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June 21, 2004 - Image 11

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-06-21

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Monday
June 21, 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

11

Early Eurotrip for 'M' duo 'M' second in
________i - Director's Cup

An unexpected European trip isn't what
Michigan track teammates Nate Brannen
and Nick Willis want ... but it's what they
need.
The duo raced across North America for
the past two months, trying to qualify for the
upcoming Olympics in Athens, Greece.
After stops in Ohio, Michigan, Victoria,
B.C. and two in Oregon, Brannen and Willis
have not yet hit the 800-meter and 1,500-
meter qualifying times necessary to represent
Canada and New Zealand, respectively.
Instead of training in Ann Arbor for the
Olympics like they hoped, Brannen will
compete in three additional events in Europe
while Willis is likely to compete in two.
Crossing the Atlantic, however, should
benefit the pair because the faster pace of the'
international runners could push Brannen
and Willis over-the elusive Olympic stan-
dards. The next few weeks in Europe are cru-
cial because the deadline to qualify for the
Olympics approaches - Brannen has until
July 11th and Willis by July 21st.
Thus far, the road to Athens has been
bumpy for the duo, especially for Brannen.
Five weeks ago, the Michigan junior injured
himself during training.
"During an off-day run, I hurt my ankle,"
Brannen said. "Before (the injury) I was in
pretty good shape. Nothing would have
stopped me from (qualifying for the
Olympics)."
Brannen changed his Olympic goals
because of the injury.
"I'm just going for the 800 meters (now),"
Brannen said. "I was going to go for (the
800-meters and the 1,500-meters), but since
I've been kind of limited with my workouts. I
couldn't put in the mileage I wanted to."
Brw wen must hit the 'A' and 'B' standards
in the 800-meters separately and will have to
finish in the top four at the Canadian Nation-
al Finals to qualify.
Despite adding the ankle injury to his list
of obstacles, Brannen remains optimistic.
"Since the injury, every week I'm getting
much fitter and much more confidant,"

Michigan track members Nick Willis (left) and Nate Brannen (right) will continue their
quest to qualify for the Olympics in Athens, Greece. They have not qualified as of yet.

By Seth Gordon
Daily Sports Editor
In its highest finish in the 11-year history of the award, Michigan
finished second to Stanford in the United States Sports Academy
Director's Cup for the 2003-2004 season. Stanford finished with a
total of 1,337.3 points in the competition, ahead of Michigan's,
1,226.3 and the 1,178.8 tallied by third-place finisher UCLA. The
competition is meant to measure the overall success of athletic pro-
grams, and this year tops Michigan's previous-best finish, third-
place back in 1999-2000.
At the monthly Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Athletic
Director Bill Martin praised the effort of this year's Michigan
squads. Martin was at the meeting, which also included NCAA
president Miles Brand and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney, to
take part in a discussion on Intercollegiate Athletics. Afterwards,
Martin echoed the pride that he has taken away from this year's.
accomplishment.
"I think it's a reflection of the job our coaches and student-ath-
letes have done," Martin said. "I'm just very proud of theme all."
The Wolverines were ahead in the standing after both the fall and
winter seasons but were unable to hold off perennial champion
Stanford. The Cardinal have won the award the past 10 years.
To put the second-place finish in context, Martin explained to the
board why Stanford has dominated the competition, also saying that
in some circles it has become known as the "Stanford Cup."
The standings are based on the best finishes for 10 men's sports-'
and 10 women's sports. Martin explained that Stanford's success is
in part due to the fact that they have 35 men's and women's sports
from which to draw points. In contrast, Michigan has only 25 varsi-
ty sports - 13 for women and 12 for men - from which to earn
points for the competition.
This year, the Wolverines were lead by their women's teams, with
12 of the 13 earning points for the competition, although only 10 of
them could be used. When the discussion at the Regent's meeting
turned to Title IX, the federal law that requires equal opportunities
for men and women at institutions that receive federal funds, Mar-
tin lauded the success of the women's teams- as proof of the
progress that has been made at Michigan because of Title IX.
On the men's side, eight of 12 of Michigan's men's teams earned
points for the Director's Cup. Swimming and diving, gymnastics
and indoor track and field all finished in fifth place to lead the'
Wolverine men's teams.
Martin explained that, as Athletic Director, his goals are not suc-
cess on the field, but success in the classroom.
"We never focus on (the Director's Cup) as a competition," Mar-
tin said. "We never sit around and talk-about it. But we're very
proud of where we end up. It is never our focus. Our focus is aca-
demics first."

Brannen said. "I definitely think my chances
(of qualifying) are pretty good. I just need to
get some light races and hit the times."
So far, Brannen hasn't hit the Olympic
times, but he's getting closer.
Before the injury, Brannen improved
almost 1.5 seconds in his 800-meter time in
back-to-back weekends in early May -
missing the Olympic 'B' standard by just
0.04 seconds with a 1:46.79 mark at the Len
Paddock Invitational inAnn Arbor. After tak-
ing a month off to nurse the ankle injury,
Brannen ran a slower, yet expected, mark of
1:47.63 in the 800-meters at the Victoria
International Track Classic last weekend.
On Saturday, Brannen ran the 1,500-
meters at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene,
Oregon. Despite a personal best time of
3:39.05, he missed the Olympic 'A' standard
by 2.85 seconds.-
"I'm pretty happy with how the race fin-
ished out considering what I've been
through," Brannen said. "Over the past

month or so, (the ankle) has been pretty nag-
ging, and I haven't been (training) like I
planned on."
Willis's Olympic training plans have
changed, too.
The Michigan sophomore hoped to quali-
fy for both the 800- and 1,500-meter races in
North America and believed he was on his
way to qualifying for the 1,500-meters dur-
ing the Prefontaine Classic until a clock dis-
crepancy threw off his timing.
Willis competed in the mile at the Pre-
fontaine Classic, finishing second with fs
time of 3:53.51 - about three seconds slow-
er than former Wolverine Alan Webb.
Track officials marked off the 1,500-meter
mark for Willis during the mile, allowing him
to qualify for the Olympics if he hit the 'A'
standard during that stretch of the race.
But Willis was mislead by the infield
clock. He thought the clock was the rolling
time for the event, but it actually displayed
See OLYMPICS, Page 12

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