8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 9, 2004
Brannen, Willis break four minutes
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
On May 6, 1954, Englishman Roger
Bannister did what the world had thought
was impossible. At the Oxford University
track, he ran a mile in 3:59.4 - the first
person in history to run a sub-four-minute
mile - and became world-famous, seen as
almost superhuman to most.
Since then, some of the glamour sur-
rounding the vaunted four-minute mark
has faded in the running community, but it
still remains seemingly impossible for the
At Saturday's Meyo Invitational in South
Bend, Ind., four men broke the once-revered
barrier, including two of Michigan's own -
junior Nate Brannen and sophomore Nick
Willis. Willis finished first in 3:56.55 and
Brannen came across the line two seconds
later in second, finishing ahead of Eastern
Michigan junior Gavin Thompson and sen-
ior Jordan Desilets.
Michigan head coach Ron Warhurst has
come to expect impressive efforts from
Brannen and Willis, and suggested that
they might have run faster under better
"There were too many people, about 18
or so, at the start, and (Willis) got knocked
down," Warhurst said. "He was tripped
from behind, 20 or 30 yards in, he scraped
up his shoulder, and they had to call it
back. They could have run faster in better
With their performances, Willis and
Brannen have automatically qualified for
next month's NCAA championships in the
mile. Warhurst was unsure which events
they will run in the meet, but it is likely
Willis will run the 3,000-meter run and
Brannen will partake in the 800-meter run,
Both will compete in the distance medley.
Willis broke the NCAA record in the
3,004meter run in last weekend's Boston
Indoor Games, and Brannen is the defend-
ing NCAA champion in the 800-meters.
Willis and Brannen were not the only
ones breaking barriers on Saturday. Fresh-
man hurdler Jeff Porter seems to be
returning to his form of a year ago, when
he was a high school indoor national
champion, as he broke the eight-second
barrier in the 60-meter hurdles.
"(Porter) got to run with the big guys,"
Warhurst said. "He got to the first hurdle
good, and ran well after that."
Porter's time was 7.97 seconds, still a
far cry from his 7.81 of last winter, but the
effort shows he's improved much in the
The Wolverines' freshman class contin-
ued to shine, as John D'Arcy won the 500-
meter run, his third win in four college
races. Warhurst is cautiously optimistic
about D'Arcy's early success.
"We'll see when the competition gets
tougher how tough (D'Arcy) can get,"
Warhurst said. "He is a very talented runner."
Michigan junior Rondell Ruff broke a
personal record while finishing third in
the mile run, a separate event from the
prestigious Meyo Mile, which Brannen
and Willis competed in. Nevertheless,
Ruff ran towards the front of a deep field,
finishing five seconds faster than his per-
sonal-best, with a time of 4:10.08.
Wolverine sophomore Todd Iacovelli
also surpassed a year-best time in the
3,000-meter run. Iacovelli improved his
time by 17 seconds (8:29.47). Freshman
Sebastien Louinis ran his best time of the
season in the 800-meter run, winning his
heat in a convincing fashion.
Perhaps the most inspiring performance
of the day was a third place finish from
the 4x400-meter relay team. The team -
led by freshman Stann Waithe, who ran a
46.3 leg - ran five seconds faster than
Michigan's best indoor effort last year and
two seconds better than their best outdoor
The Wolverines' field events effort was
anchored by a third place finish by fresh-
man Michael Whitehead in the triple
jump. Sophomore Brad Miller jumped
within a half inch of his personal best,
Freshman Jeff Porter clears a hurdle in the 60-meter high hurdles during the Jack Harvey Invitational at
the Indoor Track Building in January. Porter finished fourth in the event yesterday.
Tankers send off Urbanchek with win
By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
The departure of the Michigan men's swim-
ming and diving senior class was not the reason
athletic director Bill Martin was in attendance at
Canham Natatorium on Friday night to witness
the No. 10 Wolverines' 141-96 bludgeoning of
Michigan State on Senior Night.
It was not the reason Dick Kimball - who
coached Michigan's divers for an astounding 43
years before his retirement last year - stopped
by to watch the meet. It was not even the reason
the pool deck was rpobbed with admirers long
after the conclusion of the meet.
The reason was Jon Urbanchek.
Michigan's convincing victory gave the retir-
ing coach an unfathomable final conference-
dual-meet mark of 100-4 (.962). It was also his
200th career dual meet overall. But during a
speech to an excited audience beforehand, the
lighthearted Urbanchek seemed to have some-
thing else on his mind.
Having coached in Ann Arbor for 22 years
- not to mention his years as a Michigan
swimmer from 1958-1961 - the coaching leg-
end felt he deserved a little something more,
preferably with four wheels.
"Where is the key to the BMW?" Urbanchek
said repeatedly, drawing laughs from anybody
within earshot. "I know it's hiding someplace."
While Urbanchek did not receive his dream
car, he was showered with praise throughout the
course of the evening.
"Jon has been an absolute pleasure for me to
work with," Martin said. "He's going to be truly
missed. (But) I'm certain he'll be here to help
when we need it. We won't let him go."
Kimball had no difficulty in recognizing the
Y DING/Daily significance of Urbanchek's accomplishments,
1959 and 1961 NCAA title teams. After all,
they did coach together for 21 years.
"He's a fantastic coach," Kimball said. "The
best distance coach in the country. It's a tremen-
dous loss to Michigan. He's a great guy; he can
be funny without even trying to be."
The reality of the situation finally hit Tim Wera
after his victory in the 1,000-yard freestyle. It
was his first event victory of his senior season in
his last dual meet as a Michigan swimmer.
"I didn't think my emotions would get to me,"
Wera said. "But I had to fight
back some tears in the warm-n
Departing captain Dan
Ketchum - who earned
event wins in the 200-yard
individual medley and the
400-yard medley relay - was
characteristically stoic follow-
ing his final home meet.
"I didn't cry," Ketchum
said. "I didn't cry at all." Urbanchek
Senior diver Jason Coben, who won last
year's NCAA Championship on the 10-meter
platform, turned in the performance of the
night. His score of 379.35 points on six dives
from the one-meter springboard set a Big Ten
"I really dove the best I ever have," Coben said.
Dusty Garwood, Josh Hack and Mike Porth
also contributed in their final dual meet for
Even Urbanchek got a little misty-eyed after
the last competition in the pool he has called
home for so long.
"I'm going to miss the association with the
athletes," the coach said. "There's a time when
we've got to go, so this was my time. I just have
to move on."
The coach was thrilled with the large
crowd, which included many familiar faces
from his past.
"I was very pleased to see so many older
friends of mine here," Urbanchek said. "People I
swam with, some of the people I graduated with
many years ago. It really impressed me how
many people actually do care about swimming. I
guess they really appreciate you a lot when
Urbanchek was pleased that he and his seniors
were able to go out on top.
"For many of them, this was the last plunge,"
Urbanchek said. "For many of us. I'm sure I will
remember this one for a long time."
But amidst the sentimental atmosphere,
there were some amusing moments, including
the Michigan "C" Team's performance in the
200-yard freestyle relay, the meet's final event.
Following tradition, this squad was composed
of divers. Despite finishing an embarrassing
20 seconds after the next-to-last team, Coben
enjoyed every minute of it.
"I would just like to say that I am the undisput-
ed fastest University of Michigan diver here,"
Coben said. "I'm not going to let any other divers
forget it, either."
Ketchum milked his final moments of Canham
competition for all they were worth.
"It was hard to get out of the pool the last
time," Ketchum said. "I didn't want to get out,
and I don't want to leave the deck now and let
this meet really be over. I'm trying to stay around
and talk to everybody and make this meet last as
long as I can."
Urbanchek is satisfied that he has prepared his
swimmers for their futures as best he can, both in
and out of the pool.
"At least I have planted a seed in them,"
Urbanchek said. "I hope it's going to grow"
There's no doubt that the seed will sprout
and grow into a strong, beautiful tree. The
only problem for Urbancheck is that he will
not find a BMW in its shade.
Senior captain Dan Ketchum swims the backstroke portion of the 200-meter individual medley
relay against Texas in November. Ketchum won both his events in his final home meet.
which include leading the
NCAA Championship and:
1995 team to the
swimming on the
Harriers pass test in South Bend
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
A week after dominating colle-
giate track and field's little pups at
the Michigan Invitational, the
Michigan women's track and field
team set its sights on the big dogs at
last weekend's Meyo Invitational.
The event - held in South Bend,
Ind. - allowed the Wolverines to
compete against more than 15 big-
name schools from across the Unit-
ed States and Canada in a non
"This was definitely the highest
level of competition we have seen this
season, thus far," senior Robin Land-
fair said. "The number of schools at
(the Meyo Invitational) was much
higher than our previous meets and
even in prior years at this meet."
Led by sophomore phenom Katie
Erdman, Michigan's athletes sent a
clear message to the nation: They
"This was a weekend that was by
far the team's best result," head
coach James Henry said.
Erdman's first-place time of
2:05.38 in the 800-meter run set a
Michigan school record. Not only did
Erdman beat Rachel Sturtz's indoor
record of 2:06.02, she also erased
Amy Bannister's 12-year-old overall
mark of 2:05.62.
"I felt really good on Saturday," Erd-
man said. "The 800 had a lot of good
athletes, I haven't been in a race this
season that was quite that stacked."
With a higher level of competition
to push her, Erdman soared to the
front of the pack, and came up with
the nation's second best time of the
indoor season. Her mark was good
enough to automatically qualify for
her second straight trip to the
NCAA Indoor Championships.
"Definitely looking forward to
going back," Erdman said. "That
experience last year was definitely a
unique one for me."
Erdman's success was not limited
to just individual events. She teamed
with senior Carly Knazze, junior
Theresa Feldkamp and redshirt jun-
ior Lindsey Gallo in the distance-
medley relay. A time of 11:11.58
guaranteed the relay team a trip to
Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the
NCAA Indoor Championships.
"Qualifying for nationals in the (dis-
tance-medley relay) was our main
objective for the weekend," Gallo said.
"So having done that is a good feeling"~
After anchoring the NCAA-quali-
fying distance-medley relay team,
Gallo was victorious in the one-mile
run, against a field that included
defending national champion Johan-
na Nilsson of Northern Arizona.
Gallo's personal-best time of 4:40.9
allowed her to be considered for the
NCAA Indoor Championships.
"I felt very strong," Gallo said. "I
am really looking forward to seeing
what I can do in the coming weeks."
Redshirt junior Anna Jones round-
ed out Michigan's victories with a
first-place finish in the one-mile run
With strong performances virtual-
Michigan sophomore Gerry Signoreill competes on the still rings during Michigan's Intrasquad meet In December. Signorelli
returned to action this weekend at the Winter Cup after recovering from a torn pectoral muscle.
Gymnasts out o
By Julie Master3
Daily Sports Writer
If you gamble in Vegas, it takes a lot of luck to come
home a winner. For the Michigan men's gymnastics team,I
its luck could not overcome the odds.
None of the Wolverines won a U.S. National spot this1
weekend at the U.S. Gymnastics-sponsored Winter Cup
Challenge in Las Vegas.
At the Challenge, six Wolverines competed against 85 of
the nation's top gymnasts for one of the six remaining spots
on the U.S. National Team. Michigan alum Brian Peterson,
who had a strong showing on pommel horse at the 2001
NCAA Championships, also competed.
The event was split into two days. Friday featured the all-
f luck in Vegas
he is very consistent, and with an increase in difficulty, he
will be able to execute much better."
Junior Geoff Corrigan and freshman Aaron Rakes also
competed in the all-around competition and took 43rd
(49.175) and 47th (48.80) place, respectively.
"Aaron hit in the mid-eights all day and showed nothing
real exceptional," Golder said. "Geoff, however, has been
on a hot streak. He's disappointed (in his performance), and
we're all disappointed because he's been doing such a good
job. He held back on parallel bars, and it hurt him."
After sitting on the sidelines for over a month due to a
torn pectoral muscle, Gerry Signorelli returned to the mat
and competed in four of six events. Signorelli had a strong
showing with a score of 9.1 on the floor exercise. The per-
formance was very impressive because the sophomore had