Another Busy Weekend For MU Olympic Sports

With the basketballs packed up and football on spring break, the spotlight falls on Marshall Olympic Sports this weekend. Especially one Marshall athlete who may just be an Olympian this summer at the Athens, Greece, 2004 Olympic Games. Milla Kuurto, who may swim for her native Finnish team this summer, is the only Marshall or Mid-American Conference swimmer to compete at the NCAA Championships. The meet is at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, on Friday and Saturday.

Kuurto will swim in the 100 meter butterfly on Friday. She is ranked 20th in the nation in the event, putting up a record time of 54.21 at the MAC Swim Championships last month. Kuurto will swim in the 200 meter butterfly on Saturday and is ranked 36th in the nation in this event.

"It's just amazing," said MU Swim Coach Leonard Kraus to The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington on Friday. "I think (she will) have to go in and reproduce the swim she had at the MAC Championships. She swam smart (there). She's put our program on the map," said Kraus, of having a swimmer from the last place MAC team be the only MAC athlete at the championships.

In Huntington, baseball and tennis will try to bounce back from some struggles during the spring break on the road. Baseball had strung together seven wins in a row with an opening game win at Liberty, but lost the series to the Flames by dropping the next two. 18th-ranked East Carolina also beat the Herd (8-10), although the 8-2 loss was certainly not a bad loss to a ranked team, as only five Pirate runs were earned on Herd errors. MU will host the 1-5 Vikings of Cleveland State at University Heights on Friday (3:00 p.m.), Saturday and Sunday (both days at 1:00 p.m.) in three, nine-inning games.

The tennis team, ranked number 56th in the nation, bounced back from a 4-3 loss at Long Beach State to beat the Anteaters of UC-Irvine 6-1 on Wednesday. The Herd is 9-3 overall, 1-0 in the MAC. Friday, they will host Richmond at 2:00 p.m. and then Saturday, Marshall faces one of its main challengers in the bid to three-peat as MAC champs when Eastern Michigan comes for a 1:30 p.m. match. Both days are scheduled for the Henderson Center courts, weather permitting, or at the Huntington Tennis Club (behind the Huntington Mall, exit 20 of Interstate 64 East). Marshall's number one doubles team, Ashley Kroh and Jessica Johnson, are ranked number 13 in the nation.

MU Softball, 14-13 on the season, will try to bounce back from a double-header loss at North Carolina (1-0, 3-1) on Wednesday at the Hokie Fastpitch Club Classic in Blacksburg, Virginia, at Virginia Tech. Marshall plays former Southern Conference foe East Tennessee State University and Mount St. Mary's on Friday, then meets the host Hokies and St. Francis on Saturday. Sunday is another SC foe as Marshall tackles the Mountaineers of Appalachian State University at Noon.

Finally, the men's golf team will follow the lead of the women, by hosting at El Diablo Invitational in Citrus Springs, Florida, on Saturday and Sunday. The women finished 7th among 16 schools at the El Diablo Golf and Country Club. 17 teams will join the Herd, whose best finish in this tournament came in 2002 when MU was fourth. Other schools include MAC teams from Akron, Bowling Green, Kent and Miami, along with EKU, Florida Atlantic, Louisville, Marquette and Wichita State, the defending champions.


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