The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 11A
M WREST LNG
By Jake Rosenwasser
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan hockey team has 10 seniors, 14
NHL draft picks and a No. 5 national ranking. But
even with all of that experience and talent, the Wol-
verines have had trouble finding a fourth center.
Dwight Helminen - who was named Best Defen-
sive Forward in the CCHA last season - created a
void over the summer when he spurned the Wolver-
ines for the New York Rangers after his junior season
at center in Ann Arbor.
At the beginning of the season, Michigan coach
Red Berenson called on senior captain Eric Nys-
trom to fill the gap. Nystrom filled in admirably even
though he had played left wing for most of his hockey
Nystrom managed to win 57 faceoffs, while los-
ing 55 - pretty good for an inexperienced cen-
ter. But when Michigan played Michigan State in
a pair of games in late November, Nystrom was
overmatched. The senior won just three out of 21
"He got some good experience," Berenson said. "I
think (playing center) made him a better player, but I
don't think he was thriving there."
Enter freshman Chad Kolarik. This past weekend
in road games at Minnesota and Wisconsin - two of
the best teams in the nation - Berenson moved the
freshman into the middle to take faceoffs.
But the center position is nothing new for Kolarik.
He played center last year for the U.S National Devel-
opment Program Under-18 team.
The freshman got mixed results in his first two
games after the switch. He scored Michigan's lone
goal in a 3-1 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday, but
on Friday, Minnesota scored a goal off of one of
Kolarik's faceoffs in Michigan's 5-1 defeat.
"He lost a faceoff that cost us a goal," Berenson
said. "But the (Minnesota player) nearly tackled
(sophomore Mike) Brown trying to get over to the
point. It should have been a faceoff interference
call, but they didn't call it. Outside of that, I thought
By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer
Ideally, a wrestler's career culminates
in an appearance in the Olympic games.
This past summer, redshirtjunior Greg
Wagner and sophomore Josh Weitzel got
a taste of what it takes to be an Olym-
pic-caliber wrestler when they spent two
weeks training with the USA Wrestling
team in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Wagner and Weitzel were invited to
practice with many of the current stand-
outs for the USA wrestling team. Wag-
ner got to wrestle with 2000 Olympic
gold medalist and 2004 bronze medal-
ist Rulon Gardner, while Weitzel got to
train with four-time undefeated NCAA
champion and 2004 gold medalist Cael
"Watching (USA wrestlers) practice,
I just tried to pick up a lot of the little
things they do," Weitzel said.
In the Olympics, wrestlers compete
in both freestyle and Greco-Roman
versions of wrestling, rather than the
folk style that is done in high school
and college. Both freestyle and Greco-
Roman emphasize the neutral and top
positions, in which opponent control is
"We did a lot of Greco-Roman wres-
tling, and a lot of Greco-Roman drills,"
Wagner said. "I really learned how to
hand fight better and how to better con-
trol (the opponent's) head."
Simply observing how the Olympi-
ans trained has proven beneficial for
Wagner and Weitzel.
"Seeing how they work and how.
they train and how committed they are
(was worthwhile)," Wagner said. "Pret-
ty much everyone out there is training
independently, and seeing how they
handle themselves on an independent
basis struck me."
Both Wagner and Weitzel have been
able to incorporate what they learned
this summer in their own workouts this
"Just watching (USA wrestlers)
wrestle, I picked up on a lot of little
things that they do," Weitzel said. "The
way they prepare for practice and the
intensity they have in matches are
things I've definitely implemented into
my own routine."
The Michigan coaching staff has also
noticed a difference in the duo since
their summer experience.
"(Wagner and Weitzel) were able
to bring back a lot of confidence from
this experience," Michigan coach Joe
McFarland said. "Being able to work
out with some of the best wrestlers in
the world and holding your own does
wonders for your confidence."
Wagner and Weitzel have started
the 2004-05 season on a roll. Wagner
is undefeated (5-0) so far. Last week-
end, he won the heavyweight title at the
Body Bar Invitational. Weitzel (4-2)
placed third in the same tournament.
"In a lot of my matches so far, I've
noticed opponents can't get through
my hand anymore, and it feels real
comfortable," Wagner said. "That is
definitely something that has helped
me this year."
The wrestlers thought ahead to their
own personal Olympic dreams, their
collegiate success remains the imme-
"I've thought about (the Olympics),
but right now I'm just trying to excel in
college." Weitzel said.
Wagner, Weitzel and the entire Michi-
gan wrestling team will try to continue
their collegiate success at the Cliff Keen
Invitational in Las Vegas this weekend.
Action starts on Friday morning and
continues through Saturday night.
Eric Nystrom looks to be back fighting in the left boards after his brief stint at center.
Kolarik had a pretty good game.
"He's more of a natural center. He's going to get
the puck more, he's got talent and patience, and he
can score and make plays. I think he'll just get bet-
ter and better the more he gets the puck. He's one
of those players that is dangerous when he gets the
"He'll grow into it."
Nystrom is happy to be back skating down the left
"The whole week in practice, I felt great," Nystrom
said. "It was easy to get back to left wing because
I've played it my whole life - it's just instinct. Even
when I was playing center, I would gravitate towards
the left side."
Berenson is also looking forward to Nystrom's
play down on the left boards.
"I think he's best at left wing," Berenson said.
"Now he can go back to playing the kind of grinding
game that he wasn't able to play at center."
Michigan's other three centers are Andrew Ebbett,
T.J. Hensick and David Moss. Moss was a winger last
year, but, like Nystrom, made the transition to center
at the start of the season.
"Moss has had his real good games and his aver-
age games so far this year," Berenson said. "But he's
playing a lot of center (in his hockey career)."
Additionally, seniors Michael Woodford Jr. and
Milan Gajic can also step in and take faceoffs for the
Kolarik will test his centerman skills this weekend
in a series against Notre Dame, but he's just happy to
be on the ice playing.
"Wherever coach puts me is fine," Kolarik said.
By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
The difference between the Michigan volleyball program
now, and the program back in 1999 - when coach Mark Rosen
took over - was the team's state of mind.
"There hadn't been a lot of high level, consistent success,"
Rosen said. "(The 1999 team was) just beat down externally. In
a conference like this, if you're struggling it becomes a long pro-
cess each year."
In the 26 years prior to Rosen's arrival, the Wolverines quali-
fied for the NCAA tournament just once in 1997. During this
period it became easy for a team to be satisfied with a mediocre
season and no postseason.
But since Rosen took over, Michigan has made five appear-
ances in the tournament, including a third straight with this
The team will play Friday against Rice in first-round action.
Rosen knows the senior-laden Owls will be calm and ready to
win, but he is confident the young Michigan team will step up
and play to its potential.
The recent success of the program has created a winning atti-
tude at Michigan, allowing this young team to play beyond its
years. No longer are players satisfied with just a winning season.
This hasn't translated into a Big Ten championship just yet
- the team has never won one.
But four conference opponents currently rank in the top-16,
three of them - Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State - in
"Our goal all along is to create a team that can compete for
the Big Ten championship," Rosen said. "If you're competing to
win the Big Ten championship, you're competing at the very elite
level of college volleyball. The Big Ten is the best conference
The players who were Wolverines when Rosen took over and
the ones he first recruited also played crucial roles in the build-
According to Rosen, the athletes recruited by previous coach
Greg Giovanazzi, a good friend of Rosen's, may not have been
the best players, but the team's willingness to change allowed
Notre Dame fin
SOUTH BEND (AP) - Notre Dame's return to glory1
under Tyrone Willingham was brief. Too brief.
That's why he was fired yesterday after just three seasons
at Notre Dame - the shortest tenure of any full-time coach
since Hunk Anderson was there from 1931-33.
"We simply have not made the progress on the field that we
need to make," athletic director Kevin White said. "Nor have
we been able to create the positive momentum necessary in
our efforts to return the Notre Dame program to the elite level
of the college football world."
The school thought they found the perfect coach during
Willingham's first season. He got off to an 8-0 start - the
second best start in school history - and after a surprisingly
easy victory at Florida State, the Irish, at No. 4, had their
highest ranking in eight years. Then they played Boston Col-
Fans wearing green "Return to Glory" T-shirts flooded
Notre Dame Stadium, and the Irish wore green jerseys for
good luck. The Irish lost 14-7, though, and the glory days
The Irish went 2-3 their last five games that season, includ-
ing a 28-6 loss to North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl.
They went 5-7 last season, losing by 30 or more points to
Michigan, Florida State and Southern California.
This season the Irish pulled off upsets at Michigan and
Tennessee but also were beaten badly by USC and Purdue.
They also lost games they were expected to win against BYU,
Boston College and Pittsburgh.
Senior Lisa Gamalski was one of Michigan coach Mark Rosen's
Rosen and his coaching staff to bring in an entirely new sys-
tem. His staff - wife and associate head coach Leisa Rosen and
assistant coach Jun Liu - brought in a system which required
a better level of work ethic off the court and better execution on
it. But it was the first group of players Rosen recruited that really
put things into motion.
"We were selling them on a dream," said Rosen of recruiting
players without having a rich, winning tradition. "We were natu-
rally going to get good risk-taking type players."
And the type of players Rosen found in his first recruiting
class have become some of the best players in the program's his-
tory: Michigan volleyball's first ever All-American, Erin Moore,
who graduated last season, and seniors Lisa Gamalski and Sarah
The better the program, the harder it is to find the specialized
player needed to improve the team. These are the type of athletes
most recruited by top schools around the country.
"With each class the level of kids that could help us get bet-
ter, got smaller," said Rosen. "We were fortunate that a lot of
(this season's freshman) were from close by and knew a lot about
Michigan and wanted to be a part of (the program)."
Rosen hopes that in the future, more than just local recruits
will want to be a part of the Michigan tradition, too.
Continued from page 10
was fine, but last night it came down
to execution on the floor. That might
be the most frustrating part of the loss
- knowing what Georgia Tech was
going to throw at them, and being
powerless to stop it.
Clearly this is a team that is
searching for direction right now.
This was supposed to be a chance for
Michigan to prove it belongs with the
elite teams in the nation and was a
season of high expectations. Amaker
said he's confident his players will
bounce back from this, and I think
they will, too. But it may take longer
than expected because when I asked
both Harris and Horton if there was
anything positive to take away from
last night's game, both players had
the same response:
"I don't think so."
Brian Schick can be reached at
for more information call 734/998-6251
The University of Michigan College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts presents a public poetry reading and reception