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November 16, 1998 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-16

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TI

November 16, 1998 - SportsMonday - The Michigan Daily - 3B

Who's McNext?

f f I S.MI

McGregor leads Blue to
*second with record pace
Next up for 'M' harriers: NCAA Championships

JIM
ROSE

By Ryan 0. Moloney
DaIy Sports Writer
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- How do you spell
legend? In the case of the Michigan women's
cross country team, it's M-c-G-R-E-G-O-R. As
in Katie McGregor, who once again combined
skill with smarts in a masterful performance at
*he Great Lakes Regional
The senior captured first place Saturday,
establishing a new 5K course record of 17:02
at the Bird-Gibson Recreation Complex.
She also led the Wolverines to a 53-point
team score - good enough for second place
behind first place Wisconsin (39 points). Their
ptaY was also good enough for an invitation
to the NCAA Championships in Lawrence,
Kan.
McGregor dueled with Notre Dame's
Joanna Deeter, in a rematch of the Wolverine
Interregional, throughout most of the race. But
this time McGregor came away as the victor,
pulling away from Deeter in the last 1.000
meters.
"I was comfortable with the pace,"
McGregor said. "At different points we each
felt a little better, so we each pushed a little
more. I knew she would be out there, so we just
,ort of worked together."
McGregor's latest win was further evidence
4Vffher exceptional career.
"Katie always does her best and her best is
Usually winning," fellow captain and Michelle
Slater said. "She raced well today."
Michigan coach Mike McGuire is accus-
toined to McGregor's big-meet performances.
"McGregor was her" typical steady self,"
1!cGuire said.
McGregor's race strengthened her bid to
bcome the first Michigan women's cross

country national champion in school history.
She finished fifth at the NCAA
Championships last year.
Although McGregor's win was a rallying
point for the team, it could not completely
mask the disappointment that came with losing
for the second time in two weeks to Wisconsin.
The Badgers scored 39 points.
The Wolverines could not separate
Wisconsin's top three runners - their goal
since the Big Ten meet.
The final results didn't do the Wolverines
justice as Elizabeth Kampfe finished a heart-
breaking second behind Wisconsin's second
and third runners.
"I'm a little disappointed," McGuire said.
"We'd like to get a trophy out of Kansas and
that performance won't do it. We didn't close
very well in the last couple minutes of the race.
"We'll need to get that shored up because at
the nationals there is going to be a lot more
people going by us at the end of the race."
Following McGregor for the Wolverines
were Kampfe (seventh,17:43), Slater
(ninth,17:53), Lisa Oullet (17th,18:05) and
Katie Clifford (19th, 18:09).
"We always want to win," Slater said. "But
our official mission was to qualify for nation-
als and we got that accomplished."
For the better part of the season, McGuire
has emphasized good pack running - espe-
cially among the fourth, fifth and sixth run-
ners. Unfortunately, the team fell short of
establishing the continuity necessary in big
meets.
"It's like the stock market," McGuire said.
"A couple of your stocks go up, a couple of
your stocks go down a little bit. We'd like to get
all five runners on an up note for this last one."

DANA LINNANE/Daily
Katie McGregor cruised to a first-place finish at this week-
end's NCAA regional.

McGregor
soars again
Katie McGregor contin-
ued her romp through
this season's competi-
tions with a record-
breaking performance
at NCAA regionals. She
set a course record at
the Bird-Gibson
Recreation Complex
with a time of 17:02.

McGregor

In water polo, wimps don 't
winnaioalchamipion2'sip2s
f you look at the home page of the Michigan men's water polo team, you'l
find links to rosters, game results and statistics, among other things. On
the statistics page, there's a player-by-player breakdown of the season that
concluded recently, complete with goals, assists, shooting percentages .., and
KOs.
Now, water polo is an inherently physical sport - but KOs? Michigan's
leader drew dozens of KOs in 22 games this season.
So, was he getting a 10-count on two or three people every game?
Not exactly. It turns out that in water polo, KO stands for Kickout - not
Knockout. A Kickout results when a player is, well, kicked out of the pool for
some sort of infraction. The result is a 20-second power play during which,
much as in hockey, one team earns a 6-on-5 advantage.
Such power plays are responsible for a large percentage of the scoring in
water polo, according to Michigan coach Scott Russell. And he should know
- his team outscored opponents by an overall tally of 395 to 153 this sea-
son.
His team also won a national championship, as well as a third straight Big
Ten title. And while some clubs wallow in misery over their non-varsity sta-
tus, Russell's has taken something of a different tone.
"At this point, it would be unrealistic for the boys on our team to ever
dream of varsity status here," Russell says. "But we can still choose to run
the program as if it were a varsity sport."
Practicing for two and a half hours each day is the first step. Recruiting
some of the nation's best players is the next one.
Russell, who coaches both the men's and women's teams, sells Michigan's
water polo program this way: It might not entitle you to a scholarship, but it
comes at "one of the best colleges in the country."
"If a kid's gonna get a scholarship to UCLA, I'm not even gonna talk to
him," he says. "But if he's thinking of going to a school to play water polo
just because they have a varsity program, then I might go after him."
Current Wolverines include students from places such as Hawaii ad
California, and others who nearly went to West Coast schools where water
polo is big. But at Michigan, players who might be "practice fodder, as
Russell says, at some place like UCLA, get a chance to step in and at least
compete for a starting spot. It's actually a bonus that the team owes to its club
status, and it's something Russell has capitalized upon in his 10 years as
coach.
But make no mistake - this is not a hobby. National championships don't
come without great athletes and lots of work. That's why Russell chooses to
"recruit nationwide" and run the program "exactly like a varsity sport."
This year's team was especially dominant. Of 22 games, Michigan lost just
one, to Dartmouth back in the early weeks of the season. A couple weeks ago,
in the national tournament, Dartmouth was again the opponent - but it was
the Wolverines who eventually advanced to the finals and won the title.
Leading the way - not just through the national tournament, where he
earned MVP honors, but through the entire season - was junior Eric
Lancaster. Russell calls him "clearly the most skilled offensive player we've
ever had."
Lancaster has scored 253 goals in his three seasons with the team
already the club's all-time record. And he's got another year to add to the
total.
Russell says the team's strategy revolved around its star: "We relied on him
to score goals, and he relied on the rest of the team to play defense," he says.
Playing offense involves sending a shot on the opposing team's net before
a 35-second shot clock expires.
And for the past few years, the sport has been experimenting with a 2-point
shot, which must be attempted from at least seven meters away. It adds a
wrinkle to a game that is otherwise largely characterized by what Russell
terms "hand-to-hand combat."
It seems that the closest approximation equates water polo with rugby -
only in seven feet of water. Two referees police the action - from the pool
deck, out of the water, naturally - but you can imagine what goes ion
beneath the surface. Grabbing, kicking, kneeing, pulling - all are what loy-
alists call "a part of the game."
All of which makes the endurance and strength of the average water polo
player just this side of amazing. Four seven-minute quarters comprise the
usual game, but with clock stoppages and the like, the action generally takes
around an hour and a half to play itself out.
"Oh yeah, you can play it in gym class, or with some buddies or whatev-
er," Russell says. "But that's not really what this is. These guys are in pretty
exceptional shape."
The guys are, yes - but so are the girls. The guys have won three Big Ter
titles in a row, but mention that to Michigan's women's team, and the players
will tell you that's nothing. They've won 10 in a row.
Must have something to do with the coach.
- Jim Rose can be reached via e-mail at jwrose@umich.edu.

Mortimer rests; men still
take second at regionals

By Ryan C. Moloney
Daily Sports Writer
TERR E HAUTE, Ind. -
Before the start of the NCAA
regional on Saturday, it looked
as though the focus of every-
one's attention for the
Wolverines would be, as usual,
John Mortimer.
The senior, who finished
first in two of his past three
races, was one of the favorites
coming into the race.
But as the race time neared,
Mortimer stood behind the
ropes in street clothes and sun-
glasses - reduced to the role
of spectator.
Luckily for the Wolverines,
Mortimer's absence sparked
the team to an 82-point perfor-
mance en route to a second-
place finish and, more impor-
tantly, secured a trip to the
NCAA Championships in
Lawrence, Kan.
The Wolverines, virtually
guaranteed of a finals berth,
could afford to let Mortimer
rest a leg injury.
"Without John being there,
we ran fantastic," senior Don
McLaughlin said. "He's resting
up and we would have won for

sure if he had run."
The team was led by senior
co-captain Todd Snyder, who
rebounded from a fifth-place
finish at the Big Ten meet with
a time of 30:33 on the 10K
course. He was second only to
Julius Mwangi of Butler with a
time of 30:20.
Snyder ran with the lead
pack through the first 8K, then
broke away in the last 2,000
meters.
"Everyone was kind of peg-
ging off of (Mwangi) and he
ran a more laid-back race,"
Snyder said. "I felt great today
and I'm trained for the 10K.
"After the Big Ten race I
felt like my season was going
into a low point, but this race
builds my confidence right
back up."
Perhaps the biggest sur-
prise for the Wolverines was
Mark Pilja - a freshman who
has bounced in and out of the
starting lineup all season and
made the most of his opportu-
nity to start.
"This is the man who saved
our life today," Warhurst said,
patting Pilja on the back. "He
learned how to relax, he's got

the confidence back that he
had in high school and he
looked very good."
In between Snyder and Pilja
were Jay Cantin (31:29, 12th),
Steve Lawrence ( 31:33, 13th)
and McLaughlin (32:01, 26th).
"We came from way back,
which was the plan," Warhurst
said. "We kept coming and
coming and from 2,000 meters
in we held our position.
"The goal was to be in the
top five because if we were the
fifth team in the district we
would have gotten to go (to the
finals). But now it's not even a
question - we're automatic
and it's pretty amazing we ran
without Mortimer. We're a
pretty strong team."
Mortimer had no doubts
about how the team would per-
form in his absence.
"I have tremendous faith in
my teammates," Mortimer
said. "I know they are capable
of it. Ideally, I'd like to be in
there to help them out but this
shows how good a team we
have - without their No. I
runner all season that they can
still come through in the big
ones."

DANA LINNANE/Daily
Seior co-captain Todd Snyder picked up the slack for
tisigan in John Mortimer's absence, placing second in
! urday's meet.

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