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March 21, 2002 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-21

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 21, 2002 - 9A

Men shake off NCAAs,
T enter outdoor season

By Jacob Leonhardt
For the Daily

After freshman Nathan Brannen
failed to qualify for the finals in the
mile two weeks ago at the NCAA
Indoor Championships, the Michi-
gan men's track team plans to make
a fresh start in the first meet of the
outdoor track season. They Wolver-
A ines start the outdoor season today
in Tallahassee, Fla. against Florida
State and 29 other teams.
None of the distance runners will
be in attendance this weekend. After
competing every week during the
F. indoor season from early January to
early February, the distance runners
h . are training hard this week instead.
The Wolverines are focusing more
on the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut,
Calif. and the Penn Relays late in
April for a chance to qualify for the
NCAA Championships later in the
season.
After endless weeks of training
while waiting for their outdoor sea-
TOM FELDKAMP/Daily son to begin this week, the relay run-
After a sub-par indoor season, the men's track team gets a fresh start as ners and hurdlers hope to shake the
it begins the outdoor season in Talahassee, Fla. rust off their heels and get a top fin-
Blue's enry ways on call
Blue continues marathon of season and moves outdoors

ish against strong national competi-
tion in Florida.
"I think we have a good chance to
get a school record in the 4x100
meter relay this year," assistant coach
Fred LaPlante said. "We are capable
of being Big Ten champs in the
4x100 and becoming a national quali-
fier."
The 4x100 meter relay for this
weekend will feature Ike Okenwa,
Kevin Lamb, Nathan Taylor and
Brent Cummings.
"With two returning guys on the
relay, and two new runners, it will
take a while for them to gel and get
their baton passes down," LaPlante
said.
Most of the team has not competed
since mid-February, and only a third
of the squad is traveling to compete
this weekend. With a depleted squad
this weekend, the relay teams and
hurdlers will need to stack up points
for the Wolverines to have a chance
at finishing near the top.
"No matter what teams will be at
the meet, we'll most definitely be in
the hunt to win the 4x 100 meter relay
this weekend," LaPlant said.

LESLIE WARD/Daily
The Wolverines finished ninth in the Big Ten this season, but coach Kurt Golder
says they have as good a chance as any in making a title run in Minneapolis.
Titlerunsti i
cartds for Mi'chi~gan
GYMNASTICS MINNEAPOLIS
CHAMPIONSHIPS

By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan women's track coach James Henry's
work is never done. Starting with the cross country
season in the fall, then the indoor season through-
out the winter and finally finishing with the spring
outdoor season, the coach certainly has a year-
round job.
"I'm pretty sure that we're the only sport that has
three full seasons in one year," Henry said.
There also isn't much time in between the differ-
ent seasons that comprise one year of track compe-
tition; either. At the NCAA Indoor Championships
on March 8-9, senior Katie Jazwinski was the
Wolverines' lone representative. Now, just two
weeks later, the entire team heads to Tallahassee,
Fla. to open its outdoor season at the Florida State
Relays. Although the recent schedule has been gru-
eling, Henry plans to use the trip as a substitute for
the spring trip that many other sports programs get
to take.
"The meet will give the team a chance to recover
from the entire indoor season," Henry said. "We're
expecting predictably warm weather, and it will be
sort of like a vacation meet."
The Wolverines will compete against several

Florida schools at the non-scoring meet, and while
they don't plan on rolling over to the competition,
Henry says there will be less of an emphasis on the
team's score.
"Yes, we want to win, but we aren't going to go
crazy over it, he said. "The kids are going to per-
form under the parameters of our training."
While the team is taking a laid-back approach to
this meet, the importance of the opening meet of
the outdoor season remains' intact. Henry expects
his top performers in the indoor season to, continue
their excellence this season as well.
Jazwinski - winner of the Athlete of the Cham-
pionship award at the recent Big Ten Indoor Cham-
pionships - is expected to continue her success in
the distance events, while junior April Phillips and
sophomore Melissa Bickett will lead the Wolver-
ines in the throwing events. Both throwers broke
school records during the indoor season.
"I would say those three ladies are going to lead
the team," Henry said.
Michigan enters the outdoor season with an
overall goal of achieving balance. The team has
already proved itself successful in the previous two
sections of the track year, taking second at the Big
Ten cross country championships and first at the
conference indoor championships.

By Evan Brown
Daily Sports Writer
The No. 9 Michigan men's gymnas-
tics team should compete for a Big Ten
Championship despite the fact that it is
tied for last in the Big Ten rankings.
"Every team this year has a chance to
win the Big Ten," senior Justin Toman
said. "The best is yet to come for us."
While the rankings don't show it,
Michigan has as good a shot as any
school to win. It boasts a renewed confi-
dence and a stronger, veteran-laden line-
up. The Wolverines came off their best
performance of the year last week, scor-
ing 216.8 points against France - a
team highly touted throughout the
world.
That type of match "helps you from
getting nervous," Toman said. "If you
see one of the best in the world go up
and nail a set, you have to perform. And
that puts you in a different mindset.
When we go to Big Tens this weekend,
we're not going to see the level of gym-
nastics (that we saw against France)."
The Big Ten has six of the top 11
teams in the country, including the top
three. No. 1 Minnesota, No. 2 Penn
State, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Iowa and
No. 9 Illinois will join Michigan in
Minneapolis this weekend. Michigan is
1-2 in dual matches against Big Ten
opponents and 3-4 overall, including the
Windy City Championship.
The Golden Gophers weren't ranked
early in the year and even took an eight-

point beating earlier this year at the
hands of the Wolverines. This is a sign
that everyone in the Big Ten has a
chance.
"I think there's more parody in the
Big Ten this year," Michigan coach Kurt
Golder said. "Any one of those teams
could finish either first or last."
The Big Ten will show off some very
talented gymnasts who are among the
country's best. Penn State's Kevin
Donohue is one of the best in the paral-
lel bars, floor exercise and high bars.
Minnesota's Clay Strother is an All-
American in the pommel horse and
vault. Illinois' Bob Rogers is the best in
the high bar in the country. Michigan
doesn't have any gymnasts in the top
five of any individual events this year,
but it has many talented athletes that
have been injured. Daniel Diaz-Luong
and Geoff Corrigan, among other veter-
an gymnasts, will be added to more
events to create depth.
"We can still strengthen our lineup
with the possibility of strengthening
some routines," Golder said. "We made
a few mistakes that we can clean up. If
that doesn't give (the guys) a lot of con-
fidence, I don't know what will."
Michigan has a renewed confidence
and doesn't have to look back very far
to their last Big Ten Championship. The
Wolverines won in 1999 and 2000,
while finishing second last year.
"The mindset going into this meet is
really just to compete like last week and
not to hold back," Toman said.

TOM FELDKAMP/Daily
After a capturing a Big Ten Championship during
the indoor season, Michigan is heading outdoors.
This weekend, however, the Wolverines are look-
ing to take it easy and unwind before the outdoor
season gets in full swing.

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