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March 29, 2004 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 29, 2004 - 7B

Netters stumble in
conference opener

* WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD
Throwers set marks,
see gators in Florida

By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer
For the fifth consecutive year, the
Michigan men's tennis team dropped
its first two Big Ten matches of the
season.
The No. 42 Wolverines limped into
Columbus yesterday, losing to No.18
Ohio State 5-2, after falling to No. 56
Penn State on Saturday, 4-3.
Michigan (0-2 Big Ten, 8-4 over-
all) played poorly to begin both con-
tests, losing all six doubles matches.
"When you play good teams that
have good singles players, that dou-
bles point is critical," Michigan
coach Mark Mees said. "We just
played really lousy doubles (Satur-
day). That was by far the worst per-
formance in doubles - probably our
worst performance of any of the
matches we played this year."
After losing the doubles point,
Michigan's Ryan Heller ended his
two-match losing streak with a win
over Ohio State's Devin Mullings, 6-
1, 6-1. With the match tied 1-1, Ohio
State (3-0, 12-3) bounced back, tak-
ing the No. 1 and No. -2 singles
matches in straight sets. Michigan's
Steve Peretz dominated the Buck-
eyes' Ross Wilson at No. 6 singles,
6-0, 6-4, narrowing the Ohio State
lead to 3-2. The Buckeyes cruised to
straight-set victories at the No. 3
and No. 5 singles positions and
clinched their 12th consecutive vic-
tory at the Jesse Owens West Recre-
ation Center.
"We had a couple of positions
where we played very well, and then

we had a number of positions where
we struggled a little," Mees said.
"Against a team the caliber of Ohio
State, you've got to be able to put
together a consistent effort in all
nine spots. Unfortunately, we
weren't able to do that."
The Wolverines have lost three
consecutive matches - all to ranked
opponents - after starting the sea-
son 8-1.
Mees has had to shuffle his team's
lineup lately due to lingering
injuries. Michigan's No. 1 singles
player Michael Rubin has been suf-
fering from rib and shoulder
injuries. Rubin missed three consec-
utive matches but played through the
pain over the weekend.
"Hopefully these two matches this
weekend will get him back on
track," Mees said. "A lot of people
are dinged up, but that's not an
excuse. We just have to be able to
overcome these things."
The Wolverines couldn't over-
come a late-match charge by Penn
State's No. 1 player, Malcolm
Scatliffe, on Saturday.
The reigning Big Ten Player of the
Week clinched Penn State's upset
victory over Michigan, defeating
Rubin 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Playing outdoors for the first time
since their Spring Break, the
Wolverines played one of their poor-
est matches of the season against the
Nittany Lions (1-1, 10-4).
"We really did not play well in
that match," Mees said. "It was very
disappointing, and we came out and
never got anything going. That was

By Gabriela D'Jaen
Daily Sports Writer
Three throwers from the Michigan
women's track and field team went
to Gainesville, Fla., on Thursday
with a cold-blooded mission. When
Melissa Bickett, Ashley Eckel and
Lindsey Stephenson returned to Ann
Arbor four days later, they had
reached the NCAA regionals mark
in their throwing events. While mak-
ing the mark was one of their goals,
they were excited for a different rea-
son: alligator sightings.
"There were signs everywhere
saying: 'DO NOT FEED THE
ALLIGATORS!' " co-captain Bick-
ett said. "It was exciting; the alliga-
tors were just sunbathing on the
sidewalks of the campus."
While the gators caused a stir prior
to the start of the Florida Relays, the
reptiles were out of sight and out of
mind once the women entered the
stadium. All three athletes had note-
worthy performances. Eckel, a jun-
ior, threw a personal best with a
hammer toss of 54.7 meters. Eckel
also threw the shot put 14.43 meters
for her outdoor-season personal best
and reached the NCAA regional
qualifying mark.
Seniors Bickett and Stephenson
both landed third-place finishes in
the discus and javelin, respectively.
Bickett, who had already qualified
for regionals in all her, events, was
focused on nursing her ankle that she
sprained six weeks ago. Last year she
was named an All-American for dis-

cus throwing, but she has since had
to cut back on her training time. It
has been difficult for Bickett to adapt
to competing with an injury, but she
was pleased with her performance
and is focused on reaching the
Olympic mark this season.
If she throws the discus 60 meters
- her personal best is 56.8 meters
- she would automatically be
allowed to compete at the Olympic
trials. With this goal in mind, she
has been doing extensive physical
therapy and expects to be fully
recovered by mid-April.
Stephenson's reaction to her third-
place finish in the javelin in Florida
was slightly less enthused than the
rest of her teammates.
"It was an average performance,"
Stephenson said. "I always expect to
throw well. The difficult part was
that there were four unattached peo-
ple, who were out of college and
competing just to make it to the
Olympic trials."
Throwing coach Anne Takacs-
Grieb, who accompanied the women
to Florida, was also impressed by
the level of talent showcased at the
Relays. Takacs-Grieb saw this past
weekend as a good test not only for
regionals but also for the NCAA
outdoor championships.
The Wolverines will head down to
Florida for the third weekend in a row
on April 2. The South Florida Invita-
tional in Tampa might give the rest of
the team who did not make the trip
last weekend an opportunity to see a
few sunbathing gators as well.

Freshman Ryan Heller ended a two-match losing streak with his win over Ohio
State's Devin Mullings, but it was a lone bright spot in Michigan's 5-2 loss.

very frustrating. I look back on that,
and I really felt that was a match
that we should have won."
Despite the 4-3 loss, the Wolver-
ines played strong at the No. 2, No.
3 and No. 5 singles positions.
Michigan's Anthony Jackson was
solid against Penn State's Roddy
Cantey, winning 6-2, 6-1, ending his
six-match losing streak. Brian Hung
and David Anving both won
thrilling three-set matches for the

Wolverines.
"We just didn't play well enough
across the board," Mees said about the
weekend. " One of the most important
things is to be able to play nine
matches out there pretty well. "We've
got to get back to doing that."
The Wolverines have little time to
recuperate from injuries and match
fatigue. They play rival Michigan
State at the Varsity Tennis Center on
Wednesday night.

First-day play
lifts 'M' scores
By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's golf team had its best finish of the
season over the weekend at the Furman Intercollegiate in
Greenville, S.C., placing third out of 20 teams. Rebounding
from some struggles early in the season, the Wolverines
were able to outperform a strong field that included some of
the top teams in the nation.
Michigan finished the 54-hole tournament with a team
score of 894, nine strokes behind second-place Virginia
Tech. Host Furman won the team title with an 883.
Michigan coach Andrew Sapp was pleased with his team's
play throughout the tournament, but attributed much of its
success to its low score in the opening round. Michigan's
first-round total of 295 was its best one-day score of the tour-
nament and the spring season.
"We often get off to a poor start in other tournaments,"
Sapp said. "This weekend, we were able to play well in the
first round and get into third place early, and then continue
to play well for the rest of the tournament."
The Wolverines' third-round total of 300 was the sixth-
lowest score of the day - and beat both Furman and Vir-
ginia Tech - but it was not enough to pass the Hokies in the
overall standings.
"We didn't finish well," Sapp said. "We had some trouble
on the last five or six holes. Some of the guys were under par
heading into these holes and ended up shooting 73 or 74."
Going into yesterday's final round, Sapp's main goal was
to move into second place.
"We wanted to give Virginia Tech at least a run for their
money," Sapp said. "They were 12 strokes ahead, which was
quite a few, but not insurmountable"
Sophomore Christian Vozza led Michigan with a score of
220 total and finished in a tie for sixth place overall. Vozza
was consistent throughout the tournament, carding rounds of
72, 74 and 74. After shooting a team-low score of 71 in the
first round, freshman Kevin Dore carded rounds of 77 and 76
to finish in a tie for 18th place with a total score of 224.
"Kevin just made more birdies in the first round," Sapp

Blue waiting for real challenge

By Brad Johnson
Daily Sports Writer
It was another run-of-the-mill weekend for the
Michigan water polo team: the squad put the finishing
touches on an unblemished Central Water Polo Associ-
ation campaign for the fourth straight year, outscored
its opponents by a combined margin of 71-22 and
accomplished all of this in two pools that were not
even regulation size.
Yesterday, the Wolverines took care of Washington
and Jefferson 12-5 and Salem International 19-4 in
Slippery Rock, Pa., at Slippery Rock's Morrow Field
House Pool.
On Saturday, Michigan kicked off its dominating
weekend performance with lopsided wins over Gannon,
Penn State-Behrend and Mercyhurst in Grove City, Pa.
In Slippery Rock, freshmen Jamie Brown and Jenna
Green led the way for Michigan, with nine combined
goals against Salem International. Brown also tallied
three assists against Salem, despite the fact that the
pool Michigan played in was far from normal.
"The pool has a shallow end and a deep end, and that
really screws up your game," Michigan coach Matt
Anderson said. "The water is basically four feet deep
(in the shallow end). It's almost like you are shooting
on a 10-foot basket and then, all of the sudden, you are
shooting on a 14-foot basket."
A normal water polo pool has a uniform depth
throughout, similar to the pool at Canham Natatorium,
in which the Wolverines play their home games. Inter-
estingly enough, the pool peculiarities all began on
Saturday with the games-in Grove City.
"The pool (in Grove City) is a little bit different,"
Anderson said. "It's not as wide and it's a little bit
shorter. We can't use our speed that much to our advan-
tage, like we do when we are playing at home. We had
to be a lot smarter in our half-court offense and move
the ball around, which we obviously did. When (the
pool) is smaller like that, it allows other teams to
defend us a little bit sooner than if it was a bigger pool
and we could spread the offense out."

But the smaller dimensions seemed to pose no prob-
lems for the Wolverines (8-0 CWPA, 24-7 overall).
Standout freshman Shana Welch led the way for Michi-
gan on Saturday, with five goals throughout the day.
Freshman Wesley Ellison also had a strong day, scoring
three goals and notching three steals.
With this weekend's victories, Michigan has now
outscored its opponents 106-35 throughout the last two
weekends of play. As a result, Anderson has had to
employ some unique strategies in order to keep his
players focused on the task at hand.
"Because we play at such a high level and (because
we play) one of the harder schedules in the nation,
when we come into our conference, the conference
games outside of Gannon and Indiana are extremely
easy," Anderson said. "I have to put challenges on the
team to use their left hand when they shoot instead of
the right hand to try and make it a little harder than it
normally is. It's like telling Yao Ming that he has to
shoot 3-point baskets instead of going in and shooting
over people."
Anderson feels that increased confidence has been
the key to the Wolverines' phenomenal success so far
this season.
"This year we have proven that we belong (in the top
10 in the nation)," Anderson said. "Our girls are confi-
dent enough to take the next step and get in the top five
in the nation, which is what we are going to have to do.
Those are the baby steps that you have to take."
Another significant baby step for the Wolverines will
take place next weekend at the Indiana Invite, when
they will take on No. 7 Loyola Marymount in a game,
that could have significant postseason-seeding implica-
tions. Stacia Peterson and Devon Wright lead the Lions
with 34 goals each.
Michigan will then return home on April 6 to face
the World Championship U.S. Olympic Team. It will bd
another game that Anderson feels will be a great chal:
lenge for his team.
"We're playing the best team in the world," Anderson
said. "It will be a game for us and a practice for them."-

BRENDAN O'DONNELL/Daily
Sophomore Christian Vozza posted a 220 in South Carolina
this weekend, good enough for sixth place overall.
said. "He played fairly solid otherwise. It was good that he
was able to shoot 76 or 77, without getting birdies, on
tricky greens."
Senior Rob Tighe also finished with a 224 total, placing
three Wolverines in the tournament's top 20.
Led by strong individual performances, Michigan was
able to place third in a strong field with quite a few teams in
the top 50, including No. 32 Northwestern.
"For us to come here for the first time and to finish third
in this field is quite an accomplishment," Sapp said.
Looking ahead to upcoming tournaments at Purdue and
Ohio State, Sapp was most pleased with how his team per-
formed against some stiff Big Ten competition.
"We beat Northwestern for the first time this season,"
Sapp said. "They're one of the better teams in the Big Ten. It
was a good victory for us."

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