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December 01, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-01

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 1, 2005

'Problem with losing'
fuels Porter for new season

By Kimberly Chou
For the Daily

Jeff Porter already has the ring
picked out.
"I went to Jostens.com and print-
ed off a couple of ring ideas for how
I want my ring to look," said the
junior high-hurdler.
All he has to do now is win an
NCAA Track and Field Champion-
ship title.
"(Choosing the ring), it's a little
incentive," Porter said.
Exploding onto the Big Ten track
scene early freshman year, Porter
suffered a disappointing sophomore
season. He took the title for 60-
meter hurdles at the indoor confer-
ence championships and won Big
Ten Freshmen of the Year honors in
2004 but came up two places short
of the title last winter. And the run-
ner-up in the 110-meter hurdles at
the 2004 Big Ten Outdoor Cham-
pionships found himself in eighth
place in the same event at the end of
his sophomore season.
"Basically, I had one of those
sophomore slumps," Porter said. "It
was basically growing pains. I came
in freshman year, and I did every-
thing through talent, just raw talent.
And last year I was trying to redo

some things."
Those struggles were rough for Por-
ter, who came to Michigan as the No. 1
high school hurdler in the country.
"I envisioned after sophomore
year, I'd have been No. 1 or 2 in the
country and ranked in the world,"
Porter said.
The Wolverines' sprint and hurdle
coach Fred LaPlante said talented
incoming freshmen Adam Harris
and Rob Fiorillo, as well as return-
ing sophomore Rich Lacroix, should
provide competition for Porter.
"(Adam) is a very good hurdler,
but he's still the young buck," Porter
said. "I'm still the old man around
here. ... I can still run stuff around
here."
Porter regards his on-track rela-
tionships with the rookie hurdlers
as encouraging, friendly competi-
tion. Having other similarly talented
hurdlers working out alongside him
should encourage Porter, as well as
lessen the previous pressure on him
to perform.
"Now we have a hurdling crew,"
Porter said. "Now I have somebody
to work with, somebody to push me.
... It's kind of hard running against
yourself in practice and then trying
to turn it on in a meet."
Though an injured Harris may not

be running in this weekend's Maize
and Blue Intrasquad Meet, Porter will
get his first chance to either compete
with - or against - Fiorillo.
"It'll be interesting to see how
he rebounds back," LaPlante said.
"(Porter) has freshmen hot on his
heels."
Both LaPlante and Porter hope
the return of former NFL running
back Raider Tyrone Wheatley as a
hurdle coach will ease that transi-
tion. Known at Michigan for his four
years on the gridiron, Wheatley was
also an NCAA All-American and
Big Ten high hurdle champion.
"Tyrone is a big help," Porter said.
"He brings experience. ... He brings
some things that we might not have
thought of. Fred (LaPlante) and I, we
see a problem. We understand there's
a problem. Tyrone brings a different
aspect to solving the problem."
Resolving Porter's troubles this
year should get him a little closer to
that ring.
"I'm just looking to repeat my
(Indoor) Big Ten title," Porter said.
"I want to win Nationals. I want to
win Outdoor Big Tens - I want to
win nationals out there. I want to
win everything. I have a very big
problem with losing, so we're gonna
turn that around."

FILE PHOTO.
Jeff Porter hopes this season will be more like his freshman campaign, when he earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

So phomore No. 1stunner

By Wei Kung
For the Daily

Imagine staring down the nation's top-ranked
wrestler, who also happens to be the defending
national champion.
At the same time, try having to drown out 4,800
screaming fans all hoping that you falter.
This was the scene in Stillwater, Okla., at the
NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 21 for 149-pound
Michigan sophomore Eric Tannenbaum, who was
gearing up to face Oklahoma State's Zack Esposi-
to. Just eight months earlier, Esposito defeated the
overwhelmed freshman in the 2005 NCAA national
semifinals on his way to becoming the champion.
This time, Tannenbaum - now a more experienced
sophomore - was determined to exact revenge on
the senior Esposito, who had a career record of 93-8
at the time.
"I went into the match with a nothing-to-lose atti-
tude," Tannenbaum said.
The third-ranked Tannenbaum started off slug-
gishly, falling behind and allowing Esposito to
score the first two points of the match. Tannenbum
finally took command-andreeld doff three consecu-
tive points. The momentum shift and Tannenbaum's
tight grip on the lead was too much for the Cow-
boys' wrestler to overcome, and Tannenbaum came
away with a shocking upset and his first win of the
season.
Growing up in Naperville, Ill., Tannenbaum
picked up the sport of wrestling at a young age, often
working out with a family friend in a local wrestling
club. In high school, Tannenbaum compiled a record
of 176-1 and won the state championship three out
of four years.

When the time came to make a decision about
college, the four-year honor roll student saw Michi-
gan as a logical choice.
"Michigan offered a great combination of an
excellent wrestling tradition and strong academics,"
Tannenbaum said.
Tannenbaum made an immediate impact on the
Wolverines. He posted a 36-5 record in his first
season, won the Big Ten Championships in the 149-
pound division and finished fourth in the nation
while also being named an All-American.
Tannenbaum's rock-solid mental toughness
helped him.
"I think it's my stubbornness that gives me that
refuse-to-lose attitude and mental toughness," the
sophomore said.
Tannenbaum's coaches have quickly taken notice
of how special he is as an athlete.
"He's just tough," Michigan coach Joe McFarland
said. "He has the confidence and dedication to fight
through any situation he is presented."
A Pre-Med student, Tannenbaum was also named
to the NWCA All-Academic and Academic All-Big
Ten Conference teams last year, and he's found a
wayto extend his smarts to the mats.
"He is one of the most cerebral and smart wres-
tlers I've come across," McFarland said.
After the Wolverines' second-place finish at last
year's national championship meet, Tannenbaum
and his teammates set lofty goals for the team this
season. Individually, the tough-minded Tannenbaum
will settle for nothing less than a national cham-
pionship. When asked about his anticipation for a
possible grudge match with Esposito in the champi-
onship, Tannenbaum shook it off.
"I take any kind of win I get," Tannenbaum said.

Eric Tannenbaum has been a force for the Wolverines ever since he came to Ann Arbor last year.
NEED A GIRLFRIEND? JOIN THE DAILY.
JUST ASK MATT SINGER.

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