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March 10, 1997 - Image 16

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m-9

88 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - March 10, 1997

TRACK

Gardner wins 55
hurdles at NCAAs
Gardner grabs title; 'M' finishes 13th

'M' women left
in dust at tourney
Blue send three, have subpar showing

By Kim Hart
Daily Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - "Under the big
top" is a phrase associated with the
circus, where lions, tigers and bears
perform amazing tricks and humans
with extraordinary talents perform
daring feats.
Five runners from the Michigan
mdn's track team were "under the big
top" at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis
for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field
Championships.
The Wolverines and North Carolina
finished in a tie for 13th place with 15
points. Arkansas was the team cham-
pion, finishing with 59 points, fol-
lowed by Auburn (27) and Iowa State,
Georgia Tech and Oklahoma (25),
which finished in a three-way tie for
third.
Michigan sent three runners to the
preliminary rounds of the champi-
onships. Neil Gardner began in the 55
meter hurdles, followed by Scott
MacDonald and Don McLaughlin in
the mile run.
1n the first heat of the 55 hurdles,
the top competitor was Marcus Stokes
(7.35), ranked second in the nation
before the start of the championships.
Gardner won the second heat with a
time of 7.26 seconds. Big Ten champi-
on and collegiate leader Reggie Torian
from Wisconsin won the third heat.
Torian has been clocked at 7.07 sec-
onds but only needed to run a 7.27 to
grab the heat.
The semifinals pitted Stokes and
Torian side by side in heat one. They
got off to a fast start, but at the third
hurdle, Torian hit the hurdle and tum-
bled to the ground taking Stokes down
with him.
Many, including Gardner, watched
the same thing happen two years in a
row to Torian, who fell at last year's
Big Tens. The door was suddenly open
for Gardner.
"I saw the whole thing," Gardner
said. "My heart went out to him
(Torian), and I couldn't get my mind
focused on running, because I felt for
him and I had a bad semifinal run."
Jeremichael Williams from
Clemson took the second heat with a
time of 7.23 seconds. Gardner fol-
lowed with a time of 7.25.
NCAA rules did allow Stokes to
compete in the finals of the event, but
Stokes declined, leaving Gardner and
Williams.
Gardner took the lead early in the
race. Gardner crossed the finish line
in 7.18 seconds for the championship.
"It's a tremendous feeling," Gardner
said. "For four years, I have been try-
ing to at least make it to the finals

here, and every year ... I never even
contributed to the team total because I
never made it to the finals before."
Don McLaughlin was up first in
heat one of the men's mile and faced
the challenge of running against the
defending champion Julius Achon
from George Mason. McLaughlin
hung with the leaders for most of the
race before slipping behind. He
crossed the finish line in 4:05.9, fin-
ishing sixth.
Scott MacDonald came out strong
in heat two and held the lead position
early in the race.
Shortly after the second lap,
Bernard Lagat from Washington State
passed MacDonald, who slowly drift-
ed to the back of the pack. The pack
was tight with only a 2.04-second dif-
ference between Eastern Michigan's
Ben Reese's winning time of 4:04.5
and MacDonald's eighth-place finish
in 4:06.54.
"We were just hoping one of those
guys would make it to the finals,"
Michigan coach Jack Harvey said.
"We debated on whether to run them
in the mile and the distance medley
relay. If they did well, it was a bonus,
and if not they didn't make it, we had
a little better chance in the distance
medley."
On the second day of competition,
the distance medley relay team of
MacDonald, Dwayne Fuqua, Jay
Cantin and McLaughlin took to the
track. The relay team, which qualified
for the championships the previous
weekend at the Silverston Invitational
by running the third fastest time in the
nation (9:39.47), ran its best race of
the season last Saturday night.
MacDonald started off in the 1,200-
meter leg at the back of the pack and
eventually pulled way ahead of the
group. He handed off to Fuqua who
was tight with Dorian Green from
Illinois for most of the two laps of the
second leg.
Cantin was up next for the 800-
meter leg and began in second place
after the exchange. He slipped into
third with two laps left. When
McLaughlin stepped up for the final
leg of the relay (1,600 meters),
Michigan was fighting for position
with Illinois.
McLaughlin moved into third place
with 2 1/2 laps to go and then slipped
to fourth in the final stretch. Michigan
clocked in at 9:36.05, good for fourth
place and a spot on the award stand.
"The DMR was great," Harvey said.
"We knew if everybody ran they way
they were capable of, we could be
among the top three and we were very
close."

By Chris Farah
Daily Sports Writer
Pressure. It has inspired songs,
deodorant commercials and nervous
breakdowns.
And now it seems to have infected
the Michigan women's track team.
As is customary with the nature of
pressure, it also happened at the worst
time and in the worst place - the
NCAA championships in Indianapolis
last weekend.
The Wolverines managed to qualify
only three athletes for nationals -
sophomore Nicole Forrester in the high
jump, junior Tania Longe in the triple
jump and sophomore Marcy Akard in
the 5,000-meter run.
The Wolverines performed well as a
team during the outdoor season, ulti-
mately finishing third in the Big Ten
championships behind Wisconsin. But
success did not continue for them indi-
vidually at the NCAAs.
After placing second at the Big Tens,
Forrester marred an otherwise almost
perfect season record by tying for 12th
place with a height of 5-foot-8 1/4.
Akard also finished 12th in the 5,000
with a time of 17:02.46, while Longe
placed 15th in her event by jumping a
distance of 40-2 3/4.

"Their performances were
below expectations," Michigan c
James Henry said. "NCAAs are their
party as individuals, as opposed to the
Big Tens, and they didn't dance. They
were so much in awe of the other
dancers that they didn't even go oul
onto the floor.
"I have to do a better job coaching
them and preparing them to handle
high-stress situations like these."
Forrester said that, although nerve5
may have influenced her performs,
her poor showing was due mostly te
problems with her technique.
"I wasn't that nervous," Forrester
said. "Maybe I wasn't focusing
enough, but I wasn't nervous. I just
don't think I was thinking enough -
there was a lot of sloppiness:'
Michigan doesn't have time to dwell
on the indoor season's outcome - the
outdoor season is only two weeks away.
"Through experience, we will
become more successful," Henry said.
"All of our kids are young, and a lot
were on the bubble of qualifying for
nationals. We're looking forward to the
outdoor season. As the most balanced
squad, we're expecting to be a top-three
team in the Big Ten, and we're going to
go for a championship."

JEANNIE SERVAAS/Daily
After a successful outdoor season, the Michigan women's track team did not live
up to expectations at the NCAA championships in Indianapolis last weekend.
Nicole Forrester, Tania Longe and Akard represented the Wolverines in Indianapolis.

FORESTER
Continued from Page 113
advantage in the high jump. After
all, how hard could it be for someone
taller than six feet to jump a height
of 6-3 1/4, the winning height at
nationals ?
This kind of common logic is far
from the truth, according to
Forrester, and a quick scan of an
average field of her competitors
proves her right. She is usually a
head taller than most other women
high jumpers.
"That's a stereotype," Forrester
said. "Actually, it has nothing to do
(with how tall I am), because every-
one has a different style of jumping.
I'm a power jumper, so a lot of my
ability comes from the spring in my
leg. I don't really have a high verti-
cal. I don't really know what it is -
just a knack that I have, an ability to
get off the ground.
"Actually, a lot of competitors that
I'll go against are really short. Last
year, me and (teammate) Monika
Black were two totally different ends
of the height spectrum, and yet we
jumped around the same height."
Forrester even goes as far as to say
that her height can put her at a dis-

advantage to her shorter opponents.
"Sometimes, because I'm so tall, it
might actually hinder me because
there's so much leg," she said. "I'm
working on my arch, because there's
so much weight in my legs that it

"That's how I ran into my old
coach and started being trained by
him. Back in Canada, people aren't
really hired to coach for schools,
they're hired for education and then
they volunteer. But my coach turned

causes me to
hit the bar."
It's not sur-
prising that
Forrester still
has trouble
with her jump-
ing technique.
As high
jumpers go,
she is some-
what of a

i $used to high
jump, but I sucked
at it horribly
- Nicole Forrester
Michigan high jumper on the.
start of her career

out to be really
good and he
helped me out.
That's when I
really started
jumping."
F o r r e s t e r
started her
freshman year
of college at the
University of
Ottawa, but
eventually transfer

prodigy, without much actual experi-
ence on her resume. The story of her
discovery, three years ago, of her tal-
ent in the high jump is like some-
thing out of a Disney movie.
"I used to high jump, but I sucked
at it horribly," Forrester said. "I did a
lot of other sports, too, and I just did
track on the side. One time, I was
working in McDonald's, and this guy
who probably saw me high jump at a
meet before came over and he was
like, 'Do you high jump by any
chance?' And I was like, 'Yeah, but I
suck,' and he was like, 'Well, just
give this guy a call and talk to him.'

knew she would

- Canadian universities don't award
scholarships based on athletics.
She transferred to Michigan for
the winter semester of her first year,
but adjusting in the middle of the
school year was tough for her.
"This was the hardest transfer of
my entire life," Forrester said. "I
came in January last year, and I did-
n't know anyone.
"Usually, when everyone comes in
as a freshman, no one knows anyone,
and you spend that first month get-
ting to know everyone. But by the
time January comes around, every-

-I

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one's got all their friends, so that was
hard."
Despite her initial proble,
Forrester has adapted well to her
new school and team. Staying in Ann
Arbor to take classes and compete
over the summer helped her .feel
more comfortable at Michigan. ;
"I like it here - I made a really
excellent choice," Forrester said.
"Spring term allowed me to meet a
lot of other people, so I'm havino a
ball right now. We're a really' se
team this year. We hang out al the
time, do a lot of bonding. I'm enjoy-
ing this season a lot."
Although she may be at ease with
her environment, Forrester still
seems to have trouble with the pres-
sures of competition.
While dealing with high expecta-
tions established by an impressive
freshman campaign, Forrester failed
to even qualify for the finals at e
1996 outdoor Big Ten and NC
tournaments.
"I don't want to look back on last
year," Forrester said. "Last year was
horrible. I choked. I could write a
book about choking. I was shaking
and really nervous, and I started
doubting myself."
The experience of giving into
pressure has helped her to mature,
however. Although not in top' form,
she did much better at the Big Tts
and NCAAs this year, and Forrester
feels that she will only get better -
as long as she works on her form.
"Now I'm taking little steps to
take giant steps," Forrester said.
"Last year, I went in with all these
expectations that probably could
have been fulfilled, but I put too
much pressure on myself. I expect to
win now. I know I'm going to win, so
I just have fun with it. )
"But there's so much to improve,
it's not funny. I started picking up
bad habits this year - 1 lean going
into my take-off, for example. There
are big problems. When I reachmy
maximum, then I'll stop."
Forrester, however, hasn't gotten
entirely over her performance anxi-
ety problems - she still brings a
teddy bear to all of Michiga's
meets, for good luck, of course.
"I just bring it. I don't know,"
Forrester laughed. "Just for warmth
... just to take it with me. I need it
for traveling, because when I bv a
hotel room I sleep with my' teddy
bear, so that one comes with me
wherever I go. I don't know how
much I believe in luck anymore. I
just do it from force of habit.
"I do bring jumping beans to hold
sometimes when I'm ready to cl-
pete."
Henry has been impressed by the
progress Forrester has made sce
she came to Michigan. Henry says
she has the chance to be one of the
nation's top high jumpers, despite
some of the problems she's had in
the past.
"She came to us in January, so we
didn't get a chance to do any typ f
training, so we threw her rightie
pond" Henry said. "It was like the
analogy about throwing the frog in
the pot and it's boiling hot. That frog
will just jump out of that darn thing.
Nicole did that on many occasions

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