6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 17, 2003
'AN AMAZING FEELING'
Phillips lone scorer
for Blue at NCAAs
By Jeremy Antar
Daily Sports Writer
Throughout her senior year, Michi-
gan women's track and field team tri-
captain April Phillips has been a
reliable, driving force for the Wolver-
ines. On Saturday, Phillips was
rewarded for her hard work at the
NCAA Indoor Championships in
Fayetteville, Ark., becoming just the
second Michigan thrower ever to
earn All-American honors in the
NCAA Indoor Championships.
"I was really happy with every-
one's performance here, today, high-
lighted by April Phillips performance
in the shot put," Michigan coach
James Henry said. "It is always great
to see someone go out with doing
their very best."
Phillips claimed a fourth-place fin-
ish after breaking her own school
record with a monumental throw of
55-0 feet. This throw earned five
points for the Wolverines, landing the
team in a tie for 32nd place, the
team's best finish at the NCAA
indoor meet since 1999.
"I was a little numb to what was
going on," Phillips said of her record-
breaking throw. "I knew it was a
good throw, but I had no clue I was
ranked that high after prelims."
Phillips is no stranger to the pres-
sure of performing in the post-sea-
son. Last year, she competed in the
NCAA Outdoor Championships and
earned All-American honors when
she finished in 12th place in the
Phillips knew this would be her
last opportunity to compete at the
NCAA Indoors, and she wanted to
make it memorable.
"I was thinking, 'This is your last
throw as a senior indoors,' and I
wanted to make it a good one and
that is what happened," Phillips said.
Senior tri-captain Rachel Sturtz
joined her teammate on the All-
America pedestal when she compet-
ed in the 800-meter run for the
Wolverines. Her time of 2:08.86
placed her in sixth place of her heat
and 10th overall. The top eight fin-
ishers moved on to the finals, and
Sturtz's effort just happened to fall
.27 seconds short on Saturday.
Sturtz and Phillips became the first
Wolverine tandem to capture All-
American honors since 1999.
In the distance medley relay, the
Wolverines fought hard against the
best of competition and rounded up a
Freshman Kate Erdman headed the
relay for the Wolverines. Erdman
hustled her way into 10th place
before handing off the baton to junior
Vera Simms for the second leg of the
Simms ran the 400-meter portion
of the race with explosiveness, and
passed the baton into the steady and
confident hands of Sturtz for the
800-meter leg of the race.
Sturtz dug deep, pushed for every
inch, and placed the race into the
hands of sophomore Lindsey Gallo
with the Wolverines clinging to ninth
Gallo, who had a brilliant sopho-
more season for the Wolverines, ran
the anchor and finished strong at a
time of 11:19.61, solidifying a 10th-
place finish for the Wolverines.
Rounding out the day for the
Wolverines was freshman Stephanie
Linz in the high jump. Linz cleared
5-9 3/4 on her second attempt and
notched a 13th-place finish, placing a
nice finishing touch on an exception-
al freshman season.
Continued from Page 1B
"He just killed guys on the last 75
yards. We went nuts."
Michigan has not seen a national
championship in indoor track since
1998 when Kevin Sullivan won the
indoor mile. And now Brannen holds
the 800-meter run school indoor and
"It's an amazing feeling," Brannen
said. "Two of my goals have been to
make the Olympics and win a cham-
pionship - to win as a sophomore is
more than I have asked for. I cried
with my parents."
Not only did Brannen win it, but he
left Otukile Lekote of South Carolina
- the two year reigning national
champion - dangling in seventh
"It is amazing to see one of your
teammates win something so great,"
sophomore Seth Waits said. "We
were jumping up and down."
Brannen has had an amazing
indoor season, and when asked to
reflect on how he felt about it, he
expressed how happy it went. He
had several small, nagging injuries
that put a slight hamper on his train-
ing, but managed to keep his
strength and confidence up.
In addition, Brannen put high
praise on his teammates' encourage-
ment and camaraderie.
"The unique thing about our team
is how close we all are - as a whole
we are pretty tight, and that has
helped us perform well. Also, I think
real highly of Ron as a person and a
Still, there were more fantastic
things to come for Michigan this
Aside from Brannen's great per-
formance, there was another impres-
sive occurrence at Friday's events.
Michigan's distance medley relay,
which included Brannen, Waits and
freshmen Andrew Ellerton and Nick
Willis, took third in the relay against
Villanova and Stanford with a time of
The race started off with Brannen
running 1,200 meters in 2:53, then
passing the lead to Waits, who ran
400 meters in 47.7 seconds. Waits
kept Michigan in the lead.
"I knew I could not lose my posi-
tion," Waits said.
Then when it came to 800-meters,
Ellerton did his job, running a time of
1:48, dropping Michigan to second
That's when Arkansas caught up to
Michigan, and it was time for quick
Willis was last to run with one mile
of the race to go, and he flew by
Arkansas' runner. It was up to him to
win. Willis ran with all his might up
the straight-away, neck-and-neck with
Villanova and Stanford, finishing
with a time of 3:59.
"It was tremendous," Warhurst
said. "They were coming down the
straight-away and then just separated
off at the very end. It came down to
the last 20 meters."
Michigan's third-place finish was
still big for the Wolverines - it
broke Michigan's record by three sec-
It was an important and thrilling
weekend for the Wolverines, and each
had many good things to say even
before the trip.
The Wolverines anticipated an
amazing atmosphere at the champi-
onships because each runner knew he
was running against some of the best
in the world.
"That's why I came to the United
States - to run against the best,"
Willis the New Zealand native, said.
Willis received 12th place in the
3,000-meter run. Although it was not
a national championship title, Willis
is still considered a champion among
"He ran as best he could," Schram-
ski said. "In the middle of the race,
he looked up at (the Michigan crowd)
and smiled - it was just great."
"He gave it everything he had. It
was a great performance on his part,"
Sophomore Nate Brannen becomes the first Wolverine to win a NCAA title since
1998, with a time of 1:47.79 in the 800 meters.
Willis took a nonchalant approach
to the 3,000-meter run on account of
not feeling too well. He had been suf-
fering from a mild cold prior to the
NCAAs and was worn thin by Fri-
"I knew it wasn't going to be a
good, day because I was tired from
(Friday)," Willis said. "I looked up
and smiled at the guys because I
wanted to thank them all for being
there for me"
According to the Wolverines, the
environment in Arkansas was incredi-
ble not solely because of the tough
competition, but also due to the over-
whelming enthusiasm and encourage-
ment of the fans - especially
"We had a trumpet and were
singing the Michigan fight song,"
Schramski said. "We were the loudest
guys there with only 20 of us."
By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer
After Christine Nolan's loss at No. 2 singles to
Michigan State's Jean Willmann on Saturday
night, an intense Michigan spectator said aloud,
"We're getting our butts whooped."
"Just wait," said a neighboring fan, "I know
we can fight this blaze."
She was right.
Trailing 2-1 and dropping the first set in five
of the six singles matches, the Wolverines (2-1
Big Ten, 8-3 overall) rebounded to pound the
Spartans (0-3, 8-7) 5-2 at the Varsity Tennis
Center on Saturday.
"We got off to an excellent start," Michigan
State coach Tim Bauer said. "Doubles was a big
boost for us and winning a whole bunch of the
first sets. Then it became a mental battle, and
this year Michigan won it."
Last year, the Spartans edged the Wolverines
4-3 at Michigan State, which proved to be the
turning point in their season. This year, the
olverines were able to pool individual momen-
and overcome the Spartans' early charge.
"I'm awfully proud of the team," Coach Bitsy
Ritt said. "We talked about 'Creating the Mo,'
and it turned into a great win."
With her family loudly cheering her on,
Michelle DaCosta caught fire after the first set
of her No. 1 singles match, toasting Caroline
Lay 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 to even up the match 2-2.
"It was really impressive to see her fight to
come back," said DaCosta's brother, Patrick.
"My sister played so hard." Her family picked a
perfect weekend to travel from Ohio.
DaCosta's comeback ignited the Wolverines,
as they won the remaining three matches - all
come-from-behind three-set victories. Joanne
Musgrove capitalized on her opponent's frustra-
tion, posting a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory. Down 1-4 in
the final set, Musgrove regrouped mentally.
share of tourney title
By Josh Holman
Oaily Sports Writer
It was the way that the Michigan
baseball team wanted to end its week-
end at the Winthrop Tournament in
Rock Hill, S.C. Behind strong team hit-
ting and some of the most solid pitching
of the tournament, the Wolverines (6-7)
closed out the Winthrop Eagles, 8-5,
Junior pitcher Bobby Garza went 7.1
innings to earn his second win of the
season for Michigan. While he allowed
five runs, they came off of just five hits,
and the performance was certainly a
strong one for a team that has shown
some shaky pitching thus far.
Junior catcher Jake Fox continued his
strong hitting over the tournament,
going 2-for-4 yesterday with two runs
batted in, capped off by a homerun in
the top of the seventh inning. Fox had
three homeruns over the weekend and
leads the team this year with seven.
Sophomore Chris Burhans also had a
big day, going 2-for-4. His double in the
top of the fifth inning scored two runs
and put Michigan ahead 7-1, enough to
keep the Eagles down for good.
The Winthrop game was originally
scheduled for Saturday as part of a dou-
bleheader, but rain postponed most of
the games scheduled. The tournament
schedule was revised, and the champi-
onship and consolation games were
"Of course it was disappointing that
we couldn't play a championship game
today," Michigan coach Rich Maloney
said. "But we beat two solid Southern
schools and that's a big step forward for
Saturday's rainy 10-6 victory over
Birmingham-Southern was actually the
only game played in Rock Hill that day,
but the weather couldn't dampen the
The Wolverines' four-run ninth
inning was key to the win, spurred by
Burhan's infield grounder and followed
by sophomore centerfielder Matt But-
ler's two-run single. Senior outfielder
Gino Lollio tacked on the fourth run on
a fielder's choice.
Sophomore relief pitcher Matt
Collins earned the win while allowing
the Eagles to tie the game at 6-6 in the
sixth inning. But he held the lead in
bases loaded situations in the both the
seventh and eighth innings.
Michigan's big hitting actually started
in the third inning on an RBI single
from senior second baseman Jordan
Cantalamessa. Senior third baseman
Brock Koman proceeded to clear the
bases with a three-run homerun.
Koman finished the game 2-for-5
with three RBIs. Butler also added three
RBIs on his 3-for-4 hitting day.
Michigan's bats were still out for Fri-
day's matchup against Northern Illinois,
but the Huskies also brought a set of
their own, prevailing in the 12-8
Fox started off his weekend hot, belt-
ing out two solo homeruns on a 2-for-5
day. Senior first baseman Nate Wright
joined the party, knocking out two
round trippers of his own. Wright also
finished 2-for-5 along with 4 RBIs.
"Fox has been hitting the cover off
the ball," Maloney said. "Our entire
team has hit well all year. We're getting
Northern Illinois took advantage of
one unearned run in the first inning and
three unearned runs in the fourth. A
throwing error in the sixth by Michigan
also helped keep the inning alive, and
shortstop Joe Macuzza responded with
a three-run double.
Senior Jen Duprez had little trouble against Michigan State's Josie Schmude in the No. 6 singles match,
sweeping both sets, 6-0, 6-0. She improved her singles record to 3-0 on the season.
"I made too many errors (in the beginning),"
Musgrove said. "Then all of the Michigan fans
got behind me, and it helped a lot."
After watching Musgrove's thriller, fans
walked to the opposite side of the Varsity Tennis
Center and helped spark Kim Plaushines's 6-7
(0-7), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Michigan State's
Karen Gustafson at No. 4 singles - melting any
hopes of a Spartan comeback.
Leanne Rutherford continued the winning
trend, beating Michigan State's Keri Thompson
6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-0 at No. 3 singles for Michi-
gan's fifth singles win of the evening.
Asked why his team smoldered after a scorch-
ing start, Bauer responded, "I think both teams
were missing some people (because of injury).
We were missing numbers 1, 3, and 4, we have
been for awhile."
The Wolverines revenged last year's narrow 4-
3 loss without two of their key.starters. Debra
Streifler, who had a team-high 15 singles wins
going into this weekend's competition, did not
compete due to illness, and No. 2 starter
Kavitha Tipirneni's regular season ended when
she fractured her left elbow two weeks ago in
"They're saying six to eight weeks, I'm think-
ing six," said the optimistic Tipirneni after Sat-
urday's match. "The hardest thing is just
watching the matches."
But the Spartans feel worse than Tipirneni.
After building a huge lead, they couldn't extin-
guish the Wolverines.
"This team has a lot of heart and fight," Ritt
said of her team's finish. "I would never count
this team out. I have confidence in every single
player no matter what the score is, no matter
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