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September 07, 2004 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-07

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20A - The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - September 7, 2004

Willis misses
1,500m finals
by 0.2 seconds
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
Nick Willis crossed the finish line in the Olympic
semifinals for the 1,500-meter run and knew immedi-
ately that he had not made the finals.
He didn't need the scoreboard to tell him that
Kamal Boulahfane from Algeria had sprinted by him
just split seconds before to take the fifth, and final,
qualifying spot. He didn't need anyone to tell him that
his heat ran the race a full five seconds slower than the
first heat and therefore wouldn't get one of the extra
qualifying spots. And he certainly didn't need anyone
to tell him that he had missed his goal of qualifying
for the Olympic finals by just one-fifth of a second.
One-fifth of a second after almost a mile race.
Willis is a Michigan junior track star who holds
the school record for the 3,000-meter run. But he was
running for his native New Zealand in the Olympics
and finished the semifinal race in sixth place with a
time of 3:41.46. The top five racers from each heat,
plus the next two overall, were able to advance to the
Olympic finals.
"This race was basically a sprint from 800 meters
out," Willis said. "So, I ran a 1:48 for the last 800. And
I just got beat out. The three guys who were ahead
of me got first, third and fourth (in the finals). I was
obviously pretty disappointed right at the end, but,
looking back on it, I was pretty satisfied."
After the race, Willis collapsed on the track,
exhausted. He spent the next few minutes curled up
in the fetal position, throwing up. It was a big change
from the quarterfinal race two days earlier.
"The first race went really well, and I couldn't
believe how easy it felt," Willis said. "I was just smil-
ing across the finish line and was thinking 'Wow, this
is the Olympics. That wasn't too bad.' It gave me a
lot of confidence going into the semifinals, but then I
didn't recover as well as I had expected."

Blue drops 21 shots
a on St. Francis in win

By Anne Uible
Daily Sports Writer

EAST LANSING --Opportunity
could have been the name of the game
Sunday when the Michigan men's soc-
cer team played St. Francis College at
the Michigan State Invitational.
The Wolverines had 21 shots on goal.
17 more than the Red Flash. However,
the team was able to notch just two goals.
One of them surprisingly came from
defender Chris Glinski, who scored the
second goal in the 2-0 victory.
The game marked the Wolverines'
third shutout of the season, improving
their record to 3-0. Senior goalkeeper Joe
Zawacki posted the save for the game.
The Wolverines attacked the Red
Flash aggressively right from the start of
the game. In the first 30 minutes, Michi-
gan had three clear shots on goal. In the
33rd minute. senior forward Mychal
Turpin broke away from his defender
and ran the ball down the right side of
the field. With an open lane to the net,
St. Francis goalkeeper Simon Fox came
out of the net in an effort to stop the
threat.Turpin crossed the ball to fresh-
man striker Tolu Olowolafe, who fired a
shot into the open net and gave the Wol-
verines their first goal.
"I was really pleased wvith Turpin's
performance," Michigan coach Steve
Burns said. "He's just dangerous out on
the field. He really pulled apart the St.
Francis defense."
While the Red Flash played a strong
defensive game, they found themselves
in a tough position after a red card was
given to their key offensive player, Scott
Thompson, less than a minute into the
first half after he roughly pushed soph-
omore defender Kevin Hall in pursuit
of the ball.
"I think it hurt them when they got
the red card so early in the game," senior
captain Matt Niemeyer said, "They are
a hard-working team and they tried to
play along. They got a couple of good
chances on us and kept us on our toes. It

was good for us defensively to work on
playing against a counter."
Glinski scored the Wolverines' second
goal in the 75th minute, when he headed
the ball into the net off of a corner kick.
Junior defender Ryan Sterba serviced
the ball to the far post, finding Glinski
for the shot. Glinski sent the ball back
across the net, banking it off the left post
for the goal. St. Francis was unsuccessful
in breaking down the Michigan defense
for the remainder of the game.
Burns was encouraged by the num-
ber of opportunities the team had to
shoot on net, but was slightly disap-
pointed by the team's failure to finish
with more goals.
"I think we are able to get in behind
other teams' defenses," Burns said. "It is
very tough to defend when you are fac-
ing your own goal. As a defender, you
always want your back at your own goal
so you can keep everything in front of
you. We are a dangerous team in that
sense. Yet, we are not finishing when
we get those chances in behind defenses,
slotting ball back across and serving
balls into players that are making good
runs. The finishing leaves a lot to be
desired right now."
The game Sunday marked the Wol-
verines' third shutout win of the season.
On Saturday Michigan beat Western
Illinois 1-0 in overtime. Last weekend,
the team beat No. 10 Connecticut 1-0 in
an exciting season opener.
"Defensively we have guys that take
pride in working hard and getting a shut-
out no matter what it takes," Niemeyer
said. "We have to keep that attitude up.
We have a team that works hard across
the board this year. We have to keep that
blue-collar attitude up."
The Wolverines return to Ann Arbor
this weekend for their first two home
games of the season. Michigan will
face off against Dayton at 7 p.m. Fri-
day at Saline High School and will host
Detroit at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Var-
sity Soccer Field.

Michigan's Nick Willis came up short in the 1,500-meter semifinals in the Olympics for his native New Zealand.

Willis was sick for the first three days of the Olym-
pics. He had a bacterial nasal infection that caused
him to miss the opening ceremony, forced him to
miss a couple days of practice, and kept him awake
for a couple of days. Willis insisted that he was at full
strength by the time the racing began.
"The day we started racing, that's when, for me,
the Olympics really started," Willis said. "Just walk-
ing out into the stadium was the biggest adrenaline
rush. And then we started having fun. I was feeling
110 percent. I just might have been lacking a little bit
of training. But my health was fine."

Willis missed some practice time in Athens, but he
had worked very hard the previous three weeks. At
the end of July, he ran in a race in Belgium and then
went to Zurich, Switzerland, for another race the next
week. While in Belgium, Willis actually broke his
personal record in the 800-meter run with a time of
1:45.54. He showed up to Athens feeling great, but he
said that the 11 days leading up to the race were very
stressful, mostly because he was sick.
After narrowly missing the finals, Willis said that
he was disappointed because his aim was to make the
final. He said that going into the race he thought he
had a 50-50 chance of making it.
"But I'm really happy with how it ended up, and I
think it will help me this year," Willis said. "Now the
hunger is right there and I'm back in training again.
If it had gone extremely well, then I might have just
been like, 'That's the end of that what is there to train
for now,' you know."
Willis took eight days off from racing and practice
immediately following the race. He spent the time
enjoying Athens and recovering from the stress of
racing. He has since returned to Ann Arbor and has
spent the last week hanging out with the friends that
he hasn't seen for a while and training once again. He
said that he's going to take it easy getting back into
cross country season. Willis said that he will get back
into an intense training schedule, but will probably
not compete again until the Big Ten Championships
at the end of October.
"Mentally, I need the break," Willis said.
A break that was caused by and will certainly be
longer than one-fifth of a second.

Michigan senior Mychal Turpin set up a goal and led the Wolverines to a 2-0 win
over St. Francis College on Saturday.

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