The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 2, 2004- 7B
Big Tens loom for 'M' after rout of Irish
By Anne Ulble
Daily Sports Writer
It was a meet that didn't count toward
their conference record, or toward its next
competition. But, for Michigan, it mattered.
The Michigan women's swimming and
diving team concluded its regular season
with a victory over No. 20 Notre Dame on
Saturday night in South Bend, Ind. with a
score of 166-134, improving its record to 8-1.
"This is always the most exciting meet to
compete in," coach Jim Richardson said.
"You know that both teams want to win
badly and will do (their) hardest to earn the
title. We had some tough races this week-
end to prove that, and so it was probably
our best meet of the season."
Notre Dame senior Danielle Hulick led
the Irish with two event wins in the 100-
meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle.
Michigan freshman Katie Carroll finished
the meet with one win in the 200-meter
individual medley, but was touched out by
less than one second in both the 100-meter
freestyle and 400-meter free relay.
"Notre Dame came at us with some
DORY GANNES/Daily intense swimmers," Richardson said. "But
we were lucky enough to be able to come
out on top in most of the races."
The Wolverines raced the Irish two weeks
ago in an unscored meet with Illinois,
which gave both teams a preview of each
Yet after the results of Friday's meet,
Richardson thought that the scouting wasn't
as helpful as he would have earlier believed.
"Both teams have been through enough
training these past two weeks to make some
unbelievable changes," Richardson said.
"So, what we saw at the last meet was much
different from Friday night."
Freshman Susan Gilliam, who swam
back-to-back swims in the 800-meter and
200-meter freestyle, provided two of the
night's most exciting events.
While placing first in the 800, Gilliam
was disqualified in the 200 for a mixup in
the lane assignments with fellow freshman
swimmer Lindsey Smith. Gilliam later
came back in the meet to win in the 400-
"It really wasn't too bad swimming the
two events right after each other," Gilliam
said. "It was just frustrating that I didn't
have time to get organized for the 200 free."
Emily-Clare Fenn swam a lifetime-best
in the 200 individual medley, and Amy
McCullough won the 200 free despite still
battling an ankle injury she sustained in
"McCullough is continually working to
get back to where she was in the beginning
of the year," Richardson said. "She lost a
month of training with her injury, so it has
been extremely difficult trying to rebuild
Senior diver Tealin Keleman concluded
the team's impressive showing, earning
Michigan's highest score on the one-meter
board (264.00) and the three-meter board
(280.73). However, Kelemen's scores,
which were both NCAA zone qualifying
marks, did not count toward the team's total
Although the Wolverines have two weeks
without competition before the Big Ten
Championships in Minneapolis, Richardson
is surprisingly relaxed.
"I feel very comfortable where we are
right now," Richardson said. "While we are
physically more prepared than any past
Michigan team, I'm confident that the team
is just about set for the meet.
"This weekend showed that we are on tar-
get for a great Big Ten Championship
The Michigan swimming and diving team knocked off No. 20 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Tumblers cruise in home debut
Willis reaches 'ultimate
goal,' sets NCAA record
By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer
With the lights off and music blasting in
Crisler Arena Saturday night, a crowd of nearly
4,000 welcomed the Michigan women's gymnas-
tics team for its first home meet of the season.
Loud cheers came from the crowd - which
was heavily saturated with elementary school
children in honor of "K-Grams Night" -
throughout the night, as the Wolverines put on a
solid performance and topped Michigan State,
"We've been on the road for three weekends in
a row, and I forgot what it's like to compete at
home," senior Calli Ryals said.
"We had a great audience today."
Michigan completed a virtual sweep of the
match, led by a 1-2 finish in the all-around by
veterans Elise Ray and Ryals. Freshman Lindsey
Bruck continued her solid contribution, tying the
Spartans' Sarah Alexander for third. Alexander
was the only Spartan able to break into the top
three in any of the events.
Michigan State lacked the depth to keep pace
with the Wolverines.
On their best event, the beam, the Spartans'
tally of 49.050 was still less than Michigan's
worst score, 49.125 on vault.
"Compared to other sports, there's probably
not much of a rivalry, because the big teams (in
gymnastics) are down south," Ryals said. "Those
are the kind of teams that we're a little more
But the all-around runner-up said she doesn't
write teams off completely.
"The Big Ten's getting better every year, so
who's to say that that won't change," Ryals said.
The Wolverines began on vault, where Ray
recorded the first of her three 9.900 scores on the
night. Ryals finished close behind with a 9.850.
Several stuck landings gave Michigan some
momentum going into the uneven bars, where it
had struggled in last week's loss against Iowa.
This week, though, saw the return of both
Jenny Deiley and Lauren Mirkovich, who had
been kept from competition recently by injuries
to the ankle and wrist, respectively. Deiley tied
Ray for first in the event with a 9.900, and
Mirkovich closed the rotation with a strong
9.825, giving the Wolverines more than a full-
point lead over the Spartans.
"It made a big difference to have Jenny and
Lauren back in the bar lineup again, and I know
the team was fired up about that," Michigan
coach Bev Plocki said, noting that the uneven
bars is least stressful for an ankle injury, because
the feet are only on the ground for the final dis-
Even so, the two won't be back to full strength
for a little while.
"We're trying to take it slowly," Plocki said.
"Jenny has not vaulted or tumbled or done any-
thing else yet. If we can add one event a week,
we'll be doing really well."
Beam was once again Michigan's strongest
event, and Bruck and Ryals led with 9.900
"(Bruck) has been doing really well, and she
usually has one little thing that she's been mess-
ing up on during competition," Ryals said.
"Tonight was the night that she pulled it all
The Wolverines kept their composure on the
event despite an early fall by Kara Rosella.
"Part of what we practice in the gym is that
everybody is in control of their own individual
performance, so if somebody before you falls,
there's no reason for you to panic and change
anything that you do," Plocki said. "It's nice to
see that when we have a fall early in the lineup
like that, that the next four kids got up and per-
formed like it never happened."
Going into the final event of the night, the
floor exercise, the Wolverines held a command-
ing 147.625-146.200 lead.
Freshman Carol McNamara led off for Michi-
gan, and her vibrant 9.800 performance set a fes-
tive tone for the rest of the team to finish out the
"I made a mistake on beam, but then I came
back on floor," McNamara said. "It just feels
great to be back here, competing."
Ryals debuted her new floor routine - which
she and a choreographer created from scratch
over winter break - to the delight of the crowd
and the judges, earning a 9.925. Ray was close
behind with her final 9.900 performance of the
"There's some little rough ends here and there
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
Lined up at the starting line just
prior to the 3,000-meter run at Satur-
day's Boston Indoor Games, Michigan
sophomore Nick Willis was laughing
and smiling. Willis seemed unfazed by
the fact that he was lining up alongside
the best in the world, including
Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie, who had
run eight of the 10 fastest times in the
history of the 3,000-meter run.
"This is more fun," Willis said.
"There is no pressure on me to beat any
of these guys. I knew I could, but there
is no pressure from school rivalries."
Perhaps the relaxed attitude was
good for Willis, as he proceeded to run
faster than almost anyone could have
anticipated, setting a new NCAA
record with a time of 7:44.90. Michi-
gan coach Ron Warhurst knew that
Willis had the potential.
"(Michigan alum Kevin Sullivan)
told me he thought he could run
around (7:46), and I thought if he
could, then Willis could too," Warhurst
said. "I wasn't surprised; it was only a
matter of time."
Willis - who is normally reserved
in talking about his achievements -
was clearly proud of his new record,
something he had set his sights on and
"It was the ultimate goal," Willis said.
"I knew it was possible, but it was in the
corner of my mind. It means a lot"
Willis finished fifth in the race,
which was won by Gebrselassie. Sulli-
van finished third, about a half-second
faster than Willis, who had beaten Sul-
livan in last weekend's Kris Eggle Invi-
tational 3,000-meter run. Willis' time
was 15 seconds faster than last week,
and 11 seconds faster than the NCAA
automatic qualifying time.
Though the spotlight was on
Gebrselassie and Willis, the rest of the
Wolverines' delegation performed
admirably, as well.
"We had a good day," Warhurst said.
"The men in blue ran well."
Junior Nate Brannen had his own
shot at breaking the NCAA record in
the 1,000-meter run, but fell just short
as the pack started out a little slower
than anticipated. Brannen finished
fourth, after a late race sprint to move
up in the pack. He was mere steps
behind former World Indoor 800-
meter champion David Krummenack-
er, and beat last year's NCAA outdoor
800-meter champion Sam Burley.
. The Wolverines were also represent-
ed by a distance medley relay team,
which finished fourth. Warhurst was
pleased, but seemed to have anticipat-
ed a little more from them.
"It was nice to get fourth," Warhurst
said. "We got out OK - the first three
ran respectable - but (Michigan soph-
omore Andrew Ellerton) got caught in
no man's land."
Ellerton, typically an 800-meter run-
ner, ran the mile leg of the relay and
found himself caught in between the
lead and chase packs, too far behind to
run down the leaders. Junior DarNell
Talbert ran his 400-meter leg in just
under 48 seconds, the fastest time of
the year by a Michigan runner.
With such strong performances by
the team, Warhurst now has several
options he can consider for the NCAA
Indoor Championships. Brannen will
likely defend his title in the 800-meter
run, while Willis could compete in
either the 3,000-meter run or the
1,500-meter run, as well as the dis-
tance medley. Warhurst is weighing
the options of both, considering what
will give his runners a jump on the
"It's nice to have options, but it's
also confusing to have options,"
The Wolverines also had several ath-
letes competing at the Eastern Michigan
Open, including junior football standout
Braylon Edwards. Edwards earned his
first intercollegiate track victory - he
previously won two high jump titles --
in the 200-meter dash, and also finished
fourth in the 60-meter dash. Sophomore
Brad Miller finished second in the high
jump, and junior Paul Sarantos was third
in the shot put.
Jenny Deiley returned from injury, helping Michigan to
an easy win over Michigan State.
that I need to work on, but the confidence level
felt really good for me," Ryals said.
Plocki said that as a coach, there's always
room for more "nitpicking."
"We definitely still have room for improve-
ment," Plocki said. "But overall, for this early in
the season, I'm very pleased and happy with our
Rest of state proves no match for
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
Central Michigan may own the
land, but the Michigan women's
track and field team took over Jack
Skoog Track on Saturday. With out-
standing performances from their
star athletes, the Wolverines domi-
nated four in-state opponents en
route to an easy victory in the
Michigan Intercollegiate. It was
Michigan's seventh consecutive vic-
tory in the meet and its first win of
the indoor season.
"We did what we set out to do,"
Michigan head coach James Henry
said. "We set out to continue to be
consistent and improve."
Michigan's distance runners were
once again the Wolverines' greatest
strength. Following wins in the 600-
meter run and the 800-meter run
during the previous two meets,
sophomore Katie Erdman switched
to the one-mile run for the Intercol-
legiate. Unfazed by the new dis-
tance, she set a facility record at
4:47:85, an NCAA provisional qual-
Juniors Theresa Feldkamp and
Anna Jones, with times of 4:51:68
and 5:02:59, respectively, followed
Erdman across the finish line to
ensure a 1-2-3 Wolverine finish.
"(With) Erdman running the mile
for the first time, her 4:47 was by
far the most impressive perform-
ance (of the meet)," Henry said.
Redshirt junior Lindsey Gallo
landed a facility record of her own,
winning the 800-meters with a time
of 2:11.97. Like Erdman, Gallo has
placed first in every indoor event
she has entered this season.
Redshirt sophomore Sarah Pizzo
and redshirt freshman Lesley
Jurasek earned their first victories
of the season. Pizzo set a track
record in the 3,000-meter run at
9:49.84, and Jurasek completed the
grueling 5,000-meter run in
While the distance runners clearly
dominated the meet, the Wolverines
also performed well in other areas.
Senior Robin Landfair earned her
second consecutive victory in the
60-meter hurdles, speeding through
the course in 8.68 seconds.
After placing second at last
week's Red Simmons Invitational,
senior Carly Knazze won the 200-
meter dash with a time of 24.80.
Meanwhile, senior Melissa Bick-
ett's toss of 14.75 meters was good
enough for first place in the shot
put competition. Capping off Michi-
gan's strong showing, the 4x 400-
meter relay team placed first with a
time of 3:48.58.
With stars Rebecca Walter and
Elizabeth Boyle preparing to return
from injuries, the Wolverines are
putting the pieces together in time
to challenge for their third consecu-
tive Big Ten Indoor Championship.
But the puzzle is not yet complete.
"We're not as deep as I hoped
we'd be at this point," Henry said.
"I'm hoping over the next two
weeks we can improve. We need
more second and third runners in
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