The Wolverine

February 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 55   OLYMPIC SPORTS "We have hope, as opposed to expec- tations," Bottom explained. "And what that does is it frees us. We're free. We're not afraid of anybody. What we want to do is do what we can do and be the best we can be in any opportunity that we have." Each U-M team is headlined by six returners who qualified for the NCAA Championships last season (before the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). For the men, the group includes se- niors Luiz Gustavo Borges, Will Rob- erts and Ricardo Vargas, juniors Patrick Callan and Will Chan, and sophomore Danny Berlitz. The female qualifiers included seniors Daria Pyshnenko and Sierra Schmidt, juniors Olivia Carter, Maggie MacNeil and Victoria Kwan, and sophomore Kai- tlynn Sims. The regular-season slate consists of five events for the women and four for the men, with the Big Ten Cham- pionships and NCAA Championships to follow. The women will contest the conference meet Feb. 24-27, with na- tionals March 17-20, while the men will compete at the Big Ten Championships March 3-6 and the NCAA Champion- ships March 24-27. The Wolverines' women took down two ranked opponents in No. 24 North- western (185.5-112.5) and No. 20 In- diana (174-126) Jan. 16 to kick things off, while the men split against the two schools, beating Northwestern (229.5-70.5) and falling to No. 9 Indiana (173-127). Both groups also took down rival Mich- igan State Jan. 23, with the men prevail- ing 159-77 and the women 146-107. — Clayton Sayfie NEW SEASON BRINGS 'HOPE AND OPTIMISM' FOR MEN'S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD The Wolverines were scheduled to host a dedicated heptathlon/pentath- lon competition Jan. 29-30, but that is at least postponed given the athletic department's two-week pause, as well as the Wolverine Invitational Feb. 6. Michigan should still be able to get in some competition prior to the Feb. 25-27 Big Ten Indoor Champion- ships in Geneva, Ohio. "After what has been a long and stressful 2020, we are looking forward to beginning 2021 with the sense of hope and optimism that comes with the start of any new indoor season and then some," head coach James Henry said prior to U-M's Jan. 16 Simmons- Harvey Invitational season debut in Ann Arbor. "At the same time, our student- athletes and staff are doing everything we can to have this season safely and responsibly." The Wolverines brought back four All- Americans from last season, in senior Vail Hartman (outdoor 4x400 relay), ju- nior Ayden Owens (indoor heptathlon), senior Jack Aho (cross country) and fifth-year senior Devin Meyrer (cross country). They have also brought in some highly touted newcomers, such as junior Tom Dodd, who posted the fastest indoor mile time in the world at the time at the Simmons-Harvey Jan. 16, clocking a 4:03.27. Sophomore Tom Brady also posted an NCAA-leading time at the event, clocking a 7:58.06 in the 3,000 meters. Owens and Hartman combined with senior Austin Lin and rookie Dubem Amene to win the 4x400 relay at the Simmons-Harvey with a 3:11.19, the fastest time in the NCAA so far. — Austin Fox THREE RETURNING ALL- AMERICANS HEADLINE WOMEN'S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD Michigan kicked off its 2021 campaign with the Simmons-Harvey Invitational Jan. 16 in Ann Arbor, which marked its first competition since Feb. 29, 2020, when U-M finished fifth out of 13 teams at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. The Wolverines returned three All- Americans from last season, in senior Alice Hill (distance medley relay), junior Aurora Rynda (distance medley relay) and sophomore Ericka VanderLende (cross country), as well as nine indi- vidual Big Ten Indoor Championships scorers. Freshman Ziyah Holman helped the Maize and Blue kick off the 2021 season in style, setting a school record Jan. 23 at the Gladstein Invitational in Bloom- ington, Ind. She ran the 600 meters in 1:28.08, which broke the previous re- cord by 0.08 seconds. Holman also went viral by helping the 4x400 relay team come back from a four-second deficit when she anchored the squad to a victory at the Simmons- Havey. A tweet with video of the incred- ible comeback from Michigan athletics garnered over 1,500 retweets and 5,500 likes as of Jan. 24. — Austin Fox VOLLEYBALL HAS 'UNLIMITED EXPECTATIONS' Michigan was picked to finish sixth in the conference in the Big Ten's pre- season poll, after wrapping up last sea- son with a 21-11 overall record. "This year's team has unlimited ex- pectations, and I think we can contend with anyone in the country," head coach Mark Rosen said. "We're very talented, and I love our attitude and work ethic. It's potentially one of the best groups we've had here." The Wolverines will feature a nice blend of youth and veterans in 2021, with the latter category headlined by junior outside hitter Paige Jones. She was named to the preseason All-Big Ten Team Jan. 20. "Paige is the prohibitive leader for us," Rosen revealed. "The team just takes on her personality and she is our linchpin." The U-M head man also singled out sophomore middle blocker/outside hit- ter May Pertofsky and sophomore mid- dle blocker Jess Robinson as two other players he's expecting to lead the team, before tabbing freshman outside hitter Jess Mruzik and redshirt freshman de- fensive specialist/libero Hannah Grant as a pair of youngsters he anticipates making a significant impact right away. — Austin Fox Freshman Ziyah Holman set a school record Jan. 23 at the Gladstein Invitational, when she ran the 600 meters in 1:28.08. PHOTO BY DARYL MARSHKE/MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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