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February 16, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-16

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 16, 2004 - 3B

'M' gets
By Julie Master
Daily Sports Writer
Winning a meet is great. Winning
150 meets is even better. On Saturday,
the Michigan men's gymnastics team
cruised to a 214.600-209.350 victory
over Minnesota at Cliff Keen Arena.
The victory marks the 150th win for
eight-year Michigan head coach Kurt
Junior Eddie Umphrey led the way
for the Wolverines, placing first on
both the still rings
(9.35) and paral- S .3'
lel bars (9.0). He
also claimed .a
second-place finish on vault and a
third-place finish on floor.
"It felt great," Umphrey said. "I
haven't won an event in a home meet
for a while. It was nice to come out here
and just kick it out and get a couple per-
sonal-bests tonight."
At the Winter Cup last weekend in
Las Vegas, Umphrey failed to shine in
front of his friends and family who
came from Albuquerque, N.M., to
watch him compete. Without the pres-
sure, Umphrey was able to put it all
"It's funny how that went because
(last weekend) his family was there,
and I thought it was all staged, and he
was just going to knock em' dead,"
Golder said. "But he had a pretty
rough meet. Now he comes back a
week later, does very well, and this
may have been the best meet he's had
since he's been here."
For the rest of the Wolverines, the
meet had its ups and downs as the team
struggled to stay on top of its game. The
Wolverines were plagued by numerous
falls and missed routines, especially in
the first half of competition.
"Pommel horse and parallel bars

Selfless Warhurst hoping duo strikes gold

Michigan junior Eddie Umphrey performs on the still rings against Minnesota.
Umphrey placed first on both the rings and the parallel bars.

were a disappointment today," Golder
said. "I thought we got off to a pretty
decent start on floor, but we got really
low scores and that kind of gets the
guys down. I started to get real worried
in the middle of the meet, because Min-
nesota's a good team."
Despite the shaky start, the vault
seemed to turn the meet around for the
Wolverines as 2003 NCAA champion
Andrew DiGiore had a clutch perform-
ance, posting a 9.55 - the top score of
the night on any event.
- Sophomore Justin Laury, a fierce
competitor for the Wolverines, also had
a strong showing by winning the high
bar, his strongest event, with a score of
9.35. Laury also placed second on rings
and third on parallel bars.
"I felt good about my perform-
ance," Laury said. "I had some rough
areas. Parallel bars were okay and I
had a lot of trouble on pommel horse,
but it's just something I'm going to
have to deal with and just get better as
the week goes on."

Absent from the competition was
standout redshirt freshman Andre Her-
nandez. Hernandez, Michigan's most
consistent performer thus far this sea-
son, sat out due to an aggravated knee
injury. The injury weakened the lineup
for the meet, but should leave him feel-
ing strong as the Wolverines take on
defending NCAA champion Oklahoma
next weekend.
Although Golder's 150th win wasn't
the best meet he has ever seen, he still
looks forward to what's in store.
"I'm disappointed that, this late in
the season, we have that many missed
routines," Golder said. "But I feel that
we're demonstrating how good we
can be. We didn't have a very good
meet, we didn't have our strongest
lineup, I didn't feel that the scoring
was real high or anything, and we still
scored a 214.600. I think we can go
another five points higher than that.
So we'll just keep showing our prom-
ise and hopefully that will all come
together in the end."

Michigan track star Nate Brannen remembers a race at
the NCAA Indoor Championships his freshman
year that didn't quite go as he and coach Ron
Warhurst had planned.
After the race, Brannen walked by Warhurst.
"That sucked," Brannen said.
"No. You sucked," Warhurst responded.
"I kept walking, and I thought, 'Yeah, I did suck,' " Bran-
nen recalled.
In general, Warhurst doesn't real-
ly care what comes out of his mouth.
He's a war veteran with salty lan-
guage and a "hard-ass" attitude, and
in 15 minutes with him in his Wei-
denbach Hall office, you'll join him
in a good cackle a dozen times. f"
"No one feels weird about talk-
ing to him," Brannen said. "He's J. BRADY
such an open guy." MCCOLLOUGH
So open that sophomore Nick The SportsMonday
Willis had to stop himself before column
telling stories from his two years
with Warhurst.
"I could tell you, but you wouldn't be able to print it,"
Willis said with a grin.
At the age of 25, Warhurst volunteered for the Marines and
headed off to Vietnam because "it was something to do." He
was a self-described hippie and wasn't ready to make a deci-
sion about his life.
Warhurst is the senior member of the Michigan coaching
staff, having taken over as cross country coach and assistant
track coach in 1974. At the ripe age of 60, his hair may have
grayed, but even that hasn't slowed him down; he has a one-
and-a-half-year-old son.
"It wasn't a Viagra boy either," Warhurst said. "Another
joke ... I'm a jokester."
In 30 years of coaching Michigan's long- and middle-dis-
tance runners, he's turned average runners into great runners
and great runners into Olympians. Right now, he's working
his magic on two of the world's top young runners, Brannen
of Canada and Willis of New Zealand, who will both sit out
the outdoor track season to prepare for the Olympic trials.
"He has a passion for getting the best out of someone's lim-
its," Willis said. "He's (hard on us) because he wants us to get
the most out of ourselves."
Two is better than one
At this point in what would have been his junior year at
Michigan, Alan Webb might have already won three or four
individual national championships.
Webb gained national acclaim by setting the high-school
record in the indoor and outdoor mile and committed to run
for Warhurst at Michigan. After an up-and-down freshman
year, he left school, signed a pro running contract with Nike
and has since had his life's work chronicled in a book called
"Sub 4:00: Alan Webb and the Quest for the Fastest Mile."
Webb's exit from Ann Arbor was no tragedy for the track,
program, though. Now, instead of having one star that shines
over all, Warhurst has Brannen and Willis.
"They're better," Warhurst said. "They've got it all. They're
the package - they raise the expectations for everybody."
Willis, who sports an "I just rolled out of bed" hairdo and
an accent like Crocodile Dundee, is reaching his potential in

his second season under Warhurst. Last month in Boston, he
set the collegiate record in the 3,000 meters - which isn't
even "his event" - with a time of 7:44.90.
Brannen, the Canadian high-school record holder in the
mile, came to Michigan the sameyear as Webb, but Webb
was the one who got all the media attention. Since Webb left,
all Brannen has done is win the 2003 indoor national champi-
onship in the 800 meters.
"With Willis, it's totally different," Brannen said. "We
both share the publicity equally. There's no one in front all
the time."
Except on the track, where inevitably, either Willis or Bran-
nen will outrace the other.
"In some ways, I'd prefer Nate beat me in every race,"
Willis said. "We're using each other to get better rather than
run each other into the ground."
Realizing their dreams
Running each other into the ground wouldn't do much for
Brannen and Willis's native countries in the upcoming Sum-
mer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
Unlike most college runners, Michigan's duo cares more
about winning Olympic medals than NCAA championships.
They trust Warhurst to get them to Athens and beyond, mainly
because of the way he trained Kevin Sullivan, who finished
fifth in the 2000 Olympics while running for his native Cana-
da. Sullivan is now 29 and still makes running his livelihood
- something that both Brannen and Willis aspire to do.
Warhurst has earned their trust by taking their goals and
making them his own.
"Other coaches, they race their athletes just to get points for
the school," Willis explained. "They don't care about the ath-
lete's future. Ron has been here 30 years; his job is not at risk.
He's got the athlete's heart in mind, rather than his wallet."
"Since Sullivan, I don't really care about a dual meet
against Eastern Michigan or Indiana," Warhurst said. "You
have to pick your battles."
Brannen and Willis run in specialized events in the indoor
season. Brannen will try to repeat as national champion in the
800 meters, and Willis likely could win several events.
"I would have the possibility of tripling in the mile, the 3K
and the 5K," Willis said. "Yeah, I might get us seven points,
but I might get injured from doing that."
"You can't go into every skirmish and come out licking
your wounds," Warhurst said.
Warhurst supports Brannen and Willis's decision to sit out
the outdoor season, even though it greatly decreases Michi-
gan's chance of making noise nationally.
Joined by Olympic hopefuls and former Wolverines Tim
Broe and Sullivan, Brannen and Willis's workouts will intensify
in May and June because they want to hit their stride for the
Olympic trials in early July. They will all be in Ann Arbor, train-
ing under Warhurst's guidance, and then will depart for their
respective trials, where Brannen and Willis expect to qualify.
"I know I can get them there," Warhurst said.
In the "win now" culture of college sports, Warhurst goes
out of his way to ensure that his kids are successful in what
matters to them. He knows that win or lose, medal or no
medal, Brannen and Willis's performance in these Olympics
will do more for Michigan than any dual meet ever could.
.J Brady McCollough can be reached at bradymcc@umich.edu.

Peretz steps up spot, leads 'M' rout

By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer
Despite a tough loss from senior
Anthony Jackson, the Michigan men's
tennis team added another decisive win
to its record. Sat-
urday's 6-1 victory
over Toledo was
fueled by solid performances from the
younger Wolverines (5-0 overall).
Freshman Steve Peretz was solid, step-
ping up to the No. 4 spot from his usual
home at No. 5. The switch didn't bother
the freshman, as he quickly dismantled
Toledo's Cristobal Toral, 6-2, 6-1.
"I was very happy with how I
played," Peretz said.
Peretz got the nod in place of fresh-
man Brian Hung, who was sitting out
after playing a match in the Davis Cup
in Hong Kong during the week.
Junior David Anving, sophomore
r Carey Rubin and freshman Ryan Heller
all earned wins in their respective sin-
gles matches. Heller's match was cut
short after back problems sidelined his
opponent, Todd Wojtkowski.
"We've got nine guys who can play,"
Michigan coach Mark Mees said.
"Regardless of who they are or what
spot we put them in, I expect them to
compete and win."
Junior Michael Rubin bounced
back from a disappointing day against
Wake Forest. He put forth a dominant
performance over Khalid Al Nabhani
en route to a 6-1, 6-4 win. Rubin con-
sistently frustrated Al Nabhani, and at
the end of the first set, Al Nabhani
shattered his racket out of frustration.
"I could tell he was getting a little

frustrated because I was playing so
well," Rubin said. "I was taking him out
of the match, basically."
The win is Rubin's 20th dual-
match win in his singles career.
Junior Vinny Gossain also earned
his 20th win in doubles play. Carey
Rubin notched his 20th-career sin-

gles win in the No. 6 spot.
Jackson was the only Wolverine to
struggle Saturday, dropping his match
to Freddy Gomez, 7-5,6-4.
"Obviously, losing that last match
with Anthony was disappointing,"
Mees said. "I know Anthony was dis-

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