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March 13, 2009 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-13

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, March 13, 2009 - 7

Wolverines head south seeking NCAA glory

Championships will
showcase Blue's top
individual efforts
Daily Sports Writer
Despite 32 years of coaching
track and field, Michigan coach
Fred LaPlante doesn't pretend to
have a standard training plan for
this time of year.
LaPlante is preparing athletes
for the NCAA Indoor Champion-
ships, but after months of heavy
training, he said it's extremely dif-
ficult to draw the line between too
much and too little exercise.
Seniors Adam Harris and Justin
Switzer and redshirt junior Sean
Pruitt are preparing for this week-
end's trip to the NCAA Indoor
Championships in College Station,
"It's different for each guy,"
LaPlante said. "It's a psychological
thing. It's an art of having a guy
fresh for the race. It's how much
can you do where they still have
confidence, but they're not doing
so much that they're exhausted."
LaPlante emphasized how
important it was for Harris to
stay mentally fresh at the Big Ten
Championships, where he won the
60-meter (6.62) and 200-meter
(20.99) dashes to cap off his late-
season surge.
Itwas asharpcontrasttohispre-
vious meet at the Nebraska Husker
Invitational. In the 60-meter dash,
the event he is running at nation-
als, Harris ran a time of 6.76 sec-
"At Nebraska, his mind was
so'mewhere else," LaPlante said.

"But at the Big Ten meet, you knew
it was going to be a long day for
everyone else, because he was in
that zone, and if you were going to
beat him, it was going to be pretty
But LaPlante could tell well
before the Big Ten meet that Har-
ris would be successful. Harris
was named Big Ten Track Athlete
of the Year and Track Athlete of
the Championships.
"You could just sense it from
about 10 days out from how he
was approaching his business,"
LaPlante said. "I just couldn't see
him getting denied at the Big Ten
meet. He was just focused and
wasn't uptight, either."
LaPlante said he also sees the
same focus in Harris for the NCAA
meet. It also helps that Harris has
been at this stage before, finishing
fourth (6.62 seconds) in last year's
national meet to claim his first All-
American honor.
"When the lights go on, Adam
always knows what to do," LaPlan-
te said. "He can get focused the
right way. He doesn't get overly up
or down."
Harris said that with his linger-
ing lower back problems mostly
cleared up and off his mind, he's
readyto unleash his speed in away
that he hasn't often done this year.
Although Clemson sophomore
Jacoby Ford holds the nation's top
time at 6.51 seconds, Harris said
winning a national championship
from the fifth seed was a possibil-
Fellow senior Justin Switzer
also goes to the NCAA Champion-
ship meet to top off his decorated
career on the indoor track.
Switzer qualified for the NCAA
meet as a sophomore, where he

'took All-American honors in the
distance medley relay and won the
conference title in the 1,500-meter
run. According to distance coach
Ron Warhurst, Switzer's meet two
years ago was mostly a learning
experience. Warhurst said this
time around, Switzer has a differ-
ent game plan going into College
"He's got to be able to put him-
self in position where he can use
his speed," Warhurst said. "Every-
body is going to be quick. Every-
one will be fast. It's the national
Switzer just won the Big Ten
title in the mile run two weeks ago
and has changed up his normal
routine of running 65 miles per
week. He's now running just 42
miles per week as he tries to stay
fresh before facing the nation's top
"It's all mental. You have a men-
tal approach and a plan and you
have to execute it," said Warhurst,
adding that Switzer plans to keep
pace with the front four runners
going into the final stretch. "I
have no question he's got the con-
fidence. It's about executing the
plan we have."
Switzer's 3:58.86 mile time, run
on Feb. 6, makes him the eighth
seed of 14 runners. He is just a
second and a half behind the top
seed, Michigan State junior Shane
Redshirt junior thrower Sean
Pruitt will be making the trek to
College Station to participate in
the weight throw.
Pruitthas neverbefore qualified
for the NCAA Championships but
has enjoyed a spectacular indoor
season, headlined by breaking
his own Michigan record in the

Senior Adam Harris will run in the 60-meter dash in this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.
Harris won the 60-meter in the Big Ten Championships earlier this year.
weight throw twice. throw of 22.71 meters. ton junior Jake Schmitt, the 14th
He also won the Big Ten title seed.
in the weight throw, but he main- CLOSE, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH The Wolverines have finished

tained throughout the year that
he struggled with mechanics and
his best throws were still ahead of
His throw of 21.13 meters on
Jan. 31 ranks him eighth in a field
of 14 competitors. Missouri senior
Chris Rohr is the top seed with a

Redshirt freshman Craig Forys
finished 15th in the nation in the
5,000-meter run, leaving him one
spot short of atrip to College Sta-
tion. The NCAA takes just 14 com-
petitors for the event. Forys's time
was .23 seconds behind Washing-

in the top-10 in the NCAA Indoor
Championships 11 times. They
came in 44th place last year, and
Harris was the lone Michigan
runner to score points. Scoring is
based on points gathered by indi-
viduals based on how they finish
in events.

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For Saturday, March 14, 2009
(March 21 to April 19)
Many of you will be involved in some
kind of secret activity for the six weeks.
It could even be a secret love affair.
(April 20 to May 20)
In the next month, you can expect to
be more active with groups, clubs and
organizations. In particular, you want to
be physically athletic in a group setting.
Tennis, anyone?
(May 21 to June 20)
Your ambition is definitely aroused
now. In the next six to eight weeks,
you're keentodwork very hard to achieve
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self. (Be careful not to threaten your
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month ahead. However, they don't have
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(Aug. 23 to Sept. 22)
Mars will be opposing your sign for
the next six weeks. This could cause
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patient with others.
(Sept. 23 to Oct. 22)
Your energy and motivation to get bet-
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the next two month . You want a home

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(Oct. 23 to Nov. 21)
Plan on entertaining others, plus
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You're feeling playful and prankish dur-
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Tension at home could arise because
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All your cotnmunication with others
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Try to get extra physical exercise or do
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Birthdate of: Albert Einstein, physi-
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Daily Sports Writer
A rivalry is about to be
When legendary coach Newt
Loken first re-established the
men's gymnastics program at
Michigan, the team's biggest foe
was powerhouse Illinois.
For years - 11
in a row from IllinoiS at
1950-60, to be
exact - the Wol- Michigan
verines watched Matchup:
as the Fighting lllinois 10-5;
Illini grabbed Michigan 10-4
the Big Ten title When:
they wanted so Saturday
badly. 7 P.M.
In recent sea- Where: Clffl
sons, the Illini Keen Arena
have taken a Stats:
backseat to mgoblue.com
opponents like
Oklahoma and Ohio State.
But now, No. 5 Michigan and
No. 4 Illinois are the top two
teams in the Big Ten. And it's
Senior Night.
Outside of the postseason com-
petitions, there are few meets
the Wolverines want to win more
than this Saturday's.
The Illini have just two Big
Ten losses so far this season, and
both of them came courtesy of the
Wolverines. In Michigan's last
meet, the Feb. 21 Pacific Coast
Classic, it beat Illinois by nearly
five points.
"That gives us a pretty good
edge of confidence going into the
meet," said sophomore Ben Bal-
dus-Strauss, who will compete
on the floor, pommel horse, vault
and high bar.
"(But the Illini) have so much
raw talent. We definitely can't go
in there thinking that we're bet-
ter than them. We just have to
prove it."
For Michigan, it will be the
first challenging dual meet with
another Big Ten team since a nar-
row loss to Penn State on Jan.
24. The competition will be the
last at Cliff Keen Arena for most
of Michigan's seniors. All seven
of the healthy seniors are in the
starting lineup.
"They've been the leaders
since I got here," Baldus-Strauss
said. "It's going to be sad, because
we're going to lose so many of

ht features
een elite
them. We definitely want to come
out with a victory for their last
meet at Keen and send them off
in style."
The Illini won't make it easy,
and neither will injuries. While
Michigan just lost freshman
Syque Caesar - who has been a
major contributor all year - to
a torn meniscus, Illinois just
regained the services of star
sophomore Paul Ruggeri, who
is coming back from the same
The duo of Ruggeri and fellow
sophomore Daniel Ribeiro can
add full points to Illinois' team
total, not just tenths. When he
hits, Ribeiro almost singlehand-
edly carries the pommel horse
And last weekend, the Illini
put up their biggest score of the
season at home on their Senior
It remains to be seen if they'll
get the same big numbers in Ann
Arbor, but the Wolverines still
aren't taking them lightly.
"They can come from not hit-
ting too many meets all season to
just nailing their sets by the end
of the season," Baldus-Strauss
said. "They really have that
worked out very well. You can
never count them out."
And with Caesar out of the
lineup, Michigan's hit percentage
will be that much more impor-
During their off weeks, the
Wolverines focused on improv-
ing their pommel horse routines
after they had to count two falls
on the event at the Pacific Coast
Classic on Feb. 21.
On Wednesday, the Wolver-
ines held a 12-man pommel horse
intrasquad, with seniors Ralph
Rosso and Ryan McCarthy lead-
ing teams of six.
The winning team wasn't the
one with the best score but the
most hits.
The gymnasts also empha-
sized perfection work, trying to
minimize all possible deductions
in their routines.
They don't want a repeat of
last year's meet in Champaign,
where despite a decent showing,
the Wolverines fell just short of a
"Itwasn't like we had the worst
meet there, and we didn't do
extremely well." Baldus-Strauss
"We just couldn't keep up with
the scoring. Hopefully this year
we'll be a little more even. And on
our home turf, hopefully that'll
help things out. We'll have every-
one behind us."

0 2009 King Features Syndicate, lnc.

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