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September 29, 1998 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-29

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18 - The Michigan Daily Tuesday, September 29, 1998

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Silver anniversary season shows
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By Chris Lani 1
For the Daily
Michigan men's cross country coach
Ron Warhurst may end up looking to
the sky after this year is over and seeing
the stars aligned in the shape of a run-
ning shoe - a running shoe with a
block M' prominently fixed in its cor-
ner.
Well, maybe not, but all early signs
point to this being a terrific year for the
Wolverines. First of all, the 1998 season
will be Warhurst's 25th as the Maize
and Blue distance mentor. In addition,
he finds himself with a group ofdefend-
ing Big Ten championship runners.
"Yeah, it's been a lot of fun,"
Warhurst said.
Surrounding the desk in his office are
numerous plaques and other accolades,
but when asked about what has made
his first 25 years so special, it's not
something such as the 1997 Big Ten
Championship which he mentions first.
"Maintaining personal relationships"
is what Warhurst insists is his favorite
part of the job,
Brian Diemer, who ran for Michigan
and then went on to medal in the '84
Olympics. is a testament to this attitude.
Pointing to a picture of Diemer's chil-
dren, Warhurst tells how, when Diemer
would come back to train with Warhust
in later years, his three daughters would

make each session unique, playing on
and around the track while their father
ran.
He has stories like that one for all of
the athletes he has coached over the
years. But he quickly shakes his head
"no" when asked if any one runner, such
as the recently graduated, 14-time All-
American Kevin Sullivan, was his
favorite.
"They're all special in their own way
- they're all unique," he says.
Just because he doesn't brag about
his "star" runners or team champi-
onships doesn't mean there has been a
shortage of them. Overall, Warhurst
teams have won six Big Ten titles and
finished in the NCAA top-10 eight
times. He has coached 15 All-American
runners here; in addition to Diemer and
Sullivan, he helped develop 1983
Boston Marathon champion Greg
Meyer. His record shows he's one of the
best coaches in the business and one of
the most accomplished in Michigan his-
tory. Fifteen of his 24 completed sea-
sons have seen at least a second place
finish in the Big Tens.
So what has made Warhurst and his
runners so successful for such a long
period of time?
There are several things that go into
his winning ways, Warhurst says.
"I teach the basics here, and I hope

that they (his runners) maintain that phi-
losophy when they leave," he says.
Part of that philosophy entails getting
his players to believe in the team con-
cept. Through what he calls "group
therapy," his runners learn that the most
important aspect to individual successes
is that they can add up. to team success.
While he would love for his sport to
receive more coverage and attention, he
admits that being in the large, fall shad-
ow of football doesn't put the same
pressure on him to win that coaches of
more high-profile sports may have to
deal with in Ann Arbor. That doesn't
mean there is no pressure, though.
He is the leader of the defending Big
Ten champions. While Sullivan may b*
gone, senior captains John Mortimer,
Todd Snyder and Don McLaughlin
return to lead this talent-laden squad
toward another title run.
Last year, winning the conference
title is one of the team's major goals, in
addition to winning NCAA districts and
finishing in the top seven at the NCAA
championships.
And fate would have it that, in this
silver-anniversary season, the Big Te4
Championships are on Michigan's
home course.
"We'd love to win it on our home
course - there's nothing like winning
to establish tradition," he said.

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