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January 13, 2000 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-13

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 13, 2000

--The Daily Grind--sm
Let Sanders Mvien s gymniiasts

run away
from Lions
was sitting in the Pontiac
Silverdome, but if I closed my eyes,
I could've sworn it was the Jim
Beam distillery. Every time the man
next to me slurred his encouragement
for the Lions, the liquor on his breath
could have killed a small child. Not
wanting to tax his numbed brain any
more than he had to, his monosyllabic
cheer was a simple "Yeeeaaahhhhh"-
possibly because he had forgotten who
he had come to root for.
As far as venues go, the home of the
Detroit Lions is not one of the greatest
places to watch a football game. The
ugly structure
doesn't have A
much character,
and there's also Latack
the fact that once
you're inside,
you're watching
football being
played on carpet.
The Silverdome
is little more than
a blip on the NFL
radar when com- ATAC
pared with some
of the more tradi-
tion-rich stadiums.
But going to the dome brings you in
touch with people from all reaches of
society, most of whom were there for
one reason. And it wasn't the chance to
see grown men wearing manes.
Fans from Livonia, Lansing and
Ludington all came to the Silverdome
last season because of one thing -
Barry Sanders. For as maddening as
the Lions were, No. 20 forced people to
flock to Pontiac, which is quite a feat.
But this isn't going to be a sappy
memoir about the diminutive running
back with the big heart. Barry Sanders
was a fantastic player, but what he did
to the Lions - and all those preposter-
ously intoxicated faithful who fill the
Silverdome and wear replicas of his jer-
sey - was inexcusable.
When Barry abruptly retired shortly
after the beginning of training camp
this season, he hung the Lions out to
dry. They were forced to scout waiver
wires, backup running backs and UPS
drivers to fill the gaping hole that now
existed in the backfield.
So as the Lions stumbled to their
improbable playoff berth, I hoped
Barry was watching. As the headlines
screamed 'Barry Who?' after the Lions
won their season-opener, I hoped Barry
was reading.
After what seemed like an unfath-
omably inconsiderate and arrogant
move, I wanted him to see that the
Lions could win without him and his
-2 yards and a cloud of astroturf' style.
But my anti-Barry sentiments have
cooled of late. Sure, I was happy when
the Lions refused to trade him midway
through the season, when it became
apparent that his retirement was just a
ploy to escape the doldrums of being a
Lion for life.
Now there are recent rumblings that
he wants to play again, and would even
consider playing for the Lions under
certain conditions. Like if an offensive
line that could actually block should
materialize out of nowhere. But more
appealing - and better - teams have
also surfaced in the race for Barry's
services, such as the Miami Dolphins.
Let's be realistic. Barry's days wear-
ing the silver and blue are finished. And
as much as a rusher with 15,269 yards
to his credit would be one heck of an
offseason addition, it's for the best that

the two parties go their separate ways
now.
Things have simply gotten too ugly
inthe exchanges between Barry and
the Lions' brass. While fans would
probably welcome Sanders with open
arms, the original rift between Barry
and the front office is now a canyon.
Currently, Lions, executives and
Sanders are meeting at arbitration hear-
ings in San Francisco. The Lions have
brought him there to attempt to recover
the portion of his signing bonus that he
received before retiring with four years
remaining on the contract he signed in
1997. It's tough to imagine a working
relationship between two parties that
are currently squaring off in court over
millions of dollars.
That's why Detroit should submit to
Sanders' wishes and trade him, no mat-
ter how the proceedings turn out. He
obviously refuses to play in Detroit
under the Lions' current system, seeing
as he chose to leave the game he loved
-just 1,500 yards shy of eclipsing
Walter Payton as the game's alltime
leading rusher -rather than continue
playing for the Lions.
And Lions fans will overcome their
bitterness toward Barry and realize that

champs no longer

By Rohit Bhave
Daily Sports Writer
A sign posted outside Michigan coach
Kurt Golder's office reminds those who
would dwell on last year's glories. It
reads, "We Used To Be National
Champions."
The No. 1 Michigan men's gymnas-
tics team begins its defense
of the national champi- THIS W
onship at the Windy City --.-----.-.---
Invitational on Saturday. WhO Michig
Illinois-Chicago will host Wid C
every Big Ten school When: Satur
except for No. 4 Penn State. Latest: The
The meet will showcase gymnastics te
six of the top 20 teams in national cham
the nation. defense again
Michigan will be led into Ten teams exc
the event by captains Justin
Toman and Scott Vetere. Both
Wolverines experienced some top inter-
national competition in the offseason.
Toman trained in the offseason with
the U.S. National Team in Colorado,
while Vetere spring-boarded himself
with a terrific performance at the
Chunichi Cup in Nagoya, Japan.
With the exception of Daniel Diaz-
Luong (shoulder), the majority of the
team is fresh and healthy for the outset of

a
a
dA
M
a
p
s
ct

the season. Golder has shifted practice
emphasis from skill training to more
specific, routine-oriented work in the
past few weeks to ready the team for the
meet.
Toman, the returning Michigan male
athlete of the year, appears confident
that the 2000 season returns an even
stronger team than last
E E KE N D year's squad. He cites a
.....----superb mental focus in
in at the practice.
rtatonal "This year's team uses
go the 1999 team as the
igan men's standard for excellence,"
Em begins its said Toman. "Since we
)ionship are essentially the same
I aD the Big team, (last year's) team is
ept Penn State. our best competition.
"Seventy-five percent
of us remained on campus to train in the
off-season," Toman said. "The results
really show."
The Windy City Invitational should
provide breakout opportunities for two
gymnasts who have vastly improved in
the offseason. Junior Kevin Roulston
produced the team's highest score in the
intrasquad scrimmage on Dec. 3.
After an injury-filled sophomore year,
Roulston took the first step in re-captur-

-xChamps
Key Tumblers in Michigan's
title defense
N Justin Toman: National Team
member four time All-American
last year.
6 Scott Vetere: Tremendous
showing in the Chunichi Cup in
Japan. A returning All-American.
* Daniel Diaz-Luong: The
nation's top rated all-rounder last
year until injuries slowed him
down.
N Kevin Roulston: The 1998 Big
Ten Freshman of the Year won the
intrasquad meet.
* Jose "Lao" Haro: 1998 Al-
American, he is also the top gym-
nast on the Mexican National
Team.
Ong his 1998 Big Ten freshman of year
form following an injury-filled sopho-
more year.
Toman said junior Tim Dehr has
impressed the team in the pommel horse,
largely due to his excellent off-season
training.
Michigan plans to use this meet to test
new routines as well as try different
gymnasts on events.
The purpose of this strategy is to pre-
pare down the road for the Big Ten
Championships, and NCAAs.
"I'm excited to see the new routines in
our first meet," Toman said. "It's going
to be an overwhelming experience for
the freshmen in Chicago."

DANA UNNANE/a ily
Dual meets at Minnesota have not been kind to the Wolverines of late,
Favore women seek
revenge at Minnesoti

Tracksters face first test of season

By David Mosse
Daily Sports Writer
An offseason filled with optimism
and unbridled enthusiasm has led to
heightened expectations for the
Michigan men's track and field team.
Saturday in Bloomington, the
Wolverines face their first major test as
they take part in the Indiana
Quadrangular.
The dual meet marks the first scor-
ing competition of the season and
should provide some answers for new
coach Ron Warhurst and his talented
squad.
"It's still pretty early in the season,"
Warhurst said. "But it's a nice opportu-
nity to judge where we are."
Last week Michigan tuned up for
this meet by hosting the Jack Harvey
Invitational. The non scoring meet
served as an opportunity to shake off
the rust. Yet, several Wolverines
appeared to be in mid-season form.
Sophomore Ike Okenwa captured the
60-meter run, while fellow sophomore
Mike Wisniewski achieved victory in

the 3,000. The results pleased Warhurst,
who is optimistic about the future.
"When you don't see these guys for
a couple of weeks, you're not sure what
to expect," Warhurst said. "But they all
came back in great shape and we look
ready."
The Wolverines will bring a full 28-
man squad down to Bloomington,
including Justin Fargas.
Fargas, a former California state
champion in the 100-meter, has not
seen action in an athletic competition
since Nov. 13, 1998, when he injured
his leg playing for the Michigan foot-
ball team. Fargas has looked strong in
practice but the coaching staff is still
apprehensive.
" I'm just hoping he gets to the fin-
ish line without pulling anything,"
Warhurst said.
Still teammates who have practiced
with Fargas in recent weeks are
extremely excited to see him in action.
"Justin is a talent," sophomore Mark
Pilja said. "He looks great and I can't
wait to see him take off."

Fargas and Okenwa will need to be
at their best to make up for the absence
of fellow sprinter Steve Jenkins, who
has fallen victim to the flu epidemic
that hit Ann Arbor this week.
One area of little concern to
Michigan is distance running. The
Wolverines' 'fearsome foursome' will
be on full display this weekend as the
talented quartet of Jay Cantin, John
Mortimer, Steve Lawrence, and
Wisniewski will all be in action.
"We're running all the big guns,"
Warhurst said. "There is no sense in
resting this early in the season."
The last time Michigan ran up
against Big Ten competition was at the
conference championships last
February. The Wolverines placed ninth
but the circumstances are much differ-
ent this time around.
This season, Michigan is one oflthe
favorites to win the Big Ten crown and
the team has a newfound confidence.
In Bloomington, the Wolverines look
to take the first step in fulfilling all
their promise.

By Sarah Ensor
Daily Sports Writer
Going into this weekend's meet at
Minnesota, one thing the No. 4 Michigan
women's gymnastics team need not
worry about is complacency.
Although the 14th-ranked Golden
Gophers do not rank among the nation's
gymnastics powerhouses, Michigan is on
guard.
The Wolverines have not won a dual
meet at Minnesota since 1992, and have
lost three of the last four matchups. In
1999, Minnesota handed the Michigan
gymnasts an upset loss in their home
opener, a meet that is still fresh on the
Wolverines' minds.
"We typically go in thinking
'Minnesota - it's just Minnesota,"'
junior captain Bridget Knaeble said. "But
Minnesota has beaten us
plenty of times lately. THIS W
"It's definitely in the .--.-.
back of our minds that for Who: Midgi
the past two years we go Minnesota
into our meet against when: SMinn
Minnesota and practically atest ce
hand it to them, and we has consistenO
really shouldn't" the strongest I
Even Michigan coach land, yet theyI
Bev Plocki recognizes the cuty against ti
rivalry.
"I'm sure that there is a little bit," of a
revenge factor, Plocki said. "In the past,
some of the Minnesota teams that have
beaten us have not been that strong, and
we have just managed to find a way to
roll over and hand them some competi-
tions on a silver platter.
"Our upperclassmen are very aware of
that, and I think under some other circum-
stances our kids might be tempted to go
into this meet and take it for granted. But
I guarantee no one is going to take it for
granted largely due to some other factors."
Michigan is coming off of a strong
performance last weekend, in which it
finished third out of six teams at the
Super Six Challenge in Georgia with a
score of 194.25. Only No. 1 Georgia and
No. 2 Alabama topped the Wolverines,
who proved their merit and staying power
despite an inexperienced roster.
"Our freshmen and sophomores, for
the first meet of the season, that level of

nt's

competition, that level of pressure, coy-
peted above my expectation level, whi*
I was thrilled with," Plocki said. "I thin
we've got a group of aggressive compf-
tors here, and that makes all the diffa-
ence in the world.
Knaeble concurred that the meet was
great for a season opener.
"We had a good first meet last week
end for a good way to start the se
son,"Knaeble said. "Our freshmen an
sophomores who competed for the first
time did great. I think it was really great
for them to go into their first meet and d
a good job and get some confidence.
Hopefully they'll be more comfortable
competing and will keep that up." t
Minnesota likewise had a strong open-
ing weekend, defeating No. 24 Aubtia
194.800-192.450. The 194.800 set a
school record for higheO
EKEN D season-opening score, and
demonstrates the strength
at and depth of the Gophers'
aporis roster.
y 7 pm Minnesota has been led
yMiigan thus far by sophomore
been one of Megan Beuckens, whose
ims in the 39.075 against Auburn was
ave had diffi- the second-best all-around
Gophers. score in team history.
Other key competito
include freshman Leigh Dixon, sopho
mores Catie Christensen and MaryAnne
Kelley, and seniors Judy Cavazos and
Melissa Chang.
"Minnesota's going to be a strong Big
Ten team this year," Plocki said. The
Golden Gophers "are going to have a
very good team, everything that I've
heard about them so far has been that
they look very good. It's going to be a
good meet."
As the Wolverines march into the Twin
Cities, they will be looking to both
avenge the losses of the past few years
and build on the strong opening perfor-
mance of last weekend. If all goes as
planne the team will return to Ann
Arbor with a victory that is more impor-
tant than meets the eye.
"I'm looking forward to (the meet),"
Plocki said. "I think it's going to give us
one pretty good indicator of how good.
we have the potential to be this season

THIS WEEK IN
MICHIGAN ATHLETICS

0

Presented by:

<t.eLrhtech..-.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 14
... ...... Men's Swimming/Diving
vs. Stanford 6 p.m.
Free Admission!
Hocke y .-. . ................. # .... .
vs. Miami 7:30 p.m

SATURDAY, JANUARY 15
Men's Swimming/Diving **********
vs. Stanford 12 p.m.
Free Admission!
........... ..... Women's Tennis
vs. DePaul 1:00 p.m.
Free Admission!
Hockey *..""* *.* #*.....* ** ** **
vs. Miami 7 p.m.
#".........l.""i"...... .. Wrestling
vs. Penn 7 p.m.
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