The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2018 Michigan's basketball team wasn't the only stellar squad in town. Here's the best of the rest. 2. Hockey — Mel Pearson's first year behind the bench resulted in a Frozen Four berth and steady improvement as the year progressed. The Wolverines finished 22-15-3 after picking it up in February, winning seven straight at one point and nine of 10 before losing to Notre Dame (4-3) in a heart- breaking national semifinal. The Irish scored with six seconds remaining to end U-M's tournament run. 3. Wrestling — The grapplers may have finished third in the Big Ten — for both the regular season and conference tourna- ment — but it is the best league in the sport by a mile. The top three finishers at the NCAA Championships hailed from the Big Ten, while U-M tied NC State for fourth place. Still, the Wolverines' finish at the conference meet was its highest since 2009, and it brought home a team trophy from nationals for the first time since 2005. Half of the 10 starters earned All-America honors, which tied for the second most in program history, and all five placed among the top five at their weight class. U-M boasted five NCAA semifinalists for just the second time in history, and the first time came in 1929 — when no weight class included more than 10 grapplers. 4. Swimming and Diving — An 8-1 regular season (6-1 Big Ten) was followed by a runner-up finish at a conference cham- pionship meet that came down to the wire. However, this was another U-M squad that saved its best for last — 15 different swimmers scored NCAA points to power the Wolverines to an eighth-place showing, the program's first top-10 finish in three years. Michigan more than doubled its NCAA point total from a year ago, while the unit combined for eight All-America lau- rels, plus another 12 All-America honorable mentions. 5. Cross Country — Kevin Sullivan's team, led by fifth-year senior Ben Flanagan, finished 10th at the NCAA Champion- ships and won the Big Ten title despite being unranked at the start of the campaign. Flanagan placed 20th at nationals to earn first-team All-America honors, the league's only one of four outdoor track national champion distance runners who earned the laurel in cross country. This spring's 10,000-meter NCAA champ paced U-M in every cross country meet and also won the regional title, but it was a team effort that led to the conference crown — the Wolver- ines became the first squad since Indiana in 2013 to have all seven runners finish among the top 25 at the Big Ten meet. — Chris Balas "It's crazy to say I played in the last possible game of my college career as a senior. "We didn't get the outcome we wanted, but we played in the very last game and not a lot of people can say that." Wagner, meanwhile, said he felt like "a genius" in deciding to go to Michi- gan several years ago when many in Germany told him he was making a mistake. Beilein was there with him in Brooklyn during the draft, and the coach realized just how big his program had become when several people noticed him on the way out. "I realize it comes with the terri- tory a little bit," he said. "But I want this program to be so much about our players and not about the coaching staff, particularly me. I'm not comfort- able with it, but I do realize now … a lot more people know who I am than I think." Success will do that. It also raises expectations, which will be high de- spite the loss of three starters (count- ing part-timer Robinson, who started 19 contests and finished fourth on the team in scoring) again. Beilein wouldn't have it any other way. "We're excited about last year and seeing those three guys graduate — Austin [Hatch, who stayed with the team as a student assistant after taking a medical scholarship], Muhammad and Duncan, and Jaaron Simmons, who signed with a team in Switzer- land," Beilein said. "We'll usher in the new guys and hopefully can be as successful in this era of basketball as we were in this past one that came after the championship in 2014. "I don't know if we'll be back to where we were in 2015 and '16 [when Michigan went 39-29]. I hope not. Whatever it is, we're just going to try and grow it again and try and do some of the special things we were able to do these past couple seasons." ❏ Junior Moritz Wagner led the team with 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game before being drafted 25th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY Filling Out The Top Five Male Teams

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