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September 03, 2002 - Image 22

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-03

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4

22A - The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - September 3, 2002

Solidarity replaces star
power for Blue harriers

Post-Webb life now a
reality for Michigan

By Joe Ferrentino
For The Daily
The Michigan men's cross country team
rode the performance of three All-Americans,
including freshman phenom Alan Webb, to an
1 ith-place finish at the NCAA National
Championships last year. This year, it's out to
prove it doesn't need star power to succeed.
This year Michigan coach Ron Warhurst is
expecting a total team effort from the young
Wolverines, and he is pleased with what he
has seen so far.
"We've had some tremendous workouts, as
far as having 10 or 12 guys together the
whole way," said Warhurst. "(When) a guy
falls off the pack (they say), 'Come on, let's
go. You gotta stay with us.' That's what builds
your team."
Team development will be very important
for a senior-free group that lacks an experi-
enced leader.
Two All-Americans, Mike Wisniewski and
Mark Pilja, graduated. The third, Webb, left
the team to pursue a professional running
career.
This year's team will feature a cast of lead-
ers. Juniors Tom Greenless, Ryan Hesselink,
and team captain Nick Stanko, along with
sophomore Nathan Brannen, are among those
expected to contribute.
Greenless lost 12 pounds in preparation for
the season. Stanko, who is in charge of all the
organizational aspects of the team, is looking
to overcome tendonitis in his foot.
Joining that core group of veterans is Nick
Willis, a freshman who ran a 1,500-meter race

in 3:42 and has incredible finishing speed.
"You don't need to be a senior to be a
leader," said Warhurst. "Even though Nick
Willis is a freshman and Nate Brannen is a
sophomore, I think their maturity level and
experience in international competition
makes them natural leaders."
While the Wolverines may be youthful,
they are still an experienced squad. Brannen,
who has run 1:46 for 800 meters, recently
represented Canada at the Commonwealth
Games. Brannen, Greenless, Hesselink, and
Brian Turner all competed at the NCAA
Championships last season.
The Wolverines face an uphill battle if
they are to match last year's 11th-place
national finish. They begin the season
ranked No. 28. In the Big Ten, Michigan will
face tough competition from Michigan State,
Wisconsin and Indiana. To reach the
NCAAs, the team must first win a regional
that includes all those teams, plus perennial
powerhouses Notre Dame, Butler and East-
ern Michigan.
If the past is both gone and forgotten, look
for this group to be successful. Many of the
runners have shined in distances ranging
from 400 meters to the mile. That pure speed,
when combined with the endurance gained
through running 90 miles a week, should
make for an impressive group of athletes.
"I think if we stay healthy, we're going to
surprise some people," Warhurst said.
"These kids got a lot of pride."
Michigan opens its season today at 4:30
p.m. with the Michigan Open at the Universi-
ty Golf Course.

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
Despite having never put on the
maize and blue, Alan Webb came to
Ann Arbor last fall as arguably the
most famous athlete on campus.
After breaking the 36-year-old
American high school mile record in
2001, the Reston, Va. native became
a national story whose races in the
U.S. Track and Field National Cham-
pionships even made SportsCenter.
But one year later, he is not even a
blip on Michigan's athletic radar screen
anymore.
This summer, Webb left the Uni-
versity to run professionally while
taking classes near his home at
George Mason University.
Webb signed a $250,000 a year
contract with Flynn Sports Manage-
ment - which represents many
track and field athletes - and will
train with his high school coach,
Scott Raczko.
"Alan Webb is history as far as
we're concerned," Michigan head
coach Ron Warhurst said. "He's bet-
ter off where he is at."
Webb's career started off well last
fall when he won Big Ten Cross
Country Championship and then fin-
ished 11th at the NCAA Cross Coun-
try Championships.
But achilles tendonitis kept him
from racing during the indoor sea-

son, and he ran below expectations
before placing fourth in the 1,500-
meters at the NCAA Championships
in late May.
As the outdoor season came to a
close, Webb discussed turning pro-
fessional with Raczko, winner of the
United States Track and Field 2001
NIKE Coach of the Year Award.
Webb called Raczko every day last
season and the two of them felt that
it was for the best that Webb leave
Ann Arbor.
"I feel the best coach on the planet
is Scott Raczko, and I want to take
advantage of his talent," Webb said.
For now, Webb plans to train while
taking classes before running in an
indoor race or two next winter.
According to Warhurst, it could be
five years before Webb makes an
impact on the professional circuit in
Europe.
Last year Webb ranked just 20th in
the world in the mile and 77th in the
world in the 1500 meters.
"He's got a lot of growing up to
do," Warhurst said. "He's 19 years
old and he's had the world at his
feet. Unfortunately, I think he's got-
ten some bad advice, but when
you've got $250,000 in your pocket
it's hard to say you got bad advice.
"I wish him well and I hope he
does well," Warhurst said. "It was a
great experiment - but it didn't
work."

AP PHOTO
Alan Webb only called Ann Arbor his home for one year. The
freshman superstar left Michigan to run professionaly.

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Ford named associate
head coach for rowing

By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Writer
After guiding Michigan's second var-
sity eight to two Big Ten titles in the last
three years and a first-
place finish in the
2001 NCAA Champi-
onships, assistant row-
ing coach Emily Ford
was rewarded with a
promotion. Head
coach Mark Rothstein "
elevated Ford to the Ford
position of associate
head coach.
"I think this is a better reflection of
her importance to our staff," Rothstein
said.
Ford has worked mainly with the

Wolverines' second. boat, and Rothstein
said that Ford's new title will not bring a
change in her responsibilities with the
team - it's just more accurate.
"I felt it was a more appropriate title
considering her role in the success of
the program," Rothstein said.
The second varsity eight finished fifth
at the 2002 NCAA Championships last
June. Michigan placed eighth overall.
Ford, in her seventh year with Michi-
gan, has developed along with the pro-
gram. She started as the novice team
coach in 1996, and moved up when the
team was granted varsity status in 1998.
Since that time, Michigan finished in
the top five at NCAAs three times.
"We started together in the fall of
1995 and worked to build the team's
success together," Rothstein said.

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