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September 02, 2003 - Image 60

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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MMMMMER

6E - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003

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Blue snatches coveted Triple Crown

Step One:
Cross Country stomps down
competition in West Lafayette

By Mustafizur Choudhury
Daily Sports Writer
WEST LAFAYETTE - After a lackluster per-
formance at the NCAA Pre-Nationals on Oct.19,
nobody expected the Michigan women's cross coun-
try team to shine any brighter at the Big Ten Cham-
pionships yesterday. That is, nobody except
Michigan coach Mike McGuire, who never doubted
that his team was capable of winning. Michigan
went on to win the race, which was hosted by Pur-
due, with the lowest score of 70 points.
"We put the meet from two weeks ago behind us
because we didn't commit ourselves," McGuire said.
"It was non-indicative of how we had been racing
and training up to that point. Our (goal) for today
was to go out, commit and compete, and we did.
"We had kids that were hurt and some that were
hanging on, but at the end, everybody had fire in their
eye and they stormed for home. Once you're committed,
it just fires you up and keeps the momentum going."
The victory was somewhat of a surprise, seeing as
how No. 24 Michigan was ranked fourth in the con-
ference going into the race behind No. 9 Wisconsin,
No. 18 Indiana and No. 23 Michigan State. But a
few Wolverines stepped up at key moments, helping
the team capture its fourth Big Ten title and its first
since 1994.
Rebecca Walter and Lindsey Gallo ran side-by-
side, pushing each other throughout most of the
race. With about 200 meters left in the race, the duo
passed several other runners, including Michigan
State's Sarah Pepera. That move proved to be criti-

cal, as the Wolverines went on to beat the second-
place Spartans by just three points.
"Gallo and Walter did a great job at the end,"
McGuire said. "Walter has been an absolute anchor
in the lineup; she's just been so steady. Lindsay's a
talented runner and hopefully, next year, she can
even compete for the individual title. The expecta-
tion of the program and the athletes is to step up,
and I would say someone who did step up was
Chelsea Loomis, who struggled with her races this
year, but came up big today."
"I didn't know what to expect, coming in," Walter
said. "I went out feeling pretty good in the beginning.
I was a little intimidated by the course and the
hills, but as I got going, they weren't too bad."
Walter earned All-Big Ten first-team honors as
the first freshman in yesterday's race to cross the
finish line. Gallo also received first-team honors for
the second consecutive year, becoming the seventh
Wolverine to earn the award multiple times.
"I'm just happy that I could do my part," Gallo said.
"I ran the best race that I could and I gave it my all,
so I can't be disappointed. (Walter and I) ran together
for most of the race and I think that helped both of us."
The Wolverines won't have much time to cele-
brate, as they will have to prepare for the NCAA
Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 16.
But the team can be proud of the fact that they
went in to the tournament as the underdogs and
overcame the odds to come out victorious.
"We had good, strong performances from every-
body," McGuire said. "It was just a great day and
I'm really proud of them."

4

TONY DING/Daily
Michigan junior Lindsey Gallo (34) and freshman Rebecca Walter (43) paced one another to help the Wolverines capture the 2002
Big Ten Cross Country Championships at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Step TWo:
Phillips, Frdman lead to indoor victory

Step Three:

Outdoor track completes
triple crown for harriers

By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer
Placed at the end of track meets,
the 5,000 meters is usually more
relaxed than the other events. But
that wasn't the case at the Big Ten
Women's Indoor Track Champi-
onships in Bloomington.
After exchanging the lead with
host Indiana for most of the meet, the
Wolverines found themselves down
by a half point going into the 5,000
meters, the second-to-last event.
Distance runners Rebecca Walter
and Andrea Parker responded to the
pressure by finishing second and
fourth, respectively. More impor-
tantly, they tallied 14 points for
Michigan, clinching back-to-back
indoor titles for the Wolverines
prior to the mile relay, in which first
place only receives 10 points.
Michigan added a point in the relay
to finish the race with 129.5 points

to Indiana's 115.
Assistant coach Mike McGuire
said he was relieved that after an up-
and-down championship, it didn't
come down to the final event.
"Anytime you are passing a baton,
it is a nail-biting experience,"
McGuire said.
McGuire said he was confident
that Michigan's long-distance run-
ners would outperform the Hoosiers,
but there was still cause for concern.
Walter could have been tired after
finishing third in the 3,000-meter
race the day before. The Hoosiers
had an excited home crowd and a
bitter taste in their mouth after losing
to Michigan last season in the closest
Big Ten Women's Indoor Champi-
onship ever.
With the support of teammates,
coaches and parents, Walter and
Parker put those fears to rest.
"I have never been at a track meet
with this much intensity and sup-

port from the team members," Wal-
ter said. "I could hear them the
whole way."
Said Parker: "It was crazy. It was
really great to have the parents and
the teammates cheering. I heard
roars of people cheering and people
yelling 'Go Blue.' I could just feel
the energy and the noise."
What about the Indiana runners?
"I didn't even see them" Parker
said of the three Hoosiers. One fin-
ished 11th, one finished 12th and
one didn't finish.
Michigan also had three individ-
ual champions in Rachel Sturtz,
Katie Erdman and April Phillips.
Sturtz won the 800-meter run, set-
ting a school and meet record in the
process, while Erdman won the 600-
meter run, setting a meet record in a
preliminary round. Phillips won her
second consecutive shot put title
with an NCAA automatic distance
of 54-2.

By Mustafizur Choudhury
Daily Sports Writer
After an astounding performance
at the Big Ten Championships in
Minneapolis, the Michigan women's
track and field team has plenty of
reasons to celebrate.
With the cross country and indoor
track and field conference titles
already captured earlier in the year,
the Wolverines needed to win the out-
door championship to complete the
"Triple Crown" for the second time in
school history. This past weekend, the
team did just that. Led by four indi-
vidual victories, Michigan was able to
capture its second consecutive out-
door championship.
"We expected to win," Michigan-
coach James Henry said. "We were the
favorites going in and that's what made
it so hard for us."
Senior tri-captain April Phillips got
her team off to a good start on the first
day of competition by winning the
hammer throw with a toss of 199'3".
Freshman Rebecca Walter and sopho-
more Chelsea Loomis added to the
early success with a 2-3 finish in the
10,000-meter run. The Wolverines
ended the day leading all teams with a
total of 25 points.
On the second day, Phillips was at
it again. She successfully defended
her shot put title from last season by
winning the event with a heave of

53'8". Phillips was followed by team-
mate junior Melissa Bickett, who
unexpectedly jumped six places on
her final attempt to finish second
overall. Sophomore Andrea Parker
and freshman Beth Vinckier also con-
tributed to Michigan's 26 total points
for the day. Parker came in fifth place
in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with
a school-record time of 10:34, while
Vinckier finished eighth overall in
the heptathalon. But despite these
performances, Michigan trailed Penn
State by 15 points at the end of the
second day. This made the third day
of competition a challenging one for
the Wolverines.
"Collectively, we didn't have a
great day," Henry said. "But it was
an outstanding day in the sense that
we did not panic. We worked togeth-
er as a team."
Junior Vera Simms and senior tri-
captain Rachel Sturtz helped the
Wolverines stay on top, winning the
400-meter hurdles and 800-meter run,
respectively. Second and third place
finishes in. the high jump by sopho-
mores Stephanie Linz and Jennifer
Kulchar held off the competition for
the remainder of the day and enabled
Michigan to hoist the trophy once
again.
"These kids will remember this for-
ever," Henry said. "This is the type of
thing that you want to enjoy and relish
because it's a very rare (occurrence)."

4

SETH LOWER/Daily
Vera Simms finished first in the 400-meter
hurdles at the Big Ten Champioships.

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