Hesen Blasts Way to NCAA Title in 100 Backstroke
March 28, 2008
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Indiana senior Ben Hesen was not to be denied as he claimed his first NCAA title with a victory in the 100-yard backstroke to highlight day two of the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships in Federal Way, Wash. Indiana is currently in seventh place with 141 points.
Hesen blazed to the crown in a time of 44.72, shaving nearly a second off his previous school mark and recording the second-fastest time in NCAA history. Hesen's win is the first NCAA swimming title for the Hoosiers since Jim Montgomery captured the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle in 1976. Mike Stamm was the last IU swimmer to win the 100 back, picking up his title in 1973 with a time of 50.91.
"What a fantastic race," said head coach Ray Looze. "Ben is a fast guy and can turnover and kick with the best in the world, but I have never seen him take a race out like that. He just wasn't to be denied. He really wanted that one badly. There was really never any doubt.
"It is really neat to see a kid from Jeffersonville, Ind. come this far to win an NCAA title. It couldn't happen to a nicer person and he has worked extremely hard. (Assistant coach) Donny Brush has done a fantastic job working with him the last couple of years. I really couldn't be more proud of Ben and this team."
"Before the race, I looked up at my fans and team, and I knew I had to win," Hesen said. "I had no choice. In my opinion (my fans) are the best. They are the wildest, and that is just my style. I like it, I loved it; it was great."
Hesen led from start to finish and was clearly on a mission to top last year's second-place showing where he touched the wall with a previous school best of 45.45. He staked his claim to the title by qualifying first for the championship final with a 46.20 in the prelims. It was his third-straight top-five finish in the 100 back after finishing tied for fourth in 2006 (46.80).
"I could see that I was ahead of some people," Hesen said. "I didn't know where everyone was but I had a good feeling I was in the lead. And I just prayed that I could hold on.
"I am real proud. Right now I can't even come up with the words for how I feel. I think it is great and we are going to continue. We have some young swimmers coming in and we are going to start to get the cream of the crop coming to Indiana."
Hesen, Ronnie Hehn, Todd Patrick and Matt Lenton set a new school record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:25.37 to capture fifth place. That surpasses the old mark of 1:25.73 set by Hesen, Kevin Swander, Thomas Clavier and Patrick in 2006. The Hoosiers qualified for the championship final by posting a time of 1:26.13 in the morning prelims as this quartet has now recorded three of the five fastest times in school history.
It is also the best-ever finish for IU in the 200 medley relay as the Hoosiers placed seventh in 2004.
"It was a special evening," Looze said. "We had a rough preliminary session and you are going to have that. But to set two school records like that kind of made up for it. Hopefully we can do the job in the morning because that is where you lay out all your points and we have a couple of good races and what I believe is going to be a good relay tomorrow. We are going to put our hearts on the line like we always do."
Taylor Roberts posted his best-ever finish at the NCAA Championships with a fourth-place showing on the 3-meter springboard, scoring 402.15 points in the championship final. Landon Marzullo placed 11th with a score of 351.90 in the consolation final, giving him a pair of All-America honors after a fourth-place showing in the 1-meter on Thursday. Roberts qualified second for the championship final with a score of 402.75, while Marzullo was 14th in the prelims (332.80).
"Taylor did a great job and I am really proud of him," said head diving coach Dr. Jeff Huber. "When he was in eighth place I was really impressed with how he brought himself up to fourth. It was probably the best men's contest I have seen in a long time."
"It feels good," Roberts said. "Obviously I would like for it to be better but I am happy with it. I came out and dove well and showed that the best diving of my career came at the end of my career which I am really proud of and will take with me."
In the 400 individual medley, Steven Murry placed 22nd (3:51.19), while Patrick was 24th (3:52.36). Despite entering the meet with the seventh-fastest time this season in the 100 butterfly, Hesen's time of 47.46 was not enough to advance him to the evening session, finishing 26th.
John Kevin Koehler swam the 200 freestyle for the Hoosiers, finishing 39th in the prelims with a time of 1:37.46. Pat Penoyar was 23rd in the 100 breaststroke (53.96), while Ronnie Hehn was 31st (54.63).
NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships- Day 2
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