12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 23, 2004
Coach looks for big
strides from Pizzo
Stinson settles in while
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
Senior runner Sarah Pizzo is always
looking for ways to inspire her team.
Whether by running her fastest or
making her teammates laugh, she has
been a huge asset to the Michigan
women's cross country team for four
Pizzo began her collegiate career
slowly; she was plagued by injuries
that kept her from competing at an
optimum level, but that didn't stop
her from contributing to the team.
Because she realizes that running
should be fun, she's the one who keeps
"If there's a practical joke going on,
she's usually directly in it or had a lot
to do with it," coach Mike McGuire
Dealing with her injuries helped
Pizzo learn to appreciate the time she
spends racing, so when her opportu-
nity came to really train and improve,
she took it.
"She had a good summer of prepa-
ration last summer and just a consis-
tent, steady buildup all fall last year,"
McGuire said. "Sarah just had a break-
out season last year in cross country
and probably was our most improved
athlete on the team."
Pizzo made remarkable improve-
ment last fall. McGuire was plan-
ning on redshirting her up until the
middle of the season, but she went
on to race in the pre-national meet
and three championship meets. She
reduced from 21:15.5 minutes in the
pre-nationals on Oct. 8 to 20:54.3 in
the NCAA championships on Nov. 24.
She was named All-Big Ten first team
and just missed being named an All-
"In her senior year, she's got some
lofty goals centered on obtaining
a higher finish in the Big Ten and a
higher first-team All-Big Ten finish,"
McGuire said. "And she was on the
cusp of being an All-American last
year, so that's a reasonable goal for
"She's someone that has a fierce
determination," he said. "She's con-
fident and competitive, and, when
everything's in harmony - the way
it was last year - she's pretty darn
tough. She just gets that extra spark in
her eye during cross country. It's just
something she loves to do."
Pizzo says there's something more
important behind her desire to win:
"Really, I race so that the team
can be successful," Pizzo said. "And
I think if one person can do well, it
Michigan senior Sarah Pizzo finished third at the Spartan Invitational in
East Lansing on Friday.
inspires everyone else." "We've been happy to have her on
McGuire looks forward to the the team," McGuire said. "She really
season ahead to see what Pizzo can has a passion for cross country. There
achieve in the future, but he will be are still bigger and better things for
sad to see her go. her ahead."
By Heather Biebuyck
For the Daily
The Michigan women's golf team is off
to a promising start after securing first-
place finishes at both the Lady Northern
Invitational in Ann Arbor two weeks ago
and the Mary Fossum Invitational in East
Lansing on Saturday. All I1 conference
teams were at the Michigan Golf Course
for the Lady Northern, held Sept. I1 and
12. The tournament marked the first time
Michigan has finished ahead of every
other Big Ten school at a tournament.
Sophomore Ali Stinson - who set a
collegiate-best of 221 strokes, good for a
fifth-place overall finish - contributed to
the Wolverine win.
Known for her steady and consistent
play, Stinson has turned in solid matches
at the season's first two tournaments. She
attributes her success to her play over the
summer, when she played for the British
Columbia Amateur Team and worked
hard to improve her game for this year.
"I had a really good summer with tour-
naments," Stinson said. "I'm shooting
longer off the tee and I think that's one
of the main reasons I'm shooting lower
This season, Stinson is more confident
in herself and her team.
"Personally, I came here this season
knowing I wanted to do better than last
Continued from page 10A
for his golfers yesterday, and the
results he saw seemed to be nothing
short of spectacular. He hoped his
players would achieve a new per-
spective on how to help each other
on the course.
For this reason, he made sure to
sit around with the guys after each
activity to break down what they
just did and discuss how effective
they were, as well as how they could
have done a better job.
Sapp looked at this as an oppor-
tunity for his players to "feel more
free communicating and sharing
ideas about how to approach tasks
The coach recognizes that golf
is a very individual sport, and took
this opportunity to pull his play-
ers off the course - where they
don't interact with each other much
- and force them into situations
where they would have to collabo-
rate to get something done.
One of the team's leaders, junior
s swing on .
year," she said. "I don't have to deal with
the adjusting like I did as a freshman. As a
team, we have a lot of depth and talent."
According to Stinson. Michigan's suc-
cess in the Lady Northern Invitational
gave the team the confidence to achieve
its goals for the upcoming year.
"We are hosting the Big Tens this year,
so the win at the Lady Northern was
huge" Stinson said.
Stinson's motivation to finish ahead of
every conference team was not the only
aspect contributing to her success: Beating
her twin sister also played a role. Stinson's
twin sister, Maria - a sophomore at Purdue
- also competed at the Lady Northern.
"It's not weird because we play together
every day in the summer." Stinson said
about playing against her sister. "We are
best friends and do everything together
- of course the sibling rivalry is there. I
want her to do well, but only if we can still
beat her team."
Stinson is not the only Wolverine
shooting her best right now. Senior team
captain Laura Olin also shot a career-best
219 at the Lady Northern, tying for a sec-
ond-place overall finish.
If the first two weeks of the team's
play is a sign of the season to come, the
Wolverines have a lot to look forward to.
Michigan has two weeks off before head-
ing to Franklin, Ind., for the Legends
Tournament Oct. 4 and 5. *
Blake makes gains throug faith, hard work
By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Writer
For athletes entering their final year, the offseason
preparation frequently is different than in past years.
Realizing it is her final chance for athletic glory in
college, the athlete prepares for that final push with
more intense training.
Senior Jessica Blake of the Michigan field hockey
team had one of those offseasons. Instead of the usual
training - which she did alone - Blake participated
in the Athletes in Action ministry program.
"I stayed at the Olympic training center along with
23 other Division-I athletes," Blake said. "It was
really interesting since they were from all over the
country and played different sports."
In past offseasons, it would have been easier to do
less, since she was training mostly on her own. But
the Australian native was pushed to the limit by those
23 other athletes.
The program was not just about athletics; the pri-
mary objective was mission work.
"They really pushed me at this amazing facility,
but I was also able to do ministry work, something
that I am very interested in doing," Blake said.
Blake attributes her current physical fitness to this
past offseason. She feels that she is in the best shape
of her college career and is happy that she was able to
experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"Athletes in Action has these principles that help
you apply your faith to your sport," the current co-Big
Ten Player of the Week said. "Those also helped me
in bringing together the two most important areas of
my life: faith in God and athletics."
Blake feels that those principles have helped in her
motivation to play field hockey. tnately, the prinVe
ciples have allowed her to mesh sport and spiritual-
This extra motivation has led her into this coming
season, in which she is the only senior forward on
"(Michigan coach) Marcia (Pankratz) explained
that I would be the only senior, but that she wanted all
the forwards to work together," Blake said.
In order for the forwards to step up as a group,
Blake and the rest of the forwards met to see what
they needed to work on. One of their main objectives
was replacing outgoing April Fronzoni, the leading
scorer on the team the past three seasons. But Blake
does not feel she was the only one who had to replace
Fronzoni. She said every other forward is helping in
the role of stepping up.
Without having the pressure of being the only
forward replacing a great player, she has flourished.
Blake has already set a career high in goals with 11
and has an eight-game scoring streak.
But Blake feels that - other than her teammates
- her summer is the biggest reason she has played
well so far this season.
"After this summer I really feel a freedom out there
on the field because of the ability God has given me,"
Blake said. "The ability is from God, not from me,
and it's an honor to be able to play."
Christian Vozza, said he appreci-
ated the activities Sapp prepared.
"Golf is kind of one of those
sports in which you play individual-
ly, but all the guys have to pull their
own weight," Vozza said. "We used
these activities to learn to cooper-
ate for the purpose of achieving one
He was especially thrilled about
how the day went because of the
conversations that were conducted
after each initiative.
On the course every day, it's easy
for players - especially the young-
er ones - to keep to themselves and
just play their game. But yesterday,
everybody seemed to have some-
thing to say, and getting feedback
boosted the team's overall commu-
Looking forward to the rest of the
season, the Wolverines feel optimis-
tic about the season ahead and their
ability to succeed using teamwork.
Michigan will be able to gauge its
teamwork at the Duke Intercolle-
giate Tournament in Durhat, N.C.,
on Oct. 17 and 18.
Michigan's Jessica Blake (21) takes a shot on goal.