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May 05, 2003 - Image 16

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-05-05

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16 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 5, 2003
April Phillips launches one final school record
By Mustafizur Choudhury Daily Sports Writer

As she nervously watched some of the
nation's best shot putters practice their throws
at the NCAA Indoor Championships, April
Phillips had a queasy feeling in her stomach
and noticed that her hands were shaking. It
wasn't that she was scared. She just wanted to
make the best of her final indoor performance
as a Wolverine.
Last year, at the NCAA Outdoor Champi-
onships in Baton Rouge, La., Phillips made a
disappointing exit in the preliminaries after
faulting in three consecutive throws. With that
in mind, she stood in the back of the shot put-
ter's circle hoping to redeem herself. Without
any further hesitation, Phillips launched the
shot put beyond her previous year's best
throw. She bettered this mark by even more in
her second attempt .nd secured a spot in the
event finals. Finally, with one throw left,
Phillips cleared her head, took in a deep
breath and exhaled with a mighty thrust, cata-
pulting the shot put to a school record-break-
ing distance of 55 ft.
"As soon as the shot put left my hands, I
thought I would have a good mark," Phillips
said. "When I saw where it actually landed, I
was excited. I knew I had set a new record"
This indoor triumph was just another mile-
stone in the senior's illustrious career at Michi-
gan. In her four years as a member of the track

and field program, Phillips has broken numer-
ous school records in three different events
(weight throw, shot put and hammer throw),
received an All-America honor in the hammer
throw, earned All-Big Ten honors three times
and won two individual Big Ten champi-
onships. She has also helped the team bring
home an outdoor and two consecutive indoor
Big Ten titles. All of this coming from an ath-
lete who was forced to walk-on.
"I just wanted to find a place on the team,"
Phillips said. "I didn't know what to expect of
myself. Every year, I've reset my goals and
I've met them."
Phillips recalls having always been highly
competitive. As a youngster, she would often
cry out of dissatisfaction with herself for not
winning spelling bees or performing well in a
gymnastics routine. Phillips developed her
competitiveness through a passion for dancing,
which she trained for until adolescence.
"April is very self-motivated," Phillips'
mother Diana said. "Whatever she did, she
had to work at it until she did her best."
Phillips didn't get involved with track and
field until her brother - a state qualifying
discus thrower - persuaded her to shot put
and high jump in high school. Under his
encouragement, April became a state champi-
on shot putter.

"This (sport) is my relaxation," Phillips
said. "It's a good way to (use) energy and
exert frustration. Anything that I do, I try to
do the best that I can. I just feel that there is
no point in doing something if you're not
going to try as hard as you can to maximize
your potential."
Phillips, a tri-captain on the team, attributes
her success to the support of her parents. Before
the aforementioned NCAA Indoor Champi-
onships in Fayetteville, Ark. last March, she told
her parents not to travel to the meet because she
was afraid that they would make her nervous.
She didn't want them to drive hundreds of miles
to disappoint them. The family agreed, but later
surprised her by making the trip anyways. Per-
haps this support motivated Phillips to set a new
school record that day.
Phillips' coaches have also helped her
mature as an athlete. Their efforts have made
her one of the top field athletes in the nation.
"She's the backbone of our throwing
events," Michigan coach James Henry said.
"Even though April's one of the best members
of our team, she's very modest and the other
athletes respect her because she sets an exam-
ple as to what a good student-athlete should
be like. I don't think we would have been Big
Ten champs the last couple of seasons without
April's athleticism."

Senior April Phillips owns four Michigan throwing records,
including the hammer which she set Saturday in Columbus.

Continued from Page 14
tied for 25th overall with his four-
round total of 294 - led the Wolver-
ines most of the weekend. He shot a
one-under par 70 in round two.
"The guys proved to themselves that
they can compete," Sapp said. "The
nice thing about this tournament is that
everyone on the team played at least
one really good round."
A few of the golfers shot season and

career bests despite having very little
experience with postseason play. The
team, comprised of two freshmen, one
sophomore and two juniors, had three
golfers who had never been to the Big
Ten Championship.
Sapp explained that playing well in
this tournament leaves the team feeling
optimistic for next season. 4
"This really prepares us well for
next season," Sapp said. "We have high
expectations for next season and the
seasons following."

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