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September 15, 1997 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-15

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - September 15, 1997 - 7B

Intense competition between teammates
Mortimer and Sullivan pushes both men

By Chris Farah
Daily Sports Writer
Consider the gauntlet thrown.
The duel is on, and the opening
round of the season-long battle
between Michigan cross country stars
John Mortimer and Kevin Sullivan
could hardly have had a more defini-
tive outcome.
Make the tally Mortimer 1, Sullivan
0. In impressive fashion.
Mortimer's first-place finish at
Saturday's Jayhawk Invitational in
Lawrence, Kan., gives the junior an
early advantage in the friendly rivalry
he shares with Sullivan.
"Sullivan's training about 100 miles
a week' Mortimer said. "So he's not
going to be real sharp, because he's
going to be tired. But he'll be there,
and it'll be great for us to both race
together and train together."
Not only did Mortimer win the
Jayhawk, but he also managed to
break the course record with a time of
25:19.
Not that Sullivan's performance was
by any means mediocre. The senior
placed third in the overall field, com-
ing in second for Michigan. His time
of 25:38 put him 19 seconds behind

Mortimer and seven seconds behind
second-place Noah Lagat of Butler
(Kan.) County Community College.
"I was with John up until about two
miles, and then he broke away from
me," Sullivan said. "Then I started
coming back on him a little bit, but he
dropped me on a hill. He's in really
good shape right now, he's got a lot of
confidence, and he's running really
well."
This season marks the first opportu-
nity for both runners to go head to
head in top condition.
Two years ago, it was Mortimer
who wasn't quite prepared. A fresh-
man on the cross country team, he
hadn't learned the ropes well enough
to effectively compete with Sullivan.
That year, Sullivan won the Big Ten
and NCAA District IV championships
for the third consecutive time.
But the next season was Mortimer's
turn to shine, as he began to realize his
own potential while Sullivan was side-
lined with an ankle injury. In his turn,
Mortimer also managed to capture
both the Big Ten and NCAA district
titles, giving Michigan the individual
conference and district championships
for four consecutive years.

Having both runners healthy in the
same season is key to Michigan's
chances of success. Sullivan, however,
hasn't entirely recovered from the
nagging injury of a year ago -
undoubtedly one of the primary rea-
sons for Mortimer's domination in
Kansas.
"It's been years since I ran cross
country," Sullivan said. "So I'm really
kind of re-learning it."
Sullivan considers himself to be at
about 85 percent, but says he is steadi-
ly improving.
"I'm in good shape," he said. "It's
just a matter of fine tuning and getting
back into it mentally."
Once Sullivan regains his old form,
expect him to be a lot more competi-
tive with Mortimer. And expect
Michigan to benefit as the result.
"For us to be even more competitive
as a team, I need to close the gap
between John and myself," Sullivan
said. "Especially when we get in
against competition where I can't be
20 seconds behind John because
that'll put four or five runners in front
of us.
"It'll come in the next few meets,
I'm sure."

a v, FILE PHOTO
The Michigan men's cross country team won the Jayhawk invitational over the
weekend, while John Mortimer set a course record with a time of 25:19.

'M' golf rests in ninth with a day to play

Peter Romer"Friedman
or the Daily
A transition year.
That is precisely what the Michigan
men's golf team .faces. Only a few
months after competing in the NCAA
championships, the Wolverines are
cutting their losses and moving on.
Junior Mike Harris, the one returning
starter from last year, leads the
olverines, who will have to count on
'uth and veterans to contribute.
Last weekend, the Wolverines teed
off in their first tournament of the sea-
son, the Reliastar Invitational in
Minneapolis.
Michigan coach Jim Carras took
five, players to the tournament -
Mike Harris, Kevin Harris, Scott
Hayes, Kevin Vernick and Kevin
Hinton.
:After 36 holes, Michigan held the
slth position in the competative tour-
nament, which concludes with an 18-
hole round today.
"Three of the top 20 teams in the
country are in the Reliastar: LSU,
Oklahoma and UCLA," Carras said.
"We're not competitive with the top
teams in the nation. We need to give
the new kids some experience."'

Mike Harris shot an impressive 73
in the morning and again in the after-
noon. Carras was impressed with
Harris' performance.
"Mike will definitely be our No. 1
player," Carras said.
The biggest surprise of the day for
the Wolverines was the play of Kevin
Vernick, who matched Mike Harris'
score with 74 and 72 to lead the team.
Vernick had never competed in a
round of team tournament play until
yesterday.
"I'm pretty happy with my play
today," Vernick said. "I putted really
well and stroked the ball well. I used
my brain and was missing in the right
places. Golf is 95 percent mental."
Another Wolverine who put up
encouraging numbers was Kevin
Hinton, who shot a 76 and a 74.
"Kevin Hinton is showing improve-
ment every time he goes out," Carras
said.
The only real disappointment of the
day came when Kevin Harris - the
brother of fellow Wolverine Mike
Harris - shot an 80 and an 84.
Kevin, a walk-on freshman, has the
potential to be better than his older
brother Mike, according to Carras.

"I've gained a lot of experience,"
Kevin Harris said. "I had a lot of fun,
but fun doesn't make up for what I
shot. I wanted to shoot well but it just
didn't happen. If my putter comes
back I'll be fine."
In any sport, having brothers on the
same team can either be the greatest or
most ominous situation. But in the
case of Mike and Kevin Harris, their
relationship could be the key factor to
a successful season.
"We've competed every day on the
golf course," Kevin Harris said. "Mike
was the hardest worker in the family.
Whenever he went down to the golf
course, I tagged along."
"It's amazing how they look out
after each other," said teammate Kevin
Vernick. "Mike was going to the bath-
room in the airport when coach told
everyone to go to the van outside.
Kevin waited for Mike until he came
back. They help each other out.
"Mike has passed along a lot of
knowledge to Kevin. They both want
to succeed."
Since Kevin's brother is the top
golfer at Michigan, it's only natural
for others to compare them.
"I've been in his shadow my whole

life," Kevin Harris said. "I've been
right behind him. I can be as good as
him. You never know when you'll
show up one day and everything
clicks."
Today the Wolverines play another
round of 18 holes. They have the
opportunity to surpass two teams that
are within a few shots.
With many other freshmen and
sophomores waiting to break into
tournament play, Kevin Harris' perfor-
mance today could be critical.
"I'm gonna go out and grind it out
all the way," said Kevin Harris. "I'll
have fun and remember why I'm here.
To play my best."
Concerning the youthful nature of
his squad, Carras said that he is wait-
ing for underclassmen to rise to the
challenge.
"We have a number of good fresh-
men," Carras said. "Three are on par-
tial scholarship. It's going to be an
interesting year. We're going to call it
a rebuilding year. But it may not end
up being that. We might end up being
pretty good.
"These freshmen and sophomores
and some of the kids who didn't have
the experience may surface for us."

JONATHAN bUMMER/p81y
Kyle Dobbs would be proud of his former Michigan teammates this weekend. The
Wolverines reside in ninth place with today's round serving as the final day of play.

Watkins leads golfers

f _ _ _

By Nancy Berger
Daily Sports Writer
When freshman golfer Trish Watkins
stoodat the tee in her first collegiate golf
tournament last weekend, she noticed
something slightly unusual to her at the
par-72 Forest Akers West Golf Course in
Apt Lansing. It didn't take long for
Watkins, a Darien, Conn., native, to fig-
ure out what the course was missing -
hills.
The distinct topographical feature is
something that most East-Coasters have
to gets.used to not seeing as they drive
through the Midwest.
Watkins, though, did not use that as an
excuse or deterrent in her first collegiate
outing. Instead, the Wolverine prefers
challenge to her game.
'I played in the East where the grass
was different,' she said. "Here, it was a
lot less hilly but much longer. It also
played longer because it was wet."
Watkins made quite an adjustment
fronr the junior ranks as she tied with
teamtnhite and senior Nicole Green for
29th. :place. The two Wolverines each
impioved their third and final round
scores to shoot a 248 for an 83 average,
ping Michigan finish fifth at the

Spartan Fall Invitational.
The freshman rose to the challenge as
the veteran Green commended Watkins's
play on the green.
"Trish had spectacular putting rounds
because she was hitting the greens so
well;" Green said.
As Michigan's top performer, junior,
Sharon Park's total of 235 and 78 aver-
age tied her for seventh place, six strokes
behind first-place finisher Kasey Gant
of Michigan State.
Despite Park's first-round 76,
Michigan got off to a slow start as the
rest of the five Wolverines averaged an
86. The team did not fare much better in
the second round as they shot four
strokes worse for a 330.
"The first two rounds were played in
one day, and the freshmen are not used to
playing 36 holes," Green said. "It was
the third time they played 36 holes."
The Wolverines recuperated overnight
and redeemed themselves to shoot a 318
on the final day.
"There is a different mentality (at the
collegiate level)," she said. "I force it
more because there is a difference in
knowing I am doing it for the team rather
than myself."

BLANCHI
For More Information Contact:
R s s .>' BIANCHI-ROSSI TOURS at
800-875-4525
Web site: www.bianchi-rossi.com

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