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March 09, 1998 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-09

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday, March 9, 1998 - 3B

Lack of depth holds back men's track

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By Josh Borkin
Daily Sports Writer
The results of the men's indoor track and field
Big Ten championships were no different than the
results of the Central Colletgiates, Red Simmons
Invitational-or any other meet Michigan participat-
ed in this year. The distance team carried the load
while the sprint squad failed to earn many points.
Michigan coach Jack Harvey summed up the Big
Tens and the entire season in one line -"We did as
well as we could, with what we had."
The Wolverines finished "a disappointing and
underachieved sixth-place;' Harvey said. Michigan
scored in only five events and captured three con-
ference titles. The Wolverines finished with 62
points, while Minnesota won the title, scoring 108.
"We don't have Minnesota and Wisconsin
depth," Sullivan said. "We do not have the depth
and experience as a team to really compete and
win against those teams. We are still far away
from that."
This season the Wolverines had the best tandem
of distance runners in the country. Kevin Sullivan
beat recent American mile-champion Paul
McMullen at Notre Dame. John Mortimer finished
second overall in a field of international runners.
Jay Cantin finished on the heels of Sullivan and
Mortimer all year long.
The sprint squad, on the other hand, looked sharp
on occasion but failed to be consistent.
Although Michigan captains Brian Theisen and
Dwayne Fuqua tried to revitalize the team, the
sprinters were out-performed by their opponents.

"Solid performances were what we were looking
for," Harvey said. "A lot of guys came in with too
much confidence and were expecting to do better
than we were actually able to.
Sullivan succeeded in delivering two confer-
ence titles. He won the 3,000-meters with a time
of 8:19, and captured the mile - without much
competition from his opponents - in an even
four minutes. Sullivan will be running the mile
and distance medley at this weekend's NCAA
"I can't say that this meet was one of the biggest
disappointments in my career," Sullivan said. "Of
course I'm graduating soon, and this champi-
onship would have been one of my greatest mem-
ories at Michigan, but the final score of a meet
doesn't always reflect the hard work and talent that
a team possesses."
Mortimer, one of the top distance runners in the
nation, also prevailed. After losing by five-tenths of
a second to Sullivan in the 3,000 (8:19.88) He came
back the next day to record the third-best Big Ten
indoor 5,000 time ever, with a 14:04.30.
"John could be the next best distance runner,
behind Kevin, in the nation," Harvey said. "I am
confident that he will do very well at NCAAs, and
I think that with John and Kevin, we have one of the
best distance tandems in the country."
Michigan's only other point scorers were Cantin,
who finished second in the mile (4:05), Fuqua who
placed sixth in the 600 (1:20.51), and Steve
Lawrence, who re-emerged to place seventh in the
5,000 (14:24.77).

Michigan's John Mortimer and the distance crew couldn't do
it themselves at Big Tens. The Wolverines finished sixth.

Continued from Page 13
field in the long jump with a distance of
19-feet-11 3/4. The NCAA provisional
qualifying jump was sweet success for
Longe, who has been impatient with
her performances in the long jump
throughout the year.
And Longe wasn't done. She domi-
nated the triple jump with a season-best
41-10 3/4 to earn first place. To round
out'her day, Longe won the pentathlon,
scoring 3,807 points. Longe's three vic-
tories, coupled with a fourth-place fin-
ish in the 55-meter hurdles, accounted
for more than a quarter of the
*Wolverines' total point output.
Nicole Forrester was another
Michigan athlete who found herself
peaking at the right time. At the start of
the season Forrester's high jump was
around 5-10. But her steady improve-
ment paid off in a 6-2 jump that earned
her the Big Ten title.
Forrester's jump also qualified her
automatically for NCAAs and set a Big
Ten Championships record.
Sarah Hamilton, this season's silent
killer, struck gold for the Wolverines at
Big Tens. Hamilton has been the anchor
on Michigan's middle distance squad
this season, and she turned in a solid
first-place finish in the 800-meter run,
posting a time of 2:09. Freshman Erin
White chipped in as well with a sev-
enth-place finish.
Young guns Maria Brown and Kenise
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Bocage turned in solid performances in
the 55. Brown, a sophomore, captured
third place in 7.01 seconds, while
Bocage, a freshman, finished in a time
of 7.05.
Michigan's talented distance crew
did its part. Knowing Wisconsin's
strength rested in the distance events,
the Wolverines' distance runners set out
to neutralize the Badgers.
They did just that. While Wisconsin's
Jenny Westphal eked out a victory in
the mile run, she was chased by a
Michigan pack. Michelle Slater's third-
place finish in 4:52, followed by
McGregor and Lisa Ouellet in fifth and
sixth, respectively, made sure
Westphal's win didn't put the
Wolverines in a hole.
Much of the same cast of characters
helped Michigan make good in the
3,000 meters. Again, Wisconsin took
top honors as Angie Kujak edged
McGregor. McGregor's second-place
performance in a time of 9:40 led a trio
of Wolverines. Elizabeth Kampfe and
Slater had solid outings as well, picking
up points with their seventh- and
eighth- place finishes.
Kujak edged McGregor once again,
this time in the 5,000 meters.
Michigan's top distance competitor
managed another runner-up finish,
clocking in at 16:47. Kampfe finished
her weekend by posting a time of 16:54.
"I don't like to lose," McGregor said.
"But I was glad to grab some points.
Kujak had only run one other race, and
I was going on tired legs."

Lacure, Richardson
clm Big Ten titles

Out of Bounds U
evenate ikTen td
HICAGO - Brian Ellerbe has just coached the Michigan Wolverines
to the first Big Ten Tournament title. He is the man on the bench,
running practice, calling the plays, facing the media. He is the man
with the sweat-drenched shirts after every game, the man who is scrutinized
when the Wolverines play poorly and is rarely praised when they play well.
He is the man who will lead Michigan into the NCAA Tournament and
steer this ship through the memories of recent NCAA Tournament failures.
He is Michigan's coach.
But, for more than a handful of players, this isn't Brian Ellerbe's team.
For Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock and Travis Conlan and Robbie Reid,
this is Steve Fisher's team. The team has nothing against Ellerbe. How could
they? But their feelings for their fired coach run too deep for a five-month
absence to erase.
Just as Bullock and Traylor promised in October, Fisher is still on their
minds now. They can't forget that Fisher put this team together and recruited
all of them. He has been in their homes, not Ellerbe. He has weathered the
storm with them, and now as Michigan enjoys its Big Ten title, in what may
be its brightest moment since the departure of the Fab Five, the Wolverines
are not about to forget Fisher. Not now.
"He's had an impact all along," Bullock said. "He's still a huge part of this,
program, and not one guy has forgot about that. He's the key ingredient in
this team. He's the reason I'm here right now. If he weren't still with us, I
wouldn't be here."
Most of the Wolverines speak with Fisher frequently. Bullock and Reid
usually call him at least once a week. To them, even though Ellerbe is
Michigan's coach, Fisher is their coach, too.
At a press conference that Ellerbe attended, Fisher made it clear when he
was fired that the 1997-98 Wolverines were his team, just as Michigan's
1989 national championship squad that Fisher coached was Bill Freider's
team. Fisher is a man of great pride and his players have always respected
They love him in a way they can't love Ellerbe. Even though they respect
the job Ellerbe has done, it can't replace the bond they feel with Fisher. Not
right now, anyway.
"He's a father figure and a friend," said Reid, who transferred to Michigar
this summer after a two-year Mormon mission largely because of his desire
to play for Fisher.
"He is the main reason I'm here, and it was very disappointing not to get
to play for him. Most of the guys talk to him a lot, and he gives us good
insights. He's a coach, that's what he does."
Where that leaves Ellerbe is anybody's guess. No player has come out and
said they want Ellerbe back next year, although after yesterday's title, Mace(
Baston said he deserves a shot at the job. And as time wears on, Ellerbe's
situation seems eerily similar to Fisher's: an interim coach guiding a veteran
club into the postseason. Just how many more games Ellerbe has to win to
secure the job is a mystery, if his record matters at all.
He doesn't like to talk about his job prospects, which is a credit to his
integrity because he wants the job badly, and he thinks he deserves it. He
grants Michigan's players all the credit for the team's recent success and
takes none for himself even though he certainly deserves it.
Fisher deserves some too, and right about now, his troops will rally
around their fallen leader as they try to make a run at the NCAA title. It jus'
might work if everybody remembers that Ellerbe is one of Fisher's troops,
- John Leroi can be reached via e-mail at jrleroi umich.edu

By Jordan Field
Daily Sports Writer
With seven of 11 teams ranked in the
top 25, including three of the top pro-
grams in the country, Big Ten wrestling
is clearly the dominant conference in
the NCAA. Ranked 16th in the nation,
the Michigan wrestling team traveled
to Penn State for the Big Ten
Championships, looking to redeem a
disappointing regular season.
As a team, the Wolverines finished
with 77.5 points - fourth in the tour-
nament behind Iowa, Penn State and
Individually, seniors Bill Lacure and
Airron Richardson both captured Big
Ten titles, and will join qualifiers Joe
Warren and Jeff Catrabone in
Cleveland for the NCAA
Championship, March 19-21.
Lacure's Big Ten title was the first
for the Wolverines since 1995. Adding
Richardson's title, it was the first time
since 1989 that Michigan had two indi-
vidual Big Ten champions.
Seeded fourth, Lacure was the low-
est seed to capture a title in the cham-
pionship. His 5-4 win over Penn State's
home favorite, Clint Musser, was the

first time the two had ever faced.
Richardson's 5-3 win over Minnesota's
Shelton Benjamin was only his second
win over Benjamin in five tries.
Seeded sixth, Warren was the run-
ner-up in the 126 lb. bracket - his
only loss in the finals was at the hands
of No. I seed Eric Jetton from
Wisconsin, 19-7. Catrabone, the sec-
ond seed at 167, was upset in the first
round by Michigan State's Will Hill.
But he wrestled back with three wins in
the consolation rounds, including an
I1-1 redemption win over Hill in the
consolation semi-finals.
Two other Wolverines had a shot at
qualifying for the NCAA field. In each
weight class, the top seven finishers
automatically qualify. Both 118-
pounder Chris Viola and 177-pounder
Joe Degain lost their final matches and
finished eighth in their respective
Richardson and Catrabone became
Michigan's first classmate tandem to
qualify for the NCAA Championship
in each of their four years. The two join
an elite group of seven other
Wolverines who have qualified four
seasons in a row.


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