The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 13, 1998 - 17
SOMETHING LIKE A PHENOMENON
Michigan eight-time All-American Kevin Sullivan may be unheard of by many, but he's as good as it gets
By Josh Borkin
Daily Sports Writer
Most of the University of Michigan proba-
bly has never heard the name Kevin
Sullivan, let alone know what he has
accomplished or will accomplish in upcoming
years. Even the few who know his name probably
cannot grasp the number of titles he's captured or
the records he's broken.
At a time when professional athletes abuse - and
even choke - their coaches, and when the level of
arrogance in athletics is at an all-time high, Kevin
Sullivan emulates every characteristic that's hoped
for in collegiate and professional sports.
Sullivan came to Michigan as a skinny, slightly
gawky teenager. His appearance, however, was a
poor indication of his talent.
Sullivan, a Canadian citizen, was highly recruited
by many top universities. Sullivan said he chose
Michigan due to its "great combination of acade-
mics and athletics, and it (was) close to home."
Michigan's track program had perennially been a
Big Ten contender in championship races. But with
the addition of Sullivan, the distance squad became
one of the best in the nation, and his presence at
Michigan was a magnet for recruits.
As a freshman, he arrived at Michigan inexperi-
enced in collegiate athletics and still not physically
matured - yet he set a new standard for distance
runners. In his first year of collegiate athletics,
Sullivan garnered honors as Big Ten Indoor and
Outdoor Athlete of the Year, as well as Freshman of
"As a freshman I really was not intimidated,"
Sullivan said. "I came in and had not really set
goals. I wanted to do well and compete to the best
of my abilities. I guess I did stuff that few freshman
had done in the past, but I didn't let that boost my
ego and make me overly cocky."
Sullivan has been the centerpiece of the Michigan
men's track team for the last five years. He has
already captured eight All-America titles, and two
more are likely this year. He has won three Big Ten
Athlete of the Year honors, as well as four Big Ten
Track Indoor and Outdoor Athlete of the Year
awards. It's safe to say Sullivan's trophy case is well
"Kevin is one of the most amazing athletes I have
ever witnessed," teammate Jay Cantin said. "When I
finish one or two places behind him I'm just hon-
ored to do that much."
His teammates praise him and his coaches adore
him. He has persuaded numerous runners, such as
fellow All-American John Mortimer, Steve
Lawrence and Jay Cantin, to attend Michigan. He's a
teammate, a coach and a recruiter. His name is syn-
onymous in the track world with greatness and
accomplishment. He is Canada's shining star in the
upcoming Olympics, and Michigan's leader while he
still wears the maize and blue.
While his opponents and fans pay close attention
to his overwhelming accomplishments, Sullivan's
teammates and coaches know Kevin as modest and
confident - yet not cocky.
"You wouldn't know Kevin is a world champion,"
Mortimer said. "He has extreme confidence but is
one of the most modest and reserved athletes I have
In his tenure at Michigan, Sullivan has competed
at the NCAAs and World Championships, and quali-
fied for the Canadian Olympic team, although
injured himself before the Olympics, preventing him
from participating in the games.
He has competed against the best, and many times
has won. His attitude and philosophy toward long
distance running has been the main reason for his
numerous trips to the winner's podium.
"I'm confident and I think I'm one of the best
collegiate runners in the country," Sullivan said.
"I am cocky to some extent, but what I really
think is that I have a more reserved, inner-confi-
dence. I don't have a brash, cocky or arrogant per-
"I believe that distance running is more of a
refined - and almost completely different - sport
than sprinting. I don't think I could have done what
I've done without being reserved."
Throughout the season, Sullivan has carried the
team. On average he has won two events per meet
and helped Michigan earn a top-five national rank-
ing. The distance squad has been one of the
strongest in the nation, yet the sprint squad has
failed to send any members to NCAAs, or even earn
any points at Big Tens.
While many top athletes would place blame on
underachieving teammates, Sullivan doesn't point
"The people who didn't come through this year
realize and know who they are" Sullivan said.
"Realistically this year, we could have finished top
three at Big Tens and maybe done better at some
meets. But we lack depth - which is out of our
control - and some runners came up a little short.
However, to place blame on those runners would be
unfair to them and the team."
He does not judge a team's greatness by first
place finishes or championships. It is rare in track
that an athlete who has succeeded in individual per-
formances looks beyond statistics to judge his team-
mates' character and drive.
In response to Michigan's recent sixth-place finish
at Big Tens, Sullivan noted, "I can't say that this was
one of the biggest disappointments in my career. Of
course I am graduating soon, and winning this team
championship would have been one of my greatest
memories at Michigan, but the final score of a meet
does not always reflect the hard work and talent that
a team possesses."
If you were to guess in 1995 that earning All-
America status in all three seasons would be
Sullivan's best memory at Michigan - you would
Sullivan's best memory at Michigan personifies
his leadership and team-mentality. Before the cross
country season, the team went on a training trip to
"We were out in Montana, and 12 guys got up at
4:30 in the morning, ran 16 miles - no complaints,
everyone just out there knowing we had to do it
then. The whole team was willing to sacrifice for the
good of the team.
"I was really proud of the guys that day, and prob-
ably the most proud of any team I have ever been
Sullivan will likely dominate the collegiate ranks
for a few more months. He will then use the sum-
mer to run the professional circuit in Europe.
Ultimately, he wants to win a world championship
and earn a gold medal for Canada in the Olympics.
Whether Sullivan succeeds at the next level or
not, his place in Michigan sports will surely not be
forgotten. He has transformed the distance team into
one of the nation's finest, and has set Michigan
records that won't be broken any time soon. More
important, Sullivan has not become arrogant through
victory, and has accomplished all he set out to do,
by being a team member - not just an individual.
Since he's been at Michigan, Kevin Sullivan has earned a number of honors, includ-
ing three Big Ten Athlete of the Year awards.
Continued from Page 14
recently a 1-0 victory a week ago.
In that game, Michigan forward
Bill Muckalt scored a goal 32 sec-
onds into the game, proving to be
enough scoring for a Michigan win.
Earlier in the year, the Irish
eormed back from a 4-1 deficit in
the third period to force an extra
Luckily for the Wolverines, Notre
Dame wasn't able to finish the come-
back, as Greg Crozier closed out
Michigan's frightful game by scoring
The key to the Irish's effort this
weekend will berthe production of its
major offensive weapons.
Lately, Notre Dame's scorers have
shown signs of inconsistency, which
could give them trouble against a
Michigan team that seems to be com-
"I can't tell you that we're peak-
ing," Berenson said. "But we do have
a lot of players who are playing bet-
ter than they were a month ago, and
are ready to peak."
Leading Notre Dame's attack is
junior Aniket Dhadpale, who has 26
points in league play - including
eight goals with the man-advantage.
Also essential to Notre Dame's suc-
cess is forward Ben Simon, who
leads the Irish with 27 points. Simon
is Notre Dame's playmaker, serving
up 22 assists on the season.
But recently, Simon's play has
tailed off -- along with the play of
Notre Dame, which has won only
four of its last 12 games.
Despite the temptation to look past
the Irish and get caught up in a
championship run, Michigan's
thoughts are focused on Notre Dame
- its first step towards a conference
Stopping the Irish is the first in a
long set of goals the Wolverines set
"We want to get to Joe Louis -
which obviously depends on what we
do this weekend," Berenson said.
"Then we want to win the CCHA
championship, which will hopefully
lead up to the NCAAs."
A conference championship would
help the Wolverines immensely in
their run for a spot in the NCAA
semifinals, held in Boston on April
The CCHA crown also would
guarantee Michigan a bye in the
NCAA regionals held at Yost, giving
it the advantage of playing just one
game to get into the semifinals.
Mark Kosick and
the rest of the
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