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January 09, 2006 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-09

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - January 9, 2006

Top freshmen finishers
spark hope for new season

M MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD
Relay race too close to
call, ends in draw for 'M'

By Chris Herring
Daily Sports Writer
Yes, the future is looking bright for the Michigan
women's track and field team.
On Saturday at the Jack Harvey Invitational
freshmen accounted for four of the six first-place
finishes in individual events. The team's season
opener, held in the Indoor Track Building, was
non-scoring, but the Wolverines won seven of
the 14 events and grabbed seven second-place
finishes as well.
In her collegiate debut freshman Tiffany Ofili
blew away her competition winning the 60-meter
hurdles and the 60-meter dash. Fellow freshmen
Geena Gall and Casey Taylor won the 600-meter
dash and the triple jump, respectively. Gall ran a
1:34.32 and Taylor jumped 12.02 meters.
The invitational helped give the newcomers their
first real meet experience.
"(Today) was definitely a learning experience,"
Gall said. "I had never run the 600-meter before, so
I was very nervous. I wanted to do well and get a
good time for the team."
Distance coach Mike McGuire found the invite
to be very beneficial, especially for the younger
athletes.
"For many of the girls, it was their first time in
uniform," McGuire said. "Many of the girls picked

up their first collegiate win, so I think the invite was
a good start to the season."
Redshirt junior Katie Erdman ran the 800-meter
in 2:11.49 to take the event, and fifth-year senior Jen-
nifer Williams won the high jump by clearing 1.76
meters. The 1600-meter relay team - comprised of
Erdman, senior Shavonne Maclin, junior Chanelle
Campbell and sophomore Serita Williams - also
claimed victory by posting a time of 3:53.12.
Although the meet was basically an exhibition, it
provided both confidence for the team and a chance
for the freshmen to run under pressure.
"Today was a confidence booster" Ofili said. "I
had high expectations, but we did really well."
Taylor coupled her victory in the triple jump with
a second-place finish in the long jump. She said she
feels that the freshmen can make a big impact the
team this season.
"We know that we are a good group of freshmen
and that, if we stick and work together, that we will
be able to provide points for the team," Taylor said.
"Every freshman on our team is talented, and we are
all dedicated."
Gall also emphasized how important the fresh-
men are to the team's scoring.
"Our freshmen are like a family," Gall said. "We
have to run well and throw well each time out to pick
up points for our team."
McGuire said he looks forward to seeing this class

Kimberly Chou
Daily Sports Writer

Michigan sophomore Andrew Wech-
ter grabs the baton and explodes down
the track, sprinting around the first curve,
his closest competitor still a few seconds
behind him. Anchoring the last two laps of
the men's 4x400-meter relay at the annual
Jack Harvey Invitational, the sprinter/hur-
dler leads the pack for the next 100, then
200 meters. But the anchor for Eastern
Michigan 'A' relay team quickly closes
down the distance between them, practi-
cally running on his heels.
With one hundred yards to go, the
Eagles runner passes Wechter for the lead,
arms and legs like pistons. Wechter runs
faster, trying to catch up - he narrowly
missed a come-from-behind victory over
Eastern's Corey Nowitzke earlier in the
men's 800-meter race - with 50 yards to
go. Both runners gun it to the end mark, lit-
erally neck-and-neck as they lean forward
toward the finish line - it's too close to
call. After further photo analysis the event
is declared a tie: Michigan relay team 'A'
and Eastern Michigan relay team 'A' both
finishing at a sleek 3:21.28.

STEVEN TAI/Daily
Junior Chanelle Campbell raced as part of the 1600-
meter relay team that took first at the Invitational.
have an impact on the team.
"We've got some pretty good balance in our fresh-
men class," he said. "We've got some that we feel
will be real contributors to the program over the next
four years."

I I

"I would have made a ruling,"'Michigan
coach Ron Warhurst said in regards to the
draw decision. "Wait two weeks, and we'll
be really good."
Gentlemen, welcome back to com-
petition.
Saturday's Jack Harvey Invitation-
al,- named for the legendary Michigan
track coach - was the first foray into the
competitive season for the Michigan men's
track and field team after holiday break.
The athletes had returned to practice just
three days prior.
"All the athletes have been training on
their own;' Michigan assistant coach Fred
LaPlante said. "(At the invitational) we see
how much training we've gained or lost."
Similar to the Maize and Blue Intra-
squad exhibition meet held early in
December, certain events were longer dis-
tances than usual (such as the men's 3000-
meter), and a number of athletes competed
in something other than their main event.
For example, junior high-hurdler
Jeff Porter ran the 1600-meter relay;
fifth-year senior jumper Darren Adams
ran the 4x400-meter relay as well as
the high jump.
"I think everyone will try their best,
see how they do and take it from there"
Adams said before the invitational.
Said Porter: "We try our best - but
we're not trying to break records here:"
He emphasized that the next few weeks
would be further "work weeks" adding to
the training the athletes had been doing
over the holidays.
On a day when the Central Michigan
women's track and field squad didn't even
make it to the U-M Indoor Track Build-
ing - snagged in a vehicular accident on
the slick, winter roads (no one was injured)
- the other teams at the Jack Harvey Invi-
tational were more chill than freezing rain.
Host team Michigan, Eastern Michigan,
University of Findlay (Ohio), Hillsdale
College and Siena Heights University par-
ticipated in the open-invite event.
Though field events started at nine in
the morning, fans slowly filled the stands
as the day progressed. The crowd showed
the most emotion nearing the end of the
track events with the fiercely contested
men's 4x400 meter relay
Not all athletes competed - men's long
and middle distance runners such as soph-
omore Mike Woods and fifth-year senior
captain Rondell Ruff were noticeably
absent - the invitational allowed many of
the younger runners and jumpers as well
as unattached (or redshirted) athletes to set
the pace.
Freshman Andre Barnes won the
400-meter with a time of 50.65 seconds
for Michigan, but Eastern Michigan
took many of the track events, including
the 800- and 3000-meters. Eagle throw-
ers also took the top two positions in the
weight throw and had solid outings in
shot put.
"In a sport like track, every school's got
somebody really good," LaPlante said.
"(This invitational) is the right competi-
tion for right now."
In addition, Findlay runner Kendall
Stevens won the 60-meter dash, and Siena
Heights' Robert Deo won the one-mile in
about four and a half minutes.
"You wouldn't anticipate finding four-
minute miles (at the invitational) because
we're not running a lot of fast people"
Warhurst said. "It's also predicated on how
your training is going. We have to be ready
to compete at our maximum level hope-
fully (by the) middle or end of February,
beginning of March."
Even though the invitational was more
of a precursor to the increasingly challeng-
ing events yet to come, Wechter said;"We
take every meet seriously."
Assuming that it stays healthy, the
track team has its eye on the 2006 Big Ten
Championship title, Wechter said.
But give them a few weeks first - in
two weeks the Eastern Michigan track
and field team makes a repeat appear-
ance in Ann Arbor at the Red Simmons

GUTIERREZ
Continued from page1lB
the starting nod and went on to have a
record-setting first year. Gutierrez, on
the other hand, had surgery to repair a
torn labrum and only saw the field as
the Wolverines' holder on field goals
and extra points.
Coming into the 2005 season, Guti-
errez worked in an attempt to earn the
top spot on the depth chart, but he only
saw action in blow-out wins, complet-
ing 14 of 22 passes.
"I feel like in my four years (at Mich-
igan), I've done everything I could have
done and was asked to do to earn an
opportunity,"' Gutierrez told the Ann
Arbor News. "Unfortunately, the oppor-
tunity didn't come when I was finally
healthy and ready to play."
With just one year of eligibility
remaining, Gutierrez thought the time
had come to give himself one more
chance at starting. But in his interview
with the Ann Arbor News, Gutierrez did
not indicate whether he had been prom-

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