8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 3, 2005
Sophomores Alyson Kohlmeier and Erin
Webster have more in common than
just being teammates - both runners
followed in their sisters' footsteps of
taking their game to the collegiate level.
By Ian Robinson o Daily Sports Writer
G rowing up, younger siblings often look to emulate older ones in vari-
ous aspects of life.
In the case of sophomore harriers Alyson Kohlmeier and Erin
Webster, they followed in the steps of their older sisters in competing
at the university level in cross country.
But - as often occurs - the younger siblings attempt to establish their own
Both Kohlmeier and Webster followed this trend by deciding to run for
Michigan, while their older sisters compete for Notre Dame.
Alyson's sister, Amy, is a junior, and Erin's sister, Elizabeth, is a senior.
Although their siblings compete for another team, the two Wolverines have
great respect for their older counterparts.
"Elizabeth is someone that I really look up to," Erin said. "She is not only a
great athlete, but she is an amazing student and an all-around good person."
Said Alyson: "I definitely looked up to (Amy) because she did everything
first. It was great to have her as a role model."
As sisters, they see many of their own characteristics in their counterparts.
"We are pretty much the same people with minor differences," Erin said.
"We have an amazing bond, and I can't say enough great things about her."
In the Kohlneier household, the sisters use their personalities to motivate
"They are pretty competitive both on and off the track," Jace Kohlmeier, Aly-
son's father, said. "They both have the exact same personality - high achievers
academically and athletically."
Each sister's relationship with the other might explain why they started run-
ning competitively at young ages.
Alyson's running career started with a fourth-grade cross country team, and
Erin's began in the fifth grade.
"I saw the success that hard work brought (Amy), and I wanted to do the
same," Alyson said.
Erin has trained with her sisters - both Elizabeth and her oldest sister Shan-
non - from the beginning and considers them to be her two best friends.
"We have all run together since I was in fifth grade," Erin said. "They are my
biggest supporters, and I am their biggest supporter."
Neither of the sisters are strangers to running in the same race. Each pair of
sisters went to high school together - the Kohlmeiers at St. Patrick's in Sarnia,
Ont., and the Websters at Divine Child in Dearborn - and took advantage of
the opportunity to train and race together.
"A lot of people did not have the advantage in high school of training with
someone at such a high level," Alyson said. "Every day we would train harder
together than we would on our own."
In the recruiting process, Alyson was introduced to the Michigan and Notre
Dame programs during Amy's recruitment.
"When I went for the home visit Alyson was there," Michigan coach Mike
McGuire said. "It gave us a pretty good jump-start on the recruitment of
One year later -after Amy decided to attend Notre Dame - McGuire
returned to the Kohlmeier home with the same message about Michigan. But
this time it was directed to Alyson.
Though McGuire visited both Kohlmeiers, he did not actively recruit either
Erin said that she never saw McGuire in person before she reported to train-
ing camp. Instead, the process occurred over the phone.
"I had spoken with (McGuire) on the phone, but that was the extent," Web-
ster said. "I don't know if he knew who I was when I showed up."
The presence of the sisters on each team has created a good relationship
between two highly competitive programs, which might seem odd because both
squads are ranked in the top five. And having athletes with family on the Notre
Dame team has its advantages.
"We almost compare notes because we can get the inside scoop," Erin said.
"We'll know what's happening on their team."
Plus, having a mutual connection with the Notre Dame program has given
Erin and Alyson the opportunity to compare the equipment that the Notre
Dame athletes wear with the attire they sport at Michigan.
"The one thing Alyson and I always talk about is that they get better gear at
Notre Dame " Erin said.
t might be a coincidence, but Alyson and Erin also have had two of this
year's best starts of anybody on the team.
Last season, Erin's highest mark was a 20th-place finish at the Spar-
tan Invitational. She started the year with fifth-place honors in her first
McGuire considers Erin to be one of the most improved athletes on
She credits her dramatic improvement to two main factors: team chemistry
and a new training mindset.
"There is cohesion in practice that translates into races," Erin said. "I have a
new outlook on things this summer. I tried to have more fun with running and
be a little less uptight."
Meanwhile, Alyson could not have started the season any better. With vic-
tories in the first two meets, McGuire attributes this early season success to
momentum she picked up after winning a gold medal in dominant fashion in
the 3,000-meter run at the Pan-Am Junior Games.
"I think that her confidence is starting to merge paths with her innate ability,
and I see really great things for her between now and the championship part of
the season," McGuire said.
The Notre Dame Invitational this weekend provided Erin and Alyson an
opportunity to build upon early season momentum and to compete in the
same meet as their sisters. Once again, the duo led the way for the victorious
Wolverines. Erin and Alyson were the first two Michigan athletes to cross
the line - Alyson in third place and Erin in 13th.
While waiting at the starting line before the race, the Websters embraced
each other quickly because it marked the first time they had seen each other
since they left for college last summer.
Through the first mile of the race, Erin ran directly behind Elizabeth. She did
not think that her sister was aware of her presence.
"Afterward, she said she knew I was there because she knew how I breathe,"
Later in the race, Erin pulled alongside her sister - who finished 88th - to
pass her. Erin called it a mutual moment of support.
"When I passed her, she said, 'Go get 'em,' " Erin said. "This was special
because we never talk during races."
Saturday's race did not contain the same emotional moment for the Kohlmei-
ers because Amy has been plagued by injuries throughout her collegiate career.
"I was happy that she can compete," Alyson said. "I talked to her before the
race, and she was excited to be able to race for her team."
For their parents, this weekend's meet was a chance to watch their children
compete in the same race - a rare occurrence.
Saturday's race marked the first time that either pair of sisters competed
against each other since high school.
"I don't like it when they run together because it is too hard on me," Daniel
Webster, Erin's father, said. "If I had my way, they would tie."
The Webster parents proposed a remedy to the situation of rivaling children.
"One of us is going to wear a Michigan outfit, and the other is going to wear a
Notre Dame outfit," Webster said.
Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan
Sister Elizabeth Webster runs for Notre Dame
5th place, Great Meadows
5th place, Spartan Invitational
13th place, Notre Dame
Hometown: Sarnia, Ontario
Sister Amy Kohlmeier runs for Notre Dame
1st place, Great Meadows
1st place, Spartan Invitational
3rd place, Notre Dame
Final minutes crucial for M's Kohlmeier
By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
In the last two minutes, everything changed.
As sophomore Alyson Kohlmeier came
into the final stretch of the five-kilometer
race she was in fourth place, where she had
been the entire time. But now she was finally
in a position to pass Cassie Hunt of No. 20
Illinois. Just as Kohlmeier was securing third
place, sophomore Erin Webster and junior
Arianne Field made a push toward the front of
the pack, securing their 13th- and 14th-place
victories, respectively. In this short period
of time, the Wolverines made up at least 20
points - all of which would prove to be criti-
cal for them in the end.
After crossing the tape behind Stepha-
nie Madia and Molly Huddle of No. 3 Notre
Dame, Kohlmeier was almost positive a team
win was out of reach. But the Wolverines run-
is no doubt about it."
For the first time this season, the Wolver-
ines were tested - both physically and men-
tally - as they found themselves scrapping
for better positions in the 200-person field.
During the first few minutes of the race, the
runners were stuck in a bottleneck and, with
the exception of Kohlmeier, were forced to
run in a congested pack.
"The whole race was just a battle to get in,"
Webster said. "There were so many people,
but I just looked for my teammates because I
know we are on the same level, and they are
who I should be running with. The hardest
part by far was just getting in the race."
Kohlmeier got off to a strong start and never
looked back. By escaping the early pile up,
she was able to speed up early and move her
way into the front group of runners, where
she found her second wind right after passing
Hunt. This put Kohlmeier in the position to
"I had been right behind my sister for a
long time," Webster said. "When I passed her,
we gave each other a look and she just said
'go get 'em,' and I almost cried because nei-
ther one of us ever talk during our races and
we both said something to each other and that
was a huge moment in the race for me."
The Wolverines faced six top-30 teams
this weekend, giving them a preview of
what's to come in the Big Ten and NCAA
Championships. The crowded race course
will be something they will see again in the
post season, and after this weekend, they
know getting off to a strong start is crucial
in these types of races.
"I think we learned that there are no easy
wins, and this is something that is going to push
us even harder," Webster said. "Even if we may
be ranked ahead of them (top-ranked teams), it
always comes down to the race. It's good that
we saw them because now we know what we