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September 26, 2014 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-26

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8A -- Friday, September 26, 2014 S p o rt

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'M'enters BiG play

Michigan cross country coach Kevin Sullivan is the program's most decorated runner, having won 16 Big Ten titles.
Sullivan returns e

worst re
time to i
Daily Spor
In the first fir
season, the Mic
team has seen
mostly new
opponents. The
played a trio
of unfamiliar
teams in
a pair of
opponents in
the ACC and
two teams in
Michigan will
return to fami]
starts Big Ten pla
The Wolverin
will travel to
Indiana for
a pair of Big
Ten matches
against No. 15
Purdue (10-2)
and Indiana
(9-3) on Friday
and Saturday
The Big
Ten has

ies have season, which is still pretty
early," Rosen said. "I think
'cord in that any time we can play good
teams, it can make us better. It
nce, but should be good competition that
will force us to play at a really
improve a_ level."
But conference openers and
EW KIPNIS road matches haven't boded well
ts Writer for Michigan. The Wolverines
are 14-18 in Big Ten openers
ve weeks of the and are 0-3 on the opposing
higan volleyball teams' home courts this season,
compared to a 3-2 home record
Mjchigan and 2-0 neutral-site record.
Michigan is coming off what
at Purdue, Rosen considers its best match
Indiana of the season: a straight-set
Matchup: win over Eastern Michigan last
Indiana 9-3 Saturday. That alone is reason
Purdue 10-2; for optimism, but at the same
Michigan s-5 time, the Wolverines had one
When: of their worst matches of the
Friday 7 P.M., season Friday night in a four-set
Saturday loss to Kansas State.
7 P.M. "We have seen both sides of it
TV: BTN+ pretty recently, but we have got
(Friday) to make sure we are being more
consistent on the good side and
not the other side," Rosen said.
liarity when it "Certainly, we haven't been as
y. consistent as we wanted to be,
es (5-5 overall) and there have been matches
we would have
loved to play
better and
"W e have gotto execute better,
but I think we
make sure we are moving
are being more direction"good
consistent." But
*Michigan still
has yet to have
its entire team
on the court

part of the season so for has
been setting a consistent lineup.
Finding the right combination
of players and system to use is
something that Rosen has been
constantly changing all season.
"We certainly want to try to
stabilize what we are doing with
our lineup and stabilize what we
are doing with our personnel,"
Rosen said. "I think that will
help us be more consistent."
Staying within their style of
play is key for the Wolverines
as they enter this weekend's
Purdue will challenge
Michigan with left-handed
outside hitter Annie Drews,
who had a match-high 12 kills
in the Boilermakers' last win
against Notre Dame. She also
leads the team with an average
of 4.15 kills per set.
"Drews is definitely someone
that takes a lot of swings for
them, and she has is a very
effective player for them," Rosen
said. "They have other good
players around her, and she
is someone who is going to be
impactful in the match."
Indiana is a strong team as
well, with dominant middle
blockers and defensive specialist
Country Harnish averaging 4.78
digs per.set. on offense, outside
hitter AmeliaAnderson leads the
Hoosiers with 3.39 kills per set.
Although Big Ten play may
be a familiar time of the season
for the Wolverines, the two
opening matches are extremely
important as they try to
climb out of a hold they aren't
particularly familiar with:
having the worst record in the
Big Ten.


Daily Sports Writer
When Kevin Sullivan ran on
the track in the 1990s, he was
almost always being followed by
other runners.
The most decorated runner
in Michigan history constantly
led the pack, winning 16 Big
Ten championships, 14 NCAA
championships and eight Big
Ten Athlete of the Year Awards
over his four years in cross
country and track and field.
This year, Sullivan returns
to the program in which he
found the bulk of his success in
another leadership role - as the
head coach of the men's cross
country team.
Coaching isn't new for
Sullivan, as he served as
a volunteer assistant for
Michigan, Illinois and Florida
State. But he has always wanted
to return to Michigan in the top
position, and on July 14, he got
the opportunity.
"From the time I graduated
as an athlete, basically the first
thing I did was continue here as
a volunteer coach with (former
Michigan cross country coach
Ron Warhurst)," Sullivan said.
"The goal and the idea all along
was that this was a job I wanted
to eventually graduate into."
His path back to Michigan
hasn't been as clearly laid out
as the courses he used to run.
In 2008, the job was open, but
Sullivan didn't feel the timing
was right because he had
the chance to start his own
business. Instead, he opened
Capital City Runners, a full-
service specialty running store
in Tallahassee, Florida.
He worked as an analyst
for Big Ten Network and as an
editorial research assistant for
Ontario Sports TV during the
2012 Olympics. However, there
was always something pulling
him back to Michigan.
This summer, when the
position opened up again,
Sullivan decided to seize the
moment, because he didn't know
when it might become available

a third time.
"I had such great experiences
here as an athlete that I
wanted to be able to come back
and be a part of seeing a lot
of other athletes have those
same experiences," he said.
"From winning individual
Big Ten championships,
to team championships, to
All-Americans, to national
champions, I want to be able to
help guide our athletes to reach
those same milestones."
As an athlete, Sullivan was
able to focus on improving
himself, but now he has new
pressure and responsibility.
He has to think about the team
and the 28 runners who must
simultaneously perform their
best in order to succeed.
One of Sullivan's favorite
memories as a Michigan athlete
was his distance medley relay
NCAA title. It wasn't just about
himself, but the group work that
he relished, making coaching a
natural position for Sullivan.
Now, as a coach, in order to
have the entire team firing at
the same time, Sullivan has
focused on making sure each
runner is versatile, mimicking
his skill set while at Michigan.
Sullivan has stressed that
adaptability to his runners.
"It is important that as a
coaching staff and as a track and
field team that we remember we
are not just about running well
in cross country," he said. "We
are not just about trying to run
well on the track. We have got
to do both those as efficiently as
While the team already has a
very strong distance team on the
cross country side with a number
of athletes who can run the 5K,
10K and 3K steeple chase at a
high level, Sullivan is working
on reviving some of the middle-
distance traditions at Michigan.
Under former coach Alex
Gibby, training had more
of a mileage-oriented goal,
meaning the team put in extra
miles to build strength in the
longer races. Now, there's an
additional emphasis on mid-

race tactics along with the
long-distance training, making
practices more balanced.
"In terms of the program in
general, the obvious change was
the head coach," said fifth-year
senior James Yuan. "We're the
same people on the same team,
and working toward the same
goal: to be Big Ten champs and
to improve our national ranking.
With Coach (Sullivan) coming
in, that was just a re-emphasis
on the positive direction we
want to take with the program.
Everyone was already on board,
so that made that particular
change particularly easy."
The Michigan program
was on the rise during Gibby's
last three years in Ann Arbor,
finishing eighth in the Big Ten in
2010, to tied for third in 2011, to
second the last two years.
While a fall in the standings
could be feasible with a team
consisting of 15 rookie runners,
Sullivan believes there is cause
for optimism.
"I think that even though
maybe some guys were
apprehensive about the coaching
change, they realized I am not
coming in not knowing how to
perform at a high level," Sullivan
said. "I bringa lot of experience
just from my own competitive
background and some of the
coaches I worked under, so
I think that has built some
confidence in the team and some
trust that maybe would have
taken a little longer if it had been
someone else that had come in
here and taken over."
Michigan is looking to take
the step from second to first in
the Big Ten. It will be a tough
jump, with Indiana returning
most of its scorers from its
championship team last year
and Wisconsin returning some
of its leaders fromitsthird-place
team, but Sullivan is working on
instilling the mentality of being
Though Sullivan is no longer
running the courses, he'll be
running through his athletes'
minds, moldingthem to replicate
the success he once had.


historically been a powerhouse
for volleyball, with two finalists
fromthe 2013 NCAA Tournament
hailing from the conference. But
Michigan coach Mark Rosen has
never shied away from that level
of competition.
"We are in week five of the

at the same time due to injuries
and illnesses. Senior setter Lexi
Dannemiller has yet to play in
a match this season, and the
Wolverines are just starting
to return other players from
Rosen admitted the hardest

Wolverines host Spartans


Michigan boasts
second-best record
in the Big Ten
For the Daily
The Michigan women's soccer
team is set to host Michigan
State on Saturday in what could
prove to be a turning point for
both teams, which come into the
fixture under
completely MSU at
circumstances. Michigan
The Matchup:
Wolverines MSU 0-3-1;
(3-1-0) will Michigan
have their 3-1-0
sights set on When:
the top of the Saturday
standings this 7 P.M.
weekend, as Where:
they boast the U-M Soccer
second-best Stadium Arena
record in the
Big Ten behind
Iowa and Penn State.
The Spartans (0-3-1), on
the other hand, haven't quite
lived up to expectations. Yet to
register a win in the Big Ten,
Michigan State will be fighting
to stay in the conference race.
"They are a good team that's
just been unlucky this season,
they lost three games by just




The Michigan women's soccer team hop
back in them."
Having played nine different
starting lineups in their first 10
games, the Wolverines might be
able to send out their strongest
starting lineup without fear of

one goal," said
Michigan coach
Greg Ryan.
On the other
side of the field,
the Wolverines'
winning streak
was brought
to an end
last weekend
at Rutgers,
but Ryan
downplayed the

scoring 15
"The look like goals in its
first seven
games of
they have new the season,
life back Michigan
lifeback State has
. efailed to
i them ." score since
it played
two weeks

es to rebound from a loss to Rutgers.
With Ryan favoring a counter-
attacking 5-3-2 formation,
which utilizes the pace of the
team's wingers and wing-backs,
Michigan will almost certainly
have quite a few chances on goal.
"These formations have been
working well for us so far," Ryan
said. "Even though we aren't
yet sure exactly how we'll play,
you can expect something along
those lines."
At the end of the day, all
statistics and prior matches go
out the window when a rivalry is
With both teams having
something to prove in the Big
Ten as well as in the rivalry,
Saturday night's game is bound
to be a thriller.

"We were just really fatigued
by the time we played Rutgers,"
Ryan said. "We've only had two-
game weekends so far, and it's
tiring. In fact, we gave the girls
two days off after the game, and
they look like they have new life

Michigan redshirt freshman
forward Ani Sarkisian has hit
a slump of her own. Having not
scored since bagging three goals
over two games, on Sept. 9-11,
she too will be looking to break
her cold streak.




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