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April 08, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-08

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 8, 2005 - 9
Steeplechase is..
just the right test.....2
for senior Parker ...............
. .4 4n ,N s e - s a4b

By Chastity L. Rolling
Daily Sports Writer
Even though it has been a men's event
every year since 1959, the NCAA didn't
include the 3,000-meter steeplechase race
in the women's outdoor championships until
Two years after the steeplechase replaced
the 3,000-meter run, then-junior Andrea
Parker set the Michigan school record in
the race at the 2003 Big Ten Championships
with a fifth-place time of 10:33.
"It was actually my first (competitive)
steeple ever," fifth-year senior Parker said.
"It was the new women's sport. I wanted to
try something new."
Some of the "new" in the steeplechase can
be attributed to barriers, which are completely
unlike hurdles and much less forgiving.
"If you hit a hurdle, it'll fall down," said senior
Ana Gjesdal - another steeplechase runner for
the Wolverines. "If you hit a barrier, you will fall
The race also includes water jumps, which are
barriers followed by 12-feet-by-12-feet water pits
that a runner must jump over.
The steeplechase requires both the accelera-
tion of a hurdler and the endurance of a long-
distance runner. Parker practices both skills, but
does not want to exhaust her energy too early in
the season. At the Florida Relays last weekend,
Parker didn't run the race.
"I don't like to run too many steeplechases
at the beginning of the season because they can

be dangerous," Parker said. "If you land (in the
water pits) incorrectly, you can sprain or even
fracture your leg bones. But I will run the race
later on in the season."
Gjesdal ran instead and took first place with
an NCAA regional qualifying time of 10:41.25.
Parker and Gjesdal both run this unique
race for Michigan, but their styles are dif-
ferent. Parker excels at accelerating onto
the water jumps but has problems when she
pushed off the barriers.
"I am not a natural hurdler," Parker said.
"I see the races as a series of mini-races. I
don't focus on the barriers. I focus on the
flat ground, and, when I see a barrier, I just
jump over it."
In contrast, Gjesdal is best at jumping
over and pushing off the barriers but hesi-
tates on the water jumps.
"I subconsciously anticipate the water jumps
because I have to push out so that I don't land in
the water," Gjesdal said. "If I fall in the water, I
could really hurt myself."
Parker and Gjesdal continued to improve
on fitness and distance running technique
during the indoor season. But they still need
to work on their jumping techniques.
"Both runners are better in their flat
(non-hurdle) events, as a result of their
indoor season training," Michigan coach
Mike McGuire said.
Last week, Gjesdal placed second in the
3,000-meter race with a time of 9:42.84
in addition to her first-place finish in the
steeplechase. Parker placed second in the

Senior Andrea Parker holds the Michigan record for the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

800-meter race with at time of 2:14.98 and
third in the 1500-meter run with a time of
Despite their accomplishments, transi-
tioning from indoor to outdoor is hard for

steeplechase runners because they go from season because it's an outdoor event,"
running flats to dealing with barriers and McGuire said.
water jumps. The Wolverines will continue their out-
"You can't practice the acceleration and door season this weekend at the Duke Blue
flexibility of water hurdles during indoor Devil Invitational in Durham, N.C.

Welch knows 'puke and rally'

By David Spielman
For the Daily
One of Michigan water polo coach
Matt Anderson's favorite stories con-
cerns his recruiting visit to sophomore
Shana Welch's high school.
Anderson had heard about a girl
from a small school in Pennsylvania
who was strong enough and could
swim well enough to compete on a
collegiate level. Overlooked by other
schools, Anderson realized he found a
bidden gem.
"When I got there, she was in the
middle of an intense game," Ander-
son said. "She was so exhausted that
she swam over to the side of the pool
and threw up. She just got right back
into it, and, ten seconds later, she
had retrieved the ball and scored an
impressive goal."
When asked about this anecdote,
Welch explains her personal approach
to adversity.
"I guess it was just 'puke and rally,' "
Welch said.
This statement describes how Welch
deals with many obstacles. Indeed,
she's been rallying all her life.
When Welch was a young child she
endured a serious surgery.
"The doctor's removed part of one

of my lungs because they had found a
tumor on it," Welch said. "Sometimes
my body needs a rest, but it doesn't
affect me too much."
Though the sophomore may dismiss
the effects, Anderson does not under-
estimate the seriousness of the proce-
"She basically operates with about
half the lung capacity of the average
athlete," Anderson said.
As she grew up, other obstacles got
in the way. Welch attended Wyoming
Valley West High School in Larks-
ville, Penn. Her school didn't have a
regulation water polo pool, and the
closest facility in its vicinity was 38
miles away. But Welch didn't allow
the meager facilities to affect her
goals. Instead, she continued to play
at a high level and hoped that some-
one would discover her. Anderson
was the only coach in the nation that
took notice.
"When Shana was in high school,
the coach at Arizona State told her she
wasn't good enough to earn a scholar-
ship," Anderson said. "This year, she
got a chance to play his team and show
him everything that he missed out on.
She scored five goals in a 6-3 victory.
She is a coach's dream. She only has

one goal in mind - to put the ball in
the back of the net."
Last year - on her way to being
honored as the 2004 College Water
Polo Association's Rookie of the Year
- Welch set the Michigan water polo
team record for goals in a season with
55. This past weekend, she surpassed
her previous mark and now has 57
goals on the year, with at least three
tournaments remaining on the team's
Along with her skills, Ander-
son also credits her vigor and brav-
ery for her success in the pool.
"Just like a wolverine is the strongest
pound-for-pound creature in the ani-
mal kingdom, Shana is the strongest
pound- for-pound swimmer in the
pool," Anderson said. "It just makes
sense that she plays for Michigan."
Now, as the team's most prolific
goal scorer continues to excel the
challenges persist.
Anderson notes that more teams are
focusing on trying to shut her down.
But Welch has a simple plan to rally
from yet another challenge.
"I'll just have to be more aggressive
and work harder."
Given her past, no one should doubt
that she will.

Sophomore Shana Welch has overcome several obstacles on her way to becoming Michigan's leading scorer.

j Sarantos no stranger to pulling double duty all year long

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer
Unlike most collegiate athletes, Joey Sarantos has competed on two
teams - track and field and football. During his football career he played
in 24 games on special teams and at linebacker. He is also the top return-
ing discus thrower on the track team. And now that his football career is
over, Sarantos can focus all his energy on track and field, especially the
discus throw.
Throwing the 2-kilogram disc, which is as heavy as two Calculus text-
books, requires a similar technique to throwing the shot put.
"You take a flat circular plate, do one and half spins and see how far
you can throw it," senior Joey Sarantos said.
The athlete releases the disc and relies upon the aerodynamics of the
disc to launch it a greater distance. The disc must land in a specific area
to avoid a foul.
"The key is to generate as much rotational energy on the implement as
you can," associate coach David Kaiser said.
When choosing someone to compete in the discus throw, coaches look
for athletes with attributes that lead to success in other throwing events.

"You need to be extremely athletic and have tremendous upper body
strength and flexibility," Kaiser said. "They are trying to pull on the
implement as long as they can with their chest. They must be strong and
explosive through their legs."
In addition to strength attributes, discus throwers must have exceptional
"They are trying to throw something straight in front of them while
turning," Kaiser said.
Sarantos has those physical characteristics.
"Joey brings intangibles to practice." Kaiser said. "He is very athletic,
and he works on developing his balance and power."
After playing football for four years, Sarantos can now direct all his attention
to track and field. The time commitment of competing on the football team has
thus far prevented him from devoting all his time to throwing.
"In years past, he would come off of football, train for a little while,
then go back for football, then come back to track to finish the season,"
Kaiser said. "This is the first season that he has been able to put in an
extended amount of training."
Sarantos appreciates the opportunity to concentrate on one sport instead
of trying to balance his time between two.

"From a track perspective, this year is much nicer than previous years
because I get to focus on my throwing," Sarantos said.
Both Sarantos and Kaiser believe that the additional training time will
result in improved scores. Last year, Sarantos posted a personal-best
throw of 164-1 at the Len Paddock Invitational.
In his first meet of the outdoor season, Sarantos threw the discus 162-4 under
cool conditions at the Yellow Jacket Invitational en route to a seventh-place fin-
ish, nearly three feet from an NCAA regional qualifying distance.
Sarantos guaranteed that he will achieve the NCAA regional mark this
season, and Kaiser believes that Sarantos has the potential to throw far-
ther than 180 feet.
As the season progresses and he continues to focus on one sport, Saran-
tos, along with Kaiser, will be interested to see what kind of scores he
can post.

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