The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 11A
Outdoor season brings
changes to Blue routine
N WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS
Blue prepares for Big Tens
with work on balance beam
By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Writer
After a fifth-place finish at the NCAA
Indoor Championships, the Michigan men's
track and field team begins its outdoor season
According to junior Nate Brannen, Michi-
gan uses the indoor season as a building block
for the outdoor season, with less speed train-
ing during the winter and gradually faster
workouts as spring approaches. Outdoors,
there are some additional events, including
decathlon, steeplechase, hammer and javelin.
But for the most part, the Wolverines will
continue the same training that they used in
the indoor season.
"The sprinters run 100 meters outdoors
instead of 60 meters - same with the hur-
dlers," Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said.
"It's a little longer, but we've been training to
run outdoors all season."
Junior DarNell Talbert - who was a mem-
ber of last week's NCAA champion distance
medley relay team - will compete in the hur-
dles in the outdoor season and said that the
biggest change from indoor to outdoor is the
intensity of the workouts.
"Running a 400 outdoors is like running
a 600 indoors," Talbert said. "You need to
add leg work. There's more volume to the
By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan softball team has
certainly witnessed its defense win-
Sophomore Jennie Ritter threw a
no-hitter in Michigan's 3-0 win
against Notre Dame last Friday. The
only blemish between her and a per-
fect game was hitting a batter in the
seventh inning. She is just the 12th
pitcher in Michigan history to
achieve this feat.
Ritter's nearly flawless perform-
ance will go down in the books as
the 20th no-hitter in Michigan soft-
ball history and the first since
Marissa Young's perfect game on
Feb. 16, 2002.
"She was outstanding," Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins said. "In gen-
eral, she is getting ahead of hitters,
throwing with a lot of confidence
and keeping us in the games."
By the end of the Notre Dame
game, Ritter had struck out 34 hit-
ters over her last 20 innings without
walking or hitting a batter.
"(Ritter) has the ability to domi-
nate a hitter," Hutchins said. "She is
a strikeout pitcher, and the greatest
defense is a strikeout."
Registering a staggering total of
93 strikeouts in 12 appearances in
the 2004 campaign, Ritter's domina-
tion on the mound has translated
into three shutouts, and a current
personal record of 6-3.
In addition to Michigan's strong
pitching, tight defense contributed
to the Wolverines' wins over Notre
Dame, Georgia State, Troy State,
Maryland and Florida A&M at the
Florida State Invitational. Ritter
posted two shutout performances at
the tournament: one against the
Fighting Irish and another against
Consistent defensive play also
kept No. 11 Michigan in a close
game against No. 5 Florida State in
the Gold Bracket championship
game, but the Wolverines fell just
short in a 1-0 loss. Michigan went 5-
1 in the invitational.
"You can't throw a no-hitter with-
out a great defense behind you,"
The Wolverine defense only gave up
two total runs in all six games at the
most recent invitational. At this point
in the season, Michigan's strength is in
its pitching and defense. But Hutchins
does not feel that the defense has
reached its full potential yet.
The Wolverines' offense, however,
has been less successful. Michigan
is currently 17-6, and its most recent
defeats have come as a result of
poor run-production. In its last four
losses, Michigan totaled just one
"At some point, our offense has
got to improve," Hutchins said. "We
need more improvement in the bot-
tom half of our order."
The Wolverines are working hard
o to become more aggressive in their
Despite the extra work, Talbert looks for-
ward to competing in these events.
"I can definitely say that I prefer the out-
door season to indoor," Talbert said. "I'm nat-
urally a hurdler. I was made into a 400 runner.
Also, it's nice to be outside training when the
weather is nice."
Brannen and sophomore Nick Willis may
have to make the greatest adjustments, as they
will redshirt the outdoor season to prepare for
the Olympic Games in Athens this summer.
Brannen and Willis will continue to train with
Warhurst, and plan to compete unattached in
several races throughout the spring.
"Training will be a lot different this sea-
son," Brannen said. "I can focus on getting a
good base and some good mileage in and not
worry about racing as early. In terms of com-
petition, my focus is on the 800 for the
The Wolverines look to continue their
success when they travel to Tallahassee,
Fla., to compete in the Florida State Relays
over the next few days. With some mem-
bers of his team competing in two or three
events for the first time this season,
Warhurst is not anticipating great times or
a perfect meet.
"It's like opening something up and not
knowing what to expect," Warhurst said. "It
By Jeremy Antr
Daily Sports Writer
Imagine trying to do a combination of hand-
stands and back flips while having to stay within a
four-inch-wide line on the floor. Now, imagine
having to do this same routine on a four-inch-
wide bar that is 4 feet off the ground. Members of
the Michigan women's gymnastics team perform
this task on a daily basis.
The Wolverines' performance on the beam will
play a crucial role in Minnesota on Saturday as
they attempt to claim their 12th Big Ten champi-
onship in 13 years, as the Wolverines have per-
formed consistently in the event this season.
The balance beam requires great skill, concen-
tration and practice. It's easy to see how trying out
a new move on the beam could get a bit danger-
ous. When learning a new move or routine for the
event, gymnasts begin practicing on a line drawn
on the floor. After getting down the basic move-
ments, gymnasts will then try to perfect their rou-
tine on a balance beam resting on the floor, rather
than the normal height beam.
"It's not really scary," junior Chelsea Kroll said
about practicing on the beam on the floor. "You
can see the beam, so it helps because you get a
feeling for what you're tumbling on."
But no matter how much someone practices,
there is no way to simulate what it is like to per-
form on the balance beam. Prior to stepping on
the beam, the athletes try to clear their minds and
block out everything else. Kroll usually does not
have much time to think prior to her performance,
as she typically performs first for the team.
"I'm used to that now, and if I have more time
to think about it, I feel as if I don't do as well,"
Most gymnasts are able to recall minute details
in their performance. Kroll said she is usually able
to guess her score before it is posted. i
In sports that require intense focus and concen-
tration, such as golf and tennis, silence is often
demanded of the audience. But gymnastics .is
quite the contrary.
Not only is there no request for silence from the
crowd, but gymnasts listen to music during their
routines on the balance beam
Kroll said that the music sets her rhythm. Most
athletes pick songs that they know very well, so
that they will not really be listening to the song. 'In
many cases, the familiar music just serves as. a
way to block out every other noise in the arena.
"It's pretty much all I hear," Kroll said. "I don't
hear anybody talking or anything like that, and
once and a while I don't even remember hearing
Freshman Sarrie Rubin agreed. She said she
likes to listen to slower songs that calm her down.
"If you listen to your music, you can get to the
end of your routine before you even realize you're
there," Rubin said.
Nate Brannen is redshirting the outdoor season
to prepare for the Olympics in Athens.
will basically be a training session. We just
want to get the guys used to the different envi-
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