2B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 21, 2005
Synchro team swims to surprise finish
By Colt Rosensweig
For the Daily
Athlete of the Week
Name: Justine Mueller Team: Swimming & Diving
Hometown: Monroe, Mich. Class: Freshman
Why: Mueller won three individual titles at the Big Ten Champi-
onships this weekend and swam on two winning relay teams. She
was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships and Fresh-
man of the Year.
dance. Swimmers ofte
forming under water.
"The hardest thingi
Yesterday, the huge aspirations of the synchronized swimming team got a significant captain of the team."
boost. Competing against Walsh University Cavalier and Ohio State at the Maize and breath."
Blue Invitational - where they were expected to be the third-best team- the team Synchronized swin
placed second. forming in the Michi
"(The best part of the meet) was when I was in my office calculating the scores, and sity sports for women
I realized we got second," co-coach Becky Domegan said with a big grin. once again in the 198
Despite missing one of their best swimmers due to mononucleosis, the Michigan improving their natio
synchro team performed excellently. The Wolverines exceeded even the high expecta- club varsity status.
tions of their two coaches, Domegan and Stephanie Sherk. Michigan also overcame one Gaining that status i
swimmer getting kicked in the head and losing her nose clip in a trio performance. ings. The coaches mu
"People say synchro is not a contact sport, but I disagree," Sherk said. the club's readiness, frc
Michigan finished behind Ohio State - a varsity team with up to triple the amount The two coaches fe
of practice time per week. "We run an intense
Each school competed in solos, duets, trios and team routines. While Ohio varsity practices."
State athletes placed first in each event, Michigan also had a very strong show- The team goes thro.
ing. Senior and former captain Sarah DuBay placed second in the solo perfor- in order to perform at t
mance, and one of the four Michigan entries in team routines - made up of competitiveness for the
Amy Blanshard, Sarah DuBay, Katie Messana and Sarah Van Wesep - also "In 1999, we had one
finished in second. At Michigan, synchronized swimming is a club sport, and it with the team. "Now it
is at an extreme disadvantage when competing with varsity teams. This makes After a strong perio
their second-place overall finish even more impressive. almost all the member
Synchronized swimming may look easy, with its graceful movements, over-the-top season. But Domegan
makeup and smiling athletes. But it is actually one of the hardest sports around. "We are the largestc
"You use muscle groups you never knew you had," said junior Cynthia The coaches also pr
Saw, who swam competitively in high school and started swimming with there is a space for any
the synchro team this year. The team members
Synchronized swimmers must have endurance, flexibility and extension in abun- 20 at Ohio State.
Warhurst uarantees It,
Willi1's deli'vers on -mark
en must not breathe for up to 45 seconds as they continue per-
is holding your breath," said Erica Piccioto, a junior and former
You still have to swim your hardest even when you're out of
mming at Michigan first started in 1946 as a show team, per-
gan Union pool. In the 1970s, it became one of the first var-
nat the University. But after a brief heyday, it became a club
80s. The current club and its coaches have two main goals:
nal ranking, from 19th of 29 teams last season, and gaining
s almost as much of an ordeal as moving up in the national rank
st go through a lengthy application process, submitting proof of
om financial records to letters of support.
el strongly that their program is ready for the leap in status.
yearly practice plan," Sherk said. "We model our practices after
ugh rigorous anaerobic, aerobic, strength and flexibility training
the highest level possible, and it has been a long journey back to
e returning swimmer," said Domegan, who is in her seventh year
's in the 20s."
d in the early 1990s, the club deteriorated following 1994, when
rs graduated. The club was in danger of disappearing after that
and Sherk are close to returning it to its former glory.
competitive club in the country," Domegan said proudly.
ide themselves on the fact that even on such a competitive club,
one who is interested - even people with no experience.
and coaches are now focusing on regionals, coming up on March
2/21-22 W Golf at Central District Class
W Basketball at Michigan State
M Basketball vs. Penn State
2/24 Water Polo vs. Loyola Marymou
2/24-26 M Swimming & Diving
Big Ten Championships
Softball at NFCA Leadoff Class
Baseball vs. Illinois-Chicago
at UC-Santa Barbara Invite
2/26-27 W Track & Field
Big Ten Championship
2/26 M Tennis vs. Northwestern
2/26 M Gymnastics vs. Stanford
2/26 Baseball vs. Illinois-Chicago
2/26 W Tennis vs. Kentucky
2/26 M Basketball vs. Northwestern
2/27 W Rowing vs. Eastern Michigan
2/27 Baseball vs. Illinois-Chicago
2/27 M Tennis vs. Wisconsin
2/27 W Basketball at Illinois
2/27-3/1 M Golf at Puerto Rico Classic;
2/28 Baseball at Florida Atlantic
ic Parrish, Fla.
nt Los Angeles
ic Columbus, Ga.
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Santa Barbara. Calif.
Port St. Lucie, Calif.
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Boca Raton, Fla.
Boca Raton, Fla.
By Pete Sneider
Daily Sports Writer
It wasn't quite as bold as Namath's guaran-
tee in 1969 - nor as highly publicized - but
Michigan track and field coach Ron Warhurst's
statement on Friday was loud enough to create
In Friday's edition of The Ann Arbor News,
Warhurst was quoted as saying, "Willis will
break four minutes; I guarantee it."
Junior Nick Willis walked Warhurst's talk at
the Harold Silverston Invitational in Ann Arbor
on Saturday with a time of 3:58.07 - guaran-
teeing himself an automatic flight to the NCAA
Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The
time was also fast enough to break the 21-year-
old facility record held by former Wolverine and
three-time Olympian Brian Diemer.
It was Willis's second race of the season and
his second NCAA automatic mark - the first
coming two weeks ago in the 3000-meter run
at the Meyo Invitational. His time converts to
3:57.27 on a banked track, giving him the fourth-
fastest mile time in the nation this year.
"To be honest, I really didn't have that many
expectations," Willis said. "I thought I could
have run anywhere from 3:54 to 4:04."
Warhurst was a bit more cavalier.
"I got what I expected, . got what he expect-
ed, and I got what the crowd expected," War-
hurst said. "Don't worry, I checked with (Willis)
before I made (the guarantee)."
Willis ran a steady race with consistent splits
of just over 59 seconds. After freshman Mike
Woods paced him for the first 800 meters, Wil-
lis had to push himself the rest of the way.
"I thought I would be able to kick home a little
faster than I did," Willis said. "But considering
the situation - I had no one to race against -
it's certainly understandable."
The New Zealand native was glad to net the
NCAA qualifying mark but even more excited to
do it before a home crowd.
"There are so many people who ask me when
I'm going to run in a home meet, and, normally,
I would say never," Willis said. "But nobody
has run a sub-4 mile in over twenty years, so
I thought it would be a great opportunity to do
something for the local community and give
them something to get excited about. The crowd
was really supportive, and I enjoyed hearing
Senior Nate Brannen made his second attempt
of the season to qualify in the 800-meters but
finished a couple seconds too slow at 1:50.08.
Brannen looked on pace to reach the automatic
qualifying standard after consistent splits of 26
seconds, but a 31-second final lap prevented him
from eclipsing the required mark of 1:48.60.
A two-time national champion in the 800-
meter, Brannen must qualify to get a shot at the
three-peat - a feat that has never been accom-
"Coming into this meet, I was hoping to get
the (automatic) standard," Brannen said. "I
wasn't sure how I'd feel after coming back from
Tyson, being sick and really fighting that all
week. After the race, I was kind of seeing black
and really dizzy. So I take that as a sign that this
sickness not being totally out of my body."
Brannen will have the Big Ten Champion-
ships and the Alex Wilson Invitational - the
last-chance meet in South Bend - to book his
flight to Fayetteville, Ark.
Baseball vs. St. John's
Softball at Florida
Softball at Florida
3/2 Softball at Central Florida
3/3 Water Polo at Hawaii
3/3 W Tennis at San Diego State
3/3-5 W Golf Rio Verde, Ariz.
at East/West Rio Verde Invitational
3/3-3/7 W Basketball
at Big Ten Tournament
Baseball at East Carolina
Softball vs. Chattanooga
Softball at South Florida
M Tennis at San Diego
3/4 M Gymnastics
at French National Training
3/4 Ice Hockey at Bowling Green
3/4 W Gymnastics vs. Iowa
3/4-5 W Track/Field
at Alex Wilson Invitational
3/4-5 M Track/Field
at Alex Wilson Invitational
Junior Nick Willis ran a sub-4 minute mile in the Harold
Silverston Invitational Saturday.
Freshman Victor Gras made his season debut,
running unattached in the 3,000-meter run. His time
of 8:20.33 was .02 ticks behind first-place finisher
Steven Crane - an Eastern Michigan alumnus. Gras
is redshirting the indoor season due to injury.
Junior Andrew Bauer joined Gras in the 3,000
and knocked nine seconds off his personal best
with a time of 8:31.67.
The Wolverines will travel to West Lafayette
next weekend for the Big Ten Championships.
W Rowing vs. Central Florida Tampa, Fla.
Softball vs. Temple Tampa, Fla.
Softball vs. Florida Tampa, Fla.
Baseball vs. Georgia Greenville, N.C.
M Basketball at Iowa Ann Arbor
Ice Hockey vs. Bowling Green Ann Arbor
Wrestling at Big Ten Championships Iowa City
3/5-6 Water Polo
at CWPA League Tournament
Grove City, Pa.
Shaq steals show as East triumphs over West
DENVER (AP) - Primping,
preening, playful and preposterous,
The Big Entertainer gave the NBA
All-Star game a supersized dose of
personality - though he wouldn't go
so far as to do it while wearing a shoe
For the second straight year, Shaquille
O'Neal made people laugh, applaud and
appreciate his oversized way of doing
everything, infusing an otherwise non-
descript All-Star game Sunday night with
just the right amount of precociousness.
He danced as he was introduced,
struck a pose before missing a foul
shot and goofed with the rap stars and
hip-hop artists who lined the front-row
AP PHOTO seats across from the Eastern Confer-
All that showmanship didn't win
O'Neal MVP honors -that award went
to Allen Iverson - as the East beat the
But if MVP stood for Most Vibrant
Personality, this one was a runaway
decided squarely in favor of the 360-
pound, 7-foot behemoth who was mak-
ing his 12th appearance in the league's
O'Neal's display of showmanship
came after he unveiled his size-22 red
and white shoe phone in the locker
room before the game. An actual work-
ing telephone mechanism is built into
the sneaker, and an antenna pops out
near the toes.
"It's big, you can take it anywhere,
make people look at you," O'Neal said.
"And it prevents muggers. Kick them
right in the (behind) with that Shaq
"There's an addition at the top where
you can pull out the strings and make it a
Shaq-shoe handbag and phone all-in-one."
The silliness O'Neal displayed and
the reception he received were in stark
contrast to the way things went for his
former teammate, Kobe Bryant.
Bryant finished with better numbers
and was the most intense player on the
court during the fourth quarter, but this
show was clearly not his.
Bryant, who was accused of rape in Col-
orado two summers ago before the charges
were dropped last September, was the only
player booed during pre-game introduc-
tions. O'Neal, Iverson and Vince Carter
Allen Iverson won the MVP, but Shaq stole the show in Denver.
received the loudest ovations, and O'Neal
played to the crowd by strutting down the
runway wearing a huge smile.
"Leave it to Shaq to do something
like that," teammate Dwyane Wade
said. "He's always doing something to
keep fans involved."
O'Neal and Bryant ignored each
other but exchanged hugs and hand
slaps with the other starters as they
stood at the center circle for the opening
tip. They first came into contact with
each other midway through the quarter
when O'Neal poked the ball away from
Bryant as he drove, only to be called for
O'Neal nearly howled in disgust, yet
another of the many contortions his face
and body made throughout the night.
When he went to the free throw line in
the first quarter after driving around Yao
Ming and dunking, he held the ball in
his right hand, placed his left hand on his
hip - striking a pose, as the fashionistas
say - as he shot the ball one-handed.
Naturally, given O'Neal's history as
a poor foul shooter, he missed.
O'Neal went to the line once more,
midway through the third quarter, and
displayed his usual form - or lack
thereof - in missing two more free
throws as the ball came off his hand
with sidespin on the first one and top-
spin on the second.
The West never pulled close, and
the game ended with O'Neal getting to
attempt a 3-pointer.
It missed, but it didn't matter. The
showman had gotten the last moment in
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