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January 18, 1994 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-18

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSTuesday - Tuesday, January 18, 1994 - 5

rmming and




... .. ..

Women's Team Preview
Depth takes tankers to top of conference, again
Humphrey, Hooiveld, Woods lead quest for Michigan's eighth consecutive Big Ten title

- meet in March. Last year,
200-meter backstroke.
tries to


CAA title
r ord holder in the 200-meterback-
ro e.
"Royce is capable of winning the
CAAs in the 200 (yard) backstroke. The
r is open for him," Urbanchek says.
Senior co-captains Rodney
anTassell and Brice Kopas will be
tinted on to score points at both the
ig Tens and NCAAs.
VanTassell was a three-time All-
can last season and a member of
e ational champion 800-yard
eestyle relay team. He also finished
ghth in the 200 freestyle at NCAAs.
Kopas adds depth to a strong group
individual medleyists, which fea-
res Wouda, Sharp and Dolan. Kopas
am on the Pan-Pacific team last
ar, where he won the consolation
nals of the 400-meter IM. He also
nished second at the Big Ten cham-
o~ips in the 1650-yard freestyle.
Formerly one of the Wolverines
rengths, the breaststroke events lack
pth this season. Junior Steve West
d" Wouda lead the group. West is
urth on Michigan's all-time list in
th breaststroke events.
The butterfly is another area of weak-
ss for Michigan. Tom Hay is the core
the Wolverine butterfly contingency.
aawn All-American in the 400 med-
yelay, replaces Brian Gunn as
ichigan's number one flyer. Junior
an Abruzzi who Urbanchek says is
stly improving, will back up Hay.
Michigan has a strong distance
eestyle team with Wouda and the fresh-
en leading the way. In addition, junior
in Blake qualified for three freestyle
ents in the NCAAs. However, Blake
as unable to swim up to par due to
ro. He should provide points in the
eestyles this year.
Two freshmen, Thomas Almeida
d-Toby Booker, join Sharp to make
-the backstroke corps. Both were
ep All-Americans.
Almeida is the Michigan state
cord holder and 1993 state cham-
orin the 200 backstroke from Alma
igh School. Booker was the 1992
g an 100 backstroke champion
om Grand Haven High School.
Sophomore Shuichi Matsumoto
d- senior Kent Tschannen add depth
the already strong IM group.
atsumoto qualified for the NCAAs
400 IM last season. Tschannen has
aled in Big Tens every year.
Diving is sometimes thought of a
parate entity from swimming at the
>lige level, but the divers provide
*ary points at big competitions.
"There are a lot ofgood divers in the
ig Ten this year, so it should be a
ootout, but we will be in the picture,"
'mball said.
Senior Eric Lesser and junior Abel
chez lead Michigan's six divers.
"Lesser is a good diver... he's got a
od chance of making finals and scor-
g us a lot of points," Kimball said.
nchezmade the NCAAsthrough
e Mning meet and did a great job and
has continued to improve, but he
eds to get a little more consistent."
Lesser is a two-time All-American
the three-meter springboard and the
-meter platform. Lesser finished
ird fourth and eighth in the platform,

Just as the eight ball is the ultimate
ball in billiards, eight Big Ten titles is
the Michigan women's swimming
team's ultimate goal this season.
Having successfully achieved
seven consecutive Big Ten titles, the
Wolverines once again enter Big Ten
competition in the forefront of the
Northwestern is the one confer-
ence foe who poses the most serious
threat to Michigan's continued Big
Ten success. The Wildcats only lost
42 points off of last year's second-
place team and return conference
champions Christy Wicke (100-yard
butterfly) and Kim Paton (200-yard
"Winning the Big Ten champion-
ship is more difficult than it has been
in past years," Michigan swimmer
Alecia Humphrey said. "(Our) large
senior and large freshman class
changes the dynamics of the team."
Currently ranked fourth in the na-
tion behind Stanford, Florida and
Texas, Michigan has enjoyed near
perfection to this point in the season
(4-0 Big Ten, 5-0 overall). After fin-
ishing a best-ever fifth place at the
NCAA Championships last year, the
team is on pace to eclipse that mark
this March.
The core of the team revolves
around NCAA swimmer of the year,
Lara Hooiveld, Humphrey, a five-time
All-American in 1993, and diver Cin-
namon Woods, runner-up at NCAAs
last year.
In addition to those three standouts,
the Wolverines have one of the
NCAA's premier recruiting classes. If
anyone can mesh all this talent to-
gether, last year's NCAA Coach of
the Year Jim Richardson can.

"They're a great team that repre-
sents the university so well,"
Richardson said. "They represent ev-
erything that student-athletes should
During the last decade, Michigan
has been the only northern school to
be consistently competitive at the
NCAAs. Taking into account the ca-
pricious Ann Arbor weather, Michi-
gan has done an admirable job com-
peting with the powerhouses of the
NCAAs - Stanford, Florida and
On the verge of breaking into this
elite class, Michigan has established
itself as a force to be reckoned with
Richardson was humble in his out-
look for the team.
"We've gotten to the point where
we can challenge (the powerhouses)
in some events," Richardson said.
"(But) the parity in (women's) swim-
ming has come (mainly) from fifth
place to 12th place."
The loss of standout swimmers
Mindy Gehrs, Kirsten Silvester, Missy
McCracken, Jenny Sutton, Claudia
Vieira and Jennifer Zakrajsek to gradu-
ation could have been devastating to
the team; however, Michigan has been
able to regroup with an outstanding
freshman class.
The team lost 163 points out of last
year's Big Ten meet. Without the
strong corp of freshman, the team
would have been hard felt to compete
with the likes of Northwestern and
Ohio State in the Big Ten.
"It is hard to replace someone like
Mindy Gehrs and Kirsten Silvester,"
Humphrey said. "The freshmen have to
come in and take their place."
Led by prep All-Americans Anne
Kampfe, Rachel Gustin, Jody Navta
and Melisa Stone, this year's freshman

class is expected to make an immediate
impact on the future of the team. Al-
though, they are not as prolific as Michi-
gan men's basketball coach Steve
Fisher's Fab Five freshman in 1992,
Richardson has aptly termed his re-
cruits the "Terrific Twelve."
"They have bonded as well as any
freshman class I have seen,"
Richardson said.
The freshmen know that they are
central to keeping this year's team as
competitive as they have been in the
past. There is a lot of unproven talent
in the class and Richardson needs for
all the freshman to be motivated.
"We know what he wants of us,"
Gustin said. "He wants us to swim as
fast as (we) can swim. He hasn't ever
put any extra pressure on us."
The depth on this year's team is
likely to propel the squad to its eighth
straight conference title.
Consistently strong in the back and
breast stroke, an improved individual
medley corp, distance swimmers and a
five-woman strong diving team will
carry the Wolverines higher in NCAA
"Everyone has at least had one big
race where they showed that they could
be competitive in the Big Tens,"
Michigan tri-captain Tara Higgins
Possibly Michigan's most impres-
sive feat is its outstanding academic
achievement. Once again, the team
exceeded a 3.0 GPA for the semester.
The team had 15 Academic All-Big
Ten Conference honorees last year
and looks to be equaling that mark
again this year.
"He (Richardson) makes it clear,
when recruiting, that academics are
of primary importance," Humphrey
said. "Jim wants us to do well in
school because quite frankly, you can't

make a living from swimming."
Even the freshman have disciplined
themselves to handle the adjustment to
college life well. They have balanced
academics, swimming and a social life.
"People on the team are very sup-
portive of us," Gustin said. "We had
people there to help us adjust."
Probably the most difficult ad-

justment for the rookies is the travel.
Michigan heads north this weekend for
the University of Toronto Invitational.
There they will be competing against
the top swimmers in Canada.
The team will be working toward
their ultimate goal of an eighth con-
secutive Big Ten title that will be on the
line Feb. 19 in Indiana.

All-American Alecia Humphrey will be counted on for leadership as the
Wolverines attempt to take their eighth straight Big Ten swimming title.

Adverse conditions help fuel Stone's inner fire

Here are the Women's and
Men's Division I swimming
polls from the College
Swimming Coaches Asso-
ciation of America.
1. Stanford
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. Michigan
5. SMU

If anyone on the Michigan women's
swim team deserves that name, it is
freshman Melisa Stone. Stone's gutsy
performance vs. Oakland last Friday
keyed the Wolverine attack. Despite
having problems breathing before the
meet due to a sore throat, Stone led the
Wolverines with a total of three (irst-
place finishes and one second-place
finish. In fact, the breathing problems
followed her into the pool as well.
"During the backstroke events espe-
cially(100 and 200), I could feel my throat
juststartingtofillup. But Ijustkeptgoing,"
said the Mansfield, Ohionative.
High-caliber swimming with an ill-
ness is nothing new to Melisa. She
swam in the 1993 state championships
and the 1993 YMCA Nationals afflicted
with a similar condition.
The results?
The 1993 Ohio state champion in
the 50-yard freestyle. The 1993 Ohio
state champion in the 100 free. The

1993 YMCA National Champion in
the SO-meter freestyle.
"I think that I always swim better
when I'm sick. I always achieve good
times when I'm sick," Stone said. "I
was probably sick in '92 as well (when
she won the same titles she did in 1993).
I don'tparticularly like swimmingwhen
I'm sick, but since I was in high school,
it just happens that I fall sick and I
perform better than I would have under
normal conditions."
This performance under duress can
be attributed to Stone's competitive
nature. Her peers know her as a tough
swimmer who fights to win, both in the
pool and in the classroom. Her years in
the National Honor Society in high
school exemplify her high academic
Her swimming record speaks for
"She's a real competitor," fellow
freshman freestyler Anne Malley said.
"But at the same time, the team concept
is there with her as well. She would like
to perform well individually, but she

puts the team's interests before her
"Stoner," as she is referred to by her
friends, likes psyching herself up men-
tally for all meets, which only serves as
a fan for her competitive fires.
"I really push myself in the mental
aspect (of swimming). I'm out there to
swim the best race I can. I only concern
myself with my performance, not any-
one else's," Stone said.
Having learned how to swim at the
age of seven, with competitive swim-
ming beginning at age 10, swimming
came as a gradual learning process for
Stone. Every year she found ways to
make herself better and better, which
ultimately led to state and national titles
in high school and top-notch college
programs vying for her services.
Coming out of high school, Melisa
was heavily recruited by top-ranked
swimming schools such as SMU, North-
western, Tennessee and Ohio State, as
well as Michigan.
What made Stone come to Ann Ar-
bor? Like most, it was a certain combi-

1. Stanford
2. Texas
3. Michigan
4. California
5. USC

"I liked the coaching staff here a
lot," Stone said. "I also selected Michi-
gan because of its academics. Itwasjust
a really good school."
The transition from high school to
college life was eased, she said, by the
entire team, and especially by her fresh-
men classmates.
"The entire team has just been great,"
Stone said. "And it's helped that all the
freshmen are friends with each other.
My roommate (Jodi Navta) and I are
helping each other out. It's been great."
Melisa is currently enrolled in the
School of Kinesiology and hopes to one
day teach elementary school. But be-
fore teaching, Stone has one goal in
"I'd love to swim in the 1996 Olym-
'pics," she said.
With her competitive attitude, any-
thing can happen.
Continued from page 1
his Brazilian star.
"Gustavo is Gustavo," said
Urbanchek of his top sprinter. "I mean,
Gustavo is going to step up and do what
he has to do every swim."
Going into the meet, Michigan knew
that diving would be a key if it was to
have a chance of winning. The Wolver-
ine divers came through grabbing first,
second and fourth places in the one-
meter diving event and first, third and
fourth in the three-meter.
"We couldn't let them win any of
the diving events," Michigan's Eric
Lesser said. "We just had to make sure
someone was going to do it."
Michigan received one minor sur-
prise - the services of backstroker
Royce Sharp. The sophomore was not
sure he'd be competing until a couple
days before the meet but still won the
200 backstroke.
"Royce is back, and I think he took
the challenge real well in the 200 back-
stroke," Urbanchek said.
The first day of competition con-
sisted of unscored events. Tom Dolan's


When Michigan men's swimming coach Jon Urbanchek arrived in 1982
to take over the head job in Ann Arbor, the Wolverine swimming team was
a squad struggling to make the big time.
Michigan had not been higher than 10th at the NCAA championships since
1972 and had not captured the Big Ten title in 22 years.
That all began to change when Urbanchek took the helm.
In 1986, the Wolverines reclaimed the conference championship, and by
the following year, they had vaulted into sixth place in the NCAAs.
This jump into the top 10 was a big step, but Urbanchek knew that he
would not stay there if Michigan did not face quality competition.
"The Big Ten was no longer a challenge," he said.
The next season a prominent name was added to the slate for the
Wolverines -- Stanford.
Urbanchek sought the best and put the Cardinal on the schedule.
Stanford was the defending national champion and brought with it future
1988 Olympic gold medalist Jay Mortenson.

Urbanchek responsible
for Bue re-emergence
"(The competition) just pulled us up another level," Michigan
sophomore Royce Sharp said. "It's good to get teams like that in there."
The intensity has been there for every meeting between the two teams. The
meets have been very tight and usually come down to the final relay.
The first dual meet in the six-year stretch, 1988, brought back vivid
memories for both teams' coaches.
Stanford's Skip Kenney was amazed by the atmosphere, as was his team,
who dropped the meet, 65-46.
"I can tell you the most exiting dual meet I've ever been a part of was the
first year we went back to Michigan and swam in that old pool," Kenney said.
"There was standing room only ... just a crowd. They were all over the walls.
It was noisy; it was unbelievable. You felt like you were at a basketball game
with 17,000 people.
"They kicked our tails, and they kicked our tails good."
The 1994 Stanford meet came right after a rigorous winter training camp,
but Urbanchek said that benefits the Wolverine efforts all the more.
"You're tired and still
swimming, still racing, still forcing
tourbody to go as fast as possible,"

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