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October 18, 1999 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-18

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 18, 1999 - 78

*Women face questions for Big Ten meet

By Arun Gopal
Daily Sports Writer
Cross country is a fickle sport. In the span of
a few weeks, a successful season with a bright
future can turn into an unfulfilling season with
a lot of questions facing the team.
Take this year's Michigan women's cross-
'icountry team. At the start of the season,
Michigan coach Mike McGuire fielded a squad
with 20 freshmen and only a handful of upper-
classmen. With such a young team, the
Wolverines knew that they would have their
share of ups and downs.
The ups came early. After thrashing
Michigan State in a dual meet at Buhr Park, the
Wolverines easily won the Spiked Shoe
Invitational at Penn State. Michigan followed
that up with a strong showing at the Sam Bell
Invitational in Bloomington, finishing fourth in
he field of 23 teams while running right with
ational powers Arkansas and North Carolina
State.
At that point, Michigan was feeling pretty
good about itself. Several of the younger run-
ners, namely freshmen Lyndsi Gay and Jane

Martineau, were starting to step up and distin-
guish themselves, and among the veterans, Lisa
Ouellet was developing into a star runner.
But then, the "downs" hit.
It started last week, when the Wolverines
went to Jonesville for the Michigan
Intercollegiate. While Michigan was able to win
the meet handily, its performance was not par-
ticularly impressive.
McGuire said his team ran "OK".
Meanwhile, Ouellet said she wasdisappointed
with her run. Sophomore Jeanne Spink was a
bright spot for the Wolverines, finishing fifth,
but overall, it was quite clear that the
Wolverines were not happy with their showing.
Fast forward yesterday. Faced with some of
their toughest opposition of the season, the
young Wolverines struggled, placing fifth on
their home course.
Once again, Ouellet ran well and finished
eighth, but this time there were no other high
finishers to help her out. The next best
Michigan runner was junior Katie Clifford, who
ended up 19th.
Part of Michigan's problem has been injuries.

At the Interregional, the Wolverines raced with-
out several top runners, such as Katy
Radkewich and Angie Stanifer, which clearly
hurt their team score.
Still, injuries aren't the whole story.
For some reason, the healthy runners have not
produced as well in the last few weeks. This was
even more imperative this year with the gradu-
ation of last year's NCAA champion, Katie
McGregor. Early on this year, the team seemed
to be adjusting well, but the last few weeks, the
injuries plus the lack of a dominant runner like
McGregor have hurt the team's scores.
So now, the team has a week off before the
Big Ten Championships at Penn State on Oct.
30. Perhaps the rest will help the team recharge
their batteries and find that spark that they
seemed to have in the first half of the year. Plus,
several of the injured runners will have a chance
to heal and get into racing shape again.
Can Michigan pull off a win in State
College? Maybe. They will need to run better
than they have in recent weeks, but anything is

Junior Usa
Ouellet's eighth-
place finish was
not enough for
the Wolverines as
they finished a
disappointing fifth
place overall in
the Michigan
Interregional yes-
terday.
LOUIS BROWN/Daily'

possible. Remember, cross4
sport.

country is a fickle

Men quietly exceed expectations

By Ryan C. Moloney
Daily Sports Writer
Judging by the reserved, almost
sleepy demeanor of the Michigan
men's cross country team after yester-
day's win in the Wolverine
Interregional, you'd think that a funer-
al had just taken place.
And in a way, one did.
In thoroughly thumping No. 8
ranked James Madison, the Wolverines
put in the ground the team that spent
most of the season battling the fatigue
of hard training and unleashed a team
that could shock the world at the
upcoming Big Ten meet.
But this isn't a team of fist-pumpers.
Whatever jubilation followed the race
for the Wolverines ran its course by the
time they left the chute.
And then there's Michigan coach
Ron Warhurst.
"We're on a roll!" Warhurst said
afterward. "One down and three to go
- one, two, three!"
The three, of course, are the Big Ten
meet, the Great Lakes Regional and
the NCAA championships.
If Michigan continues to progress at
their current rate, could a national title
be very far away?
No one is going that far, but the
Wolverines' remarkable ascension -
from longshot to surprise to contender
to the most dangerous team in the Big
Ten-points to a team destined for the
glory of each jewel in cross country's
triple crown.
But even if Michigan took a turn for
the worse in the final three meets, the
success of this season is already
secure. The team was half-decimated
by the graduation of three of their top
seven after last year, and who picked
. up the slack this season? Guys who
paid their dues in the four through
seven fringe spots of the top seven last

FIFH
Continued from Page 18
runners," senior Sarah Hamilton said.
"There were more good people at this
meet than we've been used to."
A fifth-place finish was not what the
Wolverines had in mind going into the
meet, despite the tough level of compe-
tition. Afterwards, it was evident that
the team sensed quite a bit of room for
improvement in the weeks ahead.
"We definitely can do better,"
Ouellet said. "Obviously, it has to hap-
pen soon, but I think we can do it."
"We can still get it together,"
McGuire added. "If we get a little fired
up in the next few weeks, I definitely
think we can have a respectable show-
ing at Big Tens."
One of the interesting aspects of
cross-country is the unpredictability
from meet to meet. It is difficult to tell
in advance how a team will fare a few
weeks down the road, because of how
quickly injuries can strike. With that in
mind, the Michigan runners remained
optimistic about their chances in State
College.
"It's hard to say how this meet would
place us, Hamilton said. "I don't really
keep track that well of how the other
Big Ten teams are doing, so I just don't
know how it's going to go at Penn
State."
Ouellet agreed with her teammate's
sentiments and emphasized the need for
the runners to take control of their own
destiny.
"We've got two weeks. It's just a
question of how badly do we want the
Big Ten title," Ouellet said. "We're run-
ning out of time, but if we get Katy
Radkewich and the other girls back, we

can get it done. You never know what is
going to happen."
For his part, McGuire was not nearly
as optimistic as his runners. The
Michigan coach included his
Wolverines in a group with several
other teams who he felt will be fighting
it out for second place at the Big Ten
Championships.
"Wisconsin is head and shoulders
above everyone else in this conference,"
McGuire said. "Then, I would put us
behind them in a group with schools
like Minnesota and Michigan State.
"We just have to keep improving, but
right now, I don't think we have any
shot at the Big Ten Championship. If
we don't come ready to Penn State, we
might have trouble finishing in the
upper division of the conference this
year."

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LOUI"B"OWN/"Day
Jay Cantin was dominant this weekend, finishing 100 meters ahead of the pack.

L.

year.
There is an expression in cross
country called "running out of your
head." This happens when you exceed
all expectations for your performance,
including your own.
A great example of this is co-captain
Jay Cantin. Even he would admit that
he is a miler first, cross country runner
second. But yesterday there was no
doubt as to who would cross the line
first, a full 100 meters ahead of the
second place runner.
"I've said it before, I just take it one
week at a time," Cantin said. "We're
right where we want to be right now in
terms of training and confidence."
Cantin ran 24:43 for the race. Pretty
good, until you consider the facts -

Cantin ran virtually unchallenged for
the last two miles of the race on a
course which destroys times and self-
esteem.
As Warhurst pointed out, "Anybody
with an ego never ran a heartbeat on
this course."
Even the bottom of the top five,
Mark Pilja, Mike Wisniewski and John
Butsic scrappily gutted it out in spite of
having what Warhurst termed as
"heavy legs."
But the Wolverines remained unfet-
tered, preferring to talk about the work
still to be done instead of the work that
has paid off.
Why get excited?
Nobody picked the Wolverines to
get this far in the first place.

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Travel

'REVENGE
Continued from Page IB
after holding such a commanding
:lead for so long.
"Running up the big hill the last
oe, I thought I had gotten myself
ito trouble. I thought that I took the
lead too early," Cantin said.
Despite the convincing victory,
there is still obvious room for
;improvement before the Wolverines
:hallenge the nation's top teams in
th~e upcoming weeks.
"We're not going to get cocky
about this," Warhurst said.
He felt that Pilja, Wisniewski, and
r*utsic all ran tired runs, something
Mat he said will be solved before the
gig Ten Championships in State
College on Oct. 30.

Walk-On Try-Outs
for the Michigan
BASKETBAIL.
TEAM
Monday, October IS, 1999 - 7:00 P.M.
at Crisler Arena
You must be a full-time student registered for a minimum of
12 credits and you must have proof of a physical signed by a
doctor within the past 6 months. Call 763-5504 with questions.

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