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October 30, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-30

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A

Thursday
October 30, 2003
www.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

Jbel Mirigan ailI
SPORTS

8A

4

Predictably, Montoya
will play at Juniors

Smoker's return warrants
respectfrom every fan

By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan sophomore goalie Al
Montoya was invited Tuesday to repre-
sent the United States on the ice.
Montoya was one of 22 players
named by USA Hockey to the prelimi-

nary roster for the
Under-20 U.S. Nation-
al Junior hockey team.
The team, which will
be trimmed to 16
players in December,
will compete at the

NB 01

International Ice Hockey Federation
World Junior Championship, which
will take place in Finland at the end of
December.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Mon-
toya said. "Just to be able to put on the
red, white and blue - it's just a great
thing."
Michigan coach Red Berenson was
also pleased with the announcement,
but noted that it was by no means a
shocker.
"I'm not surprised," Berenson said.
"He's done everything you could ask
for a goalie his age. I think he's had a
real good year at Michigan, and so I
think it was a pretty easy choice for
them."
Michigan junior alternate captain
Eric Nystrom, who captained the
under-20 squad last year and also par-

ticipated on the 2001 team, noted that
the competition is a step up from
NCAA hockey.
"This is the real deal," Nystrom
said. "This is where Canada sends
their best players (and) the whole
world sends their best players. This is
the cream of the crop, besides the
Olympics."
The only negative about Montoya
playing on the national team is that he
will be absent when the Wolverines
take the ice for the Great Lakes Invita-
tional. Berenson said his presence will
be missed, but others will have to step
up and fill the hole.
"For our team, that means he'll miss
a couple of games," Berenson said.
"(They will be) important games, and
that puts (the pressure) on our backup
goalies."
Sophomore Noah Ruden will most
likely start in net for the Wolverines at
the GLI. Ruden has seen playing time
in a few games this season, most
notably against Miami when Montoya
was pulled in the third period after
allowing six goals. Freshman Mike
Mayhew is the third goalie on the
Michigan roster.
In addition to being named to the
junior national team preliminary ros-
ter, Montoya was also named CCHA
Defensive Player of the Week last
week for his performance against
Northern Michigan. Montoya allowed

SETH LOWER/Daily
Michigan's Al Montoya was the only Wolverine selected to participate in the World
Junior Championship in December. Montoya will be with Team USA.

just two goals on 43 shots in that
series.
HELMINEN TO SIT OUT THIS WEEKEND:
Michigan will be without one of its
more experienced forwards Saturday
when it takes on Niagara. Berenson
said that he has decided to sit junior
winger Dwight Helminen for academ-
ic reasons.
"I'm giving Dwight the week off,"
Berenson said. "He's got some work in

school that he's got to get done, and
I'm not satisfied he's getting (it) done,
so he's got all week to get it done."
Berenson said the decision to hold
Helminen out of competition is entire-
ly unrelated to anything Helminen has
done on the ice. The coaches will meet
with Helminen on Monday to deter-
mine if he is ready to play in the fol-
lowing weekend's series against Ferris
State.

COURTNEY LEWIS
The Daily Grind
E AST LANSING - Jeff Smoker
has them laughing. He's standing
in a circle of reporters, who are
sticking recorders, microphones and
cameras in his face and firing questions
about things most people would never
want to talk about, and he's joking with
them. But before the laughter even sub-
sides, the Michigan State quarterback
has already turned serious, talking
about what it's like to deal with a sub-
stance abuse problem as a college stu-
dent. He stays there, relaxed and talking
openly until the reporters are appeased.
A year and four days earlier, Smoker
was suspended from the football team
indefinitely. Ten days after that, his fam-
ily announced that he was being treated
for a substance abuse problem. Now
he's back on the field, leading the Spar-
tans in their Big Ten title hunt and hav-
ing fun playing football. "A regular
guy," roommate Joe Tate called him.
What have you done in the past 369
days? How much have you had to
change? Imagine hitting your lowest
point, then climbing back up, and sur-
passing even where you were before.
Imagine sitting in the glare of the spot-
light, going through rehab and coming
back to face questions and doubts -
some of them probably your own -
and the pull of dangerous habits.
Jeff Smoker has done all those things.
And even if you're a Michigan fan, one
who hates the Spartans and will root pas-
sionately against them when they play
the Wolverines Saturday, it's hard not to
be impressed by how far this 22-year old
from Manheim, Pa., has come.
"I think he's done a tremendous job
of facing the problems that he had last
year and owning up to them and really
making a concerted effort to beat
them," offensive lineman Paul Harker
said. "He's really earned that trust back
that might have (been) shaken last sea-
son. And we know that he's going to be
all right ... Everybody right now is
really just focused on this team ..."
The team is 7-1 and undefeated in

conference play. This, after last year's 4-
8 record. But it's still hard sometimes.
Smoker said the toughest part is "just
temptations right now. Just being in col-
lege and all the temptations"
He's learning how to stare down
those demons and walk away.
"I can go to social places and hang
out," Smoker said. "I have to know
when it's time for me to go, when there's
something there that I can't handle. This
is my last year at school, and I'm trying
to enjoy it, but at the same time, not let it
get out of hand. There's a fine line and
I'm just trying to follow it."
He said his teammates weren't sure
how to act around him in social settings
at first, but they've gotten more comfort-
able. "They've been great about looking
out for me and stuff," Smoker said.
"I kind of admire him, in a sense, just
to see him coming back," Tate, an offen-
sive tackle, said. "It's hard. If there was
a situation like that that I went through,
I don't know if I would have had the
character and will to come back, just
because it's a tough road. But he's reap-
ing the rewards right now"
He didn't have to do it, you know. It
would have been easier for him to forget
about football, to just try to get his life
back and be an anonymous student
somewhere. But instead, he chose to
face the pressure and the critics, along
with his problems. And now he leads
the conference in passing, has lost just
one game this season and has everyone
talking about a remarkable turnaround
- the team's, not his.
"A lot of people, I think, would have
probably given up and not been back
here the next year," Tate said. "I think it
just shows a lot about his character,
about what he's done just to get back on
the team and stay here. It's been awe-
some just to see that."
But Smoker said he doesn't like
being called a "comeback kid or a sec-
ond chance kid or whatever." He just
wants to be a football player.
"I like to have a lot of decisions and be
in control," Smoker said. He was talking
about his role as a quarterback, but you
got the sense he could have been talking
about his life outside of football, too.
What a feeling that must be - to be
in control, just a year after having your
life spiral away from you.
Courtney Lewis can be reached at
cmlewis@umich.edu.

0

Blue looks to end Badgers' four-year streak

By Phil Kofahl
Daily Sports Writer

Wisconsin cross country coach Jerry Schumacher
doesn't say much to the media regarding his team, but
says plenty about others. Despite his team's success,
he's weary of the competition the Badgers will face
Sunday at the Big Ten Championships.
"It's probably, on paper, the best cross country con-
ference in the nation," said Shumacher of the Big
Ten. "It's going to be a tough meet, and nothing
comes easy in the Big Ten Championships"
The No. 6 Michigan men's cross country team has
been racing like it's been practicing - confidently.
Winning the title won't be easy, though, as No. 2 Wis-
consin is the easy favorite, going for its fifth straight
Big Ten title. If Michigan is battling for the runner-up
position, it will likely still have to deal with the sev-
enth-ranked Buckeyes, whom the Wolverines finished
one point behind a year ago. They will also have to

watch out for No. 15 Indiana, which could easily slip
into that second spot.
Ohio State coach Robert Gary has hopes of finish-
ing ahead of Michigan.
"We've been going back and forth all season with
Michigan at meets and in the rankings," Gary said.
"We hope to have a guy in the top 10, and then a solid
pack close behind."
Michigan wants more.
The Wolverines want to place three runners in the
top 10, and the next two in the top 20. Last year's Big
Ten first teamers, Nick Willis and Nate Brannen, are
right on track to be in the top seven again, and Tom
Greenless can be there too, if he continues to run like
he has all season.
Brannen seems to have fully recovered from an
iron defiency that slowed him down earlier in the sea-
son.
"My iron's way up and I feel good," Brannen said.
"Practice has been going real well."

The course in East Lansing is flat and fast, so
Brannen, Willis and Greenless will be going out in
front with the lead group from the start.
Seniors Alex L'Heureux and captain Nick Stanko
are expected to round out the scoring for the Wolver-
ines, but they'll have plenty of support behind them.
Senior David Sage, juniors Tarn Leach and Sean
Moore and sophomore Andrew Ellerton are all hop-
ing to make a name for themselves at the race.
Stanko and the rest of the team took advantage of a
weekend off from racing to get prepared for the race.
"We worked really hard last week and are all
healthy," Stanko said. "At this point of the season,
that's what's important."
Michigan coach Ron Warhurst knows what needs
to be done this weekend, and that his team is more
than capable of doing it.
"We need to get our top three guys in front of
(Ohio) State's," Warhurst said. "And have our five
guys in the top twenty. If we do that, we'll be OK."

6
a

I

Seniors bid farewell to Pankratz

By Waldemar Centeno
Daily Sports Writer

Any high school field hockey player
would love to be recruited by Marcia
Pankratz. But not any player can say
they had a chance to say goodbye after
four years in her program.
Seniors April Fronzoni, Stephanie
Johnson, Laura Woitkewitsch, Jenny
Zangara, Kristi Gannon and Anneke
Huntzicker will be honored during
Michigan's Saturday matchup against
No. 7 Penn State.
"I remember as a (high school) sen-
ior, the thought of being able to play for
Michigan was something that I never
imagined," Zangara said. "It was an
achievement just to be looked at by
Marcia, and the fact that I was going to
play for her was unbelievable. She's not
just a coach, but a good friend."
Michigan's seniors will have to say
goodbye to their long-time coach, as
well as their teammates and friends.
"There are a lot of girls that I'll
miss," Zangara said. "I'll miss all the
senior captains, like Stephanie John-
son. I love them all. Laura Woitke-

witsch is great; she's a housemate of
mine. It's going to be really hard to
say goodbye to her because she's leav-
ing the country."
Woitkewitsch's family resides in
Cologne, Germany, but she now calls
Ann Arbor home.
"I don't see my family that much,"
Woitkewitsch said. "I only see them
during summer and Christmas, but for
holidays like Thanksgiving I go home
with one of my teammates. They're like
my sisters, and all their families are
wonderful. We just hang out, and it's so
much fun. It's going to awful to leave."
Despite Woitkewitsch's inevitable
return to her home in Germany, Michi-
gan will remain a huge part of her life.
"I'm going to definitely miss every-
thing about Michigan," Woitkewitsch
said. "The friendship that I made here
are unbelievable. The first time I got
here, I just felt like I didn't want to be
here, but now its awesome and I love
it."
The success of this senior group has
been uncanny. Winning the national
championship in 2001 remains one of
the most unforgettable pieces of their

stay here at Michigan.
"My most memorable moment was
absolutely winning the national champi-
onship two years ago at Kent State,"
Zangara said. "It was an amazing expe-
rience. It was just indescribable."
The seniors have played field hockey
for most of their lives, but regardless,
their field hockey careers most likely
will end after this season.
"I'm not sure what my plans are at
the present time," Zangara said. "I'm
going to take a lot from this experience.
I haven't thought about coaching, and I
don't really know where I'm going to
go either. I know I'm not going to go
the coaching route or continue to play.
There is no professional field hockey."
Woitkewitsch remains positive as she
looks further down the road.
"When I go back to Germany, there's
a club system where I can play," said
Woitkewitsch. "It's not professional. We
only have club teams. We have like
three to four practices a week."
No. 6 Michigan will hold senior day
at home this Saturday against Penn
State. It will be the last home game for
the seniors.

4

0

Dzubay seizing the day for 'M'

By Jeremy Antar
Daily Sports Writer

There is an old saying that great players want the ball in their
hands when the game is on the line.
Michigan men's soccer sophomore goalkeeper Peter Dzubay
is this kind of athlete. They are unfazed by pressure and are
clutch performers.
He loves his position because of the great pressure and
responsibility that comes with it. He relishes the opportunity of
having a dramatic effect on the outcome of game.
"I like the pressure of knowing that you could either be the
hero of the game, or everyone is going to hate you at the end of
the game," Dzubay said.
The heat on Dzubay was turned up a notch when teammate
_- _ 11_..__,..T - r,.. -1 ...- !.. ..... - - . --1vl

Dzubay attributes part of his success to his ability to keep his
focus and stay in the game mentally after letting up a goal. He
acknowledges that this ability did not come naturally. When he
was younger, Dzubay admits that after letting up a goal, he
would scream and just completely lose focus, and his effective-
ness for the remainder of the game would greatly decrease.
But his dad took notice, teaching Dzubay the importance of
having a short memory and remaining focused on the task at
hand- winning the game.
"Now I just let it blow right over me," Dzubay said.
"If you take one mistake and let it turn into other mistakes,
you could lose the game, instead of just moving on and keeping
your team in the game."
But Dzubay has to mentally prepare for more than handling
himself after letting in a goal. He has to prepare to not let in any

a

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