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June 05, 2005 - Image 14

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-05

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Tuesday
July 5, 2005
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

4

14

Wolverine trio joins professional ranks

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer
Six NCAA national championships, 24 All-America
honors, two collegiate records and 18 Big Ten cham-
pionships. These would be gaudy achievements for an
entire program to accomplish over a five-year span. But
at Michigan, Nick Willis and Nate Brannen of the men's
track and cross-country teams and Lindsey Gallo of the
women's track and cross-country teams combined to
accomplish all of these feats over the past five years.
Now, the trio has decided to embark on their profes-
sional careers and chase their Olympic dreams. While
Gallo has completed her collegiate eligibility, Brannen
will forgo one outdoor track season and Willis will
forgo two outdoor seasons and one indoor season.
Although no longer competing for Michigan, the trio
will continue to train in Ann Arbor. Willis and Bran-
nen will remain under the tutelage of men's track coach
Ron Warhurst, and Brannen will serve as a volunteer
assistant for the men's program, while Gallo will con-
tinue to be trained by cross-country coach and asso-
ciate track head coach Mike McGuire and serve as a
volunteer assistant for the women's program.
While Gallo received both her bachelor's and mas-
ter's degrees in from the Stephen M. Ross School of
Business, Brannen and Willis plan on completing their
degrees as they train in Ann Arbor.
During their collegiate careers, Brannen and Willis
were responsible for establishing Michigan's place as
one of the nation's premiere distance programs.
"They've put Michigan out there; everyone is very
aware of our distance program here," Warhurst said.
"They've been All-Americans; they've been NCAA
champions; and they've been Big Ten champions.
There's nothing much else they could do."
McGuire was just as complimentary about Gallo's
achievements at Michigan, both on and off the track.
"She has had as storied of a career as anyone we have
had," McGuire said. "As significant as anything she has
accomplished on the track is what she accomplished in
the classroom. She has left her mark on the program for
others to pursue."
All three have signed equipment sponsorship con-
tracts with Reebok that will last through the 2008 Sum-
mer Olympics.
"I think that (Brannen and Willis) are going to help
me achieve some great things," Gallo said. "It will be
cool having all three of us wearing Reebok and training
in Ann Arbor."
Brannen decided on Reebok because of the security
it gives him for the next three years.
"They offered the best deal for the longest term that
is pretty good financially," Brannen said. "It was some-
thing I couldn't refuse."
The trio follows in the footsteps of Michigan alum-
ni Kevin Sullivan and Katie McGregor and volunteer
assistant Tim Broe by hiring Global Athletics & Mar-
keting, Inc. to represent them. In addition to the obvi-
ous Michigan connection, each of the athletes cited
different reasons for joining the Boston-based firm.
"They are going to get me into the meets that I need
to get into," Gallo said.
"They have no history of involvement with drugs,"
Willis said.
"(Warhurst) is pretty good friends with Mark Wet-
more (the company founder)," Brannen said. "I feel
comfortable working with him."
Although each of the athletes has the same represen-
tative and equipment sponsor, Brannen does not feel
that their training relationships will change.
"It just happened that we signed with the same agent
and shoe company," Brannen said. "We have been
teammates for the last four years and Willis and I
have been training partners and have traveled Europe

together. Nothing is going to change other than what
we have now."
Though their careers are just in their infancy, Gallo
and Willis have already experienced tremendous suc-
cess at the professional level.
At the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Car-
son, Calif., Gallo finished in fifth place in the 1,500-
meter run with a personal best time of 4:08.6 - 1.34
seconds faster than her previous best.
Willis has competed in two races since becoming a
professional.
In his first race as a professional, Willis won the
1,500-meter run at the Josef Odlozila Memorial meet
in Prague with a time of 3:37.01. Then while compet-
ing in front of a crowd of more than 70,000 at the TDK
Golden League Meet in Paris, Willis set a New Zealand
record in the event with time of 3:32.4 en route to a
sixth-place finish.
Brannen, who is recovering from the injary her suf-
fered at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, will run
his first race as a professional at the American Milers
Club High Performance Series meet in Bloomington
on July 9. He will treat the race as a tune-up for the
Canadian Track and Field Championships in Winnipeg,
Manitoba on July 15-17.
All three athletes have their short-term sights set on
qualifying for and competing in the World Champion-
shins in Athletics in Helsinki. Finland.

4

4

4

I

In her first professional race, Lindsey Gallo set a personal record and placed fifth
in the 1,500-meter run at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Carson, Calif.
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I

I

Nick Willis broke the New Zealand national record in the
1,500-meter run in just his second race as a professional.

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