The Wolverine


The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MAY 2020 THE WOLVERINE 35 Breakout Performers Of The Year Male Sport — Ronnie Bell, Foot- ball: The Kansas City, Mo., native played in all 13 games during his freshman campaign in 2018, but only notched eight receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He broke out this fall, becoming quarter- back Shea Patterson's favorite target and one of the offense's most consis- tent and explosive weapons. In 2019, Bell started 10 games and led the Wolverines in both recep- tions and receiving yards, posting 48 catches for 758 yards. He had 11 more catches and 29 more yards than the next best receiver, Nico Collins, despite just one touchdown on the season. Bell notched more than 80 receiv- ing yards in six games, and had an- other showing where he put up 78 receiving yards. His lone touchdown came against Indiana in the second to last game of the regular season. The highlight of his campaign came against Michigan State, where he set career highs with nine catches and 150 yards. He was named the program's Of- fensive Skill Player of the Year and earned All-Big Ten honorable men- tion from the media. Female Sport — Meredith Haak- enson, Soccer: The Maple Grove, Minn., native contributed during her freshman season in 2018, play- ing in all 19 games, but starting only twice. After tallying two assists and taking 13 shots (three on goal) as a freshman, the midfielder led the Wolverines with nine goals as a sophomore. She started in 23 of 24 games while logging 1,641 minutes on the pitch, more than double the amount of ac- tion she accumulated the year prior. She also notched two assists, making her one of just four Wolverines to have 20 or more points on the year. She didn't just lead the team in goals, but she was at her best in the clutch. A team-best four of her scores were game-winners, including an overtime golden goal at Northwest- ern and a game-winner to knock off No. 13 Washington State on the road. Her standout season earned her second-team All-Big Ten honors, and she was also awarded third-team All- North Region honors by the United Soccer Coaches. Best Team Wins Male Sport — Gymnastics, Feb. 15 over No. 2 Oklahoma: The Wolver- ines posted a team score of 416.500 to knock off the second-ranked Sooners. Michigan elevated its game against one of the top teams in the country, saving its highest total score of the year for the biggest of regular-season matchups. Oklahoma had posed U-M prob- lems in the past. The Sooners led the all-time series 17-5 entering the con- test, but the Maize and Blue turned the tide this year. U-M won five individual events, headlined by two wins from each of freshman Paul Juda and junior Cam- eron Bock. In the floor exercise, U-M posted a score of 69.400, led by Juda's 15.550. Then, the Wolverines put up a score a 67.950 on pommel horse, led by event winner Mack Lasker, a se- nior. On still rings, Michigan posted a 68.850 behind Bock, who tallied a score of 14.55 to win the event crown. Oklahoma had a slim 1.850-point lead before U-M surged ahead in the fourth rotation, scoring a 70.650 on vault. Junior Nick Guy led the Wolverines with a 14.650 to place second in the event. Michigan then widened the lead, scoring a 70.750 on parallel bars, with Bock securing the event win with a 14.750. The Sooners scored a paltry 65.650 on high bar and were behind by 7.100 heading into the final rotation. Michigan slammed the door shut with a team score of 68.900 on high bar to win the meet by 7.600 points. Juda won the event with a 14.05. Oklahoma finished the shortened campaign with an 8-2 record and No. 2 national ranking, one spot ahead of U-M despite the regular- season result. Female Sport — Field hockey, Oct. 18 over No. 2 Maryland: U-M took down the Terrapins in dramatic fashion to notch its third win on the season over a top-10 opponent. It was senior Guadalupe Fernan- dez Lacort's goal late in the first half that proved to be the game-winner. The Wolverines were able to defend well enough to cling to the lead for the rest of the game, despite the Ter- rapins getting off more shots (10 to U-M's five). Sophomore goalkeeper Anna Spieker was stellar, posting four saves in a complete game shut- out performance. The win was especially notewor- thy for head coach Marcia Pankratz. The victory marked the 300th career triumph in her U-M head coaching career, which has spanned 20 years. Maryland finished the season ranked No. 3 in the country by the coaches and won the Big Ten regular- season championship. Most Improved Teams Male Sport — Ice hockey: The team's season was cut short due to COVID-19, but the Wolverines were on a tear after the calendar turned to 2020. U-M finished with an 18-14-4 record after going 13-16-7 the year prior, but more importantly the Wol- verines had risen to No. 14 nationally in the PairWise rankings when the campaign was called off. Not only did the hockey team im- prove from the 2018-19 campaign to 2019-20, but U-M made leaps and bounds as this season progressed. At the end of December, the squad was 7-10-2. However, U-M posted a record of 11-4-2 from Jan. 1 on, which put the Maize and Blue in contention for the Big Ten regular-season title toward the end of the year (U-M fin- ished tied for second place). Several players shined this past season, including Mike Richter Award (national goalie of the year) finalist Strauss Mann, who finished Sophomore midfielder Meredith Haakenson went from a two-game starter who notched a pair of assists as a freshman to the Wolverines' top goal scorer (nine) this fall. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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