The Michigan Daily -- SPORTSMonday - March 32, 1997 -- 7J3
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Senior leadership key to
Michigan tankers' success
By John Friedberg
Daily Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS - Leadership is not
that important in such an individual sport
as swimming. Yes, the team score is the
bottom line, but individual scores dictate_
If coach Jon Urbanchek read that para-
graph by itself, he would laugh out loud.
The performances of strong individuals
ease the nerves for the rest of the team.
This year's Michigan team was led by
what Urbanchek called "the best senior
class Michigan has ever had." That state-
ment was never as evident as it was dur-
ing this season.
Tom Dolan gave up his last year of eli-
gibility to profit from his Olympic expe-
son and sopho-
more Joe Palmer
suffered a heart
ended his year.
what would hap-
- - - -
he swam, he knew the team was counting
on him for more than just a victory. He
had to prove that everything was in order.
The Big Ten championships saw other
seniors come to the forefront and lead the
team. Rumley put aside the opportunity
for a high finish in the 500 free to help
the team in another event .
Rumley's third-place finish in the 200
individual medley at Big Tens gave
Michigan valuable points towardsregain-
ing its hold on the conference champi-
onship. As a result, Rumley was forced to
enter a time from January for the 500 for
the NCAAs and was seeded 38th in the
Rumley overcame swimming in the
slowest heat to post the second-fastest
qualifying time en route to a third-place
finish. Instead of talking about what his
finish meant to him, Rumley would only
talk about the team.
"I was pleased," Rumley said. "It was
a good swim for me. It was good for
Michigan to go one-three and get some
Another Wolverine senior who
stepped up this year was Toby Booker.
Booker finished third at the Big Tens in
the 200 back with a personal best 1:45.24
and seventh in the 100 back. Booker
capped his season by swimming his best
when it counted the most- at the
Booker shaved almost a second off his
personal best in the 100 and qualified for
the consolation heat for the first time in
the 100. In the 200, Booker took 11th
swimming the fastest last 50 of the heat.
The heart he showed in that last quarter
of the race was evident of his season.
"The leadership of Piersma, Rumley;
and Toby Booker were the three guys
who carried this team," Urbanchek said.
"Hopefully, the younger people look
up to them and come through for us in the
future with senior leadership. I am very
proud of the three seniors who participat-
ed here and led this team. They kept us in
the top 10."
The torch is now passed to sophomore
Tom Malchow who may be the most
pressure-tested Wolverine. Piersma,
Rumley, Booker and Tom Almeida did an
incredible job as seniors, now someone
else must take over the leadership of the
Michigan senior captain John Piersma raises his arm toward the sky as he looks at the scoreboard after winning the 500-yard freestyle. Piersma, who had finished third
,nd second in the event the previous three years, also won the 200 free. He was also the anchor of Michigan's first-place 800 free relay team.
reseason losses jump up to bite swimmers
By, T.. Barka
Daily Sports Writer
r. -MINNEAPOLIS- Seventh place
was hardly heaven for the Michigan
9men's swimming and diving team this
The finish was
the, lowest for the
Michigan came in
iQth place. In fact,
before this season,
were the only
school to place in
the top three at the
NCAAs during the past four seasons.
"This whole season has been up and
down, and this meet was definitely up
ind down," Michigan coach Jon
Urbanchek said. "There were proba-
bly more downs than ups (at the
Much of the Wolverines' subpar
performance can be attributed to the
losses of Tom Dolan and Jason
SDolan, a gold medalist at the Atlanta
Olympics, turned down his final year
of eligibility to collect money for his
&edal. Meanwhile, Lancaster's career
Continued from Page 1B
"I just wanted to go out and show
,fhem this was my race, and I think I did
Reich was seeded 24th in the prelim-
inaries, but the sophomore was the sur-
rise of the morning, qualifying for the
Wfinals by swimming a personal best
1:36.49 in the event.
The Woherines' most successful
night was not over until the 800 free
relay. Michigan came from behind to
win the relay an unbelievable fifth
Sophomore Tom Malchow swam
lead and finished in fourth place, more
tban two seconds behind the swimmer
f the meet, Neil Walker of Texas.
Rumley followed Malchow and nar-
i.wed the gap by a second, which
moved Michigan into second place,
still more than a second behind Texas.
Reich swam the third leg of the relay
and gave Michigan a lead that Piersma
v ould bring home in 6:23.51. When
the times were posted, Michigan had
beaten second-place Auburn by over
"That was a sweet victory," Piersma
d. "I've been on that team since I
was a sophomore, and Rumley's been
"' a it since his freshman year. It feels
amazing to win it (the relay) three years
'This is definitely our event,"
Rimley said. "It's a credit to Jon
Urbanchek's program that he is able to
fmd guys who can win this every year."
Sophomore Andy Potts finished 10th
'nthe 400 individual medley on Friday.
otts placed fifth in the event last year
and was touched out for ninth as he fin-
was ended with a shoulder injury he
suffered this fall.
"It would have been nice to have
(Dolan and Lancaster) at the meet,"
Urbanchek said. "No one would have
beaten Auburn, but we would have
been a close second."
BRIDESMAID No MORE: A big
story at the meet was the near misses
of Michigan captain John Piersma at
the NCAA championships. Piersma
finished third behind Dolan and
Arizona's Chad Carvin .in the 500
freestyle during his freshman and
sophomore seasons and second to
Dolan last season.
With Carvin gone with a heart con-
dition and Dolan finally out of the
collegiate picture, Piersma kicked
down the barrier on Thursday by win-
ning the 500 free. But he wasn't
done. Piersma added a victory in the
200 free and anchored the 800 free
relay Friday, putting to rest three
years of near misses.
A WEIGHTY ISSUE: Last month at
the Big Ten championships in
Bloomington, junior Derya
Buyukuncu was the second-highest
scorer with 57 points. Buyukuncu took
three individual titles with victories in
the 100 and 200 backstroke and a sec-
ond-place finish in the 100 butterfly.
But that was four weeks and 15
This weekend in Minneapolis, a big-
ger Buyukuncu was arguably the
biggest disappointment of the meet.
Ranked no lower than seventh going
into those three events, Buyukuncu did
not make the finals.
Buyukuncu finished 11th in the 100
back and 15th in the 100 fly. The
biggest disappointment was yet to
Buyukuncu, seeded third in the 200
backstroke, did not even qualify for
the consolation heat, finishing 17th.
Indiana's Greg Ruminski, who fin-
ished behind Buyukuncu at Big Tens,
Predictably, Urbanchek was severe-
ly disappointed in his top short-dis-
"When you come in 10 to 20 pounds
overweight, that's really sad, and I
think (Buyukuncu) needs help,"
Urbanchek said. "You don't gain 15
pounds in four weeks unless some-
thing is really bothering you."
SCREAMING TREES: Despite a sub-
par meet, Buyukuncu did take part in
the funniest part of the meet.
Buyukuncu tied for 16th in the prelim-
inaries of the 100 back on Friday with
Stanford's Tate Blahnik with a time of
48.63 seconds, necessitating a swim-
During the swim-off, Buyukuncu
swam his most inspired race, swim-
ming a 47.97. When asked why he
swam so fast compared to the prelimi-
naries, Buyukuncu cited inspiration
from Stanford's mascot.
"I hate that damn tree," Buyukuncu
WARNING: FRAGILE: The theme
from Friday could be backstroke frac-
ture. Both Texas' Neil Walker and
SMU's John Simmons fractured a
bone in their left hands, leading off the
finals of the 200 medley relays.
The fracture interrupted a stellar
meet for Walker, who set the NCAA
record in the 50 free and the American
record in the 100 back at this meet.
The backstroke carnage was not
limited to fingers, however. In the con-
solation race in the 100 back,
Buyukuncu broke the underwater time
pad on a flip turn.
With the computerized pad left use-
less, a discrepancy between the two
manual timers of .36 seconds dropped
Buyukuncu from ninth overall to his
final placing of I Ith.
pen to this Michigan team.
The loss of three All-Americans did
affect the Wolverines, but not as much as
it should have. Michigan lost only two
dual meets all season, and whenever the
seniors were needed, they were there.
The Ohio State meet was much closer
than anyone thought it would be.
Sophomore Tom Malchow was unable to
swim his specialty, the 200-yard butterfly,
so the meet came down to the 400
freestyle relay. Ohio State had a legiti-
mate chance to upset Michigan for the
first time since 1962. Definitely nervous
time for Michigan, right?
Nope. Piersma and Rumley time. The
two seniors, along with Derya
Buyukuncu and John Reich, won the
relay, with Piersma making the finish
"I didn't really think that it would
come down to the last relay, but there is
no way I'm going to lose the last race as
a Michigan senior in our home pool,"
Piersma said at the time.
Piersma's attitude carried the team at
times this season. Whenever or whatever
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Senior Chris Rumley turns his head for a gasp of air as he competes in his last NCAA championships. Rumley went out with a
bang, notching a personal-best third in the 500-yard freestyle and swimming the second leg in the 800 free relay team.
ished in 3:50.45.
The surprise of the day came from
senior Toby Booker. Booker, who was
not supposed to qualify for the evening
session, placed 16th in the 100 back for
The biggest disappointment of the
night for Michigan was the perfor-
mance of junior Derya Buyukuncu.
Buyukuncu was expected to make the
finals in both the 100 fly and 100 back.
Instead, he placed 13th in the fly and
I ith in the back.
Saturday was much like Friday for
Michigan as strong performances out-
numbered disappointments. In the
1650 freestyle, freshman Mike McWha
was able to score a sixth-place finish in
a personal-best time of 15:09.66. Potts
finished ninth and Rumley placed 12th.
Malchow had the top individual fin-
ish of the night for Michigan as he
placed third in the 200 butterfly in
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