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March 27, 2000 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-27

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 27, 2000 - 78

iciliano stakes his claim
'M' swimmer answers newcomer's challenge

By Benjamin Singer
Daily Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS - "My parents
had me in the water since day one,"
sophomore Tim Siciliano said.
It seems like he hasn't dried off
since.
Born and raised in San Marcos,
Calif., just outside San Diego,
Siciliano is no stranger to the ocean.
He spends his time fishing, surfing,
scuba diving, and of course, swim-
ming.
With the NCAA Championships in
Minnesota - the land of 10,000
lakes - the most important body of
water last weekend was the
*niversity Aquatic Center.
His parents were not there to see
him, since they made the decision to
only travel to the Big Ten
Championships, where Siciliano won
the 400-yard individual medley.
"We take all his photos and send
them to his family," teammate Jeff
Hopwood's mother Marsha said.
Unless Marsha Hopwood is the
orld's greatest photographer, her
ctures may have a hard time captur-
ing the excitement of Siciliano
repeating as the national champion in
the 400 IM.
"That's the tradition of Michigan,"
Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek said.
"Being the best."
To be the best, Siciliano had to
overcome tough but familiar competi-
tion.
Freshman Erik Vendt of University
rf Southern California may have been
king his first appearance at
NCAAs, but he's no stranger to
Siciliano. They have faced each other
several times in major competitions.
"Every time I swam against him, I
lost," Siciliano said. "The most dev-
astating memory was at the U.S.

Open last December. He really
spanked me there."
Siciliano claimed he did not swim
particularly well at that meet. This
past Friday was another story.
With the U.S. Open record - the
fastest time done in the U.S. - and
American record already broken once
in the prelims, Siciliano went ahead
and broke it again that afternoon with
a time of 4:11.31.
But the glory of the record was
short-lived as his rival Vendt beat it in
the next heat with 4:08.22.
When the announcer mentioned
Siciliano's brief time as the record
holder before the finals, Siciliano vis-
ibly laughed out loud.
"If that doesn't make someone
want to win it, I don't know what
does," Siciliano said. "That record
means a lot. It's an American record."
The time between the afternoon
and evening sessions was an anxious
wait for Siciliano.
"I was on pins and needles,"
Siciliano said. "I didn't know how
fast (Florida's Eric) Donnelly and
Vendt were gonna go. I knew they
were gunning for it."
The butterflies in his stomach were
not evident to his teammates - only
his butterfly stroke in the water.
"He was relaxed about it," junior
Scott Werner said. "He said, 'Oh, I'll
just beat him tonight."'
Hopwood says Siciliano knows not
to worry about it.
"It's the mentality of that guy,"
Hopwood said. "He doesn't think. He
just goes."
Siciliano was thinking about it as
attempts of sleep were thwarted by
his own nerves.
"I knew how ! felt last year,"
Siciliano said. "I knew how he
(Vendt) would feel if he won."
After the prelims, some assumed a

Vendt victory was a forgone conclu-
sion. The press notes even suggested
the the battle for second would be
between Donnelly and Siciliano while
Vendt would challenge the world
record.
"I just thought that was kind of
funny," Siciliano said. "I just kind of
laughed and swam my race."
Stepping up to the starting block,
second place was not the goal. With a
team championship out of the ques-
tion for the Wolverines, the individual
achievements become that much
more important.
Siciliano jumped into the pool at
the sound of the gun and held a slight
lead after the first 100 meters of the
butterfly. The next task was back-
stroke, Siciliano's worst stroke.
"The backstroke was the key
because I knew it was my weakest
point," Siciliano said."With the back-
stroke, I just wanted to stay with the
field."
Urbanchek "told me if I was at
least shoulder-length within (Vendt)
after back, I could take it."
With the first two strokes done,
Siciliano had dropped back to third
place.
But his two strong points were the
final two legs of the race. Before the
breaststroke was over, Siciliano had
regained the lead. Then Siciliano
truly began to make his move. With
each stroke he took in the final
freestyle laps, Siciliano separated
himself further from the pack.
"I knew in that last 50 that I would
win," Siciliano said.
When he touched the wall in
4:06.02, the American record was
broken for the fourth time that day.
How many times can a record be
broken in one day?
"I don't know," Urbanchek said.
"But this is the last time."

AP PHOTO
Texas' Matt Ulrickson led his Texas Longhorns to the 2000 NCAA Championship. Michigan, which qualified only six swim-
mers, finished a distant 14th, but had several individual highlights.
TinxexaU"s fans steal s low i lahr

By Jeb Singer
Daily Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS - "Hold on one
second, I just have to hand out the
signs," an Arizona fan said during this
weekend's NCAA men's swimming
Championships.
"Go U of A" the sign read in big
block letters. They were dispersed
among the 30-plus members of the
Wildcat cheering contingent.
Just as the fan had nearly finished
her duties, the entire crowd at the
Minnesota Aquatic Center erupted into
supportive cheers for their favorite
teams while thrashing death metal
blared through the public address sys-
tem.
On one side of the pool, the Texas
Longhorn flag waved frantically. On
the other, fans from Georgia spelled out
the words "Go Dawgs." "The Tree," the
Stanford Cardinal mascot, started danc-
ing the moonwalk to perfection.
As the music gradually died down,
those famous fighting words, "Let's
Get Ready to Rumble", roared through
the loudspeaker. This request was
directed just as much at the rowdy,
diehard fans as it was at the calm, con-
centrated swimmers. This one fan was
clearly responsible for making sure her
section was at a high decibel level.
After all, the role of the fan is a crucial
one in championships of this magni-
tude.
"Last year at the NCAA meet, the
swimmers thought we were too quiet;'
said Tom Hannah, the father of Texas
backstroker Tommy Hannah and the

leader of the Longhorn cheering sec-
tion. "The least we could do was be
rowdy.
"The 'Texas fight cheer' is a tradition
in Austin. We bring in some new cheers
of our own."
The cheer involves half the section
yelling "Texas" and the other half
yelling "Fight." Plus, there's also the
old "Hook 'em horns" chant.
"My friends back home in the work-
place are surprised that an engineer like
myself can be so loud," Hannah said. "I
just started doing it this year at the Cal-
Berkeley meet. And then, we went to
Stanford and Arizona."
While the size of the Texas cheering
contingent seemed to be proportional to
the large size of the state, it wasn't the
only team with passionate fans.
"See my fingernails? See my ear-
rings?" Terri Deniston, the mother of
Auburn All-American breaststroker
David Deniston said when asked what
kind of spirit she has.
"We've traveled as far as Paris,

France, from our home in Littleton,
Colorado, in order to see David com-
pete. It was.just luck that we got 'cheap
plane tickets."
Clearly, the swimming experience is
invaluable for some Michigan parents.
"We may be a smaller group than the
Texas fans," said Marsha Hopwood,
mother of Michigan's Jeff Hopwood.
"We are just as loud, though."
The Michigan fans were on theif foet
for a shining moment Friday night as
Tim Siciliano won the 400-meter
Individual Medley and broke the
American record and U.S. Open record.
"Tim's parents couldn't make it here
from San Marcos, Calif., so we are like
his surrogate parents," Hopwood sajd
So how nervous do parents het
watching their pride and joy lay iti.on
the line?
"I usually get extremely nervous
watching Jeff swim," Hopwood said. "I
thought I'd be relaxed tonight with him
not swimming, but instead I got ner-
vous for Tim."

Thompson, Hopwood battle nation's best

NCAA
Continued from Page 1B
In one of the highlights of Saturday's
finals, Thompson finally outdid the
Wildcat in the 1500 freestyle, but a brand
new obstacle emerged as Vendt overtook
Thompson's lead with a third of the race
left to go. Vendt became the first
American to win the event at the NCAA's
*ce former Michigan swimmer Tom
Dolan in 1996.
The top four finishers bettered the old
U.S. Open and American records.
"It's my goal to beat Ryk." Thompson
said. "I finally beat him and then just my
luck there's another one that shows up. I
thought 'when I beat Ryk, I'll win.' I
went out way too aggressive."

The aggressive strategy even caught
Vendt by surprise.
"Normally Chris does not pull out that
fast," Vendt said. "I thought he was going
to pull away."
Sophomore Jeff Hopwood finished
10th for an honorable mention in the 100
breaststroke on Friday. On Saturday, he
placed fourth in the 200 breaststroke to
earn All-American honors for the second
straight year. In both events, he had the
bad luck of facing the NCAA Swimmer
of the Year - Virginia's Ed Moses.
Moses setworld records in both events.
"Ed Moses by far" is the swimmer of
the year, Urbanchek said without hesita-
tion.
Hopwood laughingly took pride in the
fact that he swam a faster second 100

meters than did Moses in the 200 breast-
stroke.
"All right, now all you have to do is
work on the first 100," Urbanchek told
Hopwood with a smile.
"It's an honor to swim in the same pool
as someone who is setting the world
record," Hopwood said.
Michigan's Scott Werner, who finished
third in the event a year ago, placed tenth
in the preliminaries. He failed to repeat as
an All-American, finishing 11th for an
honorable mention. He also earned an
honorable mention in the 100 breast.
Other honorable mentions for
Michigan were senior tri-captain Mike
McWha with a 12th-place finish in the
1500 freestyle and freshman Tony Kurth
in the 200 IM.

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