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March 14, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 14, 2005 - 3B

Sweet revenge:
Willis takes title
By Pete Sneider
Daily Sports Writer
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - It was almost as if his competitors were standing still.
That's how fast junior Nick Willis looked as he flew around the eighth and final lap.
Willis captured Michigan's second NCAA title of the weekend on Sat-
urday with a resounding victory in the mile. His time of 4:00.69 put him
a comfortable 20 meters ahead of the runner-up, Indiana's Sean Jefferson,
who beat out Willis by .01 seconds two weeks before at the Big Ten Cham-
Senior Nate Brannen ran the 800-meter run shortly after but finished fourth - end-
ing his hope of three consecutive 800-meter titles.
Michigan was in third-place overall entering the 3,000-meter run, its fourth and final
event. But with both runners having already competed earlier in the day, fatigue played a
huge factor. Both Wolverines failed to score as Brannen finished in 10th place and Willis
surprisingly dropped out with five laps to go.
Willis, Brannen and the distance medley relay team of senior Rondell Ruff,
sophomore Stann Waithe, junior Andrew Ellerton and Brannen provided Mich-
igan with 25 team points at the end of the second day - good enough for ninth
place. Arkansas scored 56 points en route to its 40th NCAA track and field
Willis's victory in the mile was the first NCAA title of his collegiate career. He came
into the race seeded third but easily ran away with the lead in the final lap. The pace was
slow, which enabled Willis to sit in last place and gradually make his move - the ideal
strategy for the New Zealand native.
"I couldn't have asked for a better situation," Willis said. "It was a steady pace, noth-
ing ridiculously fast, nothing too slow. There was no jostling around. It was single file so
I could stay in the middle of or back of the pack and gradually pick it up."
The dynamics of the race positioned Willis favorably for the 3,000 meter race that
he would run 90 minutes later. But unlike the mile, the 3,000-meter run was quick, and
Willis, who hung toward the back of the field for the first 1,500 meters, was unable to
keep up.
"It was a pretty solid pace," Willis said. "And then someone made a move, so I made
a big move to get around six or seven guys. And after that, I had a lapse in my brain and I
didn't know if I could go any further, and, subconsciously, I just stepped off the track."
Willis would later regret his move to drop out.
"At the time it seemed like a comfortable thing," Willis said. "But it's really not a good
thing to do at all. All this training is done for nothing. I just realized that I let the team
down and I let myself down."
In the 800-meter final, Brannen clocked a 1:47.71 - the third-fastest time in his
indoor career. But the congestion that Brannen faced on the straightaways prevented
Mey Relay W

Forget hoops and
F r

Junior Nick Willis claimed an NCAA indoor championship in the mile on Saturday,
setting the pace with a time of 4:00.69.
him from moving up after a blistering 24-second first split.
"That's pretty damn fast," Brannen said of the first 200 meters. "At that
pace, you really can't move up at all. So at the 400-meter (mark) we were
still at a fast pace, so I started to pick it up. But every time I tried to make
a move and the pack would drift out. By the time I hit the bend, I would be
back in lane No. 1. I tried again at the homestretch, but it was too big of a
cluster of guys to get around."
Brannen faced the same problems as Willis in the 3,000-meter run but gutted out
a 10th place finish. His extra effort earned him the admiration of his coach, Ron War-
"I thought Nate was the champion (of the weekend)," Warhurst said. "He ran in four
races, almost placed in the 3,000 - that's pretty incredible for an 800-meter runner."
Nos: The Big Ten Conference was well represented at the 2005 NCAA Indoor
Track and Field Championships. Wisconsin and Indiana finished third and fifth, respec-
The meet also featured some world-class performances by a pair of Southeastern
Conference runners. Kerron Clement of Florida set a world record in the 400-meter
finals with a time of 44.57, breaking Michael Johnson's 10-year-old record by .06 sec-
onds. Arkansas's Wallace Spearmon clocked a time of 20.10 in the final heat of the 200-
meter dash, giving him the second-fastest time ever in the event.

national championship

give ices
ith the passing of my final
Selection Sunday as a Michi-
gan student, it's official that
I'll leave the University without ever
experiencing Maize and Blue madness.
Hurtful? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Com-
pletely the opposite of what I expected at
the onset of the Big Ten season? Yes....
(Don't hold your
breath waiting
for that reassur-
ing "No" that e
usually follows
a series of sen-
tences structured
in this fashion
- the Wolver- GENNARO
ines prevailed in FILICE
one out of-their The SportsMonday
last 14 games). Column
Michigan's sea-
son-ending loss to Northwestern in the
first round of the Big Ten Tourney on
Thursday, it truly became open season
on bitching, moaning and general cam-
pus-wide distress over the fact that the
Wolverines' dancing shoes will spend a
seventh straight year in the closet.
I'll admit that following Michigan's
final loss, I took part in the lambasting
of what my friend calls "Tommy's Point-
A-Minute Team" (apologies to Fielding
Yost and his legendary 1901-05 gridiron
squads). I was upset. Upset that I'd have
to watch another Selection Sunday with
completely calmed nerves. Upset that
during the opening round of the tourna-
ment, Ann Arbor would be overrun with
thoughts of what could have been and
not what could be. And upset that the
lone significance of March in Ann Arbor
would be that the month possesses a day
in which the temperature rises above
North Face temperatures (I hope).
But for me, Thursday's displeasure
lasted just a touch over 24 hours.
During my final weekend as a student
in the comfy confines of Yost Ice Arena,
the basketball team's woes quickly
became an afterthought in my newly
optimistic mind. And I'd advise that you
all follow suit.
The Michigan hockey team never
receives the credit it deserves. Out-
side of the 6,637 fanatics (Mich-
igan's best overall fan base) that
pack into Yost every home game,
there are few Maize and Blue enthu-
siasts who live and die for hockey
the same way they do for football
and basketball. For a University that
prides itself on being "the leaders
and best," this is very odd. Because
although many times its achieve-
ments go vastly underappreciated,
year-in and year-out the hockey
team contends for the national title.
Continued from page 1B
into a groove. I just kept it going all day
and all afternoon."
The Wolverines got off to a hot start
when they defeated New York Tech in the
first game of the tournament, 14-9. Senior
first baseman Kyle Bohm spearheaded
the offensive attack with two home runs
and five RBI's. His grand slam in the
third, with nobody out, put the Wolverines
ahead for good.
Michigan's toughest competition was
the doubleheader against Lamar on Sat-
urday. Michigan starter, senior Michael
Penn allowed four earned runs on nine
hits in five innings. Penn left the game
down 5-0.
But the Wolverines wouldn't lie down
for the Cardinals. After scratching out two
runs in the sixth inning, Roblin started the
eighth inning with a two out triple. Junior
shortstop Chris Getz drove him home
with a single and then scored on a Bohm

double to left. Freshman right fielder Doug
Pickens drove Bohm in with a single and
then later scored on a throwing error to tie
the game at six.
Michigan senior pitcher Drew Taylor
couldn't hold the tie in the eighth. After
giving up a walk and then balking, Taylor
gave up a two out single to senior second
baseman Jeremy Gray to give Lamar the
lead for good.
But, according to Maloney, the Wolver-

ns a look
And this year's team is no different.
In fact, this year's installment may
be the best squad since 1998, when the
Wolverines won their second national
championship in three years. Michigan
took the CCHA regular-season crown
this year with a 23-3-2 conference mark
- its best record since the 1993-94
campaign. And having just swept Notre
Dame last weekend in the first round
of the CCHA Tournament, the fourth-
ranked Wolverines (28-7-2) share an
identical record, and the nation's highest
total of wins, with top-ranked Colorado
College. Michigan will enter the Super
6 riding a nine-game winning streak,
during which it has averaged 5.66 goals
per game.
As the Wolverines head into the Joe
(and eventually on to the NCAA Tour-
nament), this team has the makings
of something special. While the team
boasts some immensely talented under-
classmen, the most telling sign that this
team is ready to make a run at the title
is its unparalleled experience. The team
boasts 10 seniors and gives significant
playing time to eight.
If Michigan wins the CCHA Tourna-
ment, it will almost assuredly earn a
No. 1 seed in the Grand Rapids region
of the 16-team NCAA Tournament. But
regardless of how the Wolverines fare
this weekend, they'll be dancing in late
"It's not the right dance, though."
Yeah, I know what you're saying. I
would be lying if I claimed that I enjoy
the NCAA hockey tournament as much
as its basketball brother. But the fact
remains that Michigan is playing in the
former, not the latter.
There's no point to sit around and
mope about the beleaguered Crisler
crew - that ghastly season is over.
So go ahead and inherit a few likable
teams in basketball's field of 65 as
yours (personally, I've become a die-
hard fan of UAB and its "fastest 40
minutes in basketball") and move on
with your life.
But don't let discontentment from a
bad basketball season force the Icers to
fly under the Ann Arbor radar all the
way to a national title. The Frozen Four
takes place in Columbus on April 7-9,
a few days after the NCAA Basketball
tournament final. And with the NHL
lockout, you better believe that this
season's Frozen Four will be more hyped
than ever by hockey heads and ESPN
execs alike.
Get past the failures of Tommy's
Point-A-Minute Team and start giving
the Icers the time of day.
Gennaro Filice can be reached at
ines' scrappy play was a positive; all six
runs scored were with two outs. Overall,
Michigan scored 12 runs with two outs.
"We're battlers," Maloney said. "Kind
of like a blue collar work ethic. A-never-
say-die attitude. That attitude can take you
a long way. Two-out hits are always a key
to a championship team."
Michigan came back strong in game
two of the doubleheader behind the pitch-
ing of senior Jim Brauer. Brauer pitched
seven innings, giving up five hits, one
walk and one earned run while striking
out nine.
"I felt really good," Brauer said. "I had
a lot of confidence early. It just carried
throughout the game. And with the kind
of run support I had, it just made my job
that much easier."
Led by Bohm and Getz, the Wolver-
ines scored four times in the third inning
and three times in both the fifth and sixth
innings. Michigan was able to capitalize
on the five errors committed by the Car-
dinals' defense.

Defensively Michigan was solid but
needs to work on a few things.
"I think we have to continually make
sure we take care of the ball," Maloney
said. "Making sure we understand the
value of keeping the double play in order
and hitting the cut-off man - the impor-
tance of not going for a play if we don't
have it. But in general I think the guys are
doing a very good job considering we've
only been outside a few times."

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - As senior Theresa Feld-
kamp handed the baton to fellow senior Lindsey Gallo
in the last exchange of the Distance Medley Relay at the
NCAA National Indoor Championships, the Wolverines
trailed leader North Carolina by more than 30 meters.
Over the next 1,600 meters, Gallo and runners from Vil-
lanova and Stanford slowly brought the field closer to the
leaders. Entering the last lap, Gallo was in fourth place,
behind runners from North Carolina, Stanford and Vil-
lanova. On the final turn she kicked into a higher gear,
passed three runners, and helped Michigan earn its fourth
indoor national championship with a time of 11:08.24.
"(Winning a national championship) was my No. 1
goal coming into school," Gallo said.
The victory in the DMR provided the Wolverines with
10 of their 16 overall points en route to a 13th-place fin-
ish, 33 points behind the champions from the Tennessee.
"As long as we kept Gallo close, we'd have a chance
once she was within 15 meters," Michigan coach James
Henry said.
Freshman Nicole Edwards started the race for Michi-
gan in the 1,200-meter leg. After staying in the middle of
the field for much of her section, her finishing burst put
Michigan in second place at the first hand-off.
"I felt like it was hard to lead off because I just didn't
want to mess anything up for the team," Edwards said. "I
just wanted to put the team in the best position I could."
Edwards was one of two freshmen to win a national
championship over the weekend.
"I am fortunate that I could be on a great team,"
Edwards said.
After the opening 1,200-meters, Edwards handed the
baton to senior Sierra Hauser-Price. Although North Car-
olina had already built a substantial lead over the field,
Hauser-Price was not worried about the deficit and main-
tained Michigan's second-place position.
"I was just trying to run the fastest I could and
make sure that no one from behind catches me,"
Hauser-Price said.
After competing on the women's basketball team for
three seasons, Hauser-Price never had the opportunity

to compete in the indoor track season. She was in awe
of winning a national championship in her only NCAA
indoor meet.
"I can't put it into words," Hauser-Price said. "It's
something that blew out all of my expectations."
In the 800-meter leg, North Carolina built a
lead of more than six seconds and Feldkamp did
not appear to gain any ground on the leaders. She
was more concerned about Villanova and Stanford
than North Carolina.
"I handed off (tied) with Villanova, and Gallo
said that she preferred that because she wouldn't
have to lead the chase pack," Feldkamp said. "I
feel that if she would have led the chase pack, she
wouldn't have had the kick in the end."
Last year, Feldkamp competed on the Michigan DMR
team that was disappointed with a seventh-place finish.
This year's squad knew it had a chance to win but did
not expect it.
"It's awesome because one girl is a freshman and three
of us are seniors, so it was a great way to end our season,"
Feldkamp said.
Gallo focused on staying with the Villanova and Stan-
ford anchors.
"The two anchors from Stanford and Villanova are
two of the best runners," Gallo said. "I knew that if I
tucked in behind them, they would carry me up to the
(UNC runner)."
Gallo stayed with Stanford and Villanova until the last
turn, when she passed them.
On Saturday evening, Gallo competed in the
mile-run as the No. 1 qualifier. At the beginning
of race, Gallo slipped to the back of the pack and
stayed there until after the first quarter. Then, she
passed six runners before the half-mile mark. On
the final lap, Gallo was in third place, trailing the
leaders from Duke and Nebraska by 10 meters.
Moving down the backstretch, Gallo lost distance
on the leaders and could not recover. She finished
the race with a time of 4:41.52 - 3.29 seconds
behind the winner, Anne Shadle of Nebraska. Her
third-place finish added six points to the team's
point total.
Gallo ran the anchor leg of the DMR the night before,

Senior Sierra Hauser-Price ran the 400-meter leg for the
national champion distance medley relay team.
while the runners from Duke and Nebraska did not.
"We made a decision to have (Gallo) run the relay and
open mile hoping for two wins, and we came up a little
short," associate head coach Mike McGuire said.
Although she did not win the mile, Gallo had no
regrets about her meet.
"I would not trade it for anything because the DMR is
what we came here to do and the mile was secondary,"
Gallo said.
Two other Wolverines that competed in the champion-
ships were junior Stephanie Linz in the high jump and
freshman Alyson Kohlmeier in the mile-run.
Linz placed 14th in the high jump after clearing the
bar at 1.72 meters. In the mile Kohlmeier finished in 15th
place but failed to qualify for the finals.

Continued from page 1B
coach Ron Warhurst said. "Arkansas
is in the middle of a fight for a national
championship, but so are we. You can't
impede or move left or right when a
guy is coming on you. You can't come
off the turn drifting to lane four. You
just can't do that."
Brannen would have preferred a clear-
cut Michigan win but had no qualms
about the controversial ending.
"I was definitely upset about how
things turned out," Brannen said. "If
I'm going to lose, I don't mind los-
ing fair. To win it because a team got
disqualified is pretty crappy, but if
they're going to take the win by cheat-
ing, we have a legit reason for taking
it from them."
The race that ended in a photo finish
never came into focus until the end.
Rondell Ruff kicked off the relay
with the 1,200-meter leg and was
running in third place until he was
tripped up while coming around the
last bend. Ruff regained his balance,
but, his split of 2:56.3 left Michigan in

fifth place entering the first exchange.
"Someone clipped my heel," Ruff
said. "For a second, I thought I was
going to take a dive, but I pulled it
Sophomore Stann Waithe held his
position following the handoff before
turning on the jets in the final 100
meters. His 400-meter split of 45.8 was
fast enough to put the Wolverines in sec-
ond place entering the 800-meter leg.
"There were four guys in front of
me, and I knew I couldn't get it all from
fifth," Waithe said. "(The split) could
have been faster, but it was the smartest
race I could have run at the time."
But the exchange to Andrew Ellerton
was not a smooth one, and the junior
started the third leg in fifth place.
"There was a lot of traffic - a lot
of bumping and elbows thrown (at
the exchange)," Ellerton said. "Even
the race was a pretty tight because we

weren't running too fast."
Ellerton made up ground in the final
two laps, moving the Wolverines into
third place behind UCLA and Arkan-
sas. His split of 1:49.8 put Brannen 10
meters behind the leaders entering the
last leg. But UCLA's Jon Rankin and
Ahmed exploded off the final handoff,
creating a 30-meter margin over the
rest of the field. Brannen opted to stay
off the fast pace despite the large gap.
"I knew they got out pretty fast, so
I tried to run my own race thinking
they would come back to me at some
point," Brannen said. "They took a
bit longer than I thought, and I really
didn't catch them until a lap to go."
Brannen eventually caught up to the
pair with 200 meters remaining. He
passed Rankin entering the final bend
and began his sprint to the finish -
just off the heels of Ahmed - before
he was cut off at the finish line.

It was the second consecutive
national title in the DMR for the Wol-
verines. Brannen and Ellerton were a
part of last year's championship relay
team as well.
For Waithe and Ruff, the victory
was a first-time achievement.
"I wish we could have gotten our
victory lap," Ruff said. "But it took
me four years to get here, so it's pretty
Waithe, who was supposed to run
the relay last year, echoed similar sen-
"It feels great," Waithe said. "I was
looking forward to this since last year
because I was supposed to be on it but
I got hurt. We didn't get to celebrate
though, which is a big part of every-
The DMR victory put Michigan in
a tie for tenth place heading into Sat-

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