2B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - January 31, 2005
In sync skaters look for perfection
Athlete of the Week
Name: Nate Brannen Team: Men's Track
Hometown: Cambridge, Ontario Class: Senior
Why: Brannen placed fifth overall in the mile at the
Boston Indoor games on Saturday, racing against
some of the best runners in the world. His time of
3:55.11 set a new Michigan mile record and was just .11
seconds shy of the national collegiate indoor mark.
By Colt Rosensweig
For the Daily
A normal day for senior Brynn Dery - a member
of the synchronized figure skating team - begins at
5 a.m., when the average student is still hours from
waking up. A carpool picks her up and has her at
the rink by 5:30 a.m. After an off-ice warmup, she
practices skating in perfect unison with the rest of her
teammates until about 7:30 a.m. Then comes a full
day of classes, and, if it is Thursday, another similar
practice in the evening that could last until midnight.
For members of the synchronized skating team,
skating is the top priority in life.
"In January, you submit your life to skating,"
In the past month, the collegiate team competed
twice and traveled both weekends.
Competitions are extremely intense - because all
the skaters must move in perfect unison, there is far
less room for error than in individual competition.
Performances are judged on their difficulty, theme,
expression, synchronization and on the required ele-
ments of the routine.
Because of the way events are scored, team chem-
istry is very important in synchronized skating.
"All the skating abilities are blended," sophomore
Sarah Bradbury said. "I love the team atmosphere. It's
nice to know you're not alone."
Dery, who is also president of the synchronized
skating club, said the teams are getting along very
well and are more social than in past years.
According to Dery, synchronized figure skating
enjoys its highest level of popularity in the state of
Michigan but does not garner the attention it deserves
at the university. Though the first synchronized figure
skating team was founded in Ann Arbor in 1954, the
university did not have a team until 1995.
Since then, the program has usually been one of the
top six teams in the nation. In 1999, the team won the
National College Championship.
Michigan now fields two synchro teams. The col-
legiate team competes against other college teams.
The senior team competes against both college- and
club-based teams, as well as in international competi-
tions. In addition to competitions, the collegiate team
occasionally performs during hockey intermissions at
Yost Ice Arena.
"More people are aware of us since we started skat-
ing during the hockey games," Dery said.
Last season, the collegiate team won the Mid-
western sectional championship. The senior team
skated in Prague and placed seventh in the Prague
Cup. Both competed at the National Championships
in San Diego.
"Neither team was satisfied with (its) performance
at nationals last year," Dery said.
This season, the skaters intend to meet and exceed
their own high standards as competition intensifies.
"We're working on speed and difficulty, getting rid
of sloppiness and being creative," Bradbury said.
On Jan. 24, the collegiate team placed fourth
at the Bronco Challenge Cup, an intercollegiate
competition held in Kalamazoo. The senior team
leaves on Tuesday to compete for the French Cup
in Rouen, France. After that, both teams will head
to Boston, for the National Championships on Feb.
23, where they will try to improve on last year's
2/2 M Basketball vs. Minnesota
W Basketball vs. Penn State
W Tennis at South Carolina
W Track/Field at Meyo Classic
at Winter Cup
Ice Hockey vs. Michigan State
Water Polo at UC San Diego
M Track/Field at Meyo Invitational
M Tennis vs. Ball State
W Tennis vs. Maryland
M Basketball at Ohio State
Ice Hockey vs. Michigan State
Water Polo at Triton Invite
New doubles paing
leads M' to victory
2/6 W Gymnastics at Michigan Classic
2/6 Wrestling vs. Illinois
2/6 W Basketball vs. Minnesota
By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
With Michigan and Alabama splitting
the first two doubles matches, the team
doubles point hinged on the Wolverines'
new pairing of senior co-captain Leanne
Rutherford and freshman Allie Shafner
against Alabama's Melissa Minor and
Shafner was seeing her first action
of the season, and the tandem had
trouble adjusting to each other's style
of play, falling behind, 4-1. But then,
as if someone flicked on a switch, the
two found their rhythm and rolled off
wins in four consecutive games before
Alabama righted the ship and kept the
match on serve.
Leading 7-6 but needing to break the
Crimson Tide's serve to win, Rutherford
and Shafner picked up their game by play-
ing smart tennis, and Rutherford exem-
plified this type of play on match point.
Noticing that her opponent was cheating
towards the middle to cut off her return,
Rutherford guided the ball down the line
for a perfect winner to give the Wolver-
ines the team doubles point.
"The doubles point is huge," coach
Bitsy Ritt said. "Our No. 3 doubles was
a new combination, and they were very
tough under pressure. Leanne provided
a calming influence and excellent leader-
ship for Allie."
The Wolverines stormed in front early
in their 5-2 win over the No. 32 Alabama
Crimson Tide on Saturday at the Varsity
Tennis Center in Ann Arbor. After earn-
ing the hotly contested team doubles point,
No. 20 Michigan carried the momentum
into singles play, winning three quick
matches to seal the win before Alabama
had a chance to breathe.
Sophomore Kara Delicata started the
barrage at No. 3 singles, overpowering
Melissa Day 6-0, 6-2. At No. 5 singles,
junior Nina Yaftali was too consistent for
Alabama's Andrea Brenes, and Yaftali
cruised to a 6-3, 6-1, win.
Rutherford sealed the team victory
at No. 4 singles. Proving to be a thorn
in the Crimson Tide's side once again,
she methodically marched past Minor,
With the win already in hand, Shafner
showed her heart and desire in her three-
set victory at No. 6 singles. Playing in her
first match of the season, Shafner undoubt-
edly wanted to prove she belonged, as she
outlasted Alabama's Maria Muller, 6-4,
"Allie was very impressive," Ritt said.
"She was challenged, and she came
through. She was just awesome."
Michigan senior co-captain Michelle
DaCosta showed tremendous heart despite
losing. Facing the No. 8 singles player in
Blue runners just half seconds
from NCAA qualifying marks
Allie Shafner teamed with Leanne Rutherford to lead Michigan over Alabama.
Continued from page 1B
While the Wolverines had a strong
showing, there was a similar theme
for them throughout the meet - four
runners missed an NCAA provi-
sional qualifying time by less than
half a second.
Junior Andrew Ellerton came
from behind to win the 800-meter
race, outkicking Pennsylvania's
Courtney Jaworski by .23 seconds.
Ellerton's time of 1:49.75 was five
seconds faster than his time last
week at Red Simmons but .25 short
of the NCAA provisional qualify-
ing mark. After missing the major-
ity of the cross country season due
to injury, the junior didn't expect
such a fast time.
"I just figured (a time of) 1:52,"
Ellerton said. "I didn't really have a
lot of background for the event, but,
overall, it went really well."
Sophomore Jeff Porter dominat-
the country, Alabama junior Robin Ste-
phenson, DaCosta fought back to force a
third-set tiebreaker before falling, 6-3, 6-7
Earlier in the day, DaCosta teamed up
with Delicata to upset Ashley Bentley and
Stephenson - the No. 12 doubles team in
the country - in impressive and business
like fashion, 8-4.
"That was a very big win for us," Ritt
said. "Kara and Michelle had lost to them
two previous times. To take care of them
so easily set a great tone for the match."
Michigan's pairing of sophomore Eliz-
abeth Exon and Yaftali fell to Day and
Muller, 9-7, at No. 2 doubles. And Exon
lost to Bentley, 6-4, 6-1, at No. 2 singles to
round out the singles play.
The Wolverines' 5-2 victory over Ala-
bama marked their first win over a ranked
opponent this season and improved their
record to 2-2.
Michigan will go on the road to face
South Carolina on Friday.
ed the 55-meter hurdle field with
a time of 7.43 in the final heat. He
ran .01 faster in the preliminary
heat the day before, which was just
.04 ticks away from a NCAA provi-
Senior Tom Greenless also fell *
short of an NCAA provisional-
qualifying time by less than one
second. Greenless boasted a time
of 8:05.23 en route to a seventh-
The theme of less than one sec-
ond continued for sophomore Stan
Waithe, whose time of 47.29 in the
400-meters was just .04 seconds
away from the NCAA mark.
Inside the track, senior Kevin
Peterman continued his winning
ways in the pole vault. His height of
15-11 3/4 was good enough to give
him his second consecutive victory
of the season.
The Wolverines will compete
next weekend at the Meyo Invita-
tional in South Bend.
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