Malveaux and Tyrone
Wheatley, who have both played for
the Michigan football team, should
help the track and field team in mul-
tiple sprinting events
"Malveaux will have to have an
excellent season in the 55 (meters),"
coach Jack Harvey said. "I may run
Wheatley in the hurdles rather than
the 55. He won the Big Ten (in the
110-meter hurdles) outdoors."
Although the sprints and field
events have the potential to be very
solid, Michigan's distance contingent
is almost unbeatable when it comes to
Big Ten competition.
The distance runners should be
led by senior co-captain Ian Forsyth,
sophomore Kevin Sullivan and se-
nior Nick Karfonta.
Sullivan is coming off a cross-
country season in which he won the
Big Ten meet and finished third na-
tionally. In addition, Sullivan finished
third in the mile at the NCAA indoors
Despite its depth, the team will 1
have trouble recovering from the loss
of junior All-American Scott
MacDonald to a knee injury.
"The fact that MacDonald is out
will surely hurt us," Harvey said. "It
will cost us points."
Michigan will have its firstchance
to prove itself against the Hoosiers.
"Indiana is a much improved
team," Harvey said. "We match up
pretty even with them. It will be close."
Freshman Tonia Long and the Michigan women's indoor track team begin
defense of their Big Ten crown Saturday at noon against Indiana.
Gymnastics co-captain starts climb back to top
All-American Beth Wymer returns to lead Wolverines after knee injury.
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By MICHAEL JOSHUA
Daily Sports Writer
Injuries can often ruin the season of
an athlete, oreven of an entireteam. But
one Wolverine thinks her knee injury
can actually help her and her team.
The athlete: Michigan senior Beth
Wymer. The sport: women's gymnas-
Since coming to Ann Arbor from
Toledo, Ohio in 1992, Wymer has re-
ceived just about every honor available
in her sport. The awards began her first
year at Michigan when she was named
the Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of
the Year and receivedMichigan'sFresh-
man Athlete of the Year Award.
Along the way, Wymer has been
All-Big Ten andafirst-teamAll-Ameri-
can each of the past three years. How-
ever, this is still only acondensed listof
awards for the gifted gymnast.
Wymer figured to turn in a strong
senior season to cap off a brilliant gym-
nastics career. She and Kelly Carfora
were named co-captain of the 1994-95
After finishing fourth in the nation
last season, the Wolverines find them-
selves in the same spot in this year's
preseason polls. With Wymer and a
solid group of letterwinners returning,
the Wolverines are vying for a spot
among the top three.
"Winning it all should not be the
focus," Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
"That will put too much pressure on us
to perform. Being among the top three
will even be a great achievement."
However, the team is prepared if
Wymer does not return to action for the
"We'll be okay without her in the
early stages," Plocki said.
The Michigan coach even believes
thatthe injury mightbegood for Wymer.
"In a funny sort of way it will be a
positive factor for Beth," Plocki said.
"Shepeakedtooearly lastyear. Through
this injury, she will hopefully havemore
energy later on in the year."
This is not the first time Wymer has
had to deal with an injury. Each of the
previous three years she has had some
sort of ache or pain, but, like all tough
competitors, she competed with the in-
"Beth can work through a great deal
of pain," Plocki said.
The coach finds many aspects of her
own personality in her star pupil.
"If I set a goal for myself or my
team, I did whatever it took to get that
goal," Plocki said. "Beth does the same.
Beth never gives up either."
The injury has also rejuvenated
Wymer's love for gymnastics and be-
ing a part of the Michigan women's
For Wymer, the injury presented a
challenge to get back to the top.
"This year will be different from all
the other years," Wymer said. "I had
doubts coming into this season about
what to shoot for. Dealing with this
injury has given me a new challenge."
Recuperating from the tear has also
given Wymer time to get a better per-
spective of the progress she and her
fellow seniors have made.
"Our class, we share something
special," Wymer said. "We have
memories of not being up to par and
have seen ourselves rise to among the
Two years before Wymer and her
class arrived, Michigan had a record
of 7-15. When they were freshmen,
this year's seniors were on a club
which posted an overall record of 20-
3 and were unbeaten in the Big Ten.
The team has only improved since
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This does not mean that the team is
conceding the national championship
"Once it comes down to the wire
among the top three, anything can hap-
pen," Wymer said.
This year's campaign did not begin
the way the team would have wished,
however. Wymer, the leader of this
pack of Wolverines, went down with a
significant injury early in the season.
She suffered a small tear of her menis-
cus which, in more general terms, is an
injury to the knee.
Instead of being among the other
team members during practice, Wymer
has had to do exercises to heal herself.
The regular season for the team does
not kickoff until January 14 in Pitts-
burgh, Pa. at the Blue-Gold Invitational.
The Wolverines' first action of the
season came at an intrasquad meet at
Cliff Keen Arena in December. The
meet was meant only to allow the spec-
tators a glimpse of the current mem-
bers, but the injury prevented Wymer
from showing her stuff in front of the
If I set a goal for
myself or my team, I
did whatever it took to
get that goal. Beth
does the same. Beth
never gives up either.
- Bev P/ocki
Women 's gymnastics
coach on Beth Wymer
Despite her numerous personal ac-
complishments, the spotlight that
Wymer commands often gets shifted
to her teammates.
"We try to promote a team atmo-
sphere," Plocki said. "(Wymer) ha*
been a major factor, but there are
eleven other athletes. A team is not
made up of one person. We are all in
this for the same thing. Any personal
bests she can do go hand in hand with
Wymer reiterates her coach's re-
"Though I feel like my personal
goals are far away, it is wonderful to
see and appreciate the team and bein
a team member," she said.
The senior remembers the time
when she was four years old and tried
to do a back handspring but instead
fell on her head. Since then she has
come a long way, and currently holds
the top score in Michigan history in
every individual event.
Aside from being a top-notch ath-
lete, Wymer is also the epitome of thd
student-athlete. She is majoring in
psychology and communications and
is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten
Wymer's plans include graduate
school, but she stated that she will
always do something that involves
gymnastics. The possibilities include
coaching or maybe even trying out
for the Olympics:However, all thati
still way down the line. Wymer has
current matters on her mind.
She has already overcome the chal-
lenge of the back handspring. Now
she faces the challenge of overcom-
ing the meniscus tear.
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