Erickson: Strong year for UW athletics not over quite yet

first_imgWhat a year it has been.Between toppling No. 1 Ohio State twice, a return trip to the Rose Bowl and a national championship, Wisconsin athletics has had a remarkable year.But for several sports, it’s not quite over.As the campus rejoices with the final hours of class while also dreading looming finals next week, seven Wisconsin teams are still competing.So if you find yourself missing some Badger athletics once you finish that last exam, softball, men’s and women’s track, women’s golf, men’s and women’s rowing and women’s lightweight rowing are still here.SoftballIf you haven’t already heard, the softball team is having a fairly decent season compared to its old mode of operation under former head coach Chandelle Schulte.The Badgers have notched a 27-22 record so far this season with a 6-10 Big Ten record. With four conference games left, UW could see one of its best Big Ten finishes in four years.Despite its success so far, the softball team still hasn’t achieved elite status. But if it finishes the season with a few more wins, the Badgers will have their best finish in several years, winning close to 30 games instead of losing close to 30 games.Men’s and Women’s TrackWisconsin is just entering conference and national championship meets. Heading into the week, the men’s squad holds a No. 39 ranking nationally by the USA Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, while the women’s team sits at No. 78.For the Badger men, distance and middle distance has been a bright spot this season with several individuals ranked in the top 25 nationally. Freshman Danny Block has also been making a name for himself with a No. 6 national ranking in discus.On the women’s side of the track, sophomore Dorcas Akinniyi, junior Jessica Flax and freshman Deanna Latham have held strong for Wisconsin in the heptathlon, with both Akinniyi and Flax in the top 25 nationally and Latham close behind.Women’s GolfFinishing fourth at the Big Ten Championship, the Wisconsin women’s golf team repeated last year’s notable finish. Adding to the success, head coach Todd Oehrlein was named Big Ten co-coach of the year.This weekend, the Badgers will look to make a run in the NCAA Regional round for the first time since 2003. As the No. 18 team in the field of 24, Wisconsin has a tough road – only eight teams qualify for a chance to tee off in the NCAA National Championship.But with two golfers ranking in the top 10 nationally, this could finally be the Badgers’ year to make an impression on the national level.Men’s RowingWhile I gave the women’s rowing team some special attention two weeks ago, the men’s rowing team is also making a name for itself as it heads into the final weeks of competition.With a No. 4 national ranking for its varsity eight boat, Wisconsin has had several notable wins this season, winning both the Jablonic Cup and Cochrane Cup for the sixth straight time. UW has hopes of winning another national title, which the Badgers last claimed n 2008.On campus, the men’s rowing team is gaining more notice. Junior Tim Aghai was named student athlete of the year at the annual “Buckinghams” Award Ceremony.Women’s RowingWisconsin just wants a repeat, and then some.With the Big Ten Championship coming up, the Badgers hope to capture the title for the second year running (or should I say, rowing?) while also getting faster and stronger for the National Championship regatta.Heading into the Big Tens, the Badgers are favored with their varsity eight recently being named Big Ten Boat of the Week.Finally getting to race on their home course, the Badgers defeated border battle rival Minnesota, which was the first full varsity race UW has hosted since 2002. The team didn’t want to waste the opportunity, especially against a conference rival.Women’s Lightweight RowingStandards are high for Wisconsin. The lightweight rowing team has won the IRA National Championship in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009; the Badgers are looking to get back on track this season after finishing second in 2010.With Wisconsin’s varsity eight currently ranked No. 3 nationally and around a month until it competes for another national title, UW has plenty of time to train – now that the weather is nice enough – on the water and return itself to its former glory.Men’s TennisThe team’s season may be over, but senior Marek Michalicka still has a chance to play for a national championship.Michalicka went 18-6 this season, holding strong for the Badgers at the No. 1 singles spot. He also led the team with doubles partner sophomore Billy Bertha, who went 18-5.Kelly is a sophomore intending to major in journalism. Can’t wait for summer and some badger sports? Let her know at kerickson@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

SU looking for balance between improving serves, resting injured players

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 24, 2018 at 10:16 pm Contact Andrew: arcrane@syr.edu | @CraneAndrew During warmups before an Oct. 12 game against Miami, there was something different about Syracuse’s Santita Ebangwese. The senior was energetic as usual, dancing to “Titanium” by David Guetta and air guitaring to “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, but her right thigh and hip were wrapped tight with athletic tape.“I don’t even think about it when I’m playing,” she said. “They aren’t serious at all.”A week later against North Carolina, it was Aliah Bowllan who was injured. Head coach Leonid Yelin made a last-minute decision to sit SU’s libero to rest her elbow, he said. Her one-game absence turned into two when she missed Sunday’s game against North Carolina State. The injuries are beginning to accumulate for the Orange.After reaching the halfway point of conference play last weekend, Syracuse (12-6, 8-2 Atlantic Coast) finds itself fourth in the ACC. Its conference winning percentage of .800 through the first half of ACC play is its best since joining in 2013. In order for SU to continue winning, its injured players need to return and stay healthy. The Orange want to improve their serves and digs, and finding the right balance between rest and practice while injured, associate head coach Erin Little said, is the key.“I think every athlete understands that you’re never going to be 100 percent,” she said. “Every athlete deals with little pains, and it’s just part of being an athlete.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAt the beginning of the season, redshirt senior Christina Oyawale missed seven games with an ankle injury. Bowllan has now missed two because of her elbow. Ebangwese hasn’t missed any, but is still hindered by her thigh and hip.Ensuring that Syracuse’s players are eating healthy and getting enough sleep, among other treatments, helps the Orange practice through injuries, Little said. The Orange’s post game meal oftentimes includes containers of fruit.“We do still need to get reps in practice, and it’s all about management,” Little said. “I think they’ve learned how to balance the lifestyle of being a student-athlete.”Laura Angle | Digital Design EditorDuring the second half of ACC play, the Orange will spend a lot of time on in-game situations, searching for how they “click” together, Little said. At this point in the season, it’s expected that all of the basic skills are proficient. Now that SU’s figuring out, Little said, “can we use that skill?”On offense, the serve needs consistency. Little said the ratio of service errors to aces should be 1-to-1. Syracuse holds nearly a 2-to-1 ratio, though, with 151 service errors compared to 78 aces. Little called the serving “hit or miss.”On Sunday, the Orange had six aces, their second most of the season. They also had five service errors. Even though Yelin wants to keep the number down, he understands that SU can’t lay off the aggressive serve in fear of errors.“It was inconsistent,” Yelin said after the win over NC State. “We should be more consistent on the tough serve. We have to risk, but (it’s) different because there’s a stupid risk and a smart risk.”For the Orange to achieve their goal of playing in the NCAA tournament when December rolls around, they need to find the right balance between improving and resting their injured players.It involves a lot of athletic tape, rest, healthy foods and work in practice.“We’re just trying to perfect the things that we need to perfect,” Trotter said. “The things that aren’t clicking, that’s what we’re trying to fix.” Commentslast_img read more