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April 17, 1998 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-17

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12 The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 17, 1998

FRIDAYFOCUS

L\

-'7

'4-

I-I-M

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D i

Mor
this

e than
school

titles

make

year one

worth

remembering

Above: Everything came up roses this year for Eric Mayes'
Wolverines, who thrilled the campus community by overcoming the
nation's toughest schedule to win their first national championship
since 1948. Mayes, a senior co-captain, missed most of the season
after suffering a knee injury.
Below left: Julie Flachs led the field hockey team to the champi-
onship game of the Big Ten Tournament.
Below right: Sara Griffin is rewriting the record books for the No. 2
softball team.

I___om Goss will be hard-pressed to avoid a bit of a sophomore
slump. With less than a year under his belt as Michigan's athletic
director, Goss has seen his department enjoy more success in a
single school year than it has in a long, long time - maybe ever.
With national championships in football and hockey; Big Ten
Tournament championships in soccer and men's basketball; a Heisman
trophy; record-breaking individual performances in cross country and
track; and several other teams - softball, rowing and women's gym-
nastics, at the moment - ranked among the nation's best, the 1997-98
school year will long be remembered as a truly remarkable one for
Michigan athletics.
University President Lee Bollinger said simply, "This is the greatest
university in the world." And that was before the Rose Bowl.
It's been more than 30 years since a university won national titles in
football and hockey in the same year; throw in the success of the rest of
Michigan's sports and you've got a decent argument for including '97-
98 among the all-time best.
But national championships and Heisman tro-
phies pale in comparison to the most significant
sports-related event of the school year - the
death of wrestler Jefferey Reese.
Reese's death stunned the campus and, to this
day, casts a sobering shadow over the year's
events. If nothing else, his death reminded us all
that sports have a tendency to get blown out of
JIM proportion on campus - and that stat lines and
ROSE scoreboards matter very little in the grand scheme
Rose of things.
Beef But as tragic and incomprehensible as Reese's
______________death was, in the long-run it may lead to the
University's greatest and most important moments
of this historic school year - far greater than any Big Ten title or
NCAA ring.
The University moved swiftly to propose changes to make wrestling
safer, and within weeks, the NCAA did likewise, adopting many of
Michigan's proposed measures on a national scale. The sport continues
to change in response to a national study on safety. Michigan athletes
- from all sports, not just wrestling -honored Reese by wearing
patches on their uniforms.
A scholarship fund was established in Reese's name. Students and
athletes continue to organize benefits in remembrance of Reese - this
weekend, in fact, a car wash will be held outside Yost Ice Arena to con-
tribute to the scholarship fund.
Nobody was prepared for Reese's death, and nobody knew exactly
how to handle it. But in retrospect, four months after the fact, Reese's
family and friends can take a small amount of solace in knowing that so
many good things can come from something so awful.
Think of it this way: Reese's life was cut tragically short, but his
memory has already touched thousands more people than anyone could
evet have imagined.
And because of that, we can watch the Rose Bowl and the hockey
tournament, and we can follow today's teams to the Women's College
World Series and to NCAAs, and we can read about Charles Woodson
and Kevin Sullivan and Marty Turco, and we can say this with some
certainty: The past school year was like no other.
To be sure, it was a great year for Michigan's Athletic Department.
The football team helped make it a great year. So did the hockey team,
and so did all the other teams and athletes that experienced success. But
make no mistake: This year did not belong to any of them. It belonged
to Jefferey Reese.
-Jim Rose can be reached atjwrose@umich.edu.

Right: The memory of
former wrestler
Jefferey Reese lives
on through the efforts
of his family, friends
and teammates.

E
Below: Kevin Sullivan is a four-time
track All-America; three-time cross
country All-America; four-time Big
Ten cross country athlete of the
year; and this year, he was named
the Big Ten's athlete of the year.
Certainly one of the best athletes to
come through Michigan this decade.

Above: Charles Woodson captured
the nation's attention with his show-
stopping athletic ability and became
the first primarily defensive player to
win the Heisman trophy.

Left: For the first time in its
short history, the Michigan soc-
cer team won the Big Ten
Tournament and advanced to
the NCAA Tournament. Soccer
has been a varsity sport at
Michigan for just four years.

Right: Robert Traylor exalted
after the Wolverines shocked
Duke at Crisler Arena in
December. The Wolverines went
on to win the inaugural
Big Ten Tournament, and
Traylor announced after the
season that he will skip his
senior year to enter the NBA.

PHOTOS BY Louis BROWN, MALLORY S.E. FLOYD, JOHN KRAFT, MARGARET MYERS, PAUL TALANIAN AND WARREN ZINN

Left: The most surprising title of the school year
was the Michigan hockey team's. The Wolverines
won the national championship one year after
after graduating one of college hockey's most-
heralded classes ever.
Below: Pollyanna Johns finished her career by
leading the women's basketball team to the
NCAATournament for the first time since 1990.

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