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September 24, 2008 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-24

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 -11A

No longer green
to NCAA races,
Irishman excels

O'Lionaird is Blue's
latest international
running star
By FELIX CARREON
For the Daily
Redshirt sophomore Ciaran
O'Lionaird doesn't want to be
known as a crazy foreigner who
competes for the Michigan men's
cross country and track and field
teams.
The Cork, Ireland native domi-
nated the Irishhighschoolcircuit
and quickly
became a fix-
ture in the r
European
running com-
munity after
strong per-
formances on
the national O'LIONAIRD
stage.
O'Lionaird, a three-time Irish
national cross country champion,
took notice of the Wolverines
after the successes of notable
international runners, like Cana-
dians Kevin Sullivan and Nate
Brannen and New Zealand's Nick
Willis.
Those three former Wolver-
ines competed in the Beijing
Olympics, and O'Lionaird hopes
to someday compete on the grand
stage, too.
"For a lot of international kids
coming in, that's what the goal
is," O'Lionaird said.
O'Lionaird gained confidence
in the offseason by training with
Willis and Brannen. Michigan
coach Ron Warhurst explained
that few runners have the oppor-
tunity to run with some of the
world's best.
"I really got to see and expe-
rience what it feels like to be an
- Olympic medalist," O'Lionaird
said. "I was basically living like a
full-time runner."
But O'Lionaird has had doubts
along the way.
The biggest adjustment has
. been getting used to the consis-
tently fierce competition in the
NCAA. '

"Here, I have to be ready to
race every weekend," O'Lionaird
said. "Back home, I would have
to show up maybe twice a sea-
son."
Warhurst realizes the difficul-
ties associated with the transition
from high school to the collegiate
level, especially with interna-
tional talent. He acknowledged
that many international runners
are unsure about academics and
how they fit into the program
while adapting to a new environ-
ment.
"I'm trying to American-
ize him," Warhurst said with a
laugh.
O'Lionaird struggled at times
to find his stride in his first two
years with the Wolverines. After
redshirting his freshman year,
O'Lionaird had a disappointing
campaign last season, failing to
finish in the top 10 of any cross
country invitational.
"I found it really difficult get-
ting my ass kicked in practice and
then in races, too," O'Lionaird
said.
O'Lionaird said he thinks
one reason for his mishaps was
that he had to compete with his
teammates rather than opposing
teams.
To prove himself, O'Lionaird
took to front-running rather than
embracing group strategy.
"I had to find a way to justify
myself to Ronnie (Warhurst),"
O'Lionaird said. "I didn't feel like
I was doing it, if I wasn't in the
lead."
But this season, O'Lionaird
has proven himself as one of the
Wolverines' top runners. At the
Spartan Invitational on Sept.
12, he placed first overall for his
first collegiate victory. The win
earned him the Big Ten runner of
the week honors.
O'Lionaird's success this sea-
son has helped Michigan earn a
No. 8 national ranking.
The rankings place the Wol-
verines as the favorites to win the
Big Ten title and the Great Lakes
Regional.
"He's made tremendous
strides," Warhurst said. "A year
ago, he never thought of tactics."

JEREMY CHO/Daily

Senior nose tackle Terrance Taylor is looking forward to playing Wisconsin and its smashmouth offense on Saturday.

Taylor ready for Wisconsin

By DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Editor
Senior nose tackle Terrance Tay-
lor thinks Saturday's game against
Wisconsin will define the Michi-
gan football team's season.
The game will likely be crucial
for Taylor, too.
In key statistics for the defensive
line, the Wolverines' national rank-
ings are impressive.
Run defense: 12th (65.3 yards
allowed per game).
Tackles for loss: 22nd (seven per
game).
Sacks:1lth (three per game).
But Michigan's defensive line
has yet to consistently disrupt
opposing offenses and live up to its
preseason hype. Taylor, fifth-year
senior defensive tackle Will John-
son, fifth-year senior defensive end
Tim Jamison and junior Brandon
Graham - all returning starters
- were supposed to carry an other-
wise inexperienced team.
Saturday, the defensive line will
get its chance to prove itself when it
takes on Wisconsin for what Michi-

gan coach Rich Rodriguez called
the position group's "biggest chal-
lenge of the year to date."
The Wolverines have yet to face
the smashmouth brand of football
played by the Badger offense. They
have run the ball 69 percent of the
time this season, more than any
other Big Ten team.
"It's fun for D-linemen to be able
to stop the run and go against a run-
ning team without having to watch
the spread, and he's faking it here,
and he's throwing it here, and he's
throwing it back here," Taylor said.
"I didn't come here for all that.
"I came here for double teams
and triple teams and chops."
. Taylor should see plenty of all
three against Wisconsin's tal-
ented offensive line. The average
starter in that group is 6-foot-6,
319 pounds with two full seasons
of starting experience.
Wisconsin is the only Big Ten
team that hasn't allowed a sack this
season. And the offensive line has
opened holes for redshirt junior
running back P.J. Hill, whose 126.3
rushing yards per game rank third

in the conference.
To prepare the defense, fresh-
man Michael Cox and redshirt
junior Kevin Grady are simulat-
ing the bruising Hill in practice
this week. And Michigan coach
Rich Rodriguez has his first-team
offensive line simulating the Bad-
gers' line.
"I appreciate everything that
the coaches say in the prepara-
tion, but I do like the challenge
that we present from an offensive
standpoint," Wisconsin coach
Bret Bielema said. "They try and
knock people off the ball, as well
as they're doing some chop blocks
and just trying to keep people off
center. So our offensive look is
probably hard to simulate."
Some didn't think Taylor would
have to worry about preparing for
the Badgers this year. But after.
Lloyd Carr's retirement, Taylor
passed on playing professionally to
return to college and learn a new
system. Taylor said he's glad to have
a year to work with new director of
strength and conditioning Mike
Barwis before the NFL Combine

in February. Taylor lost 27 pounds
in the summer and improved his
strength by working with Barwis.
Although he has faced plenty
of double teams, Taylor already
has two sacks, just 1.5 short of
last year's career-high. But his
improved physique comes with
higher expectations.
"You may not see the sacks and
all that because, again, it's par-
ticularly hard when you're inside
there," Rodriguez said. "But Ter-
rance is in good shape. He'sworked
hard, and he's made a few plays."
He's looking forward to making
a few more Saturday, and he'll have
his chances against the run-heavy
Badger offense. At Wisconsin last
year, Taylor had a career-high nine
tackles, one more than he has so far
this season.
"Some people think, because we
went to spread, we're a little softer
around here," Taylor said."Nothing
changed. It's still smashmouth. It's
still Michigan football. I'm going to
put my helmet in your face. I mean,
that's why I'm so excited about
Wisconsin."

Summers moves up to front line

Junior practicing
with forwards Rust
and Turnbull
By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Writer
Unlike in years past, junior
Chris Summers won't be patrol-
ling the blue line this season.
After spending his first two sea-
sons on defense, Summers will join
the Michigan hockey team's young
forwards this year.
Michigan
coach Red Beren- NOTEBOOK
son made the
decision because of the large num-
ber of returning Wolverine defen-
semen. The Wolverines have nine
blueliners, includingSummers,but
only six usually dress for games.
"Chris has suchagood attitude,"
Berenson said. "I'm not mandating
that he has to be forward, but I'm
putting him in that role because
it will be a good extension of his
abilities, just to see what kind of
forward he can be."
Summers, who Berenson named
an assistant captain in the off-sea-
son, was moved to add his explosive
speed up front and help fill the void
created when seniors Kevin Porter
and Chad Kolarik graduated and
freshman Max Pacioretty signed
with the.Montreal Canadiens.
Summers adds depth and
strength to the young forwards
corps. His speed alone will com-
pensate for his relative inexperi-
ence up front and will help pace
the Wolverine's attack.
Summers has also had previ-
ous success as a forward, playing
the position at times during his
freshman and sophomore years.
He scored a game-winning goal at
Bowling Green while playing left
wing last season.
"(We're) trying to add a little
bit of balance, and a bit of energy
in the front," Summers said. "But
whatever the coaches want me to
do, I'll do it."
Summers has eight career goals

Sidelined for 2007
season with injuries
JI
Kohlmeier returns
By KATIE FIELD gling to keep up with her teammates
Daily Sports Writer at the airport as they walked to catch
their plane home.
Aly Kohlmeier broke her tibia Sidelined for six months,
and her heart in the same step. Kohlmeier, who is now a fifth-year
In March, Kohlmeier was just senior, could stay out of her run-
four laps short of finishing the ning shoes, but she could not stay
25-lap, five-kilometer run at the off her phone.
Big Ten Indoor Championships On the occasions when she stayed
when one step turned a tiny stress in Ann Arbor instead of traveling
fracture into a painful and debili- with her team, Kohlmeier eagerly
tating broken tibia. waited for news from teammates.
"I was right behind the leader, "I think Aly is an extremely sup-
feeling really good aerobically and portive teammate," Edwards said.
everything," Kohlmeier said. "My "She's been injured a lot, but she
foot was fine until this one step, always phones (Michigan coach
and then (there was) complete Mike McGuire) after all of our
pain. My coach pulled me off the meets to find out the results of
track because I just couldn't do it. all of her teammates. Even if she
I could barely walk." doesn't have a good race, she will
Watching Kohlmeier from the never let that get the rest of the
side of the track was then-senior team down."
captain Nicole Edwards. Kohlmeier is set to return to
"When she stepped off the track action at the Notre Dame Invita-
you could tell that she was just tional on Oct. 3. Two years ago,
heartbroken," Edwards said. "(It, Kohlmeier made the All-Big Ten
was) not even necessarily because first team, running 20:35 for sec-
she couldn't finish the race for her- end place in the conference meet.
self, but she just felt bad because This year, Kohlmeier is eligible
she wanted to be in there winning for all three running seasons. Her
points for the team and helping the goaland the goalofher coaches and
team succeed." trainers is simply to stay healthy.
The day before, Kohlmeier - who If she can, the sky is the limit.
was slowly returning to racing after "I feel a tremendous amount of
suffering a pelvic stress fracture that responsibility trying to do that,"
forced her to redshirt the 2007 cross- McGuire said. "It's everybody
country season - had anchored the involved doing things wisely. If she
conference-winningdistance medley stays healthy, she's as talented as
relay. Then she found herself strug- anyone we've ever had."
GOT MICHIGAN FOOTBALL QUESTIONS?
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SAID ALSALAH/Daily
Junior Chris Summers moved from defense to forward this offseason. He played forward at times in his first two years.

and 19 assists.
Though Summers may not
immediately turn into a scoring
leader, Berenson is confident the
converted defender will succeed in
his new role by adding a defensive
presence and checking abilities to
the front line.
"There'll be alearningcurve, but
I don't think it'll show that much,"
Berenson said. "When you watch
him play, you'll see him forecheck
hard, and backcheck, and work
hard. But as far as his production
and his confidence around the net,
that might take a little longer."
SHUFFLING THE LINES:With the
departure of two 30-goal scorers,
including Porter, the winner of the

Hobey Baker award, the Wolverines
are trying out various forward com-
binations in search of good fits.
Now, the coaching staff is start-
ing to realize who belongs where
on the depth chart.
During practice recently, senior
forward Travis Turnbull teamed
with Summers and sophomore for-
ward Matt Rust.
"I'll think you'll see the lines
change at least once or maybe
twice before we play a game,"
Berenson said. "I think it's impor-
tant for players to skate with dif-
ferent players and we're always
looking for good combinations of
kids that connect together on the
ice."

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: After
welcoming a large class of 11 fresh-
men last year, the Michigan coach-
es are glad to see that class starting
to mature. And with the loss of Por-
ter and Kolarik, its development
will be particularly important.
This year, with just five new
Wolverine's, the coaching staff has
less to worry about.
"Last year we were concerned
and so unsure on what our lines
were going to be and just even how
good those kids would be," Michi-
gan assistant coach Mel Pearson
said. "We're more comfortable
about what the (sophomores) can
do at this point, more so than we
were a year ago."

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