The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 5, 2003 - 13
to combine fun
By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan women's indoor track coach
James Henry may be the only person in Ann
Arbor to like the brevity of the semester
break. Henry thinks it is an advantage
because his team will not get out of shape
since the break is so short.
Before the semester break, the team has its
first intrasquad today. The meet will be a test
for the new members of the team to see what
kind of competitors they are, and for the
more experienced team members to see
improvements from last year.
"It is definitely a measuring mark for the
team," said Henry. "They need to know
where they are at before classes end for the
semester. If they are not doing well, it can
motivate them to improve and train hard
One part of the team that should be ready
to go is the distance runners, as they are
coming off a national top-five finish on the
cross country team.
"The cross country runners are a little
shaper right now, due to the season. They
are already battle-tested," said associate
head coach Mike McGuire, who also coach-
es the cross country team.
The intrasquad meet will be more low-key
for them, as they have already run at a high
level. Accordingly, three of the top runners
Freshman Beth Vinckier is one of many field athletes that will get their first chance to compete this weekend.
will not participate for various reasons: fifth-
year senior Jessie Allen-Young, sophomore
Rebecca Walter and junior Sarah Pizzo.
Because some of the top runners are not
participating in the meet, there will be more
emphasis on the younger runners in prepa-
ration for the season, both mentally and
"The distance runners have always man-
aged to contribute in a significant manner,
and we want to uphold that tradition,"
McGuire said. "That starts with the first
These runners will have to make larger
contributions, but it appears that they are
ready for it, as they are very deep in both
the long and middle distances.
Although the coaches are not expecting
end of the season times, they expect the
Wolverines' competitive instincts to be there.
"It's like in football," McGuire said.
"They say the most improvement is between
the first and second games, but you still
have to be ready for the first game if you
want to win." Although the competitive spir-
it needs to appear in the meet, the coaches
are also trying to make it fun. The men's
and women's track teams are splitting into
two co-ed teams: maize and blue. They will
battle against each other, with the last event
being a co-ed race.
"We are here to have fun and compete
with confidence," Henry said.
The most fun will actually be competing
for athletes in the skill events - throwers
and jumpers - who have been training for
12-plus weeks and are becoming stir crazy.
"Nothing can replace the competition;
everyone is itching to get to the first meet,"
After the meet, the team will have prac-
tice through the end of classes, but team
members will let Henry know whether
they can make practices during finals. It
will be comforting for Henry to know that
his team will only be off about two weeks,
and then it will be back to defend its Big
to Las Vegas to
By Steven Shears
Daily Sports Writer
"Cliff Keen" is more than just the name of the building
on the corner of State and Hoover.
The bearer of this name has arguably done more for col-
lege wrestling than anyone in history. Keen was Michi-
gan's wrestling coach for 42 seasons from 1925 to 1942,
and then again from 1945 to 1970, leading the Wolverines
to nine conference titles with a lifetime winning percent-
age of .744. His name is worn by wrestlers throughout the
country, as he invented headgear and started Cliff Keen
Athletic, the most popular wrestling outfitter in the nation.
And once a year, an invitational is held in his honor in
Las Vegas. This weekend, the eighth-ranked Wolverines
travel to Sin City in hopes of capturing the Cliff Keen
Invitational championship to make one of the founding
fathers of Michigan wrestling proud.
"There's always that connection," Michigan coach Joe
McFarland said. "There's always that tie to the University
of Michigan any time that Cliff Keen has his name on it.
Cliff Keen was a great coach here. I know our guys want
to go out to represent the University of Michigan well. It's
important to these guys - the guys are excited to get out
And they should be. Forty-three teams will be at the
tournament, 10 of them ranked.
"This is a chance to go against the top teams to see
where we stack up," McFarland said. "It's important for
us to do well here for confidence. It's important that
these guys realize that tournaments like this build confi-
dence. And it gives you a chance to see where you are as
Confidence is especially important to the Wolverines
after their last meet two weeks ago, when they defeated
Central Michigan, but suffered a tough 18-12 loss to No. 5
Lehigh. Michigan hopes to improve after the Thanksgiv-
"We looked flat;' McFarland said. "We didn't wrestle
with great intensity. That's really important in our sport.
Regardless, we hope to pick up on it this weekend. This
will be another test for us."
Competing against individuals throughout the country
has important implications down the road for Michigan.
The Wolverines will not face many West Coast and non-
Big Ten wrestlers again this season, and the results of
these matchups will become very important when NCAA
Tournament seeds are determined.
Five Big Ten teams will be at the invitational as well.
This will provide a great scouting opportunity for the
Wolverines to see how they will match up in conference
play in the future.
"We'll obviously get a chance to see who's in some of
the Big Ten's team's lineup this year," McFarland said.
"They're just like us in that they'll have some new faces in
the lineup this year. It will give us a chance to see some of
those guys and compete against some of those guys."
The Wolverines have competed in this tournament since
the early 1980's. They hope to capture the title like they
did two years ago. Michigan has never finished outside of
the top 10 at the invitational.
Brannen and Willis will prepare for Olympics in outdoor season
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
Typically, in preparation for championship meets, a run-
ner will taper down and do more "speed work" to try and
develop foot speed to drop precious fractions of a second
from his time. Come spring 2004, this process will be
delayed several months for junior Nate Brannen and sopho-
more Nick Willis. Instead of preparing for the Big Ten
Championships in West Lafayette in May and the NCAA
Championships in Austin, Texas, in June, they will be work-
ing toward a trip to the Olympic games in Athens, Greece.
Though they will likely be redshirted for the outdoor sea-
son, coach Ron Warhurst is confident that Brannen and Willis
will be at their peak for the indoor season, which begins wvith
the Maize and Blue Intrasquad Meet this weekend.
"Indoors, I'm not going to sacrifice their fitness levels
for speed training," Warhurst said. "I am not going to
compromise their opportunity to get to the Olympics, but
because they are so talented, it's not going to really
Brannen, last year's NCAA indoor 800-meter champion
and a Canadian Olympic hopeful, will likely get his chance
to repeat as champion. Willis, who hails from New Zealand,
was also an indoor All-American, running with Brannen on
the distance medley team.
Sophomore Andrew Ellerton, whom Warhurst hopes will
have a breakout year, will join them at the forefront of the
distance and middle-distance program. Ellerton was a mere
.02 seconds from qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Cham-
pionships last year.
As for the sprints and lower-middle distances, Warhurst is
also optimistic, he singled out sophomore Nathan Taylor
and freshman Jeff Porter - the fastest high school indoor
hurdler last year - as potential impact runners.
The Wolverines will also get help in the field events
from a face familiar to those who know next-to-nothing
about track. Junior Braylon Edwards is returning as the
team's leading jumper. For obvious reasons, Warhurst and
his staff will be watching for more than a Michigan win in
the Rose Bowl.
"We're expecting some things out of our high jumpers,"
Warhurst said. "Hopefully, the Rose Bowl doesn't beat up
on Braylon too much."
Warhurst also talked about Edwards being an active part
of the team, despite being tied up in football.
"He has actually come down to practice on his off days,
not to practice track, but just to say 'Hi' to the guys,"
Warhurst said. "He's a real good team guy."
Senior David Malonson will also be ready to compete,
after struggling last year due to an early-season injury.
The Wolverines will have some motivation this year, as
the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships will be
in Ann Arbor, giving them a little advantage for the meet.
Knowing they will compete in front of hometown fans and
hundreds of alumni come the end of the year will also serve
as extra motivation for training this year.
By Beth Adelson
Daily Sports Writer
For many college freshmen, the
idea of class at eight or nine o'clock
in the morning isn't simply daunt-
ing - it's bloodcurdling. After high
school, it's difficult for many to
fathom waking up before lunch has
come and gone.
But the freshmen of the Michigan
women's swimming team consider
eight or nine in the morning to be a
break -i these Wolverines are used
to morning practices from six to
eight. Not only do the freshmen
deal with practices before the sun
has risen and the competitive aca-
demic schedule of a Big Ten school,
they are also thrown early into a
competitive NCAA field, with some
activities scheduled during the week
and over breaks.
Freshmen Susan Gilliam, a dis-
tance swimmer, and Kaitlyn Brady,
a freestyle and backstroke special-
ist, have had early success in their
Michigan swimming careers and
adjusting to the lifestyle of a varsity
athlete. Gilliam paces the squad
with eight individual titles this sea-
son, recently placing first at the
Nike Cup in the 500-yard freestyle
with an NCAA consideration time
of 4:48.51 to lead the Wolverines to
a second-place finish.
Brady follows her teammate
closely with six individual first-
place finishes, including a 200-yard
backstroke win on Nov. 7 against
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Michigan freshman Kaitlyn Brady swims the backstroke in a dual meet against
Michigan State and Florida State.
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The veterans on the team have
helped Gilliam and Brady adjust so
well by welcoming the freshmen
with bonding activities and games.
"We did a lot of things at the
beginning of the year to get to know
each other - you know, to learn
who you are, where you're from,"
Not only do the two freshmen
look to the upperclassmen to pro-
vide an example to follow, but they
also, according to Brady, find it
very helpful to "look to the upper-
classmen for encouragement; after
all, they've been here a long time
and have lots of experience."
The upperclassmen provide rides
to and from Canham Natatorium,
joke around with the freshmen and
become what Gilliam calls "a lot of
fun and a built-in group of
While these two freshmen sacri-
fice some of their morning and free
time to participate on the swimming
team, both believe that being on the
squad has contributed positively to
their college experience.
"Being on the team is one of the
best things I could've done coming
here," Gilliam said.
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