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February 19, 1998 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-19

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 19, 1998

Women's swimming and diving seeks 12th-straight title
Wolverines - not secure as favorites - could be upset by 10th-ranked Golden Gophers or 17th-ranked Badgers


By T.J. Berka
Daily Sports Writer
There are only two things guaran-
teed in life - death and taxes.
Many Big Ten swimming and diving
fans would add a third guarantee -
the Michigan women's team will win
the Big Ten championship.
The sixth-ranked Wolverines have
taken the title in each of the past I1
seasons and are favorites once again in
this season's meet, which starts today
in Bloomington.
But the Wolverines don't seem as
comfortable in that role. With No. 10
Minnesota and No. 17 Wisconsin
boasting times faster than any by
Michigan this season, the Wolverines
aren't sure that the role of favorite is
their's alone.
"This is Minnesota's best team ever
and Wisconsin's 800-yard free relay
team is the top-ranked team in the
nation," Michigan coach Jim
Richardson said. "These things are not
won on paper, but I'm not sure if we'd
be picked to win if the meet was decid-
ed on paper."
The matchup between the Badgers
and the Wolverines will especially be
key because both are strong in the
freestyle and butterfly.
While Michigan's Talor Bendel and
Shannon Shakespeare have dominated
these events in dual meets this year,
the Badgers have the firepower to give
them a tough swim.
The leader of the group is
Wisconisn sophomore Gina
Panighetti, a top swimmer in the 100
fly and 200 fly and an anchor on the
200 free, 200 medley, and 400 medley
relays. Wisconsin also counts on key

performances in the freestyle from the
members of its 800 free relay -Amy
Anderson, Susie Topp, Ellen
Stonebraker and Jaime Belfor.
Minnesota's depth also makes the
Wolverines wary. With a roster of 36
swimmers - six more than Michigan
- the Gophers have the personnel to
threaten the Wolverines.
"This is the kind of meet where your
10th through 20th swimmers are criti-
cal to the success of your team,"
Richardson said. "Its a total team
effort - you can't win a meet like this

What: Big 'Ten women's
swimming and diving
Where: Bloomington
When: 'onight through
Saturday (beginning at noon)
Notable: The Wolverines will
he swimming for their 12th-
straight Big Ten title.

with seven
or eight
studs and
no one else
the studs
won't nec-
essarily win
the meet,
t h e
h a v e
enough of
them to
m a k- e

swimmers will be competing in the
freestyle and 200 individual medley,
the breaststroke events could decide
the championship.
The Gophers boast the U.S. record-
holder in the 100 breaststroke,
Gretchen Hegener, but Michigan has
gotten good performances of late from
senior Rachel Gustin, the team's top
performer in the breaststroke.
"Rachel is a big-time swimmer and
we are hoping for some surprises in
the breaststroke," Richardson said.
With the challenges the Badgeis and
Gophers are primed to put up, the
Wolverines know they are in for a
fight. To come out on top, the
Wolverines hope to build from the
adversity that has dogged them all
"We have had to overcome a lot of
things this season that we haven't had
in other seasons," Richardson said.
"We have had quite a few injuries and
we haven't had many full workouts
this season due to the girls' class
"I'm not one to tell the girls to
schedule their classes around practice,
but we haven't had much work with
While the success of Michigan's
dynasty has led to obscenely high
expectations, Richardson appreciates
the difficulty of winning a conference
"We don't worry about winning
championships," Richardson said.
"You are lucky to win even one cham-
pionship. The Fab Five was a great
team, but even they never won a Big
Ten championship.
"It's a very special thing."

interesting. Leading the way is senior
distance freestyler Olga Splichalova, a
native of the Czech Republic.
The Wolverines will also be threat-
ened by Minnesota in the 100 fly, an
event four Gophers have finished in
under 55 seconds.
Heading that group is sophomore
Jenny Hennen, who also is a key
freestyle performer.
While the majority of the Michigan

Amy Fristch hasn't been around for all 11 of the women's swimming and diving team's Big Ten titles, but she was around for
last years', and if all goes according to Michigan's plans, she'll be around for another one this season.

Johns wins player of the week honors
Late-game performance may have earned Wolverine nod with Iowa's Smith


By Josh Kleinbaum
Daily Sports Writer
Honors aren't all that new to Michigan
women's basketball center Pollyanna Johns.
In fact, when she was named co-Big Ten
player of the week on Monday for the first
time this season and just the second time in
her career, Johns said she didn't even
deserve it.
"I thought Anne (Thorius) deserved it,"
Johns said of Michigan's point guard. "She
played 80 minutes and had just five
turnovers. That's spectacular."
But Johns' weekend wasn't too shabby,
The center dominated both of Michigan's
opponents this weekend, recording double-
doubles in each outing. In Friday's first-ever
road victory against Penn State, Johns
scored 10 points, grabbed 15 rebounds,
blocked two shots and recorded two assists.
Oh yeah, she added a steal for good mea-
In Sunday's overtime victory over
Northwestern, Johns scored 21 points and

had 15 rebounds, one block, two assists and
another steal.
But Johns likely earned the award in the
final five minutes of the game against the
Wildcats. After the Wolverines blew a late
lead in a must-win game for their NCAA
tournament hopes, Johns took the team on
her shoulders. The senior scored seven of the
Wolverines' eight
points in overtime, cru-
cial in securing the 70-
64 victory.
"It's pretty typical of
Pollyanna Johns to give
the accolades to some-
body else," Michigan
coach Sue Guevara
said. "Especially to her
Johns point guard, because
her point guard is the
one who gives her the ball all the time."
Johns has been the core of a surprising
Michigan team all season. Picked to finish
sixth by the coaches, Michigan stands in sole
possession of third place in the Big Ten with

just two contests remaining, largely on the
strength of Johns' 18 points and 9.7
rebounds per game.
Johns, a preseason all-Big Ten selection,.
last received player of the week award Dec.
2, 1996. Sophomore guard Stacey Thomas is
the only other Wolverine to receive confer-
ence's player of the week honors this season,
earning the award the week of Jan. 26.
Johns shared the award with lowa'
Tangela Smith, the late-season favorite to
win Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
Smith, a senior center-forward, averaged 26
points and nine rebounds in victories over
Wisconsin and Penn State. She scored 34
points against the Badgers and 18 points
against Penn State.
"Everyone thinks there's a big rivalry-
between Tangela and 1, but I don't think
there is," Johns said. "I never get tournament
MVPs, and I never get this Big Ten thing b@
myself. It makes me wonder what I have to
- The Associated Press
contributed to this report.

Pollyanna Johns
spent the better
part of last week
impressing oppo-
nents as well as
Big Ten foes. Her
talents earned
her co-player of
the week honors.

Mason's next challenge? To beat
Berenson and gain 800th victory

Continued from Page 9A
"I've been here 19,years so I've seen both sides of the
coin," Mason said. "I look back in the middle '80s and we
were a dominant team then. So it doesn't surprise me that
Michigan's program is where it's at (now). They should be
good and they definitely went through an era where they
just had strong teams for the last four years.
"They were able to keep their team intact, and that's the
critical issue."
The Blyth, Ontario, native played college hockey at St.
Lawrence. After graduating in 1964, he promptly headed
for Sault Ste. Marie. Lake Superior did not have a hockey
team at the time, so Mason started his own - from scratch.
"I still feel a real part of Lake Superior because I started
the first team in '66," Mason said. "Starting a program
from the grass-roots level, involving the community --I
still have a lot of great friends there."
Mason led the Lakers to an NAIA championship in
1971-72, and departed to Bowling Green after the follow-
ing season. He coached the Falcons from 1973 to 1979, and
during his six seasons, he earned national attention -
especially after the 1978-79 season, when he won a then-
NCAA record 37 victories.
"I took over a program at.Bowling Green and brought it to
national prominence, and I have a lot of friends there, also,"
Mason said. "But it's not like starting the first program
like at Lake Superior.
But for most Michigan and Michigan State hockey fans,

Mason is and has always been a Spartan.
"And here, now that I've been here 19 years, I've pretty
well established myself in both the athletics and in the
community," Mason said. "So I feel a real part of this mid-
Michigan area."
At Michigan State, Mason is 510-347-63 coaching the
green and white. In 1986, he captured his only NCAA title
when the Spartans defeated Harvard in the title game.
And at the onset of this season, expectations were a*
high as ever in East Lansing. For the first time in nearly
four seasons, No. 3 Michigan State is favored to win the
Both the preseason coaches' poll. and the media poll
picked the Spartans to finish first in the conference.
But Mason has enough experience to not believe what
others predict. He voted for Miami (Ohio) to finish first,
followed by Michigan.
"We set a national record with wins on a team that did-
n't even make it to the final four," Mason said. "I've been
there before. You've got to take each and every series one
at a time. I certainly like to think that this team is a better
one than we've had in a while. They deserve it on what
they've done, how hard they've worked. But that's no guar-
For an example of sure things failing, Mason doesn't
have to look very far. Michigan State's closest rivals were
in a similar position last season, but fell short.
"Last year, I thought Michigan had by far and away the
best team in the country - I still believe that," Mason

said. "But they didn't win the national title."


Iowa routs fifth-ranked
Pi1rr1Ai n 1a R-FIQ

Big Ten Standings

Michigan State

Conf. Overall
12-2 19-5

,. I

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