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March 10, 2005 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-10

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2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 10, 2005

M' takes home hardware

I 7-A

Ryan Sosin
ly Sports Writer

Chad Kolarik is upset. The fresh-
roan forward, who finished the con-
Terence season with 28 points in as
iany games, found a form for a tux-
, edo in his locker yesterday. The piece
f paper meant he had earned some
post-season honors. It wasn't the spot
on the CCHA All-Rookie team he
liad expected, but rather an honorable
m ention.
"I've been kind of pissed off the
last couple of days since I found out,"
Iolarik said. "It's definitely been
motivating me in practice to work
'harder."
Had the ballots not been cast before
olarik's two-goal performance
against Bowling Green on Saturday
his 10th multi-point game of the
.ar - his appearance on the team
mould have been all but assured.
- olarik finished tied for third on the
Wolverines in conference points.
"Their teams will hopefully be
watching in a month, and we'll be
playing," the freshman said. "That's
what matters.
The last two CCHA Rookie of
Ihe Year winners, sophomore T.J.
Hensick and junior Jeff Tambellini,
w *
k''ie
J4

found their way on to this year's first-
team All-CCHA team. Sophomore
Matt Hunwick made the second team
while his defensive partner, senior
Brandon Rogers, and senior captain
Eric Nystrom earned honorable men-
tion accolades.
Hensick tallied 43 points in 28 games
against conference foes. He edged out
Scott Parse from Nebraska-Omaha,
Western Michigan's Brent Walton and
Tambellini for best in the conference.
Despite the impressive numbers, Hen-
sick is still concerned about consistent
production.
"There is more to being a great
player in this league," Hensick said.
"But it's just one of those things
where the offensive guys get more of
the limelight."
Tambellini bounced back from a
less-than-ideal sophomore perfor-
mance to net 17 goals and 21 assists
while firing a staggering 137 shots at
opposing goalies.
"We're the No. I team in the
league," Hensick said. "To have two
guys in the top (two of scoring) - it
is something that is pretty remark-
able."
Hunwick, who is set to take over as
the Wolverines' top defenseman next
season, nearly doubled his produc-

tion in conference play. With much
more offensive aggressiveness this
season, Hunwick added eight points
to his total from a year ago. Despite
the offensive surge, Hunwick's focus
remains on what he does in his own
end.
"Hopefully they saw good defen-
sive play and good penalty kill," Hun-
wick said. "But, ultimately, it comes
down to numbers."
By holding the vote before the
final weekend, a handful of Michi-
gan players, in addition to Kolarik
may have been robbed of hardware.
Senior Eric Werner had a five-point
weekend against Bowling Green, tak-
ing over the lead in scoring amongst
defenseman, and junior Andrew
Ebbett registered his 25th assist last
weekend, putting him tied for second
in assists.
"They need to change the system,"
Tambellini said. "They pick them a
week before the season is over, which
I think is bull."
Kolarik doesn't intend to dwell on
the snub for too long. He has bigger
fish to fry than a spot on the All-
Rookie team.
"It's a great honor I guess," Kolarik
said of his honorable mention. "But I'd
rather win a national championship."

W-1 t- -," 7ROMM, W -

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opol' 1.10
ZAoao

TONY DING/Daily
Freshman forward Chad Kolarik is upset about not making the CCHA All-Rookie team, but he would rather win a national championship.

Vive la France: Tumblers savor trip.

'

a

By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
Though they had already experienced hostile
crowds on the road during this year's Big Ten sea-
son, the Michigan men's gymnastics team wasn't
quite sure what to expect when they traveled to
Antibes, France to train and compete over spring
break. They knew about the growing anti-Ameri-
can sentiment in Europe and were nervous about
how they would be treated.
%But unlike the tough crowds the team ran into in
State College and Minneapolis, the French nationals
welcomed them with open arms.
"The crowd was amazing," senior Brian Berends
said. "They cheered no matter what. They were chant-
ing 'Let's go Blue' towards the end and clapping for
everyone."
Junior Derek Croad sensed the crowd was more on
Michigan's side than they were on their home team.
"I don't think they were even cheering for their own
team," Croad said. "I know in international competi-
tions, they clap after the guy (finishes his routine) and
then sit there quietly. But this crowd, it was something
they had never done before. They were trying to fig-
ure out what we were saying" 'Let's go Blue,' and all
the kids were going into it."
When the French national team visited Ann Arbor
two years ago, they defeated the Wolverines by two-
and-a-half points. But this time around, with the
added bonus of unexpected support from the French

fans, Michigan fell just eight-tenths of a point short of
winning the meet.
Staying so close to a team that included former
Olympians is an achievement in itself, but the feat is
even more impressive considering that the Wolver-
ines had to adjust to new equipment and international
judging rules in a short period of time.
"It was different getting used to the different equip-
ment and stuff," senior Andrew DiGiore said. "The
international competition was definitely different than I
thought it would be. I knew it'd be different and more
interesting than regular college meets here. The whole
aura was just a lot different and more serious. It was defi-
nitely one of the most amazing meets I've ever been in."
Simply competing with world-class gymnasts has
helped Michigan's athletes raise their own level of per-
formance. During training sessions and competition,
the Wolverines found themselves in awe of the French
gymnasts' performance on the pommel horse.
"I'm a pommel horse guy," DiGiore said. "Just
watching them swing amazing pommel horse, you
see the difference and things you can change."
Beyond the gym floor, the experience gave many of
the Wolverines their first chance to travel to Europe.
Croad had traveled to France before and could see
that his teammates took a lot from the experience.
Being in a country where English is not the first
language was a new experience for junior Luke
Bottke, but he learned a great deal about French cul-
ture despite the language barrier.
"I had never been to Europe or been in an envi-

ronment where my language was not spoken," Bottke
said. "Some of the guys picked up French books and
were trying to learn common phrases, I just - for
whatever reason - chose not to try to. We learned
a lot about their customs. We had all our meals pro-
vided at a restaurant so we ate with them almost every
meal."
Croad, on the other hand, was able to speak French
and found that it added a new dimension to the cul-
tural exchange of the trip.
"I walked back with one of the guys from the
French team, and I could talk French, and he could
speak English," Croad said. "It was great to exchange
different lifestyles between each other. It was like two
different worlds could become one. It was an experi-
ence I'll never forget."
Having spent their spring breaks together, many of
the gymnasts felt closer to their teammates and hope
that their support can help lead the Wolverines to vic-
tory when they compete in Columbus on Sunday.
Michigan coach Kurt Golder plans to rest some
of his top gymnasts in the meet against Ohio State,
including junior Justin Laury and senior Geoff Cor-
rigan, who was injured during the competition in
France. He is hoping they can recuperate in time for
the postseason.
"We've got to do what sets us up best for the post-
season," Golder said. "We've got to do what's in the
best interest of our team. We're not going to go with
our 'A' lineup. We have a couple of guys that need a
little rest right now."

6

TONY DING/Daily
Senior Andrew DiGiore and the rest of the Michigan team were greeted warmly in
France. But, ultimately, the Wolverines lost to the French national team.

Double' duty awaits Willis
By Pete Snelder
Daily Sports Writer Aa

The biggest meet of his collegiate
career is coming up. Twenty of a
possible 48 team points are riding
on his shoulders. But Junior Nick
Willis, of the No. 3 Michigan men's
track and field team, is cooler than a
polar bear's toenails.
"To be honest, I don't feel any
pressure going into this week,"
Willis said. "I'm just really excited
to go to nationals and be a part of
it all again. I'm looking forward to
the whole environment, lacing up
and getting into the race. It's my
zone."
The New Zealand native will dou-
ble up in the mile and 3,000-meter
run this weekend at the NCAA
Indoor Track and Field Champi-
onships in Fayetteville, Ark. If he
qualifies in the preliminary mile
on Friday, Willis will have approxi-
mately one hour between the two
events on Saturday, but he isn't
sweating it.
"I really don't have a plan," Willis
said. "Just try to conserve as much
energy as possible. (The ideal race)
is the one where I can conserve the
most energy for the 3,000. I really
don't know what that would entail
because, even if it's a slow pace, it
could be just as tiring because the
sprint at the end could take a lot out
of me."
It's p'ossible to win both events in
one day - Bernard Lagat of Wash-
ington State accomplished the feat
in 1999.
"The way the schedule pans out,
the mile will be my first priority,
and the 3,000 is however I respond,"
Willis said. "Obviously, the overall
goal is to get as many points as pos-
sible, but I'll have to worry about
the mile first."
Two weeks ago at the Big Ten
Championships, fatigue hindered
Willis from finishing strong in the
mile - Indiana's Sean Jefferson
out-leaned him by a tick. Running
the 3,000 and the distance medley
relay (DMR) the night before, Wil-
lis didn't have too much time to

0
0

TONY DING/Daily
Junior Nick Willis will run in the mile and the 3,000-meter run at the NCAAs.

but they're all solid. I am pretty con-
fident in my abilities, and, as long
as I give my very best, I'm going to
come out helping the team."
Last year at the NCAA Indoor
Championships, Willis earned All-
America honors when he finished
runner-up to Arkansas's Alistair
Cragg in the 3,000. Now that Cragg

The Wolverines had their highest
finish in 1995, when they came in
fourth.
Sophomore Stann Waithe, junior
Andrew Ellerton, senior Rondell
Ruff and senior Nate Brannen will
look to post back-to-back titles in
the DMR. After clocking a 9:28.12
last weekend in South Bend, the

i

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