The Wolverine

September 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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76 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2017 BY AUSTIN FOX T he fall season of Olympic sports in Ann Arbor will offi- cially kick off Aug. 25, when the Michigan volleyball team heads to Los Angeles to take on Al- bany. The other five teams will begin in the following days, with all of them owning plenty of hope and anticipa- tion heading into the new campaign. Here's a preview of all six fall Olympic sports, including a projec- tion on where each is expected to fin- ish both in the Big Ten and nationally: MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY First Event: Sept. 1, Michigan Open (at Dexter, Mich.) Big Ten Predicted Finish: Top five NCAA Best-Case Scenario: Top five at regionals Coach's Expectations: "We'll be an interesting team in that we have some really good fifth-year seniors, who will be the main leaders on the team, and then a mix of really good qual- ity young freshmen and sophomores who can make an impact," head coach Kevin Sullivan said. "For us the expectation is the same as any year — to be a team that's in the conversation of the top teams in the conference. "We want to come in with the idea that we're going to have the poten- tial to compete for a championship. Keeping guys healthy is going to be a priority, but we have the potential to be competitive at the top level of the conference." Top Runner: Fifth-year senior Aaron Baumgarten returns in 2017 to lead the team once again, after earning first- team All-Big Ten honors last season. "Aaron was our leader on last year's team, as he was our No. 1 athlete in ev- ery competition," Sullivan said. "Com- ing back as a fifth-year senior, we'll be expecting him to resume his leadership role that he grew into last year, along with another step up in performance. "This is a year where he can stamp his authority on the team and the conference, which is a position he wants to be in." Athlete To Watch: Redshirt sopho- more Jordy Hewitt burst onto the scene last year as a redshirt fresh- man, and Sullivan expects him to take another step forward in 2017. "Jordy dealt with some injuries through the track season last year, so the key for us is making sure he's healthy this year," Sullivan said. "Hopefully we can increase his con- sistency week in and week out to the point where we know what we're going to get from him." Don't Miss: Michigan does not have a home meet this season, but will partake in the annual Michigan Open Sept. 1 at Dexter, Mich. WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY First Event: Sept. 1, Michigan Open (at Dexter, Mich.) Big Ten Predicted Finish: First NCAA Best-Case Scenario: First Coach's Expectations: "We're ex- cited, because obviously we're coming off the best season in the history of the program [placing second in the coun- try, just one point out of first]," head coach Mike McGuire said. "We lose Erin [Finn], but we're returning all our other starters from the national meet. "We're fine health-wise, so I think we're very optimistic on the season going forward." Top Runner: Fifth-year senior Gina Sereno has already had an outstanding career at Michigan, earning All-Amer- ica honors in several track events (the outdoor distance medley relay, 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and the indoor 3,000 meters) and five Big Ten titles. In cross country, she was named All-Big Ten last year after placing fourth at the league meet and finished 30th at the NCAA Cross Country Champion- ships, being the third U-M runner to cross the finish line in the program's best-ever national showing. "She's now entering the fall as a five-time Big Ten champ, with five Big Ten track titles in the last two years," McGuire said of his captain. "She's an outstanding runner in her own right." Athlete To Watch: Like Sereno, se- nior Avery Evenson also had tremen- dous success last year — her first time in NCAA competition and at Michi- gan after training for USA Triathlon as a world team member — earning All-America honors with an 18th-place finish at NCAAs. She was also named second-team All-Big Ten (finished 14th) and All-Great Lakes Region (ninth). "Avery came to us from the Olympic Training Center and was somebody we recruited out of high school," Mc- Guire explained. "She wanted to come back to running and is an outstanding cross country runner. We're looking forward to her continued growth."   OLYMPIC SPORTS READY FOR ACTION Michigan's Six Fall Olympic Sports Prepare For Success Fifth-year senior Gina Sereno will lead the way for the women's cross country squad after earning All-Big Ten accolades in 2016. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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