The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 1, 2004 - 7B
'M' places third; Willis wins two titles
By Phil Kofahl
Daily Sports Writer
Hosting a Big Ten championship
can be quite an undertaking. So
when Michigan was selected to host
the men's indoor track champi-
onship meet, the Wolverines had a
large task in front of them. With
one of the smaller venues in the Big
Ten, Michigan had to host a few
hundred athletes, officials and
But the indoor track facility's
cramped quarters proved to be man-
ageable, and also an advantage for
the Michigan men's team. The
rowdy crowds fueled the Wolverines
en route to a third-place finish.
Michigan was led by four individ-
ual champions and a victory in the
distance medley relay. Sophomore
Nick Willis won his third and fourth
Big Ten title, as he easily prevailed
in both the mile and the 3,000-meter
run. Willis sat on the heels of the
lead runner until the final lap in
both races, and then blew the field
away with mind-blowing .kicks.
After he pulled away in the 3,000-
meter run, a Wisconsin coach told
Badger standout Matt Tegencamp
that Willis made the other runners
look like they were standing still.
"It was really hot during the races,
and I just made sure I had it," Willis
said. "During the finals, the crowd
really got into it. I got to catch the
faces of a lot of the alumni that
coach Warhurst had talked about -
there were about 150 of them at the
finish line. That was great."
Running in his first Big Ten
Championships, freshman Jeff Porter
dominated the field in the 60-meter
hurdles from preliminaries to finals,
winning the event in a scorching
7.82 seconds. The performance cut
more than a tenth of a second off his
personal best, and is the nation's I I th
best time this season, all but guaran-
teeing him a trip to the National
"I can't explain it, I really can't,"
Porter said. "It's something that I've
worked for. I didn't expect it to
come this soon."
Cruising through preliminaries
and semifinals gave Porter the ease
of mind needed to capture the title.
"The only thing I was really
thinking about was performing,"
Porter said. "I prayed. I said, 'Lord
please help,' and he came through
when I needed him the most."
Nate Brannen won his fourth and
fifth Big Ten title with his victory in
the 800-meter run and his anchoring
of the distance medley relay. His
time of 1:47.74 broke the Big Ten
meet, the track and the Michigan
record for the 800-meter run.
Freshman Michael Whitehead's
third-place finish in the triple jump
led the way for Michigan in the
field events. Whitehead broke his
personal record by more than a foot,
and was Michigan's lone medalist in
the field events.
The Wolverines' third-place finish
showed Michigan's improvement.
Coach Ron Warhurst was more than
pleased with the way his team per-
"The whole team, I'm just happy
about everybody," Warhurst said.
"We performed as a team today. We
got rolling last night with the two
wins and started again today with
victories on the track. We placed
everywhere we could've placed
Junior Nate Brannen took home his fourth and fifth Big Ten title this weekend,
winning the 800-meter run and anchoring the distance medley relay.
0 MENaS SWIMMING AND DIVING
"Tankers fall short despite Big Ten records
By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
Countless records were shattered. Events were
hotly contested. A conference offered its fond
farewell to a coaching legend.
But it was simply not meant to be for the No. 10
Michigan men's swimming and diving team at last
weekend's Big Ten Championships in West
Lafayette. The Wolverines, despite memorable
individual performances, finished the three-day
meet with 605 points, good for second place out of
10 teams on Saturday night. Minnesota's seventh-
ranked squad took the win with its score of-712.5.
Michigan captured nine of 21 event titles, but
Minnesota's superior depth proved instrumental
in winning the bulk of the middle places, allow-
ing the Golden Gophers to accumulate enough
points to win the overall championship. Surpris-
ingly, Minnesota was unable to win a single indi-
vidual event title, bringing home just two wins in
In the end, Michigan smashed five Big Ten Cham-
pionship meet records, while sophomores Chris
DeJong and Davis Tarwater emerged with all-time
Big Ten records in the 200-yard backstroke and the
200-yard butterfly, respectively.
Although it was unable to repeat last season's Big
Ten Championship, Michigan returned home with
plenty of hardware to show for its efforts at Purdue's
Boilermaker Aquatic Center.
Retiring head coach Jon Urbanchek was named
Big Ten Coach of the Year for the ninth time in his 22
years at Michigan. Sophomore Peter Vanderkaay
received co-Big Ten Swimmer of the Year honors,
and senior diver Jason Coben received the Diver of
the Championship award.
The first day of competition left Michigan 23.5
points behind Minnesota. The eventual champions
opened with an all-time conference record in the
200-yard freestyle relay. But Michigan countered
with an:impressive showing in the 500-yard
freestyle. Vanderkaay, senior captain Dan Ketchum
and junior Andrew Hurd swept the three medal posi-
tions. The event has been won by a Wolverine swim-
mer eight straight years.
"We've been dominating the 500 free all the way
back to the early 90s," Urbanchek said. "We own
Coben's six-dive, 373.85-point performance on
the one-meter springboard was good enough to
set a meet record, but it was all the more signifi-
cant since it was his first Big Ten title in the
event, which had been considered his weakest in
"(Jason's win) was very exciting," Urbanchek said.
"That's something we needed real badly."
Minnesota extended its lead to 50 points in Fri-
day's second session, turning in solid performances
in both relays and individual races. But Michigan
earned three event titles. Vanderkaay won his second
event of the meet, finishing the 400-yard individual
medley in 3:45.84, an astounding 2.64 seconds faster
than his nearest competition.
In what was perhaps the most dramatic race of
the meet, Ketchum came from behind to outlast
Minnesota's Terry Silkaitis by .06 seconds in the
200-yard freestyle final. The win made Ketchum
just the fifth swimmer in Big Ten history to take
home top honors in the event three different times.
He also placed first in his freshman and sopho-
Ketchum and Silkaitis dueled again in the final leg
of the 800-yard freestyle relay, with Michigan again
coming out on top with a time of 6:21.77, yet another
Big Ten meet record.
Coben's fortunes took a turn for the worse on
the second day, as he hit the springboard three
times from three meters up. He finished the event
in ninth place.
"It's too bad he hit the board three times,"
Urbanchek said. "You don't hit the board (that much)
in a lifetime."
On the third and final day of competition, Van-
derkaay secured his place in the top echelon of
collegiate swimmers with his third event victory
of the meet. He is only the sixth Michigan swim-
mer ever to take first place three times in the
same year. Vanderkaay's 14:48.66 showing in the
1,650-yard freestyle brought him to the wall an
amazing 20 seconds ahead of teammate Hurd,
who finished in second place.
Coben's roller coaster ride finished on the upswing
as he won his third-straight conference title in 10-
meter platform diving, accumulating 540.45 points
with an array of difficult dives.
"Jason did a super job," Urbanchek said. "He was
able to recover from a real bad day, but he came
back. That's the sign of a great champion."
But the relentless Minnesota squad placed
enough swimmers in the middle of the pack in
enough events to eventually put the meet out of
reach. The Gophers capped off their third Big
Ten championship in four years with a victory in
the 400-yard freestyle relay, the final event of
"Minnesota won the meet without winning
(events)," Urbanchek said. "If you have real good
depth, you can accumulate that many points. They
were able to put together a lot of points with
Nevertheless, the Michigan coach was satisfied
with his team's performance.
"(Our swimmers) swam as good as ever before,
maybe even better than when we won the team
championship (last year)," Urbanchek said. "The
overall personal best times are unbelievable, even if
we didn't have enough bodies to pull through for the
Urbanchek expressed some surprise upon learning
of his Coach of the Year status.
"I didn't expect (the award)," he said. "When your
peers do this, it means a lot to you. I think the coach-
es respected how fast Michigan swims."
But Urbanchek admits he might have received
some sympathy votes.
"Maybe they felt bad for me that I'm leaving," he
said, while laughing.
Either way, it was not an experience the Michigan
coach will soon forget.
"This was one of the most fun (meets),"
Urbanchek said. "I probably enjoyed this meet more
than any of the other meets in the past."
Coming from somebody with so much experience,
that statement speaks volumes.
Senior Anthony Jackson couldn't close out his match over Florida State's Jonathas
Sucupira, which led to Michigan's first loss of the season.
Seminoles hand Blue
first setback of season
By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer
They knew it was going to end some-
time, but for the Michigan men's tennis
team, adding a blemish to its perfect
record was not something it wanted to
continue, and made sure to straighten
things out on Sunday.
the season with a
perfect 6-0 home
stand, the No. 46
headed south to t keMAN o23
take on No. 39
Florida State on Friday. Michigan's 4-3
loss marked the first scratch on the
team's record for the dual match season.
"You're always concerned with how
your team is going to react to that
first loss," Michigan coach Mark
Mees said. "But this is a pretty
resilient bunch of guys, so I had a
pretty good feeling they'd come out
and play well (Sunday)."
The Wolverines bounced back from
the loss with a win on Sunday against
Furman (0-6), posting a 5-2 victory to
close out the weekend. The win came
despite Michigan dropping its third-
straight doubles point.
"We really had some opportunities to
win the doubles point," Mees said.
"(But) we played a little tight, and a lit-
tle tentative, and didn't get the point"
Senior Anthony Jackson's tough times
continued Sunday as he dropped his
fourth-straight singles match at No. 2.
"You're going to go through periods
where some people are playing well and
some aren't," Mees said. "We just have
to get (Jackson) going."
Friday's match was never too far out
Continued from Page 1B
State's lead heading into the 400-yard
freestyle relay, the final event of the
"After the tower diving we were, as
we say down south, 'within spittin' dis-
tance,' " Richardson said. "The relay
knew they had to do well. As long as
they came in two positions ahead of
Penn State, the title was ours."
The conference win was determined
as Michigan's relay team placed first and
the Nittany Lions' squad came in sev-
enth. McCullough, the relay's anchor,
became the Wolverines' saving grace
when she dove in, leading the team to a
title and an NCAA-qualifying finish.
"It was an incredible spot to be in
because we had all the control," McCul-
lough said. "Penn State was in first
before us, so we got to see their time.
After watching the race we knew we
could beat them, so all we needed to do
was to have safe starts. I don't think we
even talked about swimming fast, all of
us knew what we had to do."
After the relay, the team had won the
"When I got out of the pool after the
relay I fell into my team," McCullough
said. "All I wanted to do was collapse
on the ground. After all of our hard
work this season it was such a great
way to end it especially since we
weren't supposed to win the meet. I
couldn't believe it, I still can't."
Just before swimming the anchor on
the last relay, McCullough claimed her
first career individual Big Ten title in
the 100-yard freestyle. It was the team's
third individual win at the meet.
McCullough, who has battled an ankle
injury throughout the season, was not
considered the favorite for the race.
"Amy has always had great poten-
tial," Richardson said. "She is a tiger
when it comes to competing. When
going into a race even or (when she is)
behind, she has another gear that she
goes into, but it's not a physical one.
It's one that all great champions have."
Joining McCullough with individual
event titles were Weilbacher and Smith
who won the 100-yard butterfly and
200-yard freestyle, respectively.
"Anne had an amazing race,"
Richardson said. "Her legs weren't
completely rested from training, so the
fact that she was able to win the event
Weilbacher captured the first Big Ten
individual crown of her career in one of
the most intense races of the weekend.
Falling behind early in the event to
Penn State's Amberle Biedermann,
Weilbacher made up time in the final
lap of the race to take home the win and
earn herself an NCAA automatic quali-
fying time of 53.58 - only .07 ahead
"I was relieved to win the title," Weil-
bacher said. "I've placed second in that
race for the past two years."
Smith followed Weilbacher's winning
performance with her first career con-
ference title in the 200-yard freestyle.
Her time of 1:46.32 just barely beat out
teammate McCullough's second-place
mark of 1:46.33. Smith, who recently
qualified for the 2004 Olympic trials in
the 200-meter freestyle, is projected to
be a top finisher in the event at the
"Lindsey Smith continues to teach
me about how she operates," Richadson
said. "Her training and competing atti-
tudes are so different. She has ice water
in her veins so it wouldn't be a good
idea to bet against her in a race even
when she's behind."
Freshmen Susan Gilliam and Kaitlyn
Brady, sophomore Abby Seskevics, sen-
ior Emily-Clare Fenn, and senior Kelli
Stein will also be joining Weilbacher,
Smith and McCullough at the NCAA
Championships in three weeks.
"This meet has prepared us for the
NCAA Championships," Richardson
said. "It is every bit as exciting and elec-
tric as it will be in Texas in three weeks."
Michigan's divers who have qualified
will take part in the NCAA Zone C
Meet Friday through Sunday, March
12-14, in Bloomington, Ind., while the
swimmers will switch focus to the
NCAA Championships, which will be
held March 18-20 at Texas A&M Uni-
versity's Student Recreation Center
Natatorium in College Station, Texas.
of Michigan's reach. During the doubles
portion, the Wolverines looked to have
the point all sewn up, as junior Vinny
Gossain and freshman Steve Peretz won
their match, while junior Michael
Rubin and freshman Ryan Heller were
up 3-0 in a tie-breaker set. But Florida
State's Mat Cloer and Jonathas Sucupi-
ra stormed back to take the game 10-6
and the set 9-8.
The Wolverines knew they could win
without taking the doubles point. They
had done so just a week prior in a 4-3
Rubin battled with No. 25 Cloer
through two ugly singles sets, but in the
end the match went to Cloer, 6-4,6-4.
"We both struggled," Rubin said. "I
definitely had a lot of chances and
could have played a lot better."
Continuing the theme of the season,
freshmen lent a helping hand, as first-
year players Brian Hung (3-6, 6-3, 6-4)
and Heller (6-7, 6-3, 6-3) each walked
away with a point in their matches.
Michigan's fight to stave off its first
loss came down to Jackson. The first set
went to his challenger Jonathas Sucupi-
ra in a 7-6 tie breaker. After a decisive
6-1 victory in the second set, Jackson
appeared to have the momentum he
needed to put the final point on the
board. Despite the momentum, Sucupi-
ra managed to keep the third set close:
Tied at three, Jackson had his serve bro-
ken and fell behind 5-3 before eventual-
ly succumbing to a 6-4 loss.
The matches in Florida marked
Michigan's first outdoor competition of
the season. Getting adjusted to the new
surroundings was made more. difficult
as rain shortened practice times leading
up to the matches.
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