Indiana Finishes Third At 2003 Big Ten Swimming And Diving Championships
March 1, 2003
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Yet another of the initial steps toward the resurrection of the Indiana University swimming and diving program was traversed this evening at the Canham Auditorium on the campus of the University of Michigan as Indiana finished comfortably in third with 455 points at the 2003 Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships. The third-place finish is Indiana's best at the event since a similar finish in 1997 and its point total is the highest since 1991 and exceeded last year's total by 151 points. In addition to the impressive team accomplishments, Dr. Jeff Huber was recognized as the Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year and junior Marc Carlton was the Big Ten Diving-of-the-Year and the co-Diver-of-the-Championships along with Michigan junior Jason Coben. The University of Michigan won the team championship, outdistancing second-place Minnesota, 727-689.
Upon his hiring in June of 2002, men's swimming coach Ray Looze, Jr., was quick to declare that it is his mission, along with that of head diving coach Dr. Jeff Huber, to return the Indiana men's swimming and diving program to the elite level it enjoyed during the 1960s and 1970s, under the direction of Doc Counsilman and Hobie Billingsley. During those two decades, and in the early 1980s, Indiana won six consecutive NCAA championships (1968-73) and 20 straight Big Ten titles (1961-80). Last year, however, a young Indiana squad struggled to a seventh-place finish, which was its worst finish since 1954. In response, Looze was hired to guide the program in a different, and more positive, direction. His program took a big step forward this weekend.
"It got better every session just like we hoped," said Looze. "We scored this meet out ahead of time and that had us at 375 points. We almost beat that by 80 points. We didn't leave any doubt because we did better and some teams didn't do quite so well. I'm very proud of how everybody operated. The divers and the swimmers, everybody performed well under pressure. We had some newcomers step up. This gets us pointed in the right direction. It's improvement but in no way is third place something that we want to get used to. Indiana belongs on top and Michigan and Minnesota had better enjoy their time. This is going to help recruiting and it's already going well."
The 35-year-old Looze had several things in his favor upon accepting the Indiana job. To begin, he inherited a diving program that, guided by Huber, was arguably already the best in the country. A five-time U.S. National Coach-of-the-Year, there may be no coach in the nation in any sport that is more accomplished than Huber. Looze and his swimmers were quick to embrace the IU diving program. Unlike many other schools, where the divers are regarded as their own entity, IU swimmers wear t-shirts emblazoned with "Indiana Swimming and Diving." The resurgence of the IU program is going to be a group effort.
"It was all about the team this weekend," said IU junior Matt Leach. "We knew we could get fourth and that if we had a great meet we could get third. With the diving being outstanding as it was, that really held us where we needed to be. I think a lot of guys stepped up and did well even though this pool was a little slower than we expected it to be. My hat goes off to our divers and some of our younger guys. They really stepped up."
Added Carlton, "I'm most happy that the whole team got third place and Jeff was named the Coach-of-the-Year. I feel like that's a victory in itself."
Looze, an All-America selection both academically and athletically at the University of Southern California, and most recently a highly regarded head coach of both the men's and women's swimming program at the University of the Pacific, was well aware that the ultimate success of his program at Indiana would be tremendously aided by Huber's diving program. It was his mission to use the diving program as a benchmark for future success in the swimming program.
He also vowed to improve recruiting nationally, and most specifically in the state of Indiana. He also claimed that, while it would take a number of recruiting classes to fully implement his program, Indiana would show growth almost immediately and that he expected to begin climbing the Big Ten standings and national polls. He did make it known, however, that it was going to be a steady climb but that it wasn't going to happen overnight. While it may take more than half-a-decade to reach the top of the Big Ten Conference, and even longer to compete for a national championship, the performance of the IU swimmers at this year's Big Tens served notice that Indiana Swimming and Diving intends to be a player on the national scene in the years to come.
Similar to Friday night's diving competition on 3-Meter, Indiana again qualified four divers for the finals of the diving competition, this time on platform. Junior Marc Carlton finished second with 531.05 points, which was only 11.75 points shy of first-place finisher Jason Coben of Michigan.
"It came down to the last dive and (Coben) hit it," said Carlton. "I thought the key was my back 3 1/2 (summersaults). I missed it. I missed my first dive (front 3 1/2) and was thinking that I had to hit my second dive, the back 3 1/2 and I missed it too. I just kept diving strong and hit all of my other dives. The ball bounces in different ways. He missed a couple of his dives and it came down to the last dive and he hit his."
In addition to Carlton's effort on platform, senior Adam Hazes was third (470.5), freshman Brian Mariano was fifth (412.30), sophomore Brian Metzler was seventh (400.40), junior Alex Burns was 14th (331.30), and sophomore Ryan Fagan was 15th (292.75).
"During the championships, I though all six divers stepped it up in most cases on the weekend," said Huber. "We had some heartbreakers a little bit. To score 180 points in three events is outstanding. They did a great job but I told them if we were clicking on all six cylinders, all six guys, I think we could have scored even more. Looking to next year, we lose Adam Hazes who dove as consistent and steady as I've seen him dive. He competed with a lot of poise. Brian Metzler did a great job, reaching finals on platform. That was a huge improvement. Alex Burns did a great job to final (on 3-meter) for the first time ever. I think Brian Mariano was the only freshman to reach finals in all three events and Ryan Fagan was a missed dive from making finals on 3-meter. Of course, Marc did a super job. He was Diver-of-the-Year and Diver-of-the-Championships and it was well deserved. He's worked hit butt off. I think his best diving is still ahead of him this semester. We didn't quite peak here."
Not to be outdone by the divers, sophomore Murph Halasz finished fourth in the 200-yard butterfly in a time of 1:46.21. In this morning's preliminaries he broke his own school record as he turned in a time of 1:45.90, which is a provisional NCAA qualifying time.
University of Minnesota junior Justin Mortimer put a charge into event during the very first race of the night as his time of 14:48.77 in the 1,650-yard freestyle set a pool record. The time was nearly :30 seconds faster than his seed time. With a career-best time of 15:29.48, Indiana sophomore Richard Bryant finished 13th. His time was nearly seven second faster than his seed time.
In the finals of the 200-yard backstroke, Indiana junior Matt Leach finished sixth in a time of 1:46.79. It is a career-best in the event and it places him in fourth place on IU's all-time top-10 list. Purdue sophomore Louis Paul, who was named the Big Ten Swimmer-of-the-Championships, won the event in a time of 1:44.56. Indiana freshman Mike Jones finished fourth in the consolation finals (12th overall) with a time of 1:48.76, which was .03 seconds shy of his time in this morning's preliminaries.
"I expected to be a little faster because in the morning I was three-tenths slower than what I went tonight," said Leach. "The morning swim felt a lot more relaxed and a lot easier so I thought I could go at least a second faster. But I did move up in what place I finished so that helped the team."
Junior Claes Andersson turned in a solid performance in the consolation finals of the 100-yard freestyle as he won the heat (9th overall) in a time of 45.11, which was just shy of the 44.84 he swam in preliminaries this morning.
Senior David Schulze looked to improve upon his eighth-place seed after the preliminaries and the IU senior delivered as he finished sixth in a time of 2:00.53. His time was .37 seconds faster than his preliminary time and he put a charge into the IU contingent as he edged Louis Torres of Northwestern by .03 to help improve Indiana's chances for a third-place finish in the team standings. Minnesota senior Jeff Hackler won the event in 1:57.67.
The 400-yard freestyle relay team of junior Mike Payne, sophomore Jonathan Burgess, sophomore David Winck, and junior Claes Andersson concluded the meet by finishing seventh (3:01.53). Wisconsin won the event and earned an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 2:55.03.
The 2003 NCAA Championships will be held in Austin, Texas, from March 27-29.
Final Team Standings
1. Michigan, 727
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