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February 23, 2005 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-23

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Blue ready to race after four-week rest

By Anne Uible_
Daily Sports Writer
Thirty-two Big Ten team titles and 294 individual Big
Ten Champions.
For a coach faced with this storied history of winning tra-
dition, first year Michigan swimming and diving coach Bob
Bowman is relatively relaxed as his team heads into the Big
Ten Championships this weekend.
"I'm looking forward to it," Bowman said. "This will be
my first time coaching at a college conference meet, and I
think it will be fun. I'd just like to see us swim a majority of
lifetime best times, that would be a success for me."
With competition beginning on tomorrow morning, No.
5 Michigan looks to take on a top-heavy conference in the
three-day championship event. Six of the 10 competing
schools are ranked among the top-25 in the nation. Host
Minnesota is ranked No. 6 behind Michigan.
"Minnesota is going to be very strong," Bowman said.
"Number one, they are at their home pool. They also have a
lot more depth than we do, particularly in the sprint events.
They are strong in our weak events."
Bowman also pointed to Indiana as a tough team because
of its strength in the diving events.
"They have six divers that could legitimately place one
(through) six," Bowman said.
But having put in four weeks of uninterrupted train-
ing time, Bowman feels that the team is well prepared
for the tough competition they will face in Minneapolis
this weekend.
"I feel good about (our training)," Bowman said. "I think

we did the best job in terms of getting the team ready. If
everyone stays healthy, then we'll be in good shape."
The majority of the Wolverines began their taper two
weeks ago, giving them ample time to recover from the
previous two weeks of intense, high-mileage practices.
Only the three NCAA automatic qualifiers -juniors Peter
Vanderkaay, Davis Tarwater and Chris DeJong - are con-
tinuing to increase their practice mileage with the intent
of tapering just a week before the NCAA Championships.
Michigan has several swimmers with times that are just
short of NCAA automatic qualification, and Bowman
hopes that this meet will give them the opportunity to hit
their marks.
"We have some obvious guys like (Brenden) Neligan,
(Chuck) Sayao and (Andrew) Hurd who have been to (the
NCAA Championships) before but still need to make their
cuts," Bowman said. "I'm confident that they will be able to
do it at (the Championships)."
While Bowman is confident that some of his more expe-
rienced swimmers will qualify for the Dance, he is hopeful
that the freshman class will come out and surprise him.
"There is a group of freshmen that I think can make (the
NCAA Championships)," Bowman said. "They know
what I expect them to do, and they know that I have
confidence in them and their training."
Freshman Alex Vanderkaay is the most likely candidate
to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Vanderkaay has
already made consideration times in three events - 500-
yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly and 400-yard individual
medley and will probably be able to cut his times when he's
placed in a racing situation. Other freshmen that Bowman

pointed to were Dane Grenda and Johnny Austermann as
swimmers to watch this weekend.
"I think that we'll have some people come out and sur-
prise us," Bowman said.
"Our expectation for the freshmen is for them to do their
job, and do it well. I know they can deal with the pressure."
Tarwater explained that some of the upperclassmen have
tried to talk to the freshmen about the intensity of the meet
and the environment inside the natatorium because Minne-
sota's pool is known to be one of the fastest and more excit-
ing Big Ten venues.
"We told them to be ready," Tarwater said. "There are
going to be a lot of other fast guys, and they need to be pre-
pared to step up and get the job done."
In the process of talking to the freshmen, Tarwater
has had to deal with some of the pressure he faces this
weekend. Last year, Tarwater won titles in the 200-yard
butterfly and 800-yard freestyle relay. Having had such
a successful season last year, Tarwater admitted that it's
slightly intimidating to face another Championship in
hopes of doing even better.
"It's hard not to put that pressure on yourself," Tarwater
said. "I obviously want to go faster than I did last year, but,
as long as I get wins that we need, then I'm fine with that."
Overall though, Tarwater feels confident as the team
heads into the Championships.
"I think the team is prepared," Tarwater said. "We've
been working towards this all year, and (Bowman) is very
encouraging, so it's brushing off on us. I think everyone is
ready to go."


Freshman Alex Vanderkaay is hoping to qualify for the NCAA Championship
with a strong performance at this weekend's Big Ten conference meet.

Alumni to return

f o igBy Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
Respect. Respect for your elders,
respect for the game and, most impor-
tantly, respect for those who have come
before you, paving the way and setting
the foundation for what you do today.
With the Big Ten Indoor Champi-
onships held in Ann Arbor just once
every 10 years, Michigan coach James
Henry believes this year is the perfect
opportunity to bring back many of the
original Wolverines from Michigan's
inaugural women's track and field
team, founded in 1978. Henry - an
assistant on the first track team - sees
retirement in the near future and feels
this is his last opportunity to reunite
the old squad. He is also looking for-
ward to teaching his current team
about the people that got this once-
club level track and field team to var-
sity status and then eventually built it
into a national powerhouse.
"It's an opportunity for the team to
show their respect and look back into
their past," Henry said. "They will be
able to see how all of this got started.
I'm hoping it will inspire the girls to
work harder - to show the old team
what they have done with the pro-
Red Simmons - the founder and
first coach of the team - is now 95
years old but still remains a vital part
of the program. He can always be
found hanging out around the Indoor
Track Building, and he helps out dur-
ing home meets whenever possible.

Len meet
Simmons and his wife are ecstatic
about the idea that many members of
the original team will have a chance to
see and speak with the current mem-
bers of the team.
"It will be an inspiration for them
to see these women and talk to them,"
Simmons said. "I think all of them are
very interested in seeing the improve-
ment in the equipment and facilities
for the women and to know that they
were the inspiration for these girls to
get better."
As a way of paying tribute to the
women that have come before them,
the team has taken it upon themselves
to create throwback T-shirts -replicas
of what the original team wore when
it was a member of the Association of
Intercollegiate Athletics for Women
before it became a varsity sport.
"We got the idea from one of our
senior meetings," senior captain
Kerry Kirk said. "We were trying
to decide what T-shirts to make, and
one of the girls glanced in the trophy
cabinet, where there is a picture of
one of first uniforms from the wom-
en's track team.
"We made the shirt to honor them
and to celebrate the first women's
track team. We thought it would be an
honor to have the shirt and then honor
them by wearing it at their banquet on
Simmons - who can still remember,
the days when the team was strapped
for resources and had to make its own
uniforms - is looking forward to see-
ing the returning Wolverines' reactions

Grapplers prepare
for tourney season


By Mark Glannotto
Daily Sports Writer

Freshman Nicole Edwards is ranked first in the Big Ten for the 800-meter run.

to both the throwback T-shirts and the
more modern uniforms the team wears
"The first team we had didn't have
official uniforms," Simmons said.
"My wife and all of the girls' mothers
all got together and bought the same
materials and made their own uni-
forms and put the block 'M' on them.
I think this will be a big revelation as
to what they used to wear. Nowadays,
they look like they are running around
in their bathing suits."
Henry hopes the homecoming of the
former team will inspire and motivate
the Wolverines to put together a solid
performance for their distinguished
"We are hoping the home field and

home crowd will work in our favor,"
Henry said. "I'm hoping that our young
ladies will try a little harder knowing
members of the first team will be here
watching them, and I think this will
make them work harder."
On the days of the Big Ten Cham-
pionships, the team is looking for-
ward to showing their guests how
much the program has evolved. The
Wolverines would love to display
how much it means to them that these
women still care about the program
and are still, in their own special way,
a part of it.
"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't
for them, and we wouldn't have the
opportunity to compete if it wasn't for
them," Kirk said.

Will junior Ryan Churella be able to
avenge his opening-match loss to Troy
Letters of Lehigh and capture an NCAA
Can senior Ryan Bertin end his Michi-
gan career on a high note and win his sec-
ond NCAA Championship?
Maybe junior Greg Wagner will be
able to overcome Minnesota's heavy-
weight powerhouse, Cole Konrad, or for-
mer NCAA champion Steve Mocco from
Oklahoma State.
What about freshmen Josh Churella
and Eric Tannenbaum: Can they over-
come first year inexperience and win the
NCAA title?
All of these questions will be answered
in the next three weeks with the arrival of
college wrestling's tournament season.
In two weeks, the No.5 Michigan wres-
tling team will pack its bags and travel to
Iowa City where it will compete in the
Big Ten Championships. The top seven in
each weight class at that tournament will
advance to the NCAA Championships in
St. Louis the following week. From there,
a champion will be crowned in every
weight division.
In 2004, the Wolverines were in an
almost identical situation as they are this
season. In both years they won the Big Ten
dual meet title and appeared primed to do
damage on a national level. Unfortunately,
last year the team was plagued by many
nagging injuries. Several analysts around
the country also felt the team peaked in the
middle of the season, rather than at tourna-
ment time. Michigan finished third at the
Big Ten Championships and a disappoint-
ing 10th at the NCAA Championships.
This season, the coaching staff believes
that they have corrected the problem.
"We're going to push through a fairly
hard week of practices this weeks, and then
next week and then really cut back next
week," Michigan coach Joe McFarland
said. "We want to make sure the (team) is
feeling good going into the Big Ten Tour-
nament. We really aren't going to change it
up much next year because we feel we've
been training well all season long."
The wrestlers definitely notice the dif-
ferences between this season and last year.
The changes made by the coaching staff
appear to be paying dividends.
"Coach McFarland has this plan that
he's been implementing all season long,"
sophomore Nick Roy said. "We've been
steadily increasing our workouts and get-

ting the right breaks. Everyone's feeling
good right now, so we should have a good
tournament season."
Similar to other college sports such as
basketball and hockey, tournament season
in wrestling brings on a whole new set of
obstacles. The intensity of every wrestler
is increased, and everybody hopes to be
wrestling better than they have all season.
"This is what you work for all season,"
Wagner said. "This is what you're building
for all season, so your focus gets better."
A funny quirk about tournament sea-
son is that most wrestlers will probably be
facing opponents that they have already
faced earlier in the year. Many wrestlers
consider this an advantage because of they
are familiar with the other wrestler.
"I feel that after you wrestle someone
once, you already have a feel for him, so,
in some ways, it can be beneficial," co-
captain Ryan Churella said. "You already
understand what his strengths are, so you
aren't going into the match blind. I just
prepare myself the same way and stay on
the attack."
After having such a solid regular
season, there are high expectations for
the Wolverines. Eight of Michigan's
10 wrestlers are currently ranked in
the top-20 of their respective weight
classes. The Wolverines believe they
have the resources to at least place in
the top five of the NCAA tournament, if
not win the whole thing. Although the
Wolverines lost earlier in the season to
Minnesota, Oklahoma and Lehigh in
dual meets, none of those teams have
as many ranked wrestlers as Michigan.
But top-ranked Oklahoma State has
eight ranked wrestlers, as many as the
"We have a much better tourna-
ment team this season," McFarland said.
"Sometimes schools have a real good
tournament team, sometimes they have a
real good dual meet team and sometimes
they have both. I think we're getting to the
point where we have a pretty good dual
meet team and a pretty good tournament
Luckily for the Wolverines, this year's
tournament season is set up in a manner
where they have the best ability to suc-
"We've never had this many wres-
tlers who are going to get No. 1 seeds
going into the Big Ten Championships,"
McFarland said. "I want to get all 10 guys
through to the NCAA (Championships),
and I think they all have the opportunity
to get through."

IM' aims to make mark in conference

With the Big Ten season fast approaching, it's easy to
make comparisons with past teams to predict how a cur-
rent team will perform. At this time last year, the Michi-
gan men's tennis team was 6-0 and looked to be on the fast
track toward success. By the time the Big Ten season had
arrived, the Wolverines were still an impressive 8-2 and
expectations were relatively high.
The season didn't end up as many had hoped, and
Michigan struggled throughout conference play. It
couldn't manage to break the .500 mark and ended up
4-6 in the conference and 13-9 overall. A collapse simi-
lar to that could be expected from the team this year.
There has only been one change in the roster from last
season - freshman Matko Maravic is the only new-
comer to see significant playing time - and outgoing
senior Anthony Jackson was the only player to leave. It
is relatively the same cast of characters. But this year
has been different.
Although Michigan's 5-2 record is far from dominant,
the team's schedule is very different than last year's. Last
year's squad - a team that began 6-0 - didn't play on the

road until its seventh match. Not surprisingly, it lost. This
year's team has not only played on the road three times,
but also has traveled to face two top-20 teams. With its
match against No. 35 Alabama this past weekend at home,
almost half of Michigan's competition has been against
top-35 opponents.
But playing against good competition is only half the
story. Any team can face good opponents, but being com-
petitive is the other half. In the Wolverines' first match
up versus a top-tier opponent this year, they were beaten
quite handily by No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth. Aside
from a win at No. 3 doubles, Michigan didn't manage to
win a set en route to a 7-0 loss.
Michigan then traveled to Nashville nine days ago and
showed signs of improvement. The Wolverines faced off
against another top-20 team, No. 18 Vanderbilt. Although
the Commodores escaped with a 5-2 win, Michigan put
itself in position to win, falling just short in a couple
Just two days ago against Alabama, the breakout per-
formance that seemed inevitable happened. Michigan
dropped the doubles point early on but showed just how
far it had come throughout the season. Unlike at Virginia
Commonwealth - when they proceeded to lose all of
their singles matches - the Wolverines dug deep and

were on the other end of a sweep. Their 6-1 win is just the
momentum boost that they need going into the conference
So when you see a middle-of-the-road ranking by the
Wolverines and a slightly above- average record, maybe it
shouldn't be taken for granted that it will be another dis-
appointing season. Nobody on Michigan's team has been
part ofa team whose conference record has been over .500.
But never has a player on the team been part of a team that
-has been so well prepared for the Big Ten season..
Coach Bruce Berque has brought in a system from Illi-
nois where winning is expected. His rebuilding process
hasn't consisted of baby steps or taking it slowly, and his
impact has been seen immediately. After every season
that this year's senior class - Michael Rubin, David Any-
ing, Vinny Gossain and Josef Fischer - has competed,
Berque's Illinois squad has won a Big Ten title. Winning
is in his blood, and he's brought that positive attitude to
Ann Arbor.
A Big Ten title is probably out of reach for the Wolver-
ines this year. Illinois is still a powerhouse and teams like
Ohio State, Minnesota and Northwestern are all currently
ranked higher than Michigan. But this year's team will not
settle for another sub-.500 season. This year, the team is
peaking at just the right time.

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