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April 04, 2003 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-04

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4B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 7, 2003
Michigan football wide receiver Braylon Edwards finds a home running on the trackse

By Ellen McGarrity and Nicole Stanton
Daily Sports Writers

Every week on the USA network,
thousands of fans watch the
popular TV show "Crossing
Over with John Edward." Edward
attempts to do the unthinkable on his
show: cross over into the next realm,
bringing messages to loved ones left
behind. Michigan sophomore Braylon
Edwards has taken on a similar task
this year. Most Big House frequenters
know Edwards as the Wolverines' go-
to wide receiver, but he has now added
track runner to his resume. While
many people question whether John
Edward really achieves any crossover,
there is no question that Braylon
Edwards has successfully achieved his.
A Detroit native, Edwards started
running track and playing football at
Martin Luther King, Jr. High School.
"Track benefited me in football, so I
figured once I established myself in
football here (at Michigan), the coaches
would probably be all right with me
running track," Edwards said.
But Edwards has been following in
familiar footsteps all along.
"My father played football (at
Michigan) - he was a running back,"
Edwards said. "He was the first guy to
cross over (to track), and he was telling
me how it benefited him, and that
influenced me"
Some other Michigan athletes who
have crossed from football to track in
the past are Tyrone Wheatley, Harold
"Butch" Woolfolk, Stanley Edwards
(Braylon's father) and Joey Sarantos,
who is currently on the team.
Edwards finds participating in both
track and football a rewarding experi-
ence. He realizes that some of the
skills he develops in track or football
can be transferred to the other sport
"When you run track and when you
run with the right people like coach
Ron (Warhurst) and his runners, they
teach you form and the technique,"
Edwards said. "They teach you how to
utilize (these skills) to run faster on the
football field. And since I high jump
too, jumping teaches me how to time
jumps in football."
Edwards has definitely used his fast
track moves on the football field. Dur-
ing a routine 40-yard sprint drill during
one of the football team's first spring
practices, Edwards left everyone in the
dust with a time of 4.41 seconds. ,
In addition, Edwards has the fastest
indoor track times for the 60-meter
dash and the 200-meter dish, with
times of 6.88 and 21.81, respectively.
He is one of the best Michigan high
jumpers, with a personal record of 6'

Michigan track coach Ron Warhurst
already expects great things from
Edwards when he joins the track team
during their outdoor season (after Sat-
urday's spring football game).
"Braylon will definitely reach the
seven-foot mark (in the high jump) or
over, when he joins us in the outdoors,"
Warhurst said.
Since football receives the bulk of
publicity and praise among Michigan
sports, it is a wonder why Edwards
would participate and take on responsi-
bilities in a less-famed sport such as
"Well, everybody knows football -
we bring in all the money," Edwards
said. "But I think that a lot of people
respect track as well because it's so
hard to go through and to do well at
meets. In football, even if you (as an
individual) do good, and you are like
(former Michigan receiver) Dave Ter-
rell, it's a whole team thing - you have
to win as a team. In track, you're by
yourself, and everybody is focused on
only you when you're running. They
see only you, as opposed to just colors
and numbers. "
While there are perks of doing both
track and football, Edwards admits
that managing two sports and two
teams at once can be somewhat of a
juggling act.
"(There's a lot of) stress," Edwards
said. "You do two sports, and you do
them everyday. Like I'm running and
lifting and doing football everyday. It
may put too much stress on your mus-
cles and joints, like your hamstring
and groin - and it causes you to be
hurting more than maybe you would
like to be."
Often Edwards goes non-stop during
the week. He tries to practice with the
track team on Mondays, Wednesdays
and Fridays and with the football team
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Some days, he fits both in on top of his
classes and homework.
"My parents always taught me good
time management skills," Edwards
said. "In football, we always have early
practice, so after that I go to class, then
try to lift early (for football), then go to
track practice after that. Everything is
working out right now."
Another hardship with doing two
sports is the time spent with teammates
and coaches on each team.
"I'm not around football as much
(now)," Edwards said. "Not everyone
knows me as well (anymore). The
coaches can tend to lose favor, but the
(football) coaches have seen that I've
cut down my times and that I'm doing
pretty well."

two sports, it can be a very positive
thing," Carr said. "For me, the most
important issue is their academic load
- if they can handle it. I think Braylon
is a positive because he helps our track
team. And he's gotten faster."
"Braylon running track definitely
helps him perform better in football,"
football teammate and roommate
Lawrence Reid said. "I can see his
Edwards loves the thrill of competi-
tion, gaining an extra step towards ulti-
mate success over an opponent.
"He's not afraid to compete and
when you compete, you get better,"
Carr said.
Edwards seems to get along with his
new track teammates and coaches as
"When they saw that I actually cared
about track and I was serious, they
embraced (me)," said Edwards about
his track teammates, who at first
weren't sure whether he would be up to
the challenge of competing in two
sports at once.
And now that Edwards has proven
himself as someone who takes track
just as seriously as football, many of
the other track team members have
found he's a good role model to look
up to.
"I definitely admire his talents and
drive - I think a lot of the guys look
up to what he's doing," sophomore
teammate Nate Brannen said. "It's not
often you have a guy as good as him
on the (football) field that still wants to
achieve more by bringing his talents to
the track. I don't think I admire him
more or less as either a runner or foot-
ball player. He is extremely talented at
And teammates don't only admire
Edwards' high achievements in both
areas, but also appreciate that he
doesn't have a "holier than thou"
attitude since he is on the football
"He's a good person - not arrogant,
not stuck up," Warhurst said. "He
doesn't bring football into it. I don't
hear him talking about the Ohio State
football game or a great catch he
made. If he started saying that, I'd ask
him, 'Hey, what about the ones you
dropped?' "
Warhurst believes that running track
while playing football will bring posi-
tive outcomes for Edwards. He
believes in Edwards' sportsmanship
skills and knows that the publicity
from succeeding in two sports will not
make Edwards a boastful athlete.
"Braylon knows how good (Nick)
Willis is, he knows how good (Nate)
Brannen is, he knows those guys are
'Da man,' " Warhurst said. "He appre-
ciates them as athletes."

What is more impressive is that
Edwards not only knows some of the
top runners on this year's team, but
also is familiar with former Michigan
runners. Warhurst witnessed this when
giving Edwards a ride to a track meet
earlier in the season. Former Michigan
star miler Kevin Sullivan, who is cur-
rently ranked fifth in the world, hap-
pened to be in the car, and Warhurst
introduced the two.
"I said, 'Braylon, this is Kevin Sulli-
van, a former runner,' and he said, 'Are
you the Kevin Sullivan?' and Kevin
said 'Yeah, that's me,' and Braylon
knew him - Sullivan wasn't just some
miler," Warhurst said.
Many people may wonder if
Edwards feels, after all the stress and
hard work and practices, that joining a
second Michigan team is worth it.
Edwards would tell you wholehearted-
ly that it is indeed worth the effort. The
skills used for the two sports are more
similar than different.
"Coming from football to track, I
use my speed." Edwards said. "Lifting
a lot of weights in football has helped
me be one of the fastest guys on the
(track) team. I'm (also) using how I
run in track on the football field. It's
working out pretty nicely."
Warhurst agrees with the new addi-
tion to his team and also says that he is
glad Edwards is doing both sports.
"The field positions in football go
hand in hand with track." Warhurst
said. "I don't mind sharing him at
In fact, Warhurst would like nothing
more than to see more football players
come out for the track team.
"Purdue has five football players
(on their track team), and they've been
first, second, third, fourth and fifth 0
places sometimes in the 60-meter
dash. It's a tremendous advantage (to
have them)."
With track being more of an individ-
ually-focused sport, it also gives
Edwards a break from the large num-
ber of people and media involved with
"I think he likes being (at the track)
because it's a little more low key, and I
think it's a good break for him mental-
ly," Warhurst said. "You know, they're 40
gonna be after him for spring football.
Reporters will be out there. It's a nice
break for him from football."
Edwards has already been estab-
lished as No. 1 on the football team (as
seen on his jersey for the upcoming
season), and he's on his way to doing
the same in track.
Now that Edwards is representing
Michigan on both the track and in teh
field, fans can expect this crossover to
give John Edward a run - literally -
for his money.

Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards is known for making huge plays in the Big
House. During the offseason, he's a star as a sprinter and high jumper.

Due to Edwards' diligence in track,
there have been times when he had less
time for football because of track
requirements. Still, football coach

Lloyd Carr and other football team-
mates support him entirely.
"I think any time a guy has the
determination and the stamina to play

From her grandfather's arms to the University, Janessa Grieco has always been tumbling at the highest level

randfathers don't usually cause trouble,
ut in the case of the Michigan women's
gymnastics team, Janessa Grieco's
grandfather may have been the best trouble that
ever happened to it. When Stanley Ostrowski
and Grieco were together, mischief was never
far behind.
"He was frightening, what he would do with
her," Grieco's mother, Liana, said. "If she wanted
to walk on the top of the monkey bars, he'd let
From throwing Janessa up in the air and flip-
ping her, to letting her do other crazy things,
Ostrowski had a big impact on Janessa's decision
to do gymnastics.
Grieco was in and out of the hospital simply
because of what her grandfather let her do,
including letting her jump from high places or
throwing her up and hitting her head on the ceil-
ing. But his time with her was invaluable, as she
learned many things about life from him. They
were extremely close, going to the park every
day to play together and take walks together
before he passed away.
"He taught me a lot to not be afraid, and he
taught me a lot just in general," Grieco said. "I
think my mom just got sick of me getting in
trouble (with him), and so she put me in gym-
Born and raised on Long Island, N.Y., Grieco
grew up in a household that stressed hard work
and perseverance. Starting from her immigrant
grandparents on both sides of the family, the tra-
dition of working hard has been passed down
through the generations. Both her father, Guy,
and mother work tirelessly. Seeing that every day
helped Grieco to not give up when things were
going bad.
"My dad is the hardest worker I've ever seen,
he works nonstop," Grieco said. "He grew up
with very little, and he's worked hard to give me
everything I've had. My mother is the same
When asked if her father is blue or white col-
lar, Grieco responds with a mischievous grin as
the training room erupts in laughter.
"He doesn't wear collared shirts, he wears like
just shirts."
Always willing to smile, and always with a
nositive attitude, that's Janessa at her best. You

Her father is Italian and works for Stericycle,
a medical waste company, while her mother is
Polish and Czechlosovakian and works at Jodi's
Gym. Greg, her brother, is five years younger
than her and is an aspiring soccer player. All
three have been very supportive of Janessa
through every step of her career.
"My parents have been absolutely wonderful
through my whole career," Grieco said. "(But)
my parents still don't know much about gymnas-
tics, they have no idea."
Janessa has shown what her parents instilled
in her in every aspect of her life. She is a perfec-
tionist in every sense of the word, working hard
in the gym and out of it. Grieco expects a lot out
of others and respects those who give their all.
She is also consciously aware of her faults.
"That's probably one of my biggest assets and
biggest downfalls" Grieco said. "A lot of times,
I'm real hard on myself."
An Academic All-American all four years of
college, she has also worked her way into being
one of the top gymnasts for one of the top pro-
grams in the country. Involved in community
service and always willing to lend a helping
hand, Grieco has been a model athlete in Michi-
gan coach Bev Plocki's eyes.
"Janessa has always been, from the day she
walked in the door on campus as a freshman,
one of the hardest workers and most committed
and dedicated athletes on this team," Plocki said.
"She is definitely a leader by example in and out
of the gym."
When Plocki first started to recruit Grieco, it
didn't take her long to realize Grieco was some-
thing special.
"I only had to watch her practice for one day
to know what kind of a kid that she was," Plocki
said. "I just knew that this was a kid that went
immediately went to the top of our list. You
could see what her work ethic was."
Getting her to Michigan was a little more dif-
ficult, though. Because both of Grieco's parents
attended Michigan State, they had always scared
her with horror stories of how much it snowed in
Michigan. Grieco vowed never to come to
Michigan, even though she loved the football
uniforms and colors from watching them on TV
But after visiting, she was impressed.
"What I really liked about Michigan was the

maturity beyond her years, stepping up to
become a solid performer from freshman year
on. She fought through a separated shoulder last
year, the only major injury of her career. As the
lone senior this year, she has been a model of
consistency. She is a natural leader and was a
captain last year as well. That stems from mak-
ing good decisions, something that Grieco has
done since childhood.
"She's always made great decisions, she's
been able to do that ever since she was very very
young," Grieco's mother said. "She's able to look
at situations and make clear judgments and be
An illustration of this came when Janessa was
11 and wanted to change gymnastics clubs. She
had the initiative to sit down, actually tell the old
coach that she was leaving and then tell him how
he could improve his program. For an hour and
half, she explained to him what needed to be
improved - a pretty bold move coming from
anybody, but from an 11-year old, it was proba-
bly unheard of.
Janessa's maturity can also be seen in the
people she is closest to, such as her grand-
mother and her old club coach. Strong family
values have been a part of Janessa since she
was born. Her immediate and extended family
is very close, and this has been a source of
support for her. All have served to influence
her, and being with older, wiser individuals has
undoubtedly had an impact on her leadership
"My grandmother is probably one of my best
friends," Grieco said. "(And) Sasha Miretsky
(her old club coach) is like a second father to
Work ethic may have been important, but
Grieco's athletic talents are also undeniable.
When she first started gymnastics at the age of
eight, it took her just two weeks to get on the
teenage team. Grieco also loved to play soccer at
the time, but it got to the point where she had to
pick one or the other. She picked gymnastics
because she felt she was better at it, and also
because she got bored standing around on
defense. Grieco's mother did ballet, while her
father dove, so sports genes run in the family.
Superstitious to a fault, Grieco laughs as she
thinks about all of the little things that she does



Michigan gymnast janessa Greico will compete in her last home event this weekend.

stayed consistent with that throughout all the
time I've known her."
This year has been Grieco's year to shine.
Despite being a first-team All-American for the
last three years, she has been largely overshad-
owed by the accomplishments of other gymnasts.
Janessa doesn't have the flash of junior Calli
Ryals on the floor, or the Olympic experience of
Ray, and thus has not gotten the press.
"Absolutely, she does not get the kind of press
when Elise is in the lineup and the other kids that

around performer. She is enjoying the best sea-
son of her career because of natural ability, yes,
but more hard work than anything.
"Some have a ton of natural ability, and some
have some natural ability and get the rest from
hard work, and that's Janessa," Plocki said. "She
has gotten to the level that she has because of her
work ethic."
She may not be the one to win the NCAA all-
around, but she's the one who'll lead the team to
the championship. And at the end of the day, that

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