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November 10, 2005 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-10

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14A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wrestling
lacks major
sport hype
By David Murray
For the Daily
As if suffering through grueling two-a-day workouts,
maintaining a specific weight and going into fierce hand-
to-hand combat to represent the block 'M' isn't enough,
the Michigan wrestling team has even more to overcome.
The Wolverines also have to deal with the lack of expo-
sure they receive around campus, despite their achieve-
ments.
Besides the women's softball team, which won a
national championship last spring, the wrestling team was
the most accomplished varsity team to sport the Maize
and Blue in the 2004-05 season. But for some reason, five
All-Americans, a Big Ten dual meet championship and
a runner-up finish at the National Championships isn't
enough to earn campus-wide respect.
"We have to take it one step at a time," senior captain
Ryan Churella said. "As we become more successful over
the next couple of years, hopefully the exposure and fan
base will come with it."
The opponents they wrestle seem to be easier compe-
tition than the obstacle they deal with on campus - a
student body with a high sports IQ not coming to support
one of the University's most successful teams.
"People don't understand that at other universities,
wrestling is a huge thing, where here it is not," Churella
said. "Michigan has never had the huge home crowds like
Oklahoma State and Iowa."
Coach Joe McFarland said he feels the Wolverines' fan
base has improved from his wrestling days in the 1980s,

0 MEN' SOCCER
Blue ready to
redeem its season .

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer

IFILE PHOTO
Despite wrestling's obscurity at Michigan, Churella and his teammates are still one of the top teams in the nation.

when he was a four-time All-American. But he said the
lackluster support the wrestling team receives now has a
greater impact than people realize.
"Unfortunately, it has an effect on recruiting - if a
recruit goes to Iowa City and they put a few tapes in for
him and the kid looks at the crowd and sees how excit-
ing it is," McFarland said. "It is no different than football
players wanting to come here and play in front of the Big
House."
The best explanation Churella - an All-American
himself - could think of for the absence of student atten-
dance is the lack of media coverage, and therefore the
lack of understanding for the rules and scoring.
"(Wrestling) is not televised very often, and when it is
people don't want to grasp the concept just because they

don't understand the rules or don't want to learn some-
thing new," Churella said.
The wrestling program, which has been spitting out
perennial All-Americans and national contenders since
the 1920s, will continue to search for an identity among
the students.
"A lot of people get caught up in other sports, and that's
all they want to talk about," McFarland said. "That gets a
little frustrating especially when you have one of the top
programs in the country."
The Big House overflows with 110,000 people who
pass through its gates every Football Saturday. Until Dec.
9, when the Wolverines open the home schedule against
Nebraska, the 1,800 seats at Cliff Keen Arena will anx-
iously wait for Michigan wrestling fans.

A fresh start.
Today - that's what the Michi-
gan men's soccer team will be given.
Coming off a disappointing three-
game losing streak, the Wolverines
(2-4-0 Big Ten, 8-9-1 overall) will
face-off against intrastate rival Mich-
igan State (2-3-1, 6-5-5) in the first
round of the Big Ten
Tournament today at
10 a.m. in Evanston.
Shutout in two of its
last three games, Michi- Mh
gan has been focusing
on goal conversion in
practice this week. Evanst
"I think, more than
anything, we are just
reaffirming that we're playing well
and, two, that we need to try to capi-
talize on scoring goals," Michigan
coach Steve Burns said. "We are cre-
ating chances. But we're not turning
those chances into goals. So it's just a
matter of that final shot. That's really
what we're working on - our confi-
dence, belief and composure around
the face of the goal."
Michigan earned the fifth seed in the
eight-team tournament, while the Spar-
tans are seeded fourth. The last time the
two programs squared off was on Oct.
16 in East Lansing, where Michigan
State defeated the Wolverines, 2-0.
"I think our team is relishing the
opportunity to put a better perfor-
mance together (against Michigan
State) because we didn't play up
to our potential in that first game,"
Burns said. "Our confidence was suf-
fering at that time. This is an oppor-
tunity to get out and hopefully play
the way we're capable of."
In the 2-0 loss, the Spartans scored
two first-half goals - both off of
counterattacks. Burns mentioned that
Michigan State plays in a 3-5-2 offen-
sive shape with three dangerous players

At

up front. Also in the Spartans' arsenal
is a tendency to play a slower, more
methodical game that the Wolverines
are uncomfortable with.
Spartan attacking midfielder Ryan
McMahen will especially have a target
on his back - he currently holds the
team lead in goals (7) and assists (5).
"McMahen is a special player and
carries the load (for the Spartans),
offensively," Burns said. "Last game,
we had a man-marker on
him, and he still got the
game-winning goal. He's
a very dangerous player
- we need to be aware of
ga t where he is at all times."
T As hosts of the Big
} y. Ten Tournament last
year, Michigan defeated
Ohio State in the first
round. But in the semifinals, the Wol-
verines' championship hopes were
crushed at the hands of this year's
host, Northwestern.
The No. 1 seed in the Tournament is
Penn State, which boasts a perfect unde-
feated record in conference play this
season. The Nittany Lions have won
seven straight games, its longest win-
ning streak since 2002.
The winner of the Michigan-Mich-
igan State contest will take on Penn
State - who earned a first-round bye
- at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the semifi-
nal round of the tournament.
To have a chance of earning an NCAA
Tournament bid, Michigan needs a solid
performance and at least two wins in the
Big Ten Tournament, which would give
the Wolverines an overall record of .500.
Though Michigan heads into the
tournament having accumulated three
straight one-goal loses, Burns is con-
fident that his team can take advantage
of the even playing field that postseason
action offers.
"We are trying to emphasize that point
right now that (in the Big Ten Tournament)
every team has zero wins and zero losses,"
Burns said. "It's now wide open."

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