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January 25, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-01-25

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8 - Friday, January 25, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

A trip home to face
nation's top teams

By JEREMY SUMMITT
Daily Sports Writer
For the No. 11 Michigan water
polo team (1-3), the stakes are
raised this weekend as it heads to
California for three games against
top-10 competition. The Wolver-
ines will play No. 1 Stanford on
Friday before taking on No. 9 San
Jose State and No. 4 California on
Saturday.
But the pressure to beat the
nation's most talented teams
might be superseded by some-
thing else this weekend. There
are 15 Michigan players from
California on this season's roster,
and Michigan coach Matt Ander-
son attended San Jose State as an
undergraduate. Eight of the Cali-
fornia natives come from the Bay
Area ofNorthern California - the
same region where this weekend's
top-ranked competitors are locat-
ed. This weekend is about friends,
family andtmemories for a good
chunk of the squad, and many
players hope to use that as more
motivation against their home
state's highly touted programs.
"Having friends and family
there (watching), you want to do
well," said junior attacker Kelsey
Nolan. "You don't get to do much
of that here."
The Golden State is home to
seven of the nation's top 10 teams.
Year in and year out, California
remains a recruiting goldmine for
coaches across the nation.
"Every high 'school has water
polo in California, so they will
have a lot more athletes to draw
from," Anderson said. "The hot-
bed of water polo is an in-state
school for most of those girls."
Anderson's ties to Northern
California surely have him excit-
ed for this upcoming weekend,
but those connections are also the

reason why Michigan can consis-
tently hang with the top talent on
the West Coast.
"You establish a lot of your
recruiting with any sport in col-
lege with your contacts," Ander-
son said. "I spent so many years
at the high-school level - I have
a lot of contacts, and thus we've
always been NorthernCalifornia
top-heavy in our recruiting."
All of the Wolverines will be
challenged this weekend, to say
the least. Stanford boasts a roster
with three Olympians from this
past summer's gold-medal team
in London - Annika Drips, Melis-
sa Seidemann and Maggie Stef-
fens - as well as the 2012 NCAA
player of the year, Kiley Neushul.
"We need to execute," Ander-
son said. "We understand who
we're playing. On paper, (Stanford
is) the best water polo team ever
put together. But we need to make
the effort to do the things we
want to do, and then we should be
able to head home with a victory
over a higher-ranked team."
A good portion of the Bay Area
natives will play against for-
mer high-school teammates and
coaches this weekend, adding a
bit of extra fuel and passion to the
Michigan sideline. A 1-3 record
following last weekend's Michi-
gan Kick-Off Tournament in Ann
Arbor may have lefta sour taste in
their mouths.
For Nolan and her fellow Cali-
fornians, this weekend is certain-
ly time to cherish past memories
and reminisce with familiar faces.
But Anderson says this weekend's
goal is purely to come home with
awinningrecord.
A few wins would be some-
thing this team is used to, some-
thing comfortable and exciting
- reminiscent of a place just like
home. .

q
I

Freshman long jumper Antonio Whitfield and the rest of the Michigan track and field team will face Michigan State in a dual meet for the first time in three decades.
For first time in 30 years, rivalr eee

By NATE SELL This dual meet has garnered
Daily Sports Writer so much hype that the event is
taking place at Grand Valley
In 1982, Bo Schembechler State's Kelly Family Sports Cen-
was head coach of the Michigan ter in Allendale, Mich. to ensure
football team, and Jim Harbaugh that there will be enough room
was just a freshman. This was for spectatators. The facility
the last time the Michigan men's seats 800 people - much more
track and field team met Michi- than the track buildings in Ann
gan State in Arbor or East Lansing - and a
a dual meet. . sellout is expected.
Now, Bo MIdligdn VS- The Wolverines and Spartans
has passed, Michigan State have met in triangular meets
Harbaugh When:Sator- only three times since their last
is preparing day 6 P.M. dual, most recently in 1999. Both
to coach the teams are excited to finally lace
San Fran- Where: Kelly up and meet on the track after
cisco 49ers Center at Grand their long hiatus.
in the Super Valley State "They are all looking forward
Bowl against to it, as is State," said Michigan
his older coach Fred LaPlante. "That's
brother, and Michigan is prepar- what will make it a good meet."
ing to finally dace head-to-head Senior Aaron Taylor echoed
with the Spartans again. LaPlante's message.

"We all just want to beat them
so much," he said.
Saturday, the Wolverines have
a chance to make their mark on
the rivalry. The Wolverines have
dominated the Spartans histori-
cally, with a record of 27-2-1 in
past meetings - including a19-2-
1 record in true dual meets.
This will only be Michigan's
second meet of the season and
the first one that will be scored.
The team is looking forward
to the level of competition that
comes with a dual meet.
"You have to hold serve in
every event," LaPlante said. "You
don't want to get slammed in any
event so you're trying to avoid
them going one-two in anything.
Every guy on the team matters."
One phase of the meet that
Michigan will expect a big per-
formance in is shot put, an event

where the Wolverines finished
with the top three places in their
non-scored opening meet. Red-
shirt sophomore Cody Riffle was
the leader of this group, throwing
17.82 meters. Riffle is currently
ranked third in the Big Ten.
Michigan has five other ath-
letes ranked in the Big Ten's top
eight, and the team will be count-
ing on them Saturday. This group
includes junior Justin, Clarke in
the 60-meter dash, Taylor in the
200-meter dash, junior Herman
Washington in the 60-meter
hurdles, redshirt junior Bradley
James in high jump and redshirt
junior Ethan Dennis in weight
throw.
Though the hype will be
aplenty - even for spectators and
coaches - the Wolverines don't
plan on doing anything different
leading up to the meet.

6

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