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January 20, 2009 - Image 10

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2B - January 20, 2009

The Michigan Daily michigandaily.com '

2B - January 20, 2009 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom I

What I learnedfrom
getting hit with a puck


Watch out for flying
That advice is post-
ed at Yost Ice Arena in at least four
places, warning spectators that the
sport they're watching involves a
frozen, rubber disk moving at high
But it's easy
to ignore such
a warning. A
layer of glass,x
netting behind
the goals and an
sense that the
action is sepa- NATE
rate from the SANDALS
stands removes
fans from the
action on the rink.
How often does a puck make it
out of the stands anyway? Once or
twice a game, tops.
That was certainly what I
thought last Friday night while
watching Michigan's 3-0 loss to
Bowling Green from the student
section. One of my friends men-
tioned during the third period how
he would like to get his hands on
a puck.
"Impossible," I said. We were
sitting in the first row behind the
glass. For a puck to land anywhere
near us would take an act of God -
or at least a couple crazy bounces.
Less than 10 minutes later, I was

proven wrong.
You see, somehow the impossi-
ble happened. A puck jumped over
the boards, probably deflected off
the netting, maybe the glass, and
knocked right into my head.
My first instinct was to go for
the puck, which was right in front
of me on the ground. About two
seconds later, I saw the first drop of
blood land on my hand.
"Weird," I thought. "Who's
It took just a few more seconds
for me to realize the blood was
As I walked around Yost's south
stands to get some medical atten-
tion, I saw the warning for what
must have been about the thou-
sandth time: "Watch out for flying
We see so many warnings in
our life that it's pretty hard to take
most of them seriously.
How many of us are more care-
ful when we see one of those yel-
low, "Caution, Wet Floor" cones in
Mason Hall?
How many times have you got-
ten to the intersection of Arch and
Packard late at night when there's
no traffic and said, "Why is it right
turn only here? I'm going straight."
How many text messages have
you sent in class, probably in clear
view of the professor or GSI, even
though you were explicitly told on

the first day of class that no cell
phones are allowed?
We're old enough to make smart
choices, and even when you follow
warnings it doesn't always prevent
that bad thing from happening.
I was watching Friday's game
closely before that puck hit me in
the head. But the puck popped into
the air, and I lost track of it (ask
anyone who was sitting with me; I
wasn't the only one surprised when
it landed in our row).
So now I have five stitches in my
head, reminding me that the next
time I go to a hockey game, I prob-
ably should "watch out for flying
pucks." Maybe those stitches are
telling me to find a safer seat when
I go back to Yost.
But one bad experience doesn't
mean you stop trying. It doesn't
mean you move from the first row
to the back of the section because
it's a "safer" place to sit.
If there's one thing we all learn
in college, it's that mistakes do
happen - alot. So what?
When Michigan plays Michigan
State on Saturday at Yost, I'll be
And while "watch out for flying
pucks" will probably be in the front
of my mind, I'm not giving up that
front row seat for anything.
- Sandals can be reached
at nsandals umich.edu.


Senior Adam Harris lost the 200-meter dash, which he won in "The Dual"last year, by just one-hundredth of a second-
Harris and Co. bested
Buck isn close races


Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's track and
field team appeared to be cruising
before a packed crowd during "The
Dual" showdown against rival
Ohio State, winning six of the first
11 events.
But the 17th-ranked Wolverines
dropped off quickly, never winning
another event. Michigan dropped
its last four events, and lost 85-77 to
the Buckeyes at the Indoor Track
Building Saturday.
"We knew when the date of this
meet was a year ago, so we have
no excuses," Michigan coach Fred
LaPlante said. "When you win, it's
a tremendous feeling of brother-
hood. When you lose, you lose
together and you have to get ready
for the next meet."
The Wolverines came up just
short on a number of close finishes
in the loss, which dropped them
to a 20-4 all-time indoor record
against Ohio State.
None illustrated Michigan's
tough luck better than the 200-
meter dash, the third-to-last
The score was knotted at 66
after Michigan finished a close
second in the 800-meter run. The
anxious crowd was ready to erupt
as senior All-American sprinter
Adam Harris prepared to defend

his crown in the sprint.
With the event separated into
two heats based on seed time,;Ohio
State junior Stephen Robinson tied
"The Dual" record with a time of
21.68 in the slower heat. Harris
then won the faster heat handily,
but finished second overall.
His time was just one-hundredth
of a second slower than Robinson.
"You don't know what's going to
happen in their heat," Harris said.
"You're just trying to run your fast-
est trying to go against a time. It's
always hard to lose by a hundredth
of a second. (Running against a per-
son rather than a time) gives you a
bit more to run with."
Even though Harris said run-
ning separately made a difference,
his 21.69 time was the fastest of
his career on Michigan's indoor
Michigan also dropped the final
two events, the 3,000-meter run
and the 4x400-meter relay.
Standout individual perfor-
mances helped the Wolverines
jump ahead early.
Redshirtjunior SeanPruittwon
the firsteventoftheday,theweight
throw, and led after every round.
He obliterated the competition in
the fourth round by throwing the
weight 20.27 meters (66.6 feet), as
Ohio State throwers exchanged
words of amazement. The mark
extended his own school record

by nearly three feet and provided
Michigan with its first NCAA pro-
visional mark of the season.
"I'm just focusing on getting
it set up nice and then smack-
ing the stuffing out of it," Pruitt
said. "Even though it was a school
record, it really.wasn't that solid
of a throw for me, so that means
there's a lot more in the tank."
Sophomore jumper Robert Ped-
dlar, who missed most of last sea-
son due to injury, won both the
long jump and the triple jump.
The Jamaica native won the triple
jump by nearly a meter and a half
(14.34 meters).
The other three Wolverine wins
were courtesy of redshirt senior
John Kipf in the high jump, red-
shirt sophomore Nick McCamp-
bell in the 60-meter hurdles and
Harris in the 60-meter dash. Kipf
and Harris both defended their
2008 titles.
LaPlante said that competing in
"The Dual" will help prepare his
team for the Big Ten and NCAA
championships this spring.
it's head-to-head competition,"
LaPlante said. "Often in track and
field, the emphasis is on statistics
and guys look at where they rank
on a list, (so) often in a champion-
ship meet, they can't compete.
"This is the perfect format to
prepare for those kinds of meets."

Rare wood-and-rubber track
gives Blue speed to succeed


SophomoreTyler Clary broke several pool and meet records, despite eing disqualified in the 200-yard backstroke, to help the
Wolverines tinish first in this weekend's Southern Methodist Invitational.
Clary runs headfirst into wall but
recovers to help Michigan topple Gators

Daily Sports Writer
Michigan sophomore Tyler
Clary didn't start swimming at the
Southern Methodist Invitational
on Saturday quite the way he had
one day before.
On Friday, Clary's first-place
finish in the 400-yard individual
medley broke both the pool and
meet records set in 2004 by three-
time Olympic gold medalist Ryan
On Saturday, he was cruising
through the first length of his 200-
yard backstroke race when he hit
his head on the wall. Quickly, he
turned over and pushed off on his
stomach, a mistake that disquali-
fied him.
But the way Clary finished the
swim, racing to finish first even
though he knew he'd been disqual-
ified, inspired the No.. 2 Michigan
men's swimming and diving team
on their way to a first-place team
finish at the competition in Dallas.
Clary shook off the disquali-
fication by breaking another set
of meet and pool records set by
Olympian Eric Shanteau in the
200-yard individual medley.
Later that day; senior co-captain
Matt Patton stood up on the block
for his race when his goggle straps
snapped. With no time to get a new
pair, he threw them on the ground
and was forced to swim without
But like Clary, Patton swam
hard and finished a close race in
third. Michigan coach Mike Bot-
tom called the two the "swimmers
of the meet," and the setbacks were
so atypical that they became rally-
ing points for the Wolverines.
The meet featured a six-team
field that included No. 6 Florida,
No. 14 North Carolina, No. 20

SMU and No. 21 Southern Califor-
nia. It marked the second consecu-
tive week Michigan has beaten the
country's sixth-ranked team. Last
week, the Wolverines defeated
then-No. 6 Tennessee in a dual
It was also Michigan's third
straight victory over the Gators
this season. The Wolverines
defeated then-No. 4 Florida in a
dual meet in October and again at
the U.S. Short Course Nationals
meet in December. This weekend,
the Gators kept many of the races
tight but the Wolverines won the
close swims.
The invite had a special format
that allowed each team to bring
just eight swimmers and one diver
to the competition. Each event fea-
tured a championship and a con-
solation final, with one swimmer
from each team in each heat. Bot-
tom's goal was to have the smaller
group of swimmers at the meet
operate better as a team and sup-
port each other.
"Today, the idea was to practice
our peripheral vision,"he said. "And
that means don't just look out for
yourself, open yourself up and-ask
yourself, 'What do my teammates
need right now and how can I help
the other guys around me?"'
Clearly, that small-team support
translated to better swimming.
An energetic group of swimmers
on the pool deck jumped as they
cheered each other on during each
race. Clary described the atmo-
sphere on deck as fun and posi-
tive. Overall, Michigan won both
the championship and consolation"
heats in seven of the 12 individual
Like Clary, Patton also won a
pair of individual events. Patton
won the 200-yard freestyle and
continued his dominance in the

500-yard freestyle by taking the
event for the third straight meet.
"The team's positive, attitude
definitely held strong," Patton said.
"With the smaller group of guys, I
think we were all really support-
ive of each other and it definitely
showed in our races. We're going
to try and bring that whole atti-
tude back to Ann Arbor."
Bottom was particularly
impressed with the team's finishes
in the tightest races of the meet.
Executing strong finishes are
something the Wolverines have
been working on in practice - and
it showed.
Eleven of the 19 heats they won
were decided by less than one
second, including the 200-yard
medley relay where the team of
sophomore Neal Kennedy, juniors
Alon Mandel and Chris Brady and
senior co-captain Bobby Savulich
touched out the Gators by six-hun-
dredths of a second.
In addition to winning the
invite, Michigan has won the col-
legiate division of the USA Swim-
ming Short Course Nationals
meet and has an overall dual meet
record of 4-1, with its only loss
coming against No. 1 Texas.
The team moved up from No.
4 to No. 2 in last Week's national
polls, jumping ahead of Stanford
and defending national champion
Arizona. But the Wolverines said
despite the difficult competition,
the victory was simply a measur-
ing stick for their training prog-
"This win to us would probably
not matter as much as a dual meet
with Texas or one of the other
more highly ranked teams," Clary
said. "That's not to say that we
weren't keeping an eye on Florida
all day, but we used this meet more
to sharpen our skills."

Daily Sparta Writer
Jumping 13.6 meters into a sand
pit apparently wasn't enough to
tire out senior Casey Taylor Satur-
day at the non-scoring Blooming-
ton Invitational. After landing and
learning how far she'd jumped,
the Michigan women's track and
field captain got up, high-fived
her coach and kept jumping - this
time, up and down.
She had not only set a personal
best in just the second meet of the
season, but also set both a program,
and an Indiana Harry Gladstein
Field record. And she did all that
in addition to meeting the NCAA
provisional mark for the long
jump, which ranked her nationally
in the event.
"It was definitely in God's
plans for that to happen yesterday
because I had the support of every-
body," she said. "You know, it was a
good feeling."
Taylor was just one of many
Wolverines in the spotlight. Mich-
igan claimed 11 first-place finishes.
Captain Tiffany Ofili reached
the NCAA automatic qualifying
standard in the 60-meter hurdles
and captured an NCAA provisional
qualifying standard in the 60-me-
ter dash. Teammate and captain
Geena Gall ran an NCAA qualifier
time in the 800-meter race, run-
ning away from her competition
in four short laps and blowing out
the field in an exciting race for
No. 3 Michigan went into the
non-scoring meet with a competi-
tive mindset to see where it stood
against the three other Big Ten
schools - Michigan State, Indi-
ana and Purdue - in the contest.
The Wolverines succeeded
despite a number of injured reg-
ular competitors. Two starting
pole vaulters, Abbey Breidenstein
and Carly Schiffer, were out after
Breidenstein injured her quad
and Schiffer sprained her ankle.
Alisha Cole, a short sprinter for



Senior Tiffany Ofii posted an NCAA automatic qualifying standard time in the
60-meter hurdles in this weekend's Bloomington Invitational.

Michigan, was out with a strained
hamstring, and distance runner
Linda Montgomery was out sick.
Physical therapy, assisted
stretching and rest should yield a
healthy team in time for the con-
ference championships at the end
of February.
Gladstein Fieldhouse in
Bloomington is different from
typical venues because its track
is banked, meaning the track's
curves are raised. Bloomington,
the location of the conference
championship meet later in the
season, and the Randal Tyson
Track Center in Arkansas are
the only banked tracks that the
Wolverines will race on this year.
After the Wolverines practiced
on the track Friday night when

the team arrived in Indiana, they
took to the change smoothly. The
inclines allow runners to run the
curves at the same pace instead of
slowing down to turn, thus allow-
ing for faster times.
The banked track at Indiana
is also made of wood with a rub-
ber coating, unlike the tracks on
which the athletes are accus-
tomed to running. The different
surface made the runners' feet
sound more like a car or horse
"It sounds like thunder when
they run on it and it is a loudbang-
ing sound," assistant coach Anne
Takacs-Grieb said. "It is kind of
like an Indy race. It vibrates and
shakes you ... it adds another level
of excitement."


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