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February 22, 2002 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-02-22

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 22, 2002 - 9

'M' heads to Big Tens
with visions of a title

Netters face nemesis
in conference opener

By Kareem Copeland
Daily Sports Writer

It all comes down to this. A win-
ter's worth of running, lifting and
training will be deemed worthwhile
or wasteful this weekend at the Big
Ten Championship in Minneapolis,
when the Michigan track and field
team will compete at the most impor-
tant meet of the year.
"We finally realize
that this is the year that MINNE
we can place really
high. It's all -a matter of What: Big Ten C
people just showing up when:1 a m.at
and guys have got to1mS:n
Latest: Michigar
compete a little harder first conferenceti
because we're losing 1994 season.
points because we've
got guys hurt," tri-captain Ike Oken-
wa said. "The freshmen have been
laying it on the line every meet. So, as
the upperclassmen, we just have got
to step up now and prove to these
freshmen that we really do know how
to run."
The exceptional freshman class,
along with the development of key
seniors, has put the Wolverines in
position to make a run at the Big Ten
The team has been particularly
strong in the running events through-
out the season.
Okenwa - the Michigan record
holder in the 60-meter dash indoors
and the 200-meter dash outdoors -
struggled early in the season, but he
seems to have turned things around.


Last weekend at the Harold Silverston
Invitational, Okenwa overwhelmed
the competition in both the 60-meter
and the 200-meter.
Jeremy Schmeider has emerged as
Michigan's dominant middle distance
runner this year - competing in the
400-meter, 600-meter, 800-meter and
4x400 relay at different meets
throughout the season. In Minneapo-
lis, Schneider will
attempt to capture the
TOLIS championship in the
mpionships "It's been my dream
norrow, to win the 600 indoors
seekingits since freshman year,"
e sincethe Schneider said. "I don't
want to just win, I want
to dominate."
Freshmen Nathan Taylor and
Nathan Brennan are both having phe-
nomenal seasons and could contribute
points at the Big Ten Championship.
Taylor will join Okenwa in the short
sprints while Brennan, running the
800-meter, has already qualified pro-
visionally for the NCAA Champi-
onships in the 800-meter, 1600-meter
and 3000-meter runs.
The team is no longer working on
getting stronger or faster in practice
this week, but instead it's working on
technique and race preparation.
"We lighten up our mileage and are
going to be doing shorter intervals a
little quicker than normal. You can't
(get faster) in one day or a week. It
takes about two weeks," coach Ron
Warhurst said. "You can lighten them

By Brian Stoer
Daily Sports Writer
In 1996, the Michigan men's tennis
team captured its record 36th Big Ten
title. At the time, the next closest
school to the Wolverines was Illinois
with seven championships. But since
then, the Fighting Illini have estab-
lished themselves as the
preeminent power in the
conference by winning four VARSiTY
of the last five titles.
Tomorrow, Michigan (6- Who: Michi
1) will open its Big Ten sea- Northweste
son at home against another when: 7:301
outstanding Illinois team p.m. Sunday
(ranked No. 2), followed by Latest: Mich
Northwestern on Sunday. end a seven
"I would definitely say streak agair
(Illinois) is our biggest rival
right now," senior Ben Cox said.
"Especially with Michigan State being
down the last couple of years."
But the rivalry has certainly been
one sided as of late, with the Illini tak-
ing the past seven contests, including a
7-0 drubbing last year in Champaign.
But with this year's match taking
place at the Varsity Tennis Center,
Cox feels the Wolverines have the
"They like to play on faster courts
because all of them have huge serve


and volley games," he said. "Our
courts will definitely slow them
down a bit."
Michigan is coming off a heart-
breaking 4-3 loss to Alabama last
weekend on the road. Despite the
tough setback, the team is still look-
ing ahead.
"I don't think there will be any let-
down," senior Henry
Beam said. "I feel if we
NNIS CENTER would have played
them at home we would
(6-1) vs. li - have won the match."
(w3. Cox was quick to


n. tomorrow, 7 agree.
"I think that we're
n is looking to more positive now after
atch losing last weekend," he said.
Illinois. "We were playing a top
25 team and probably
should have beat them. That raises
your confidence."
Facing a highly ranked team can
sometimes be overwhelming for a
group of players. There's a tendency
to get swept up by the fever that sur-
rounds the moment. But coach Mark
Mees doesn't seem to be worried
about this.
"Like I told the team, if you can't get
excited about this weekend, then you
really shouldn't be playing at Michigan
or anywhere at this level," Mees said.

The Michigan track and field team will look to leap over the competition at the
Big Ten Championship this weekend in Minnesota.

up, but you still have to give them
time for their muscles to respond."
Missing from action will be
freshman superstar miler Alan
Webb, who has redshirted for the
indoor season and will not compete
at the Big Ten or NCAA champi-
onship. Webb - the crown jewel of
this year's No.1 rated freshman
class - has not yet competed for
the Michigan track team.
Webb did run for the cross-coun-
try team this fall, winning the Big
Ten title. The plan was for him to
join track during the middle of the
season, but tendonitis in his

Achilles tendon has sidelined him
until the team moves outdoors.
"He's not training. He's only been
off for a week, and he was training up
to that week. But it was bothering him
to the point where we just wanted to
clear it up," Warhurst said.
"We'll go another week without
him running, and then we'll start get-
ting ready for the outdoor season.
Being who he is, as far as his abilities
and physical tools, I would think he'll
probably open up sometime in April,
but I would expect him to run quite
fast then. It all depends on how it

Michigan hoping to
end skid in Illinois

By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Writer

Hoosiers present stiff challenge for Blue

By David Oxtk
Daily Sports Writer

After a tremendous start to the season, the Michi-
gan women's track team will have its stiffest test yet
as it travels to Penn State for the Big Ten Indoor

competing in the non-scoring Harold Silverston Invi-
tational. The Wolverines finished strong, getting a
personal best jump from Anna Fisher, who cleared 12
feet in the pole vault. Ursula Taylor took first place in
the 600-meter run while recording the fastest time in
that event in the Big Ten this season.
Tri-captain April Phillips also
continued her tremendous season,

Championships this weekend.
The Wolverines should be familiar
with the track at State College, having
competed in a 12-team meet there just
two weeks ago. In that gathering,
Michigan finished in second place,
losing only to conference rival Indi-
ana. The loss was the Wolverines' sec-
ond of the season to the Hoosiers.


What: Big Ten Championships
When: 9 am. tomorrow, 10 a.m.
Latest: Michigan is trying to reclaim
the Big Ten indoor title from archrival

winning the weight throw event and
breaking her own school record for
the sixth straight week as well as set-
ting the Indoor Track building
record. Phillips was also victorious
in the shot put for the fourth consec-
utive week. After weeks of down-
playing her success, Phillips is

"The last few times we've competed against (Indi-
ana) we took top places in events that were not
scored," Phillips said. "We have been putting one or
two runners in each event to keep everyone active and
focused. But at the conference championship our best
athletes will run in two or three events if it's in the
team's best interest."
The team will also get a lift from its third tri-cap-
tain, Breanne Tenclay. Tenclay competes in the pen-
tathlon, a competition that mandates success in five
different events. The pentathlon event has not been
held so far this season, so Tenclay will have her first
chance to showcase her skills.
"Multi-events (like the pentathlon) are a long
process," Tenclay said. "It is hard to train for all five
events. There are only so many hours in a day, but I
am finally getting confident and ready for the compe-
Tenclay, now a senior, was a freshman when her
team finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships.
"This is our best team since my freshmen year, and
in fact, this team might be better," Tenclay said. "Our
performance is peaking, and if we can do what our
potential shows, then we'll be great. It is most impor-
tant to make it out of the day-one preliminaries, so
everyone gets into the final day."

They dropped a one-point decision in
a dual meet to Indiana on Jan. 12 in Bloomington.
Last year Michigan finished in fourth place at the
Big Ten indoor meet, totaling 89 points and produc-
ing two individual champions. Current tri-captain
Katie Jazwinski won the 5,000-meters, and she is
hoping to set an example with a repeat performance.
The other individual winner last season was Rachel
Sturtz, who won the 800-meter race. She will be back
to defend her title this season.
The team completed its home slate last weekend,

beginning to focus on personal goals.
"My year continues to amaze me, and the wonder-
ful thing is that I know I have not hit my peak, and I
know it is in me to do better," Phillips said. "Maybe I
have been storing it all up for this weekend. Maybe
we all have been saving it up for this weekend."
But as captain, Phillips also is concerned with her
team, and must convince it that Michigan's two previ-
ous losses to Indiana do not mean a third is

The second half of the toughest four-
match stretch for the Michigan
women's tennis team begins this week-
end, when the Wolverines travel to the
state of Illinois for matches against Big
Ten foes Illinois and Northwestern.
Michigan (3-3) has lost three of its
last four matches heading into the start
of the Big Ten season, and the Wolver-
ines are looking to make a statement by
showing how much they have
improved since last year. Michigan
completed last season with a 2-8 record
in the Big Ten, putting it in 10th place.
This year, the Wolverines enter the
conference season after playing three
nonconference opponents ranked in the
top 20. Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt is
grateful the team had the chance to
prepare for the Northwestern match on
Saturday by playing these difficult
opponents over the past two weeks..
"I'm certainly happy we had two
really tough nonconference matches in
preparation for these two Big Ten
matches," Ritt said. "I think that will
help us. And even though we didn't
win, we're encouraged by our level of
play and competitiveness."
If the Wolverines hope to be compet-
itive this weekend, they will certainly
need the help of sophomore No. 1 sin-
gles player Kavitha Tipirneni, who
withdrew from her singles match last
Saturday with a back injury. According
to Ritt, the nature of the injury is
unknown, but it was a result of Tipir-
neni looking over her shoulder as she
ran towards the baseline. As of
Wednesday, her status for this week-
end's action was unclear.
"She did hit (during practice on

Who: Michigan (33) at Northwestern, at Illi-
nois, vs. South Florida
When: Noon tomorrow, noon Sunday and 1
p.m. on March 2
Latest: The Wolverines are 3-20 against North-
western under coach Bitsy Ritt.
Tuesday) and was certainly limited that
she could not serve or hit overhead,"
Ritt said of Tipirneni, who has accumu-
lated a record of 2-4 at No. 1 singles
this season. "From where she was on
Saturday to where she was (on Tues-
day), I think she has made tremendous
Northwestern has proved to be a for-
midable foe over the years, amassing a
27-7 record against Michigan and win-
ning the last four matches. The Wild-
cats also have three singles players
ranked nationally in the top 100. Last
year, Northwestern handed Michigan a
7-0 loss on the way to claiming the
2001 Big Ten championship.
Michigan appears to matchup better
with Illinois on paper, as a significant
part of the Illinois roster is composed
of freshmen and sophomores, just like
"Northwestern is more experienced
and has done well in the past few
years," Ritt said. "Illinois is young
like we are, and they are talented like
we ar.
After returning home after this
weekend, Michigan faces another chal-
lenging nonconference matchup when
the team meets South Florida on
March 2. Michigan hasn't played South
Florida in two seasons, but the Bulls
hold an 8-3 record over the Wolverines,
and have won the past five.

Wolvennes tumble into break against Iowa

By Evan Brown
Daily Sports Writer
A team has its best meet of the
year, performs with the most confi-
dence it has had all year - and
drops a spot in the
rankings. The No. 6
Michigan men's gym- IOWA
nastics team lias done BERKELE
just that after being who: Michigan
ranked No. 5 and scor- (9-2)tonight a
ing a season-high March 3
213.85 points last When:8p.m.t
weekend against Illi- on March 3
nois-Chicago. Latest: Despite
"That's just the way rankings, Mich
the ranking system,


by example.
"There's a little void there
because not all of the older guys are
healthy, so the younger guys were
thrust into those. Some of them
weren't ready for that yet, and it's
been an accelerated pro-
gram for them."
'ITY; Michigan needs more
CALIF. good showings from the
3-4)vs.lowa freshmen to keep its
at Cal. (3-0) renewed season heading
in the right direction
ight,4p.m. this weekend at No. 5
Iowa. The Hawkeyes
aling inthe beat the Wolverines in
n hs picked the first event of the
,e alately.
year, the Windy City
Invitational, by less than a point.
"They're definitely having a good
year," Burns said. "They actually
scored about three points lower than
us last weekend against Nebraska.
"We match up pretty well with
them. We just need to capitalize on
our strengths, which are parallel
bars and floor exercise. They have

the No. 1 pommel horse in the coun-
try, and ours has struggled all year."
Michigan will have to have its
best performance of the year to beat
Iowa. The Wolverines still need to
work on consistency and production
throughout the lineup.
"We have to keep improving on
two things," Michigan coach Kurt
Golder said. "We need more (excep-
tional performances) from our (best
gymnasts) and improvement in our
hit percentage."

Hit percentage is the percentage
of total routines without a fall.
Over spring break, the Wolverines
will travel to Berkeley, Calif. to
train for the week. They will end
their stay by competing against Cali-
fornia on March 3.

works," Michigan assistant coach
Mike Burns said. "They take the
best two scores of the year, one
home and one away. Our two best
scores are at home."
In reality, the rankings don't mean
a thing. The Wolverines were ranked
in the top five throughout their
struggles in the middle of the sea-
son, and now they are performing at
their best, even if they are still
ranked sixth. They are not where
they want to be in the season right
now, but they are heading in the
right direction going as they head
into the last few dual meets of the
"We're more motivated right now
- we're trying to get back," senior
co-captain Scott Vetere said. "In
another way, it's good because we're
in an underdog position. That's the
way we were my freshman year, and
we won the national championship."
Vetere is recovering from shoulder
surgery and has decided to redshirt
this season. He has had to watch the
season from the bench with hopes of
performing again in the summer.
"It's obvious to me and to the

Enaj knight'o'f iau oiu I


Enjoy a night of semi-automatic music on
Saturday February 23rd featuring:
Frank Pahl
Show starts at 8 p.m.
Admission is $5, $3 for students, with proceeds benefiting
the Ann Arbor Hunger Coalition
Sunday evening Jazz Mass at 5 p.m.
Alternative worship featurina live music by Stephen Rush and Quartex


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