This Week in the Pool ?- The Arizona men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are set to open their 2005-06 season against the Wisconsin Badgers and the Penn State Nittany Lions (women only) at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on Friday, Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. (PST).
A Look at the Opponents ?- The Penn State women’s team comes to Tucson with a 1-0 overall record due to their 148-93 victory over West Virginia on Oct. 13 where the Nittany Loins posted nine first-place victories. The women’s team finished 13th at the 2005 NCAA Championships last March with a total of 89 points, which marks the second-best finish at the championships for the women.
The Wisconsin women recently completed competition at the SMU Classic in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 21-22 where they finished fourth with 213 points. The Badger Women currently post a 3-0 overall record (1-0 Big Ten) coming off of a double victory against The University of Iowa and intrastate rival, the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin men’s team also posts a 3-0 overall record (1-0 Big Ten) as a result of their most recent action against Iowa and UW-Milwaukee. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 162-80 and UW-Milwaukee 201-42 with junior Tom Molzahn leading the team with two individual wins.
What Happened Last Year? ?- The 2004 dual-meet between the Wildcats and the Badgers resulted in a 141-119 victory over the Badgers for the women’s team as the Wildcats finished first in eight events.
The Arizona men also swam away with a 160-99 victory over No. 16 Wisconsin finishing first in 10 events.
Over the past four years of competition with each other, the women’s team posts a perfect record (4-0) against the Badgers while the men are 3-1.
2005-06 Men’s Season Preview - With the return of a defending national champion and a total of total of 10 returning All-Americans, the men’s seems primed for even greater accomplishments during the 2005-06 season. The Wildcats return 18 letterwinners from a 2004-05 squad that finished third at the NCAA Championships. As a team, Arizona scored 388 points at the 2005 NCAA Championships, all tallied by a combination of 10 swimmers and one diver. With 10 of those athletes returning, plus a talented supporting cast, the Cats are looking for bigger and better things this season.
“Our top priority is to stay healthy throughout the season in order to be as competitive as we can be,” head swimming coach Frank Busch said. “We are a very competitive team in all aspects and I expect this team to finish higher at the national championships than they did last year.”
The senior class will prove to be the dominating source on the men’s team as four multiple-time All-Americans return to the water for their last seasons.
“The men’s senior class is just a phenomenal group of athletes,” Busch said. “We are really relying on these guys to carry the team and lead us to success.”
Last year, senior Simon Burnett took home the NCAA title in the 200 freestyle for the second time in his career with a time of 1:33.28. Burnett is also the current Pac-10 and NCAA record holder in the 200 freestyle (1:32.22).
Senior Lyndon Ferns was a seven-time All-American in 2005, as he placed in the top-four swimmers in three individual events. Ferns, an Olympic gold medalist in the 400 free relay in 2004, is expected to continue his excellence in the freestyle and butterfly events again this season.
Senior Dave Rollins will carry the breaststroke and individual medley events as he posted a new school record in the 200 IM after finishing second at the NCAA Championships in a time of 1:44.42.
Senior Tyler DeBerry, a three-time All-American in 2005, will continue to be dominant in the distance freestyle events as he posted five first-place finishes during the dual-meet season last year.
With the departure of freshman standout and four-time All-American Gerhard Zandberg, the Wildcats are determined to make up for his absence by placing more athletes in a scoring position, Busch said. “Our underclassmen and returnees will really have to step it up a notch if we want to win the national title this year. We have to get everyone to place higher and tally more points.”
Adam Ritter returns as the only junior All-American for the Wildcats. Ritter anchored the third-place 400 free relay team at the national championships and will add depth to the freestyle events.
This year’s sophomore class made a splash during the 2004-05 season as four athletes took home All-American honors to close out their freshmen years. Ivan Barnes was an All-American in three events and is strong in the butterfly and breaststroke events. Nick Thoman posted two all-time top performances at the NCAAs in both backstroke events and Albert Subirats is expected to help the Wildcats in the butterfly events as he was an All-American in the 200 medley relay. Jonas Persson was an All-American in two relay events and will again contribute to the team in the freestyle events.
The newcomers will play a crucial role for the Wildcats as the men initiate five freshmen to the squad. Joshua Arreguin was a top performer at Tucson’s Catalina Foothills High School as the 4-A Arizona High School Swimmer of the Year. Brandon Selts is his high school’s record-holder for the 50 freestyle, while Matt Barnard, David Pursley and Ryan Richardson were all four-year letterwinners for swimming.
“This is going to be one of our strongest years we’ve had in a long time,” Busch said. “We have a reputation for being a ?'big meet’ team and I guess that says something about the men’s ability to get things done where they matter the most.”
On the diving side, the Wildcats have solid experience returning and have made some promising additions to the squad.
“This is one of the strongest teams ever,” head diving coach Michele Mitchell Rocha said. “We are a double threat because we have depth and quality. I expect we’ll have multiple people make it to the national championships.”
The team will be led by senior captain John Collier, who was an All-American in both springboard events. At the Zone ?'E’ Diving Championships, Collier finished second in both events, and during dual-meet competition, posted 11 first-place scores.
Junior Matt Bisordi joins the Wildcats from Texas and is predicted to be a huge strength on the team along with freshman Federico Inigo, from Mexico.
“Matt and Federico are going to be huge assets on the men’s team,” Mitchell-Rocha said. “They are both beautiful springboard divers and will score very high.”
Other returnees include junior Patrick Sullivan, a talented 10-meter platform diver from Milton, Wis., that redshirted for the 2004-05 season, and sophomore Jeff Hagedon, who placed in the top 15 in both springboard events at the Pac-10 Championships.
2005-06 women’s Season Preview - The women’s swimming and diving team will feature a blend of experience and youth as the Wildcats return eight All-Americans, to go along with three redshirts and 11 newcomers.
Twenty total letterwinners return from a 2004-05 squad that finished third at the 2005 NCAA Championships. A combination of 11 swimmers and two divers posted 440 points, two national champions, broke eight school records and posted a total of 42 All-American honors.
According to head swimming coach Frank Busch, the women’s team has the potential to accomplish great heights this season, despite the loss of two stellar athletes that graduated last May.
“We are going to have to makeup a lot of ground with the loss of Jessica Hayes and Emily Mason,” Busch said. “But we have a great senior class, definitely the strongest I have seen in a long time, and the freshmen are looking better every day.”
Seven seniors will lead the Wildcats this season including defending national champion Marshi Smith. Smith won the national title in the 100 backstroke (52.82) and is expected to continue her excellence in the backstroke and freestyle events.
Six-time All-American Jenna Gresdal is another strength for Arizona as she won 13 individual events during the dual-meet season last year. Erin Sieper is a two-time All-American, dominant in the breaststroke, while Lisa Pursley, a two-time NCAA Championships qualifier, is expected to be competitive in the butterfly events.
Ryann Hackett is also a two-time NCAA Championships qualifier that will add depth in the freestyle events along with Katie Wills and Daniel Erickson.
Whitney Myers tops the list of returning juniors, as she holds the all-time school record in the 200 IM (1:56.43) and was the national runner-up in the 100 butterfly. Fellow junior Melissa Johnson returns this season from a shoulder injury and is expected to boost the distance freestyle events. Emily Strouse, an NCAA qualifier in 2005, will compete primarily in the butterfly and IM.
Two sophomores made a splash last season as the only two freshmen to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Courtney Cashion and Lacey Nymeyer are both returning three-time All-Americans who are set to add depth to the team in the sprint freestyle events.
“Courtney and Lacy are quite the competitors,” said Busch. “I think we can expect the same quality of competition from these two this year and hopefully we can get them to score highly in meets to make up for lost points.”
Busch said the newcomers will add versatility and depth to the team and he hopes to get all of the 11 athletes to excel in their events. Freshman Justine Schluntz is a 10-time New Mexico state champion and will swim the freestyle and IM events for the Wildcats. Jacquelyn Craft, a sophomore transfer from the University of Connecticut, joins the women to compete in the breaststroke events.
“We are going to have to step up our level of competition and get everyone to compete in every aspect,” Busch said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what this team can do.”
In diving, two stellar athletes return from a medical redshirt season in 2004-05 and are expected to be standouts on all three diving events. Junior Mary Yarrison was the co-Pac-10 Diving Newcomer of the Year in 2004 and a honorable mention All-American in platform diving. Senior Tiffany Manning, who dived for Florida State University and received All-American status in both springboard events in 2004, is also expected to add to the Wildcat’s success this season.
“With Tiffany and Mary back, we will be stronger than ever on the women’s side,” head diving coach Michele Mitchell-Rocha said. “These two are major competitors and have a tendency to knock it up during competition.”
Along with Yarrison and Manning, junior Megan MacDonald returns to add depth for the divers. “Megan is getting stronger every year,” Mitchell-Rocha said. “Her strength is tower and she will be a good competitor for us.”
Only one freshman joins the squad this season, Allison Scaife. Scaife was a four-year letterwinner in diving at Cactus High School in Glendale, Ariz., and was the 4-A state champion her senior year.
“I am excited to see these girls compete,” Mitchell-Rocha said. “We not only have talent, but depth as well, which is not common for us. I am hoping to get multiple divers to the NCAA Championships next spring.”
Arizona’s Next Action - The Arizona men’s and women’s diving teams will travel to Los Angeles, Calif. on Nov. 11-12 to compete in the Trojan Diving Invitational. The swimmers will resume dual meet competition as they host USC on Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. (PST).