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March 11, 2002 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-11

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 11, 2002
A FOURTH NCAA TITLE? TIM SICILIANO ISN'T Too WORRIED.

40

BY COURTNEY LEWIS U DAILY SPORTS WRITER

Tim Siciliano is, as his coach Jon
Urbanchek said, a "superstar." He is also
a self-proclaimed "goofball," whose
post-graduation plans include skateboarding
and sleeping in.
With three national titles in his pocket, this
Michigan senior will be the focus of the entire
400-yard individual medley field at this
month's NCAA Swimming and Diving Cham-
pionships in Athens, Ga.
If Siciliano wins, he will become just the
second swimmer to win the 400 IM all four
years and will join the elite ranks of eight men
who own four titles in any event.
He hungers to regain the "exhilarating" feel-
ing that only a championship can bring, but he
doesn't appear to be weighted down with pres-
sure or expectations.
He's too busy enjoying the last few weeks of
life as he has always known it, and too excited
about what's ahead.
Siciliano said that other than becoming
older and smarter, he hasn't really changed
much in his four years at Michigan, and you
wonder if he's changed much since he first
started swimming 17 years ago.
He still has a boyish fascination with boats
and airplanes, and he's most at home in the
water. Fishing, surfing, scuba diving - what-
ever. He can't get enough.
"I don't know what it is about the water," he
said. "I think I've been around it so much that,
just, I feel right in it, you know?"
He also has a deep appreciation of the
Michigan swimming tradition, The record
board in Canham Natatorium, packed with the
names of the NCAA champions and Olympic
medallists who came before him, serves as a
motivational reminder of the prestige of the
program.
Siciliano said swimming for the Wolverines
is an incomparable honor.
"I hate to say this, but I mean, swimming for
Michigan is like nothing I've ever done
before," he said, adding that competing in the
World University Games last summer "just
wasn't the same."
'I think swimming for Michigan is on a
higher pedestal than swimming for the United
States."
Siciliano felt that pride right away, so much

so that he got a big "M" tattoo on his left arm
after NCAAs his freshman year.
"I'd never been on a team that was so close
and a team that had so much tradition," Sicil-
iano said.
That bond with his teammates helped him
get through a tough stretch this season.
Although he was able to swim in all of
Michigan's meets, Siciliano missed signifi-
cant training time because of a wear-and-tear
shoulder injury that wouldn't heal. He said
the most frustrating part was "sitting up
there on the bike that overlooks the pool,
watching everyone swim and put in their
hard work."
As if being unable to swim wasn't hard
enough for a guy who loves the water, Sicil-
iano felt isolated from his teammates. That is,
until they started making fun of him.
"One of the guys, Ryan Earhart, he had this
thing. Whenever I'd get up on the bike he'd call
it the Tour de Timmy, and he'd be like 'Hey,
how's the Tour going today?"' Siciliano said,
cracking up just remembering it.
So Earhart got daily updates - and a good
laugh - and Siciliano felt like part of the team
again.
Siciliano said he could feel the effects of the
injury at the Big Ten Championships last
weekend, but his fourth conference title in the
400 IM, followed by a solid week of training,
have convinced him that the shoulder has
healed pretty well - and just in time. The
NCAA Championships are less than three
weeks away.
When the race Siciliano has had in his sights
all season finally arrives on March 29, he
plans on keeping it simple. He doesn't have a
pre-race routine, and he doesn't study his
opponents.
But once he gets in the water, the strategy
begins. Because the 400 IM involves four dif-
ferent strokes, and most swimmers specialize
in one or two, Siciliano said the mental aspect
is a bigger factor than in other races.
"It's a mind game, really," said Siciliano,
who struggles in the backstroke but makes up
for it in the breaststroke. "You can't go out too
fast, but you don't want to get too far behind.
It's tough."
Siciliano will have to out-swim and out-

think an impressive collection of athletes in
Athens.
"The event is'very deep this year," Siciliano
said. "The field is going to be extremely fast. I
definitely could say it's probably going to be
the fastest field of the 400 IM in the history of
NCAAs."
But Siciliano's team thinks he has something
that sets him apart from the rest of that field.
"His heart is just incredible," junior Garrett
Mangieri said with awe. "You can never count
the kid out. I think he's got a competitive edge
that no one can touch. He just goes out there
and does what he needs to do."
Said Urbanchek: "He's a hell of a competi-
tor. If you give him an opportunity, Timmy will
After winning three NCAA titles and four
Big Ten titles, that competitiveness is some-
thing that keeps Siciliano from getting compla-
cent.
"I think it is that," he said. "I think it's mak-
ing everyone proud - making my team proud
and just making my school proud."
For Siciliano, the best part of winning a
national championship isn't the ring or the
recognition, but sharing the moment with his
team.
"Jon (Urbanchek) comes over and shakes
your hand," Siciliano said. "He's always got a
big smile and everyone's really happy for you.
I like seeing that more than anything else. I
like seeing other peoples' reactions, seeing
everyone else so happy."
While Siciliano wants that scene to play out
one more time, his competitive fire is less
about being the best and more about swim-
ming his best.
"If I could go best time, I'd be extremely
happy," he said. "It's kind of like the same feel-
ing (as winning). Like 'wow, I just went faster
then I've ever been before."'
No matter how he does at NCAAs, it will be
his last weekend of competing. All eight swim-
mers who have won four NCAA champi-
onships have gone on to earn Olympic medals,
but whether he joins that list or not, Siciliano
is calling it a career.
He said thinking about climbing out of the
pool for the last time "is definitely strange. I'm
kind of anxious in a way. I'm sad for it to be
over, but I kind of want it to be over, because I

a

to

DAVID KATZ/Daily
Tim Siciliano is most comfortable In the water, but he's excited about life after swimming.

want to try new things and do other things."
Siciliano has no idea what life after swim-
ming will bring, but he can't wait to find out.
Four years of being the best in the country
have not exactly left him with a lot a free time.
So like a fourth grader thinking about summer
vacation, Siciliano is just looking forward to
the possibilities. He's planning a road trip
home to San Diego after he graduates in the
spring.
"I'm definitely going to try and pick back
up - because when I was a little kid I used to
skateboard - so I really want to skateboard
again," Siciliano said. "And then, like, snow-

board and stuff. I'm anxious to do other
things."
After that, Siciliano said he'll just see what
happens, which makes him both excited and
nervous.
"Excited because I don't know where I'm
going to be, because who knows?" Siciliano
said. "I've never really not known where I'm
going to be, so it's kind of fun in that sense.
But it's definitely nerve-wracking because I
have no idea what's going to happen."
Whatever Siciliano ends up doing, you can
bet that he'll be giving his all. And that he
won't forget that "M" on his arm or that goofy
kid inside.

a6

Kuchar claims first victory on PGA Tour

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) -
Matt Kuchar could have done this years
ago.
Kuchar, the 1997 U.S. Amateur cham-
pion who turned down millions in favor
of graduating from Georgia Tech,
earned his first PGA Tour victory yes-
terday.
The 23-year-old Kuchar shot a 6-
under 66 in the final round of the Honda
Classic and beat Brad Faxon (67) and
Joey Sindelar (70) by two strokes.
Kuchar finished at 19-under 269 and
earned $630,000 in his 17th event as a
professional.
He had eight birdies and two bogeys

in his final round. He made four consec-
utive birdies on the back nine to help
him rally from a four-shot deficit to Sin-
delar, who made his first bogey in the
tournament on the 71st hole.
Kuchar needed just 23 putts, includ-
ing eight in the final eight holes, to get
the victory.
He gained a share of the lead with a
12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No.13,
then grabbed the outright lead on with a
birdie on the par-5 No. 14 - his fourth
straight birdie.
Kuchar extended the lead to two
strokes with another birdie on the par-5
16th, and made sure no one could tie

him with a solid par save on the tough,
par-4 18th.
"When that putt dropped, the rush of
excitement I felt, I haven't felt that since
the U.S. Amateur," Kuchar said.
It has come full circle.
Kuchar was a college sophomore
when he graced Augusta National with a
wide-eyed gaze to go with a game good
enough to tie for 21st and earn an invita-
tion back to the Masters.
Two months later, he starred again in
the U.S. Open. He outplayed several big
names to reach the weekend just two
strokes off the lead, and wound up in a
respectable tie for 14th.
He could have turned pro then and
would have cashed in on lucrative
endorsement offers. Though he never
saw any numbers, Kuchar guesses the
deals would have been worth at least $2
million.
He passed it up for two more years at
A look at the
underside of U of M
www.universitysecrets.com

Georgia Tech, where results were meas-
ured by memories, not trophies.
"I've always known it was the right
decision," he said.
The first player to win the U.S. Ama-
teur after Tiger Woods turned pro,
Kuchar never won another. He didn't
even get past qualifying his last two
tries. And Georgia Tech never won an
NCAA title.
That was the downside.
Kuchar didn't decide to turn pro until
after the deadline passed for PGA Tour
qualifying school. He worked as an
investment banker in nearby Boca
Raton, tempted to follow in the steps of
Bobby Jones and remain an amateur for
life.
But in the fall of 2000, after a few
months in the business world, Kuchar
was offered and accepted a sponsor's
exemption into the Texas Open where a
missed cut didn't matter.
What surprised Kuchar was how
much he wanted to play again. He
turned pro about a month later.
Kuchar's problem was that he was too
late for the Q-School lead-in to gain eli-
gibility for the 2001 PGA Tour season,
and was restricted to seven sponsors'
exemptions.
He finished second once, third once
and earned $572,669 - more than
enough to earn his PGA Tour card. He
had made five cuts in six events and
earned $824,791.

Andre Agassi exults after winning the Franklin Templeton Classic yesterday.
s 0
Agrassi wins land-mark
50th career tournament

1
04

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Andre
Agassi changed his three-year run of bad
luck in the Franklin Templeton Tennis
Classic by beating Juan Balcells 6-2, 7-6
(2) yesterday for the 50th title of his
career.
He became the eighth player to win
50 championships in the open era, which
began in 1968. Agassi won the last four
gamesi of the first set and never faced
break point in the match. Balcells pulled
a hamstring early in the second-set
tiebreaker.
After withdrawing from the Australian
Open with a wrist injury, Agassi began
the 2002 season last week at San Jose,
where he lost a three-set final to Lleyton
Hewitt.
Agassi won his third Scottsdale cham-
pionship in 1998 but had to withdraw

because of a hamstring pull in the semi-
finals the next year.
Then Francisco Clavet beat him in the
first round the last twvo years, a jinx
Agassi overcame by overwhelming
Clavet 6-3, 6-2 in this year's first round.
Against Balcells, Agassi faced a play-
er who was 0-5 this year and No. 123 on
the ATP entry system to Agassi's No. 5.
Balcells toughened in the second set,
holding serve all the way. The Spaniard
forced the tiebreaker with a hard fore-
hand toward Agassi's feet.
Early in the tiebreaker, Balcells pulled
his left hamstring and never tried for
Agassi's forehand winner along the line.
After each player won a point, Bal-
cells had his upper leg taped. But he was
virtually immobile and never tried for
Agassi's last three winners.

Milano

Earn a Master of Science degree in:
* Urban Policy Analysis and Management
* Human Resources Management
* Nonprofit Management
" Health Services Management and Policy
" Organizational Change Management
Ph.D. degree:
* Public & Urban Policy

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