10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 14, 2005
M keeps eye
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
That has been the difference for the Michigan women's soccer
team in its last five games.
After going 1-3 in their last four, the Wolverines (6-5-2 overall)
are 2-3 in Big Ten play heading into their final five contests before
the Big Ten Tournament.
But these numbers fail to tell the whole story. Michigan beat No.
4 Virginia in its first preseason game and went on to tie both No. 20
Texas A&M and then-No. 23 Kansas earlier this seas. -n. And the
Wolverines defeated Ohio State 4-3 on Sept. 23 and Northwestern
3-2 last Friday.
"We certainly proved that we can compete with the best teams,"
coach Debbie Rademacher said. "We played well against Ohio
State, and Northwestern was a hard fought win. So we certainly
have a team that can compete with the best. We just need to put it
together every week, consistently."
As the Wolverines look ahead at playing four of the top-five
teams in the Big Ten, they're working on ways to make sure they
put it together and come out on top. In order to do that, Michigan
will have to step on the field and play with intensity against highly
physical opponents. Wisconsin committed 21 fouls in its 2-1 vic-
tory over the Wolverines on Sunday, and Indiana fouled Michigan
19 times on its way to a 2-1 win on Sept. 30.
"We do a lot of competing in practice, and that's going to be our
theme for the week - just to compete," Rademacher said. "It's not
so much the fouling as the physical presence and winning tackling
and 50-50 balls and getting to balls before the other team."
According to Rademacher, the Wolverines' front three has been
their biggest asset so far this season.
Sophomore Melissa Dobbyn, junior Judy Coffman and senior
Therese Heaton have combined for 18 of Michigan's 25 goals. The
trio has also added 11 assists for the Wolverines.
But if the Wolverines want to put themselves in good position
going into the Big Ten Tournament, they're going to have to tighten
0 MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
Walk-on runs toward dream
By Maxwell Sanders
Daily Sports Writer
Sometimes people get what they
want, immediately - a person hits the
lottery; someone guesses the answer
correctly. But sometimes the long route
is more rewarding.
That is the case for Mark Pokora, a
sophomore on the men's cross-country
team. Pokora is the lone non-freshman
walk-on on the prestigious team, and he
did not end up where he is by accident.
"I realized early on in my freshman
year that I needed to be a Wolverine
runner," Pokora said.
But Pokora did not try out for the
team last year because he was afraid.
"I knew I was not a strong enough
runner to contribute to the team,"
Pokora was a cross country star in
Pickerington, Ohio, but he was not a
strong enough competitor to be recruit-
ed by a big-time school.
"Most of the schools that were pursu-
ing me were Division-II schools in Ohio
like Dayton and Kent State," Pokora
Pokora chose Michigan because of the
high-class education, and he went about
being a normal college student. He took
classes in the engineering school, joined
the Ukrainian club and played guitar in
his free time.
Yet Pokora could not erase running
from his life so easily. He joined the
Michigan running club and felt reason-
ably content with his decision. That is,
until last November, when he won the
5k Midwest Club Cross Country race in
17 minutes, which was far worse than
his normal times in high school.
"It was eye-opening," Pokora said. " I
felt like I had digressed so much. I was
disappointed in myself."
So Pokora began to prepare for
a sophomore tryout. He took on an
immense class load of 19 credits during
his second semester, so that he would be
able to focus on the team this fall.
His determination was pushed further
when he visited home. He talked with
various friends, who were now running
for Ohio State, Cincinnati and Purdue.
"I felt left out, like I was the only one
not being what I could be," Pokora said.
The day after exams were finished,
Pokora hit the track hard. He ran 10
miles that first day and averaged 75
miles a week throughout the summer.
"I only took two days off all sum-
mer, and I couldn't have done it without
my buddies from high school who came
running with me," Pokora said.
At the end of the summer Pokora
looked forward to tryouts. He was told
he needed to run four miles in 20:30.
The day of the tryout, he lined up and
ran a 20:22. Pokora signed on the fol-
lowing week to become a cross country
runner at Michigan.
"It was a dream come true." Poko-
ra said with a smile. "This was my
dream, and, to have reached, it is just
But Pokora still had to adjust to the
"It was odd walking into the locker
room, because I wasn't even a fresh-
man," Pokora said. "I was something
else. The team starting calling me
He has had to earn the jubilation that
comes along with being a Division I ath-
lete in the sport he loves. The team has
85- to 90-mile weeks. When not run-
ning, Pokora can often be found behind
the dim glow of the computer, and he's
often in bed by 10:30 p.m.
Pokora struggled in his first race,
placing 178th in a field of 250 with a
time of 27:03 at Minnesota. He felt as if
he let his team down.
"I 'did not run like a Wolverine is
expected to run," Pokora said.
Pokora wanted to prove his worth
in his next race. He was running in the
middle of the pack with the team in
practice. Now, he wanted to show he
could do it when it counted. He ran a
26:47 - a 15-second improvement on
his personal-best - and he took fifth in
the open race.
"Coach (Ron Warhurst) told me to be
patient," Pokora said. "He said I would
grow as a runner slowly, but I had to be
patient, and that advice has helped me
every since the first race."
Pokora doesn't know how he will fair
in the next few years. But for now he is
elated to be on the team.
"It is still weird going into the team
locker room and knowing I'm a part of
this," Pokora said.
For now, his days consist of early
morning practices and mile after mile
of running with the team. But do not
feel bad for Pokora. He isn't walking on
cloud-nine - he's running on it.
Mellisa Dobbyn and the Wolverines prepare for the Big Ten.
things up all over the field.
"Every single player out there has an opportunity to step it up
because it's not just one thing," Rademacher said. "Turnovers come
from all over the field. So if we could just put together a complete
90 minute game."
With five games to go, the Wolverines still have a lot to hope for
in postseason play. Notching wins against the top Big Ten teams
will be crucial if Michigan wants to earn a good seed for the Big
Ten Tournament which will be held Nov. 3-6 in Ann Arbor.
Rademacher will continue to look at the stats, scrutinize film
and do everything in her power to make certain the Wolverines
win the ball in the middle of the field, make the big defensive stops
and put that one goal in the back of their opponents' nets.