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March 16, 2006 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-16

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 16, 2006

hope to
By Robert Kaitz
Daily Sports Writer
The No.3 Michigan wrestling team hopes
to rebound from a disappointing third-place
finish at the Big Ten Championships with a
strong performance at the NCAA Cham-
pionship in Oklahoma City, Okla. starting
The Wolverines enjoyed a successful regu-
lar season with a 16-2 record in dual meets
and a Big Ten regular-season champion-
ship (8-0). But Michigan failed to carry that

Senior Ryan Churella competes against Matt Nagel in Michigan's 19-15 win over the Gophers.

momentum into the annual
conference tournament. Senior
co-captain Ryan Churella
emerged as the lone Michigan
champion (165-pound weight
class), winning his third con-
secutive conference champi-
onship. Fellow captain Greg
Wagner finished runner-up in
the heavyweight class. They
were the only two wrestlers to
reach the final.
"Obviously, we would have

Ford Cc

thrilling and somewhat surprising sec-
ond-place finish at nationals last year.
The Wolverines are in a great position
entering the tournament, with nine quali-
fiers. The only weight class
--- - not represented is the 174-
pound class. Stalwart Nick
GHT Roy sustained a knee injury
mpionships at Big Tens, forcing him to
Cit OK withdraw from competition.
Last season, five wrestlers
enter were All-Americans in their
weight classes. This feat is
accomplished through finish-
ing in the top eight at nationals.
Graduating senior Ryan Bertin captured an
individual championship for the 157-pound
weight class.
Coming into this year's tournament, No.
1 Minnesota and Big 12 champion Okla-
homa State are ahead of Michigan in the
rankings. The Wolverines have a mental

advantage entering the tournament, having
defeated Minnesota 19-15 in Ann Arbor
on Feb. 17 - the Gophers' only loss of the
Churella and Wagner are the biggest
names on the Michigan squad, but the
other seven wrestlers hope to mirror
their successes.
"I want to be an all-American, but I am just
happy to be there;' senior Willie Breyer said
about his goals for the tournament.
Michigan's other promising wrestlers
include redshirt sophomores Josh Churella
(141) and Eric Tannenbaum (149). Both have
been ranked in the top 10 of their respective
weight classes throughout the season and
were all-Americans last season.
Michigan has never won a wrestling
national championship, but this sea-
son marks one of their most successful
campaigns and best shots at breaking

Continued from page 11A
of a game.
"Going towards playoff time,
games are a lot more tight-check-
ing and closer," Hunwick said. "I
don't know if you're looking for
big hits, but opportunities have
presented themselves more so
lately than they have in previous
Hunwick has combined his
solid checking with steady offen-
sive play. The junior is capable of
moving up to help out on offense
when needed. There is a delicate
balance between being too defen-
sive and too offensive, and Hun-
wick appears to have mastered
this fine line.
"You just have to know the sit-
uation, and what time it is in the
game," Hunwick said. "You try to
do what's best for the team. But
I've been doing this so long it's
just instinctive."
The junior has also been instru-
mental in Johnson's development.
Both are built in the same mold.
Big, physical presences on the ice,
each combines stature with a flair
for offense.
"I love playing with Matt," John-
son said. "He's fun to play with, a
great skater, a smart player, and I
think we play well together."
With all the uncertainty sur-
rounding playoff time, the Wol-
verines have the luxury of a solid,
veteran defenseman who has been
through all types of battles. Even
if the fans don't notice it, the
coaching staff realizes a good

Michigan junior Matt Hunwick has filled an Important role for the
Wolverines this season while continuing to play In the shadows.

liked to do

better, but we'll regroup," Michigan coach
Joe McFarland said after the Big Tens. "The
national tournament is a whole different ball-
Michigan hopes to follow up on its

thing when they see it.
"This is Matt's first time to
really be a leader of the defense,"
Berenson said. "I think he's done
a great job partnering with Jack
Johnson ... and showing the way
for the rest of our defense."
NOTES: Former Wolverine and
current New York Islander for-
ward Jeff Tambellini tallied his

first career NHL goal on Tuesday
night. Tambellini, a first-round
draft pick of the Los Angeles
Kings in 2002, was traded to the
Islanders last week at the trad-
ing deadline. Last year, he led
the Wolverines in scoring as a
junior before deciding to forego
his senior season to play profes-

Porter's troubles behind him

By John Geise
Daily Sports Writer
Last season, then-sophomore Jeff Porter
found himself in a rut he couldn't escape.
"I was trying to get used to my new tech-
nique, still trying to get used to college life, and
classes were starting to weigh down on me,"
Porter said. "And, on top of that, there was a
lot of frustration on the track because I was not
performing well, and I took that to heart."
Few people could have imagined Porter
having such a difficult sophomore campaign.
As a freshman, he burst onto the Big Ten
scene. He won the Big Ten title in the 60-
meter indoor hurdles, finished second in the
110-meter outdoor hurdles and garnered Big
Ten Freshman of the Year honors.
"As a freshman, Jeff showed signs of great
things to come," Michigan sprint and hurdle
coach Fred LaPlante said. "Last year, he
worked just as hard, but he learned that some-
times life just isn't fair."
In his second season, Porter finished third
in the Big Ten 60-meter indoor hurdles and
then ended his year a disappointing eighth in
the Big Ten 110-meter outdoor hurdles. But,

even with those results, Porter never doubted
his ability.
"I knew I was still one of the best in the
nation'" Porter said. "I believed that and so
did my coaches, even if it came as a surprise
to everyone else."
Porter's 2006 indoor season was a testa-
ment to this belief. He won almost every
60-meter hurdle race he was entered in. The
notable exception was Big Tens, where Porter
started slower than usual, allowing Purdue's
Ricky Pinckney to narrowly defeat him. That
race left Porter with a sour taste in his mouth
heading into the NCAA Indoor Champion-
"For me, the race at (NCAAs) was about
coming out and proving myself to everyone
(after Big Tens)," Porter said.
Porter accomplished his goal, notching
a personal-best 7.77 to take fourth, earning
himself the first All-America distinction of
his career.
"This year, Jeff came out and did exactly
what we always thought he could do," LaPlan-
te said. "(Being an All-American) is a great
accomplishment, but it's not unexpected. I
really don't know what happened last year. He

was just in a slump."
Porter has a theory to explain last sea-
son's disappointment. His fundamentals are
unchanged, and his desire to win has always
been there. The difference is his teammates.
"I am having a whole lot more fun with my
team this year," Porter said. "The freshmen
here are great and having Tyrone (Wheatley)
come in as a coach has helped a lot. I am just
having a great time."
Porter's teammates have done more than
just raise his morale. LaPlante believes that
part of Porter's improvement can be attributed
to the athlete's friendly rivalry with a fresh-
man teammate.
"Adam Harris has been pretty significant,"
LaPlante said. "Adam is very fast, and that
has helped Jeff, particularly his starts. No one
wants a freshman beating you in practice."
Even with Porter's resurgence, his season
remains unfinished. He begins his outdoor
season on April 1 at the Georgia Tech Invi-
tational, and has a vision for how he wants it
to end.
"I want to get to nationals and get to the
finals'" Porter said. "We'll lineupgo, andsee
what the photo says at the finish line."

Continued from page 11A
of the young season.
Michigan (11-6) also manufactured a run. In the top
of the third inning, a walk and an error put Michigan in
business with two runners in scoring position and no outs.
The next batter, senior second baseman Tiffany Haas, hit
a bloop single to right-centerfield, scoring freshman Alli-
son Kidman to tie the game at one. Unfortunately for the
Wolverines, they couldn't produce any more runs, leav-
ing the bases loaded when Marx grounded out sharply to
third. In all, the Wolverines left 11 runners on base.
Considering UCLA pitcher Anjelica Selden's perfor-
mance thus far this season (14-1, 0.14 ERA), Michigan
did an excellent job putting runs on the board. But the
four runs don't come as a surprise, since Michigan spent
much of its practice time last week doing drills specifi-

cally tailored to Selden's pitching style.
Last week's practices weren't just about physical skills,
but also focused on the mental aspect of the game.
Before leaving for California on'Ibesday, coach Carol
Hutchins called upon the members of her team to step up
and take a leadership role. After her home run in the sev-
enth inning, it seemed like Findlay - who was named
the MVP of last year's Women's College World Series
- had done just that.
"I'd like to be a leader on the field," the Lockport, Ill.
native said. "The most important thing is that (the team)
is starting to pull together. We had a lot of energy tonight
and we kept fighting. We're heading in the right direc-
But in the end, Findlay's repeat home run wasn't
enough. Michigan left Los Angeles and headed south to
Fullerton, Calif., for this weekend's Judi Garman Classic,
wondering how the victory had escaped and where its
leadership would come from.

Continued from page 11A

Since Lee is the Wolverine's first diver to
qualify in two years, she has already proven
herself at Michigan. Anything she achieves at

nationals will be icing on the cake.
"I just want to go in feeling positive and to
have a good time," Lee said in the e-mail.

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