The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - September 19, 2005 - 3B
SM' takes first five spots
at Spartan Invitational
Follow the money
By Katie Field
For the Daily
EAST LANSING - "Ladies, on your
BANG! Cue "Eye of the Tiger." The boom-
ing bass beats bounced over Forest Akers East
Golf Course last Friday at the Spartan Invi-
tational in East Lansing, where the Michigan
women's cross country team was competing.
Despite the tiny raindrops, the energetic vibe
was palpable as both runners and spectators
alike took off to run the course and watch
some extremely competitive running against a
backdrop of loud pump-up tunes.
The energy level was still high at the finish line
as Maize-and-Blue-clad runners sprinted into the
shoot to claim the top five places. Twenty-five
seconds later, another wave of Michigan runners
dashed across the line, giving the Wolverines
nine of the top 15 finishing times.
Leading the pack and winning the race in 20:52
was Michigan's Alyson Kohlmeier. Nicole Edwards
came in second with a time of 21:04. Over the next
11 seconds, Ana Gjesdal, Arianne Field and Erin
Webster placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Because the Spartan Invitational was an
unscored event, Michigan had the chance to
allow more athletes to compete and, in turn, to
demonstrate the depth of its team. Unlike other
schools, Michigan does not have just one star
runner. Rather, it has an intimidating pack of lead
racers who work together to stay ahead.
This natural front-pack running is not so much
strategy as a habit formed from training together
and knowing one another's paces and abilities.
"It's like practice almost," Kohlmeier said.
"We're so tightly packed together. It relaxes you,
but it also encourages you."
The strength of the Wolverines comes from
the fact that they are able to motivate and support
each other not only at practices and before races,
but also during competitions. In a sport as men-
tally grueling as running, motivation and support
can make all the difference.
"When you're surrounded by four or two or
three of your teammates, it's just that one person
who touches you on the elbow and is like, 'Nope,
you're not slowing down,' " said Katie Erdman,
one of the team's captains.
It was apparent to the crowd around the score-
board that Michigan did not slow down. Reading
the top names, they noted, "It's all Michigan."
Knowing that they wanted to position them-
selves among the leaders early in the race,
the Wolverines got off to a quick start. The
six-kilometer race consisted of two different
loops around the course. For most of the first
loop, the lead pack of Wolverines battled four
Michigan State runners. Michigan was able to
increase the pace and pull ahead. During the
second loop and coming into the finish, the
Michigan runners maintained their pace and
kept a nice distance ahead of runners to sweep
the top five.
Erdman explained the Wolverines' domina-
tion in simple terms.
"We really just wanted to run today as a team,"
That was all it took.
The team will train for two weeks before
traveling to the Notre Dame Invitational in
South Bend on Sept. 30. The race will begin
at 4:15 p.m.
Two weeks before most stu-
dents came to campus, the
Athletic Department made an
interesting announcement. The Mich-
igan football team would open up the
2006 season against Ball State - at
home. This meant that the all-impor-
tant game against the mighty Chippe-
was of Central Michigan-
would have to be pushed
back a week.
Does this seem wrong
to anybody else? It seemss
disappointing that, when
talking scheduling at
Michigan, the teams we
are discussing as big addi-
tions to our nonconfer-
ence schedule are Central
Michigan and Ball State. b
A couple weeks ago, I HER
wrote about how Northern The Spot
Illinois was a very good CS
team. And the truth is
that Eastern Michigan isn't bad either
- seriously, the Eagles aren't as bad
as they may have seemed in laying an
egg at the Big Hou.se.
But I believe everyone in Ann
Arbor would love to see a game like
the one last week in Columbus -
Texas at Ohio State under the lights.
Man, was that a great college football
game. It was at night. It was hyped.
The crowd was excited, and the game
Next year, Ohio State will visit
Texas for a shot at revenge. The
Buckeyes haven't announced their
entire 2008 schedule yet, but we do
know that they will go to Los Angeles
to play the dominant Southern Cal
Trojans - winners of the last two
national championships. It's clear that
Ohio State is a team that isn't afraid of
the big game.
It's hard to argue that Michigan
should schedule tougher teams. On
Sept. 10, the Wolverines lost to Notre
Dame, and I can't remember the last
time the team made it out of the non-
conference season undefeated - it cer-
tainly hasn't happened since I've been
here. Notre Dame is scheduled through
2011, so contending for a national
championship won't get any easier.
"The problem is how that fits in in
an era where we have the BCS, which
means that, if you want to have a
chance to win the national champion-
ship, don't lose a game," coach Lloyd
Carr said at Big Ten Media Day in
August. "So each institution has to
decide if that team is worth risking.
There are a lot of schools out there
that aren't going to risk playing a non-
conference game like that because of
fear that it will cost them a chance at a
But after both Michigan and Ohio
State lost last week, who fell further
in the rankings? Which team is still
in the running for the Rose Bowl?
Not to mention that the Buckeyes are
probably now better prepared for the
rest of the season than
If it's true that Michi-
gan is doing its best to
win a national champi-
onship, then fine. I'm all
for winning a national
But I'm not convinced
that's the motivation
behind scheduling easy
N opponents - at least not
ERT all of it. The Athletic
.sMondva* Department at Michigan
runs an operating budget
somewhere in the range of
$90 million a year - and nearly all of
that money comes from football rev-
enue. Two years ago, Michigan raked
in about $1 million a game - and I
can only imagine that the school gets
even more now. I can't help thinking
it's just about the money.
I don't have any evidence. There's no
Deep Throat behind the scenes telling
me that this is true. But think about it
logically. If the Wolverines were to play
a Texas or a Southern Cal, they would
have to agree to a game on the road
every other year. That's a lot of cash
down the drain, and probably some-
thing the Athletic Department wouldn't
allow. Even Carr admitted on Saturday
that financial concerns play a big part
in scheduling teams like Eastern.
"I think the truth is, with 12 games
coming, the opportunity to play Eastern,
Central and Western is good for our
state from a financial standpoint," Carr
said. "I'd much rather play schools from
this state because I think it is better for
people from the state of Michigan."
Eastern Michigan and Northern
Illinois want to play Michigan. They
want the exposure to a large audience
- the Northern Illinois game was even
on ABC. They are probably even inter-
ested in the small amount of money
Michigan pays them to come to Ann
Arbor - Eastern Michigan made about
$430,000. Michigan Athletics can bully
these small teams around and make
them come to the Big House, and that's
more money for the University.
But it comes at the expense of what
could be great games.
- Ian Herbert can be reached
Women's cross country captain Katie Erdman and her Wolverines
put in a solid all-around performance in East Lansing on Friday.
Newcomers lead Blue in opening meet
By Bridget O'Donnell
For the Daily
I With four runners in the top-10, the Michigan
men's cross country team opened its season looking
dominant against a field of 11 squads at the non-scor-
ing Spartan Invitational on Friday. Led by a pack of
newcomers, No. 27 Michigan captured six of the
top-15 spots at Michigan State's Forest Akers Golf
Course in East Lansing. Freshman Justin Switzer led
the Wolverines, placing fourth overall with a time of
25:00. Senior Andrew Bauer followed close behind,
clocking in at 25:02.
"The race went well," Bauer said. "I tried to get off
with the lead group. We all got a good start."
The Wolverines kept a good pace throughout
the meet running closely together in a tight pack
towards the front. Among the top-15 finishers were
freshman Lex Williams, senior Andrew Ellerton,
sophomore Victor Gras and freshman John Black,
who placed seventh, ninth, 13th and 14th, respec-
"We all worked together," Switzer said. "It was a
who placed second overall at the Spartan Invitational
last year, was one runner who sat out. But the race was
just the beginning of the season to come.
"It was our first meet, and we've still got a ways to
go," Switzer said.
Nevertheless, the Wolverines were pleased with the
results. Bauer attributed the Wolverines' success on
Friday to team practices.
"Our workouts have been going as planned," Bauer
said. "We work out in a pack."
The race was indeed a good start for the Wol-
verines, who hope to begin the season anew after
a disappointing 26th-place finish at the NCAAs
last year. With seven freshmen and 11 returning
veterans on the squad, Bauer is optimistic for the
"The freshmen have done nicely," Bauer said. "We
didn't run all of the people we wanted to, but we did
Switzer said: "We are a young team. Hopefully,
everyone can step up and have bigger roles."
The Wolverines head to Minnesota next Saturday
for the Roy Griak Invitational.
Senior Andrew Bauer was part of a six-member Michigan
group that finished in the top-15 in East Lansing on Friday.
The meet wasn't scored and Michigan didn't trot
out its full lineup. Sophomore standout Mike Woods,