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December 09, 2013 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-12-09

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2B - December 9, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

When winning it all doesn't require winning it all

There were big riots in
East Lansing on Satur-
day night, and I couldn't
confirm this, but I think it was in
celebration of my intramural flag
football team's championship the
previous day.
After four years of disappoint-
ment and heartbreak, Team
Globo Gym
finally did it.
Couch burn-
ing, naturally,
was in order.
that, or the
fine citizens
of East Lan-
sing were ZACH
excited HELFAND
about that
other game
this weekend. In fact, these two
teams - these two champions -
sharea similar story.
For years, my No. I goal at
school was to win an intramu-
ral championship. Last year, in
the softball finals, I popped out
with the bases loaded in the last
inning, stranding the winning
run. It has haunted me since.
Michigan State has gone
through a championship
drought, and to a lesser degree,
Michigan has too. I can empa-
thize. It gnaws at your soul.
So as the year started, and
Michigan set its sights on a
Big Ten title, and the Spartan
defense began its dominance, I
set my heart on the flag football
championship. Our quarterback
and coach practiced on the Arch
Street asphalt, perfecting timing
and routes. They watched film on
Drew Brees to imitate his foot-
work and vision. I'm not making
this up.
We were ready, with a roster
refined over the years and sup-
plementedby emergency alter-
nates Nithin - our child-genius
roommate, future doctor and
good sport - and my girlfriend.

the championship, but a champi-
onship was enough.
And that's where these two
stories intersect. I neglected to
mention the game-throwing
scandal that put our Team Globo
Gym in position to win the
championship in the first place.
In our first game of the sea-
son, we lost atight 55-7 game
against the Michigan football
team's managers. The team was
effectively unbeatable. So, like
the smart, industrious college
students we are, we concocted a
plot. We would throw our final
game to ensure a 1-2 record,
sending us to the Men's 'A' con-
solation round, where our path
to immortality and free T-shirts
wouldn't cross that of the man-
But how to do it? Have Nithin
chug a bottle of Jack Daniels
in the backfield, earninga dis-
qualification? Have Nithin spew
expletives atthe referees until
we were charged with the loss?
Ultimately we just decided to
show up late, but not too late that
we couldn't still play a practice
game. The plan worked, and we
won the T-shirt of course, and
you know what? It felt just as
And that's the point. The Big
Ten, at least in the near future, is
stuck in the consolation bracket.
The SEC, like the football man-
agers, remains unbeatable for
Butthere's a reason why
Michigan State didn't care about
any of that, and why Michigan
coach Brady Hoke says the Big
Ten title is his goal. It may be a
consolation, but it doesn't feel
like it.
And more importantly, I
hear the Big Ten champions get
T-shirts, too.
-Helfand can be reached
at zhelfand@umich.edu or
on Twitter @zhelfand.

The Michigan State football team, like Zach Helfand's flag football team, did not win it all. But it did capture a Big Ten Championship and reach the Rose Bowl.

But, this being the Michigan
intramurals, our march to a title
wasn't without controversy.
For Michigan State, the
bad break came in the form of
dubious pass interference calls
against Notre Dame.
For us, it was the age-old
football bugaboo: knitted tassels.
In the playoffs, our quarterback
was sent off for wearing a tas-
seled winter hat. Tassels, appar-
ently, are not allowed in football,
lest the game devolve into anar-
chy. But we survived Tasselgate

and moved on.
We then survived an opening-
round battle against a talented
group of first-year medical stu-
dents. Then we got hot and won
our next two games en route to
the finals, buoyed mostly by a
forfeit, and, critically, a second
forfeit. The finals were so close
we could taste it.
In our way was a rather large
group of grown men, apparently
in the MBA program. Several
had played Division I football.
But, much like Michigan State,

our defense carried us. We won
13-0, our first shutout of the
The T-shirt was ours. I may
have had one or two happier
moments in my life, but if so,
they haven't yet come to mind.
For the moment, I could ignore
the scandal that got us there.
Before we delve into that,
let's rehash that other game
this weekend, involving our
academic neighbors to the north-
west. Remember this game as
that time you, proud Michigan

fan, were really tempted to sing
Michigan State's fight song. By
beating Ohio State in the Big Ten
Championship Game, the Spar-
tans earned atrip to the Rose
Bowl. Also of note: Michigan
State was likely a pass interfer-
ence call against Notre Dame
away from a shot at the national
That's unfortunate for them,
but, as Sports Illustrated report-
ed from Indianapolis, that mat-
tered approximately not at all in
the moment. They hadn't won

Midway into season Wolverines
exhibit their late-season form

Michigan places
5th in Las Vegas

Daily Sports Writer
Coming off a month of lim-
ited competition, some rust
could have been expected from
the No. 3 Michigan men's swim-
ming team.
Instead, the Wolverines
delivered a series of perfor-
mances worthy of another
national title bid.
As sophomore Dylan Bosch
touched the wall Saturday in
1:41.01 in the 100-yard butterfly,
it became clear that the week-
end would be a memorable one
- not just as a return to form,
but as a meet full of exceptional
Coming toward the finish on
his final lap, Bosch heard his
teammates erupt in cheers -
the first time he had ever heard
that from inside the water.
When he looked up at the-clock
afterward, he understood why.
Bosch is the defending
national champion in the event
- which he won in 1:41.33 last
March. But that performance
was at the end of the season,
after time-improving tech-
niques like tapering and shav-
ing. Now, in December, the
meaningful part of the season
hasn't even started.
"To see 1:41.01 is just a really
good feeling," Bosch said. "The
hard work we've put in at the
pool is paying off."
It was that kind of weekend
for the team, which won the
AT&T Winter National Cham-
pionships in Knoxville, Tenn.
The Wolverines defeated a
combination of NCAA schools
and U.S. swimming clubs at
Allan Jones Aquatic Center,
competing against college ath-
letes and Olympic gold med-
alists alike. They scored 316
points to claim first place,
ahead of SwimMAC swim club
of North Carolina.
"Any time you step into an
arena where the competition
is raised, you're going to rise
to that competition if you're a
fighter," said Michigan coach
Mike Bottom. "These guys are

Sophomore Dylan Bosch won the 100-yard butterfly of the AT&T Winter National Championships over the weekend.

fighters. They raise their com- year," Bottom said. "Did we
petition level and their expecta- expect them to swim this fast?
tions level when they go against I don't think anybody expected
some of these guys." Mike (Wynalda) to break the
Senior Connor Jaeger han- school record in the 200-free-
died the high level of com- style or Dylan (Bosch) to break
petition easily, winning the the school record in the 200-fly.
500-yard freestyle in 4:14.05 But we did expect them to get
and following it up with a better."
nation-leading time of 14:39.02 The Wolverines were cer-
in the 1,650-yard freestyle. tainly expected to impress
But his stellar performance crowds and break records this
was overshadowed by the season. But they were supposed
record-breaking performances do it in March, not December.
of Bosch and Wynalda's
senior time in the 200-
Michael e yard freestyle,
Wynalda. We knew they which came
Though wouldb good; three-and-a-
Wynalda be half months
took fourth they've been before the 2014
in the 200- t NCAA Champi-
yard free- good all year " onships, would
style, he did eoar have won last
it in ablister- year's title by
ing 1:32.91, two-tenths of a
breakingfor- second.
mer Wolverine - and Olympic Jaeger isn't far off from
gold medalist - Tyler Clary's either of his NCAA Champion-
school and Big Ten record. Like ship-winning times last year
Bosch, Wynalda surprised his in the 500-yard freestyle or
coach with how fast he swam so 1,650-yard freestyle. And the
early in the season. times are likely only going to
"We knew they would be get faster.
good; they've been good all By far the least enviable task

of the day belonged to junior
Bruno Ortiz, who had to race
Olympic gold medalists Nathan
Adrian and Matt Grevers in the
50-yard and 100-yard freestyle
events. Ortiz swam his best
times of the season in 19.53 and
43.43, respectively, but couldn't
keep up with Adrian, who won
both events. Ortiz finished 10th
in the 50-yard and 13th in the
100-yard, beating Olympian
Cullen Jones in the longer race.
"They're not just here to
swim against (the Olympians),"
Bottom said. "They're watch-
ing them, they're learning from
them and they're going to be
better asa result."
With so much success this
early in the season, there's
plenty of reason for excitement
on the pool deck. And, as Bosch
and his teammates felt on Sat-
urday, that emotion should fuel
the Wolverines to faster times.
"I felt like every swim we
had someone doing something
pretty amazing," Wynalda said.
"Someone was talking about
watching the live feed, and
they called it the 'Let's Go Blue
Audio Channel.' They couldn't
hear anything other than us

Freshman Adam
Coon captures
heavyweight title to
lead the Wolverines
For the Daily
Most people who go to Las
Vegas return poorer than when
they arrived.
Don't tell that to the Michigan
wrestling team, which didn't win
any money but returned richer for
the experience. The 20th-ranked
Wolverines finished in fifth place
out of 33 teams with a score of
108.5 points at the Cliff Keen
Invitational in Las Vegas. No. 4
Oklahoma placed in first with
154.5 points. Two other Big Ten
teams, No. 10 Nebraska and No. 8
Ohio State, finished ahead of the
Wolverines, coming in second and
third, respectively.
Even though he is too young to
enter a casino, freshman Adam
Coon still drew aces for Michigan.
Coon, who was the eighth seed in
his class, won the heavyweight
championship against second-
seeded J.T. Felix of Boise State,
7-5. Coon rallied from a 4-1 defi-
cit to take the victory, completing
an undefeated weekend with two
pins. He's now a perfect 13-0 on
the season, making him Michi-
gan's onlyundefeated starter.
"He has the will to win," said
Michigan coach Joe McFarland.
"He is aterrific competitor."
While he said it felt good to
win, Coon downplayed the tri-
umph and his perfect record
despite his coach's praise.
"I have to take it one match at
a time," Coon said. "I can't just
think of it like I'm 13-0, I have to
just focus on the next match and
do everythingI can to win."
But it wasn't just Coon who
came up big for the Wolver-
ines. Freshman Brian Murphy
advanced to the semifinals in
the 157-pound division in his
first-ever varsity meet, defeating

Spencer Hill of Cal State Bakers-
field, No. 4 Andy McCulley of
Wyoming in a sudden victory and
No. 5 Max Schneider of Cal Poly.
Murphy was finally defeated in a.
close match by No.1 James Green
of Nebraska, 7-5, in a sudden vic-
tory that came on a controversial
locked-hand call.
Sophomore Eric Grajales made
it to the semifinals for the 149-
pound weight class as the No. 3
seed. He won by sticking Adrian
Avelar of Western Wyoming and
Jeremy Golding of North Idaho,
11-3, before losing a competitive
match to No. 2 Jake Suflohn of
Nebraska, 7-6.
Fifth-year senior Dan Yates
had a particularly impressive.
performance for Michigan. As
the third seed, he advanced to
the semifinals in the 165-pound
weight class. Yates was put into a
deep half by No. 5 Cooper Moore
of Northern Iowa in the third-
place wrestleback match, but
Yates foughtbackto stick Moore.
"Danny showed a ton of heart
today," McFarland said. "He got
off his back and kept fighting."
.McFarland was happy with
the way his young wrestlers per-
formed in Las Vegas. He also
likes how captain Max Huntley
and the seniors have been lead-
ing the young teammates. McFar-
land said that his upperclassmen
are the glue that keeps the whole
squad together.
"The seniors are really mesh-
ing well with the young guys,"
McFarland said. "This was a very
competitive weekend, and our
guys showed greatcharacter."
Things do not get any easier
for the Wolverines. Nine of the 12
teams in the Big Ten are ranked
in the top 10, and Michigan will
wrestle individually against
seven of them this season. Michi-
gan also will face a tough Central
Michigan team next Sunday.
"The Big Ten is the power
conference in NCAA wrestling
this year," McFarland said. "But
our guys are really excited to see
where they stack up against the
rest of the Big Ten."


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