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November 08, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 8, 2007 - 5A

Smiles all around for Chris Graham

By KEVIN WRIGHT
Daily Sports Editor
Standinginthe hallway outside of
the Crisler Arena media room, line-
backer Chris Graham smiled as he
recalled the hit he put on Michigan
State running back Javon Ringer in
the first half of Saturday's 28-24 win
in East Lansing.
"I was making sure he didn't turn
around and hit the 'L' button (a juke
move in Playstation 2) on me like
Illinois did to me," Graham said. "I
was trying to close the distance as
much as possible."
That hit sparked a ferocious
Michigan defensive effort in the
first half. With a laugh, Graham
joked the unit could've used another
one of his jarring blows as a spark in
the second frame.
That's the attitude Graham takes
to the field. He's always ready with a
positive attitude.
But there's more to Graham's
ever-present smile than meets the
eye.
Growingup in a rough Indianap-
olis neighborhood, Graham faced
tragedy when his oldest brother,
Lionel Christian, was murdered
in 1997. Graham, then in seventh
grade, describes it as a "wrong place,
wrong time" incident.
"It's something you don't want
to look back into," Graham said. "I
look forward just to seeing his face
with a smile, just the way he tried to
instill in us - to be strong and keep
moving on and do the right thing.
That's what I'm tryingto do to show
the younger ones behind me."

It's Lionel's example that has
motivated Graham to take a positive
outlook not only on the prospect of
the NFL after this season, but also
during his time as a Wolverine.
Graham thanks his parents for
keeping him, his four brothers and
his five sisters safe from the preva-
lent drug use and gang violence.
His parents did their best to make
their home a haven to all the neigh-
borhood kids, and Graham brought
that mentality to Ann Arbor.
"It takes a great family to move
through that," Graham said. "My
(I'm trying to)
Be strong and
keep moving on
and do the right
thing.'
house glowed in the neighborhood
because it kept everyone that came
to my house out of trouble."
Graham, who has become a media
darling for his easygoingnature, has
come into his own during his senior
season.
The upbeat outside linebacker
made a name for himself in his last
season - especially dropping back
to defend the pass. He said he feels
great about his pass defense, consid-
ering he couldn't catch a ball or drop

back in coverage before working
with linebackers coach Steve Szabo.
But more important, Graham's
positive outlook has kept the Wol-
verine defense afloat after the unit
took a beating in the first two games
of the season.
He's spent time in practice trying
to get Szabo to crack a smile, a feat
he said is only accomplished when
Szabo jokes back with his group of
linebackers.
On and off the field, Graham
always tries to bring energy and
excitement because he knows when
he's pumped up, he's ready to make
plays.
"That's the thing that coach
wants," Graham said. "He wants
110 percent, and I'm going to try and
give him 112. When I'm excited and
aggressivelike that, it helps me play
a lot better."
Graham is one of those players
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr loves to
coach.
"He's a guy as a coach you never
have to worry about when that
phone rings late at night that he's
going to be an issue because he
isn't," Carr said. "You know that."
But more than his coaches, Gra-
ham's teammates respond to his
energy. Defensive end Tim Jamison
shook his head when he recalled
Graham's play in East Lansing and
called it the hardest hits he's seen
from Graham all season.
And while Graham refuted the
claim, saying he's hit that hard all
year long, he can keep his smile
beaming - just like his brother Lio-
nel taught him.

Senior Chris Graham brings energy, smiles and big hits to Michigan footballiteam.

Blues McGuire enjoys 34
years in the fast lane

Maravic looks to defend title

ByJASON KOHLER
DailySports Writer
In 1974, during his first season
as men's cross country coach at
Michigan, Ron Warhurst coached
now-women's cross country coach
Mike McGuire. McGuire was a
tenacious runner who achieved
the rare accolade of All-American
in his freshman season.
"He was a 118-pound bag of
bones," Warhurst said. "But
he could run like the wind. He
was extremely aggressive and
extremely competitive. He wasn't
afraid of racing anyone, anyplace,
anytime."
McGuire helped lead the Wol-
verines to three Big Ten titles
while an athlete at Michigan. With
the help of Warhurst, McGuire
replaced Sue Foster as the wom-
en's cross country coach in 1992.
McGuire has had unprecedent-
ed success coaching cross coun-
try. In his 15 seasons at Michigan,
McGuire's teams have won eight
conference championships and
have qualified for Nationals every
year but two.
"He's one of the most successful
women's coaches there is," War-
hurst said.
McGuire made an impact from
the get-go. He won three Big Ten
Championships in his first three
seasons.
"Early on, Wisconsin was the
benchmark program and we man-
aged to supercede them in the first
three. years," McGuire said. "But
then they returned the favor the
next six years."
Even with the early success,
McGuire admitted that Wisconsin
was the established program in
the Big Ten. .
From 2002-2006, the Wol-
verines overtook Wisconsin to
become the dominant team of the
conference, winning five straight
Big Ten championships.
"I definitely have a greater
appreciation for the last five than

the first three (Big Ten titles),
especially knowing that the level
of competition has increased," he
said.
In the last five years, the Big
Ten has slowly become the tough-
est conference in women's cross
country. Currently, the conference
boasts eight teams in the top 30,
including No. 9 Michigan.
"The biggest difference in the
last couple years is that the depth
of the quality in the conference
is better than it's ever been,"
McGuire said.
On Oct. 28, Michigan finished
third at the Big Ten Champion-
ships behind Minnesota and
Michigan St.
"In the last several years we've
been the hunted," McGuire said.
"And next year we'll be the hunter
tryingto get that title back."
McGuire has dedicated his life
to cross country, devoting the last
18 years to coaching.
"I wouldn't say it's ever diffi-
cult," McGuire said. "It's tremen-
dously time consuming, but when
I'm doing it, (it) doesn't feel like
I'm working. Although there have
been a lot of things I've missed out
on over the years, and there are
regrets."
One of McGuire's regrets
includes missing out on his nieces
and nephew's graduations. He also
never married or had children.
But despite a few regrets,
McGuire loves his job.
"The environment I work in
and the people that I work around,
especially the athletes, are things
that sustain me and keep me
young," McGuire said. "I enjoy
waking up every day and going to
work."
As a coach, McGuire emphasiz-
es the importance of every runner.
to the team.
McGuire's dedication to his
runners is clear in the story of
fifth-year senior Erin Webster. As
a freshman and sophomore, Web-
ster struggled to reach her poten-

tial as a runner. But in her junior
season she broke through, later
becoming Big Ten champion as a
senior.
"When I wasn't as successful
as a runner I never felt like Mike
treated me any differently," Web-
ster said. "I felt that a large reason
why I was able to get better was
because he was always there to
coach me. His coaching was why
I was able to get better, or else I
would have probably continued to
suck."
Entering into his 16th season
this year, the Wolverines were
favorites to win the Big Ten and
National Championships. But so
far this year, Michigan has strug-
gled against the increasingly com-
petitive conference.
On Saturday, Michigan heads
down to Bloopiington to for the
NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The
Wolverines need to place in the
top two to qualify for Nationals.
"We're going to go out and race
as hard as we can," McGuire said.
"We don't have to win the meet to
qualify,but the competitive nature
of it is that we would like to."
At Regionals, Michigan will
compete at the same course where
McGuire earned All-America dur-
ing his freshman season.
"I sometimes kid the girls and
tell them that I ran here 34 years
ago," McGuire said. "But it doesn't
feel like 34 years, and Ron would
tell you the same thing. It goes fast
when you're having fun."

By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Writer
After he won last year's Big
Ten Singles Championship last
fall, you'd think Michigan senior
Matko Maravic would be focused
on defending his crown.
But after missing the ITA
Regional tournament and several
other tournaments because of a
minor hamstring sprain, Mara-
vic has played just two singles
matches so far this season. He
wants to get back on the court and
get some matches under his belt
at this weekend's Big Ten Singles
Championship hosted at the Var-
sity Tennis Center.
"I really just want to focus on
my first match," Maravic said.
"Since I haven't played in a while,
I just want to have a good first
round and go from there."
Maravic's only singles action
came at the All-American
Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., in
early October. He won his first
round match, but in the second
round he lost to Virginia's No. 1
Somdev Devvarman, last year's
NCAA champion.
Now, with a healthier ham-
string, Maravic is ready to go.
If past performances are any
indication of the potential of his
senior season, Maravic is sure
to impress.
"Most people who come out
to watch Matko really enjoy
watching him play," Michigan
coach Bruce Berque said. "He
plays with a lot of passion.
"He may not always have the

strongest physical skills compared
to his opponents, but he always
finds a way to win based on his
competitiveness, his understand-
ing of the game and his will to
win."
These characteristics were key
components of Maravic's title last
fall, when he defeated Indiana's
David Bubenicek 6-3, 6-2 in the
final.
But it isn't just Maravic who
could make some noise this week-
end.
The tournament looks promis-
ing for the rest of the Michigan
team, which will enter eight play-
ers into the main draw and two
into the qualifying draw.
Berque said the strongest Big
Tencompetitionwillbe Wisconsin.
But with the way the Wolverines
have been playing and practicing

lately, expectations are high that
there will be several deep runs in
the tournament.
"Every single person on the
team is playing well and has a
great chance to do well in the tour-
nament," Maravic said.
Berque expects the team to
have a good showing, especially
with freshman Jason Jung and
sophomore Mike Srociynski look-
ing to build on recent tournament
success at the ITA Regionals.
Thereboth Jung and Scroczynski
reached the third round in singles,
and, as a pair, got to the tourna-
ment final in doubles.
The qualifying draw will be
played tomorrow, and the 64-play-
er main draw will begin Saturday
morning. The semifinals and final
of the tournament will be Mon-

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