The Wolverine

August 2015 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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are looking for bounce-back cam- paigns, and their potential success would greatly enhance the athletic de- partment's bottom line in 2015-16. The women's soccer team finished third in the Big Ten in 2014 but was excluded from the NCAA Tourna- ment. Under coach Greg Ryan, the Wolverines had qualified for three of the previous four postseasons, ad- vancing to the Elite Eight in 2013. With eight full-time starters back, the return of fifth-year senior Chris- tina Murillo, who missed 2014 while training with the Mexican Women's National Team, and a studded fresh- man class, Michigan should be a top- 20 team this fall. Staying in the fall, volleyball missed out on NCAAs in 2014 for the first time since 2005, but head coach Mark Rosen once again has experi- ence and talent at every position, and his athletes have trained all offseason with a renewed sense of purpose. During the winter, wrestling, women's basketball and women's swimming and diving are all poised to make stronger runs this year. Joe McFarland's wrestling program placed 11th at the NCAA Champion- ships and returns all five All-Ameri- cans from last year's squad, including Max Huntley (197 pounds), who was granted a sixth-year of eligibility. On the hard court, the Wolverines advanced to the WNIT semifinals in 2014-15, and while they lose three key seniors, junior guards Siera Thomp- son and Danielle Williams form a solid nucleus, along with Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty. The nation's No. 6 recruiting class brings even more skill to the Crisler Center. In the pool, the Maize and Blue recorded their highest Big Ten (third) and NCAA finishes (22nd) since 2010 (third and 15th, respectively), and lose only one athlete (diver Casey Chen) that scored at Nationals. A freshman class that produced six All-American honors in 2015 is back to spearhead the effort, while the na- tion's No. 7 recruiting class will con- tribute quickly. In the spring, women's tennis is the Big Ten's dominant program, winning five straight league titles, and at any moment could overcome its NCAA hump, competing for a Final Four spot, while baseball is on the rise fol- lowing its Big Ten Tournament cham- pionship and 2-2 mark in NCAA play. Both men's and women's golf boast cores of high-achieving youngsters — the top scorer on the men's team was rookie Kyle Mueller (72.86 strokes per round), and the top two scorers on women's team were sophomore Grace Choi (75.65) and freshman Megan Kim (76.04) — providing the promise of future NCAA campaigns. A few programs will invariably take a step back, but there is more room to improve than regress across the Michigan athletic landscape, and collectively, the Wolverines feature an abundance of teams capable of taking a step forward. ❏ Associate Editor Michael Spath has been with The Wolverine since 2002. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Spath_Wolverine.

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