The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, September 24, 2013- 7
Wolverines forced to
earn the right to play
WOMEN S CROSS COUNTRY
For Finn, it's
always been 'M'
By DAVID GRANADIER
For the Daily
It's easy to spot Michigan ath-
letes around campus: uniforms,
jackets and the gear they wear.
But the 148th Michigan baseball
teamhas chosentotake a different
Michigan coach Erik Bakich
wants his team to earn every-
thing it is given, so he gave each
of his players one $2 white, cotton
T-shirt and one pair of the worst
blue mesh shorts he could find
to work out in. It was their uni-
form until the coaches felt they
deserved everything the school
has to give. They couldn't even go
into the locker room until Bakich
felt the team had earned that right.
"These first couple weeks of
school, part of our training is
instilling the culture we want,
a championship mindset, by
reinforcing how privileged and
fortunate we are to be a part of
Michigan and Michigan athlet-
ics," Bakich said.
For the Wolverines, everybody
is equal. Whatever they earn, they
earn it as a team and not as indi-
When Bakich feels that the
team as a whole has performed
well in workouts and practices
over time, they are granted these
"It's much bigger than an indi-
vidual player earning a maize
T-shirt," Bakich said. "The team
will all get the gear, the team will
all move into the locker room
Even the coaches, trainers and
faculty take part.
"It's big, too, that all the coach-
es and all the sports staff who are
part of the team wear the exact
same stuff that we do every day,"
said senior catcher Cole Martin.
Michigan coach Eric Bakich is entering his second season running the show.
"So they're in their same white T,
same blue shorts, and they're right
there with us in the trenches."
After the first couple weeks,
the team was allowed to use the
locker room but is still earning the
privilege to staythere full time. As
of now, it's only a place to change,
like avisitor's locker room.
This is Bakich's second year at
the helm of the team, so this is the
second year the team has adopted
the policy. Many of the players see
the unique tradition as symbolic
of a new era of Michigan baseball
and have gained a new perspective
because of it.
"It definitely helps you appre-
ciate everything because my first
two years here, we kind of got
everything, no questions asked
and last year was the first year
earning the locker room and earn-
ing workout clothes," Martin said.
"It makes you appreciate what
you're getting - not everyone gets
what we have - and it also makes
you gain a respect for (Bakich)
and a respect for your teammates
because they're earning it with
For Michigan, building a pro-
gram goes far beyond the funda-
mentals. The athletes participate
in leadership training twice a
week and "mental toughness
training" once a week. It's all part
of Bakich's plan to create a team
that's strong on and off the dia-
"It's so much more than hitting,
catching, bunting and fielding,"
Bakich said. "It's all about the
team and instillingcore values."
Even though the purpose of
the identical shirts and shorts is
to make everyone equal, the team
is still finding ways to put its own
personal touch into the routine.
"As we move forward with the
white T-shirts, we're actually
beginning to write on them," Cole
said. "Writing what we believe
in, whether it be 'God, family,
baseball' or 'Team 148,' that gets
us pumped up or our teammates
pumped up. I think that's actually
a really cool thing."
By REBECCA DZOMBAK.
When she was in high school,
Erin Finn looked up to current
Michigan cross country run-
ners Brook Handler and Shan-
non Osika. Now, after setting
a national indoor 5,000-meter
record in 2012 and almost
repeating the feat in 2013, she is
their teammate - and she's off to
a blazingstart as a Wolverine.
Finn, who placed fourth
in her collegiate debut at the
Purdue Invitational on Sept.
13, arrived at Michigan with
a phenomenal cross coun-
try background. As a junior
at West Bloomfield (Mich.)
High School, she took the 2012
national indoor 5,000-meter
title with a time of 16:19.69 after
having kicked the race off with a
blistering 5:07 first mile that was
described as "reckless" by the
Then, in her senior year, she
crossed the same finish line in
16:18.02 in a head-to-head finish
and was announced the win-
ner with a new national record.
But a few minutes later, a voice
boomed over the public-address
system to say that the runner-up
had in fact won by .01 seconds.
"That was very tough to take,"
Finn said. "But it just motivated
me to keep working, and it's still
motivating me now."
That motivation has proved
useful. Before the Wolverines'
preseason camp at the end of
August, Finn developed plantar
fasciitis in one of her heels. She But as her experience at camp
arrived at camp disappointed had shown her, working with
and upset but said that because such a strong, cohesive team
of the immense support and had its benefits. Finn stuck
camaraderie of her new team- right with Pogue, Handler and
mates, camp was one of the Weschler for the duration of the
greatest experiences of her life. race to form the front pack.
Duringhigh school, she'd sim- "Finishing in the pack gave
ply been too fast for the other me so much confidence," Finn
women on her team, so she ran said. "I know I have a lot of
with the men instead. Michi- work to put in, butI know I have
gan's camp was the first timeye. a really decent starting point
and that I'll just keep forging
Finn's usual racing strategy is
"It's W yal ays to start off strong and fast to set
a demanding pace, but she rec-
been 'Go Blue. ognizes that making the transi-
tion from 5,000 meters to 6,000
meters will require some adjust-
ments. When she hit the 5,000-
had the opportunity to run with meter mark at Purdue - her first
women at her pace. 6,000-meter race ever - her
"Shannon Osika was one of the body "froze," she said, unused
only girls I was ever able to run to having to run an additional
with," Finnsaid. "Shelived pretty 1,000 meters.
close to me in high school, so we'd She acknowledged that her
do off-season training together. fast first-mile strategy is a
Brook (Handler), too. I always strength only as long as she's
looked up to them, and now Im smart and tactical about using
on the same team as them. It's it, especially while she's making
definitely an honor. ... I've always the distance switch.
been a Wolverine at heart. It's "I know I'll learn a lot about
always been 'Go Blue.'" running tactically from coach
Camp provided her with Mike (McGuire), and I think
the support she needed to get that as a distance runner, I'll
through her injury and recover adjust to the (6,000-meter) dis-
enough to race well at Purdue. tance and like it more." '
With her recent bout of plantar If her past performance is
fasciitis, was she nervous? any indication of how she'll per-
"Oh, definitely," she said. form this season, it seems clear
"With my foot, I wasn't sure if I'd that after years of running to
even be able to run, or to run fast get here, Finn will have an out-
enough to be in the top seven." standing career as a Wolverine.
third at Invitational
By MICHAEL KESSLER
For the Daily
Sophomore Chris O'Neill got
his season off to a sizzling start
at the Wolverine Invitational last
week with a second-place finish.
So how would he top that effort
in the Michigan men's golf team's
second event of the year?
He topped it by not only playing
injured, but also winning in domi-
nating fashion as his tournament-
winning eight-under-par 208 led
the Wolverines to a third-place
finish at the Windon Memorial in
Lake Forest, Ill., on Monday.
O'Neill sprained his ankle in
warmups at the team hotel before
a practice round, yet he showed
no ill effects from the setback.
Playing with a taped-up ankle,
he shot under par in each of the
three rounds and saved his best
for last: a three-under-par, bogey-
less back nine in the final round
Monday that helped catapult
Michigan into the top three after
briefly falling into eighth earlier
The third-place performance
was a marked improvement over
the past two years of participating
in the event, in which the Wolver-
ines failed to crack the top eight.
"(O'Neill) is really mentally
tough, and he manages the course
really well," said Michigan coach
Chris Whitten. "I don't think he
hit it or putt(ed) it the best he's
ever done, but he just knows how
to manage his game, and he keeps
eliminating shots that hurt his
round or that stop momentum.
I think he just hit the best shots
when he had to this week."
Michigan has been a main-
stay in the 16-team event, which
included perennial top 30 pro-
grams like host and first-place
finisher Northwestern, Kent State
and Arkansas this year. O'Neill's
top score continued an impressive
run of individual performances
at the Windon Memorial for
the Wolverines recently, with a
Michigan golfer now winning the
Michigan coach Chris Whitten said his team is "capable of a lot better."
individual title in three of the past
In addition to O'Neill's strong
performance, fellow sophomore
Brett McIntosh finished in a tie
for third overall with a four-
"The course played well for
me out there," McIntosh said. "I
just had to stick to my game plan,
and for the most part, I did. There
were a couple shots I wish I had
back, but overall it was great."
Though the season is still in
its early stages, the sophomore
duo of O'Neill and McIntosh has
already established itself as both
the present and future of Michi-
gan men's golf.
"We're both really competi-
tive guys. We definitely push each
other, we definitely talk about it
amongst each other," McIntosh
said. "It's just great that whether
it's in practice or at tournaments,
we're always pushing each other
and the whole team as well."
O'Neill and McIntosh have
provided early-season fireworks
for the Wolverines, but the rest of
the youth-laden roster has yet to
impress. None of the other three
Michigan golfers at the Memo-
rial finished in the top 40, and the
team has just one upperclassman
on the roster. But Whitten isn't
worried, and he feels his team
will only get better as the season
"It's not concerning because
I know that the other guys -
including the players at home that
weren't on this trip - are more
than capable of contributing and
playing at a really high level,"
Whitten said. "We just need
really good competition at home
to make it feel like a tournament
when we're in practice, and then
we'll be ready the next time out."
Nonetheless, coming off a
mostly disappointing season
last year in which Michigan fin-
ished 10th at the Big Ten Cham-
pionships, the coaches are very
encouragedbythe team's opening
play this year.
"I think it was a good start,"
Whitten said. "I think we can play
better for sure, but I think Chris
and Brett will keep getting better,
and I knowthat our third through
seventh players ... are capable of a