The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - 5E
Grapplers return two 2002 All-Americans
By Eric Chan
Daily Sports Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. - Going into last season's NCAA Wrestling Championships,
Michigan had the highest of expectations. After a disappointing third-place finish
at Big Ten Championships, the Wolverines were hoping to rebound with a strong
showing at nationals. It wasn't to be though, as Michigan finished in ninth after
coming in as the No. 3 team in the nation. Top-ranked Minnesota captured the
NCAA title for the second straight year.
"Obviously I'm disappointed. We came in with high expectations, and we did-
"K n't meet them," Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. "We didn't wrestle the kind
of NCAA Tournament we wanted."
Michigan's downfall came on the second day of the tournament. With five
wrestlers in the quarterfinals, it looked as though the Wolverines would be con-
O tending for a top-three finish. But everything came apart as Michigan lost nine of
the 12 matches wrestled on the second day.
The Wolverines didn't send a single wrestler to the finals or even the consola-
tion finals. The highest finish came from 174-pound graduated senior Otto
Olson, who ended in fifth-place. Olson entered the tournament undefeated as the
No. 1lseed, but he failed to come through for the national title in his last season at
Michigan. The now three-time All-American advanced to the semi-finals but was
upset by the No. 4 seed, Princeton's Greg Parker, 12-8. Parker, who became the
first All-American from Princeton since 142-pounder John Orr in 1985, looked
up at the scoreboard at the end of the match and looked shocked that he had just
upset the top-seeded Olson.
- -f "I was the underdog out there, and the crowd was really behind me," Parker
said. "I just wrestled as hard as I could, and it worked out for me. To beat a guy
BRENDAN O'DONNELL/Daily from a Big Ten school like Michigan really gives our small program some credi-
Kyle Smith (left) is one of two 2002 All-Americans - Ryan Bertin is the other - bility. The competition level in our wrestling room just gets better every day."
returning to Michigan's wrestling team. In the consolation bracket, Olson lost to defending national champion Josh
Blue makes it to FF, but can't beat West teams
Koscheck of Edinboro, who Olson had beaten before. Olson rebounded in
the fifth-place match against Rick Springman of Penn. In the final match of
his illustrious college wrestling career, Olson pulled off a close 5-4 victory
None of the nine Michigan wrestlers who qualified for the NCAA Tournament
finished at or above his seed except for sixth-seeded 157-pound Ryan Bertin,
who finished sixth. The sophomore claimed his All-America status by mechani-
cally wrestling through the tournament, not upsetting any higher seeds or being
upset in the process.
"It felt good, but I knew I just had to keep wrestling to go after third place,"
Bertin said of his win over Ohio State's Josh Janson to become an All-American.
Graduate Andy Hrovat and senior Kyle Smith each finished in seventh-place to
claim All-America status. For both wrestlers though, the All-America title was no
consolation prize for the team's poor finish.
"Yeah sure, maybe when I'm old and I look back on it, (being an All-Ameri-
can) will be nice, but not now, "Hrovat said. "Right now, I'm just disappointed in
how I finished."
A.J. Grant and Mike Kulczycki - both All-Americans last year - were
unable to make it past the second day of competition. In an ironic twist of fate,
Grant wrestled former Michigan wrestler and current North Carolina standout
Chris Rodrigues. Rodrigues, the nation's top recruit in 2000, came to Michigan
with hopes of starting for the Wolverines in his first year. But Grant had different
ideas as he beat out Rodrigues for the 125-pound spot. Realizing he wouldn't be
able to compete at Michigan for the next two years, Rodrigues transferred to
North Carolina, where he immediately became the team's star wrestler.
Grant jumped out on Rodrigues early in the match and was winning in the sec-
ond period, but Rodrigues caught him on his back and pinned him. The loss elim-
inated Grant from the tournament and prevented the senior from improving on his
fourth-place finish at last year's NCAA Tournament. Rodrigues went on to
become an All-American by finishing in eighth place.
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan utility player Delia Sonda couldn't
resist the temptation.
As the rest of her teammates were unsure of
whether to jump into the DeNunzio Pool in Prince-
ton, N.J. and celebrate their victory over Hartwick
in the Eastern Championships on April 28, Sonda
immediately dove into the water and began "hug-
ging and kicking" with her teammates.
"It was a very hard-fought game, so the antici-
pation was building," said Sonda, who played for
the Wolverines when they were just a club water
polo team two years ago. "The whole time I was
waiting for someone to score, and as soon as Jen
(Crisman) scored, I jumped in, and I looked
behind me and everyone was still standing there.
Some people were just shocked."
The Wolverines are not alone in their shocked
state. There are many people in the water polo
community who are trying to figure out how
Michigan jumped to the NCAA Championships
in just its- second varsity season. But Michigan
coach Amber Drury-Pinto knew it wouldn't take
long for this program to compete with the
"Coming into Michigan, I knew it wouldn't take
long because they had a strong club team," Drury-
Pinto said. "It was definitely a perk when I was
looking at this position. So many things con-
tributed to it. All the players stepped up and rose
to the occasion."
The Wolverines were defeated by No. 1 Stanford
13-3, getting goals from Jen Crisman, Stephanie
Rupp and Julie Nisbet. Goalie Betsey Armstrong
made 16 saves in the losing effort. In the third
place game, the Wolverines played a much tighter
game against Loyala Marymount. Crisman had
two goals and Armstrong had 10 saves. Both were
given second-team All-Tournament honors though
the team was 0-2.
But before the tournament began, Michigan
wasn't backing down from the Western power-
house as Stanford hadn't seen the Wolverines play
in over a year.
"We've kind of got an edge," Drury-Pinto said
before the Final Four. "(Stanford) hasn't seen us.
We think that Stanford might not be as prepared
for us as they might think."
"When you read the message board about this
tournament, most people are disregarding us and
saying that we're going to get completely
destroyed," Sonda said before the tournament. "We
are very much wanting to prove that we deserve a
seat at NCAAs. Some people say that they should
take the top four in the country and not out of
regionals. I think we can give Stanford a good
game and we can beat Loyola Marymount."
Drury-Pinto is trying her best to convince her
team that there is nothing different about playing
against the traditional powerhouses like the Cardi-
nal and the Bruins.
"They could be called Podunk University,"
Drury-Pinto said. "It doesn't matter. They're
human, and we've beaten a lot of good teams. We
can match up with those teams. Yeah, they've got
some experience on us, but we're fighters."
The Wolverines had to claw their way into the
NCAA Championships, beating Indiana in the
semifinafs in four overtimes and Hartwick in the
first sudden-death frame. Michigan has a 5-0
record in overtime this season.
"We have a lot of heart," Sonda said. "If we go
into overtime, I'll be confident. I think that we
will win if we get to overtime."
Whether the Wolverines make a national cham-
pionship run or not, the experience and the expo-
sure that the program will receive will be more
than worth the trip to Los Angeles.
"When any team makes it and can say it's been
to the 'Final Four, that's huge," Drury- Pinto said.
"We'll probably get some looks from (recruits)
who weren't so interested before."
NCAA runners-up in 2001, the Michigan women's crew team placed eighth place
last season thanks to the fourth place finish by the first varsity boat.
'M' eighthplace finish
lower than expectations
By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer
First trip to NCAA finals a 'stepping stone'
By Chis Burke
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's golf team spent all last year surprising people. The
Wolverines won all four of their fall tournaments, captured two more victories late
in the spring season and made a solid showing at the Big Ten Championships.
Things reached their peak for the Wolverines when a tremendous last-day rally at
the NCAA Regionals secured Michigan a spot in the NCAA Championships. For
the icing on the cake of this year, Michigan wanted to complete its successful sea-
son by proving that it belonged at the finals in May in Auburn, Wash.
The Wolverines, in Michigan's first-ever trip to the NCAA Championships, fired
a four-day, 72-hole team total of 1199, which was good enough for a 17th-place fin-
ish nationally, :32 shots behind national champion Duke.
"There really weren't a lot of people who thought we would be here (in
Auburn)," Michigan coach Kathy Teichert said. "They said, 'It's just a fluke, they
aren't playing against anybody, the competition isn't very good.' But when you fin-
ish 17th in the country, we have played enough people."
"We played well enough to get here. We did it. For that fact alone, I am proud of
the program. We've come a long way."
Departed senior Bess Bowers was without question the Wolverines best
golfer over the four days of the tournament.
After solid rounds of 75 and 76 in her first 36 holes, Bowers scorched the par-72
course on the final two days, posting a 3-under par 69 on the third day and then fol-
lowing up with a 1-under 71 on tie tournament's final day. The scores were good
enough to pull Bowers up into a tie for 13th-place individually with a score of 291.
Virada Nirapathpongporn of Duke took individual honors with a 279 (9-under par).
"I came out and had a great senior year, played some good golf and now I
am ready to move on with my life," Bowers said. "But this is something I will
"(Making the finals) sets a standard. I would be very disappointed if the
girls didn't make it back next year, if they didn't continue this tradition. We
didn't work so hard to build a program that would draw recruits in and start
this tradition of going to the regional each year and' now nationals for it to stop
after we graduate."
Said Teichert: "I think Bess had an absolutely outstanding tournament. I
mean, two rounds under par :.. that is just fantastic."
Sophomore Laura Olin and graduate Misia Lemanski also turned in solid
weeks for the Wolverines, carding scores of 300 and 301, respectively, while
grad LeAnna Wicks posted a 310. Senior Kim Benedict had three solid rounds
of 77, 78 and 78, but was disqualified from the second round for signing an
. Regardless, the Wolverines have to hope that the program's first trip to the
finals will serve as a major stepping stone for future teams.
"You have to remember that the fact we actually got here is amazing," Olin
said. "We worked so hard all season long and we kept pushing each tourna-
ment. We just have to continue with what we left off and there should be no
reason why we couldn't get back here next year.
"This year has taken us to a whole new level and to stay at this level, every-
one has to want it."
Being in the city that hosts the Indy
500 didn't seem to be enough for the
Michigan women's rowing team to start
its engines, as it finished eighth in the
nation at the NCAA Championships on
June 2. It was the lowest finish ever for
the Wolverines at the Championships,
and was especially surprising after
being runner-up last year.
"I think that we certainly had chal-
lenges this year. Of course our expecta-
tions are much higher," Michigan coach
Mark Rothstein said. "I don't think it's a
step back for the program. We're going
to come back next year even better."
All three boats for Michigan strug-
gled on the first day, putting Michigan
in a difficult position. The first varsity
eight boat was forced to row in the
repechage heat after failing to qualify
directly for the semifinals, while the
second varsity eight and first varsity
four boats failed to qualify directly for
the finals and were forced to row in
repechage heats as well. The first varsi-
ty eight boat was able to pull off a
thrilling photo finish by edging Wash-
ington State to advance to the semifi-
nals on day two.
On day two, Michigan's second varsi-
ty eight boat and varsity four' boat
fought to the finals with strong finishes
in their repechage heats, but the'first
varsity eight was unable to advance to
their Grande Final, and instead had to
row in the Petite Final.
The second varsity boat was happy
with its performance though.
"I think we rowed great, and executed
the race plan," Liz Nelson said. "We put
together the best race we had in us."
Going into the final day, it was still
anybody's title, and Michigan still had
hope with two boats in the Grande
Finals. But it was not meant to be.
The first varsity eight finished third
in the Petite Final to finish ninth overall,
while the second varsity eight finished
fifth, and the varsity four finished
fourth with a huge push in their sprint.
Michigan finished with 40 points, 27
points behind Brown, the NCAA
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Led by a strong senior class, Michigan's women's golf team placed 17th at NCAAs.
The Wolverines return two stars in senior Kim Benedict and sophomore Laura Olin.
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