Oct. 9, 2007
With the 2007-08 men's swimming and diving season getting underway this Friday at Missouri, IUHOOSIERS.com takes a look at how this year's team shapes up.
By most standards, the 2006-07 men's swimming and diving season was another successful one in the books. The Hoosiers posted a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, amassing 494 points, just one point out of third place. Six student athletes represented Indiana at the NCAA Championships, coming away with 13 All-America citations and a top-20 finish.
But by Indiana standards, it is not enough. A program with six NCAA Championships and 24 Big Ten titles to its credit expects to be in the championship hunt. After recording their first Big Ten title in more than 20 years in 2006, the Hoosiers are hungry to retain that top spot on the podium.
Ask any coach or any student-athletes, and they believe it can be done. When talking about the key losses from last year's squad, head coach Ray Looze made one point very clear -- there were none. While the leadership of graduated seniors Lee Houchin, Drew Ossakow, team captains Ryan McNeill and Paul Sigfusson, and Ryan Millard will be missed, the talent that returns along with one of the top recruiting classes in the country makes the coaching staff only think about what they have gained.
"We have a good, deep team this year," Looze said. "One that is going to have more depth than last year and will be similar to what we had in 2006. Although we have 99 percent of the team in place, I expect to add some people at mid-semester so that when we compete in the championship portion of our year in the spring semester, we might bring a little more to bear."
Among those returning are all six swimmers who accounted for the 72 points at the NCAA meet. Senior Ben Hesen was the first IU swimmer in 28 years to reach the championship finals of two individual events, placing eighth in the 200-yard backstroke and second in the 100 back with a pair of school records.
Both Hesen and Todd Patrick had phenomenal summers with impressive showings at the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships, earning a spot on the U.S. National Team for the Japan International Swim Meet.
It will be that group of veterans, along with young All-America talent like freestylers Cody Weik and Titus Knight, and breaststroke specialist Tyler Lemert that will be faced with the challenge of another daunting schedule. The Hoosiers will face the likes of Michigan, Tennessee and Texas, just to name a few. And it is all in the name of restoring the glory of old IU.
This is an area where Looze feels the team will see marked improvement this year. With the sprinters, senior Todd Patrick
and junior Matt Lenton
are both sub-20-second swimmers and have the potential to go faster. Lenton was seventh in the 50 free at the Big Ten Championships and competed in both the 50 and 100 at the NCAA meet.
With the potential to add some swimmers in this area as mid-year transfers, Looze may be able to reach his goal of being four deep in the sprints.
The middle distances will see a mix of young and old. Patrick and senior John Kevin Koehler
will lead the way, joined by freshmen Cody Weik
and Titus Knight
. Senior Alex Brunfeldt
will also be in the mix after placing eighth in the 500 free at the Big Ten Championships, while Steffan Troxel
will be looking to make a mark.
"With Koehler, Weik, Knight and Brunfeldt, I think all of them have the potential to be finalists at the Big Ten meet and make it to the NCAA meet," Looze said.
Brunfeldt will lead the distance corps after narrowly missing All-America honors in the 1,650 free at the NCAA Championships. Troxel won the 1,650 free in a dual meet with Missouri, while Koehler and Knight will also factor in. Koehler was 12th in the 1,650 free at the NCAA meet with a time of 15:03.08 -- fifth best in school history.
The Hoosiers boast not only one of the nation's best in this event, but also one of the world's top competitors in senior Ben Hesen. After winning the Big Ten title and finishing second in the 100-yard back with a school-record time of 45.45 at the NCAA Championships, Hesen broke through with a third-place finish in the 100-meter back at the 2007 ConocoPhillips USA National Championships in August. That finish earned him a spot on the U.S. National Team that competed in Chiba, Japan. While the 100 is his specialty, one of Hesen's goals this season is to improve his performance in the 200.
"Ben really wants to expand from just focusing on the 100 back to really being able to swim the 200 back well and maybe even the 100 fly," Looze said.
Freshman Doug Spraul will be in the wings, learning from one of the best. Patrick can also help out in this event, and the addition of a mid-year transfer could make this one of the deepest events for IU.
Sophomore Kevin Happ is progressing nicely and could be a solid performer in the 200-yard event. Not just a freestyler, Koehler has recorded an Olympic Trials-qualifying time in the 200 back and will help out again this year.
Patrick will lead the butterfly sprinters after swimming the event on Indiana's 200-yard medley relay that finished ninth at the NCAA meet. Patrick also qualified for the NCAA meet in the 100-yard fly.
Hesen will also continue to work on his butterfly technique after posting one of the top five times on the team in the 100 fly last season.
Junior A.J. Miller holds a spot on Indiana's all-time top 20 list in the 100 fly, while freshman Matthew O'Brien will also lend his talents to the event.
In the 200 butterfly, freshman Cody Weik could be called upon to make an immediate contribution. Weik was a seven-time All-American at Cedar Crest High School in Pennsylvania and placed sixth in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2007 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
Sophomores Tim Blue and Christopher Head will also be looked upon to provide depth in this event after solid freshman campaigns. Junior Matt Lenton is another option for Looze after he earned a pair of All-America honors in the 200 and 400 medley relays last season.
Depth is not an issue with this stroke as Looze has a roster that goes more than eight deep with competitive breaststrokers.
Senior Pat Penoyar is an NCAA champion in waiting in this event. Penoyar was second in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke at last years Big Ten Championships and is ready to make that breakthrough. His 12th-place finish in the 200 breast at the 2007 NCAA Championships is just a sign of things to come.
"I think, based on last year, Pat is a guy that can win a national title," Looze said.
Senior Ronald Hehn earned points for the Hoosiers at last year's Big Ten meet with a 14th-place finish in the 100 breast and had the second-fastest IU time in the event on the season.
Junior Heath Tameris won the bonus final and finished 17th overall in the 200 breast at the Big Ten Championships, while also taking 18th in the 100 breast. Sophomore Aaron Opell was 15th in the 200 breast at the conference meet and finished the season in IU's top five in the 200 breast on the season.
Miller placed 11th in the 200 breast at the Big Ten Championships a year ago, while junior Justin Peterfish recorded a career-best time in the 100 breast at the same meet.
The list goes on as senior Alec Haley was a top-25 finisher in the 200-yard breaststroke at the Big Ten Championships, and freshman Tyler Lemert holds the Indiana state record and was a seven-time All-American in the 100 breast.
"We go about eight deep in breaststroke on this team, with all those guys having the capability and talent to score," Looze said.
Swimmers competing on the international level means nothing but good things for this group.
Patrick had an amazing summer, posting a world-class time in the 200-meter individual medley to take the silver medal at the Japan International Swim Meet. Patrick's time of 2:00.59 ranks him 17th in the world this year and fourth among Americans.
"Todd had a great summer," Looze said. "He goes from a guy that has never scored at the NCAA's to someone that could win. That is the type of improvement we have seen. He dropped almost four seconds off his time this summer, which is just staggering."
Junior Steven Murry earned All-America honors in the 400 individual medley, taking 13th , while also qualifying for the NCAA meet in the 200 IM. Miller is also an IM specialist with an eighth-place finish in the 200 IM at the Big Ten Championships.
Miller, Opell and Haley are all Olympic Trials qualifiers in the IM, with Opell taking 13th in the 400 IM at the Big Ten Championships. He also finished the season on the Hoosiers' top-five times list in both the 200 and 400 IM. Happ worked diligently over the summer and will add depth in both events.
After a ninth-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay and an 11th-place showing the 400-yard medley relay at the NCAA Championships, the Hoosiers have their eyes focused on a national title as all relay participants return.
"I expect both medley relays to be outstanding," Looze said. "Our goals are to win a national title in both the 200 and 400 medley relays. Our goals in the freestyle relays is to be top four."
The 200 medley relay features Hesen in the backstroke, Penoyar or one of several others in the breaststroke, Patrick in the butterfly and Lenton anchoring the group in the freestyle. Patrick could also anchor the group if need be as newcomers will look to fight for a spot in the group. The same four are also the top returnees in the 400 medley relay.
An area that had been a weakness, Indiana will be looking to break into the top for in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relays thanks to some recent additions. Patrick and Lenton could play a role on the 200 free team, along with freshmen Chase Caruso, Knight and Weik.
Both the 400 and 800 free relays could feature Koehler, Patrick, Lenton and Knight.
Looze's philosophy of swimming against any team, anywhere is evident once again with the Hoosiers' 2007-08 schedule.
The season opens on Oct. 12 with a dual meet at Missouri. Last year the Hoosiers were 153-136 winners over the Tigers on Senior Day. They will then travel to perennial Big Ten power Northwestern on Oct. 26.
The first home meet of the season will be a dandy as national powers Texas and Michigan come to the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center on Nov. 2-3. Texas finished last season as the No. 2 team in the CSCAA poll, while Michigan was 11th.
"The plan has always been to swim against as many high-quality, top-10 teams as possible because the Big Ten and NCAA's are so tough," Looze said. "It will be a trial by fire, especially for our younger guys, but people learn how to handle pressure if it becomes commonplace. We need our freshmen to contribute and perform like veterans."
The Big Ten Championships will take place Feb, 28-March 1 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"I see it as a three-team battle with probably Michigan and Minnesota favored," Looze said. "Michigan always does a good job and didn't really lose anything from last year, and Minnesota won it last season. But I see us being a factor in there."
"I am excited by what we have gained in our program. We have added the kind of depth you need to be successful in a conference championship environment. We go out and try to win every meet, but we are built for conference championships by design."
Expectations are always high when talking about the Indiana diving program, one that is steeped in tradition and success.
Head coach Dr. Jeff Huber returns for his 19th season at the helm of the program and looks to have his group back in form after a somewhat disappointing season in 2006.
A young and inexperienced squad, the Hoosier divers were led by a second place finish in the platform at the Big Ten Championships by David Legler and second in the three meter from Taylor Roberts. Roberts also contributed to the team's point total with a fifth-place finish in the platform.
It will be this pair of senior captains who will lead the way for a return to the winner's podium for IU diving.
David Legler's second place finish in the platform came with a career best score of 377.20 to earn second-team All-Big Ten Honors. In addition to that finish, he also scored in the three meter, coming in 14th. Legler just missed qualifying for the NCAA Championship with a seventh-place finish in the platform and 14th in the three meter at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championship. His ability to help captain the Hoosier divers is evident in the fact that he was Indiana's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree.
"David just missed winning the Big Tens on platform last year and has gotten a lot better since then," Huber said.
The team's other captain is Taylor Roberts. Roberts missed out on the Big Ten title in the three meter by just one point and is looking to get back on top. As a sophomore Roberts was seventh in the three meter at the NCAA Championships and won the Big Ten crown in the event. Roberts also showed improvement in his platform diving last season, taking fifth at the Big Ten meet with a career best score of 340.95. He also scored in the one meter with a 10th place finish. He too was on the cusp of making a return trip to the NCAA meet, finishing fifth in the one meter and sixth in the three meter at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships.
"Taylor Roberts is a Big Ten Champion and just missed last year," Huber said. "I am excited for the season because he is starting the season in great physical shape and his diving looks as good or better than it did at the end of the summer. When he gets off to a good start, it is a good sign for how he will performance at the end of the season. He is a great competitor."
Will Bohonyi leads the junior class and continues to improve after sitting out the 2005-06 season with various injuries. Last year he finished sixth in the platform at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championship and took seventh in the same event at the Big Ten Championships. His career-best marks in the one meter (302.25) and three meter (329.40) both came in a dual meet with No. 12 Michigan.
Sophomore David Piercy had a solid rookie campaign, reaching the finals of the three meter at the NCAA Zone C Championship and finishing in the points in the platform at the Big Ten Championships, posting a career-best score of 270.00. A good sign of things to come, all of his career-best marks came in the second half of the season. Like Bohonyi, Piercy also set career marks in the one meter (325.65) and three meter (301.35) in the dual meet with No. 12 Michigan.
"Will is starting the season in good physical condition and had a good summer of training." Huber said. "Same thing with David. Both of these divers are exceptionally talented athletes and I believe they are ready to dive up to the next level and assume greater responsibility and leadership roles for the IU diving program.
Joining the four returnees is a five-man freshman class. It is a group of newcomers that has experience competing at both the national and international level.
"They are a good freshman class and I am really excited about that," Huber said. "Assistant coach Todd Waikel did a great job of recruiting last year. I think our main focus for our freshmen is getting started on the right foot academically and with conditioning. We want to lay a good foundation in terms of mechanics and maybe changing some bad habits."
Landon Marzullo holds the Ohio state record in the 1 meter with a score of 574.60 and won the state title in 2006. In 2005, Marzullo helped the U.S. win the Junior Pan Am Diving Team Title with a gold in the platform. He also took second on the one meter and fifth on the platform at the 2006 U.S. Open.
"Landon is one of the top recruits in the country," Huber said. "He is very good on all three levels: one meter and three meter springboard and 10 meter platform."
Kris Hill was a three-time All-American at Aurora High School in Ohio. He competed at the Junior World Championships in 2006 where he finished 16th on the one meter springboard. He was second in the one meter at the 2007 Ohio state meet. He finished as runner-up to Marzullo in the event in 2006.
"He is very good on one meter and qualified for the senior nationals on both the one meter and three meter this past summer," Huber said. "He is among the top 28 divers in the country in those events right now and our goal is for him, as well as Landon, to become national chalmpions."
Nick Foulks has competed at the U.S. Open Diving Championships and the Senior Zone Diving Championships while also earning All-America honors each of the last four years.
"I think Nick is a real talent, athletically," Huber said. "Right now we just have to refine him and get more of his mechanics and fundamentals down. We are really lucky to have him here."
Scott Berger participated at the Junior Nationals in 2004 and 2005 and was fifth in the platform at the 2005 Lund Diving Invitational in Sweden. He helped lead Carmel High School to the 2004 IHSAA Boys' state championship.
"He is a good diver," Huber said. "He has a 10 meter list, so he can dive all three levels."
Chris Hall finished eighth at the 2007 state meet to get an All-America nod. A walk-on to the program, he was the 2007 Mid-Indiana Conference champion.
"Chris is kind of an unknown so we will see what he can do this year and how he can help ups out," Huber said.
Joining Huber Waikel will be former IU standout and Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Lenzi. Lenzi will work as an administrative assistant with the program and can impart knowledge on these young divers about what it takes to compete at the top level.
"I think we are going to be a lot more of a presence at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships this year," Huber said. "With such a young group Todd and I want to make sure that everyone gets a good start both inside and outside the pool. If we can do that the championship part of the season will be quite successful.