The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 13, 2004 -11
In Iowa, Michigan finds foe
with some real big problems
Stars need co-stars in
distance medley relay
By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
After Wednesday's loss at previously conference win-
less Minnesota, Michigan is in the depths of adversity.
Now it has to play a team that has overcome a
lot of that.
The Wolverines (4-5 Big Ten, 13-7 overall) travel to
Iowa City this Saturday to face the Hawkeyes in a
game Michigan must win to entertain any chance of an
NCAA Tournament bid. While the Wolverines are in
serious trouble of failing to meet its pre-season expec-
tations, Iowa (5-5, 12-9) has continued to hang tough
despite losing three players.
Things went from mediocre to poor for Iowa in Jan-
uary when the Hawkeyes were dismantled in the span
of just a couple weeks. First, senior center Jared Reiner
had to undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his
right foot. Just days later, freshman guard Mike Hen-
derson was deemed academically ineligible for the
remainder of the semester. When it seemed things
could not get any worse, Iowa's other senior center,
Sean Sonderleiter, left the team for personal reasons.
But coach Steve Alford and the Hawkeyes are not mak-
ing any excuses.
"That was not the fault of anybody in the locke-
room," Alford said. "Now our numbers are less, so we
are going to have to demand more from one another."
Looking at Iowa's recent results, one would never
guess the team had just dropped three players. The
Hawkeyes almost came back from a 15-point deficit
Wednesday night at home against league-leading Wis-
consin. But guard Jeff Horner missed a 3-pointer as
time ran out and Iowa lost by two. Last Saturday, they
pulled out a double-overtime victory against Indiana.
Iowa has been able to stay with teams mainly
because of Horner and fellow guard Pierre Pierce.
Horner has been firing the ball as well as anyone in the
Big Ten lately, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc
and 84 percent from the free throw line. Alford said
that the coaching staff always believed that Horner
could shoot the ball, but that he is coming into his own
this season because he is becoming accustomed to
dealing with the pressure of having to create.
"(Horner is) the first one in, he's the last to leave,
Alford said. "Nobody has worked harder than he has."
Pierce currently leads the team with 17 points per
game. The sophomore scored 20 points against Wiscon-
sin, but turned the ball over twice in the final minutes.
"He just loves to play the game, and those are the
type of guys that you love to coach,"Alford said.
While the Hawkeyes recently made a comeback
Michigan looks to take out Iowa again this Saturday.
against a top team, the Wolverines have given a few up.
Michigan has had second-half struggles in many of its
recent road games, and is going to have to improve
upon taking care of the ball, shot selection and ability
to hold on to leads if it's going to have any chance of
making a run in its final seven games.
Iowa gave Michigan a game in late January when it
scored 84 points and shot 59.3 percent from the field,
but ended up losing by six. The Wolverines may not be
able to do that again, playing a team that has been able
to fight the challenges it has faced.
Now Michigan has to conquer a challenge of its
own. Its season depends upon it.
for big athletic success
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
Miami's Matt Christie, No. 11, has enjoyed a very productive freshman season.
Continued from Page 10
This weekend should be Blasi's
best chance yet to triumph at Yost.
The coach believes this is the
finest overall team he's had in his
five years at Miami.
"I think you have to emphasize
the word 'team,' " Blasi said. "This
is the best 'team' (I've ever had).
They do a lot of things together,
and it's been a good year. We're
excited about where we've put our-
Miami and No. 5 Michigan (19-
8-1, 14-5-1) are evenly matched,
sitting atop the CCHA in most sta-
tistical categories. Miami leads the
conference in goals per game
(3.55), while holding second place
in goals allowed per game (2.27)
and powerplay percentage (.205).
Michigan is just behind the Red-
Hawks in goals per games (3.50),
but the Wolverines sit atop the con-
ference in goals allowed per game
(2.05) and powerplay percentage
"These are going to be two great
games," Blasi said. "We know
Michigan's a great team, they have
a lot of balance and they're well-
coached, and we're looking for-
ward to it."
Most of the RedHawks offense
comes from three players who rank
in the top six in the CCHA in
goals. Seniors Derek Edwardson
(1st) and Greg Hogeboom (3rd)
and freshman Matt Christie (6th)
form the CCHA's most potent trio.
In October, the teams split the
series in Oxford. The RedHawks
trounced Michigan 8-3 in the
weekend opener, but the Wolver-
ines bounced back the next night
and edged Miami 3-2.
"We're a different team than that
time and so are they, so we don't
really know what to expect," Nys-
A pack of girls, jostling for position,
strain to inch out their competitors. They
run their hearts out. Unfortunately, they
can only hope for second place.
Because way in front, out of reach, an
athlete sporting maize and blue grace-
fully strides toward the finish line. With
a powerful finishing kick, Katie Erdman
wins another race for the Wolverines.
The sophomore, recently named Big
Ten Athlete of the Week, has been hav-
ing a monster year for the Michigan
women's track and field team. Erdman
has won all five individual events she
has entered this season, four by a margin
of two seconds or more. In all of her
events - the 600-meter run, the 800-
meter run and the mile run - Erdman
has been unstoppable.
Given her pedigree, the Cadillac
native's success is no surprise.
"My parents were athletic," Erdman
said. "My mom played volleyball and
my dad still has (Harbor Beach High
School's) mile record (4:40), which I'm
Erdman is breathing down her father's
neck. She ran a 4:47.85 mile in Janu-
ary's Michigan Intercollegiate.
Her three younger siblings, Laura,
Beth and David, are also excellent ath-
letes. But Erdman's family provided
more than just the genes for success.
"I had tons of support from my par-
ents and also had great coaches," Erd-
man said. "Together they made me
believe that there was no limit to what I
Erdman's record-holding father laid
the groundwork for her future running
success. Each summer, father and
daughter would go running together. The
grueling long-distance runs taught
young Erdman how to be a warrior.
"He'd pull me through each mile," Erd-
man said. "Dad always made me realize
that I could push a little harder for a little
The long-distance training would
prove useful when Erdman joined the
cross-country team. Although she spe-
cializes in shorter distances, Erdman
became an integral part of the 2003
Wolverine squad that finished fourth in
the nation. In fact, she believes the
experience was her greatest athletic
accomplishment - better than her
Michigan records in the 600 and 800-
meter runs. The extra work paid major
dividends once the indoor season began.
"All the miles that I put in then are
paying off now," Erdman said. "I really
owe a great deal of my success this sea-
son to my running in the fall."
With help from her cross-country
training, Erdman has avoided any trace
of a sophomore slump. Coming off a
year in which she earned Big Ten Fresh-
man of the Year honors, Erdman has
turned heads at every meet, and she con-
tinues to improve. Topping an extremely
strong field at the Meyo Invitational
with an 800-meter run time of 2:05.38,
she automatically qualified for her first
individual trip to the NCAA Indoor
What does the future hold for Michi-
gan's superstar runner? Some more col-
legiate victories seem likely, but are
visions of Olympic rings dancing in
"Who wouldn't want to go?" Erdman
said. "But it is the least of my worries.
I'm just going to keep working as hard
as I can."
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
You would think that winning an
NCAA Championship or breaking an
NCAA record would make a runner
superhuman in his teammates' eyes.
Seeing that no one in the country can
compete with him would make it hard
for teammates to push him, possibly
alienating that athlete, putting him on a
pedestal. The Michigan men's track
and field team has been blessed with
two such champions, junior Nate Bran-
nen and sophomore Nick Willis, but
neither runner keeps his personal focus
"(Brannen and Willis) are very
team-oriented," Michigan coach Ron
Warhurst said. "Their number one goal
for this year is to win the national
championship in the distance medley."
At this weekend's Sykes-Sabok
Challenge Cup in State College, four
Wolverines will have their first chance
to be a part of a potential champi-
onship Distance Medley Relay team.
Brannen will lead off with the 1200-
meter leg, freshman Stann Waithe will
continue with a 400-meter dash, soph-
omore Andrew Ellerton will take care
of the 800-meter third leg and Willis
will anchor with a mile run.
This relay consists of four of the
more talented runners in Michigan
history, who could potentially run
several seconds faster than last
year's NCAA champions - Villano-
va - who ran 9:29.12. Michigan
finished third with a time of 9:29.76.
With an extra year of experience, an
NCAA championship is not out of
reach. Wolverine fans should not,
however, be disappointed if this
weekend's race is not up to those
"(Qualifying for NCAA Champi-
onships) is all we want to do,"
Warhurst said. "We don't need to try
and run under 9:30 yet, but we will.
We will at the Nationals."
The NCAA automatic qualifying
standard is 9:35, certainly a tangible
goal for the Wolverines.
Any college track fan is familiar
with Brannen and Willis, but the lesser
known Ellerton and Waithe will be the
key to Michigan's success. Waithe had
a breakout race in last weekend's 4 x
400-meter relay, running an impressive
46.2. Being buried in a relay has kept
him a relative unknown to most of the
"(Waithe) is an unknown quantity,"
Warhurst said. "Last week he ran a
46,2, which makes him a known quan-
tity to us and nobody else."
The pressure on Waithe will be
greater in the distance medley. With
recent success, the relay has become
somewhat of the cornerstone of Michi-
gan's distance program. Warhurst is
optimistic, but far from certain that
Waithe will perform like he did last
"He's a real loosey-goosey type of
guy," Warhurst said. "That's the way
(freshmen) come. He did well in high
school. He ran against some big time
quarter-milers and was not intimidat-
ed by them, so I can't imagine he will
be now. (After Brannen's lead-off)
he'll be chased, he won't be doing the
Ellerton will be trying to bounce
back from a disappointing perform-
ance in the distance medley relay at the
Boston Indoor Games two weekends
ago. This particular race - the 800-
meter leg - should be better for him.
In Boston he was out of his element,
running the mile.
"He's back in his own backyard in
the 800-meters," Warhurst said.
"We've had really good practices the
last couple of weeks. This is his
domain, and he came back and ran
47.7 in the mile relay at (Last week-
end's Meyo Invitational)."
The distance medley relay will not
be Ellerton's only focus - on Saturday
he will try to qualify for the NCAA
championships in the 800-meter run.
Last spring, Ellerton was a mere .02
seconds from qualifying for the out-
door championships in the 800-meter
run. Though he achieved All-American
status with last year's distance medley,
he will undoubtedly be aiming for an
individual berth in the meet. Brannen
will also run the 800-meters, in hopes
of automatic qualification to the cham-
pionships, where he won the 800-meter
run last winter.
Junior Nate Brannen will compete in the
distance medley relay this weekend.
w - q
The University of Michigan
Department of Recreational Sports
Intramural Sports Program
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Enties also Tuesday, 02/17
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