Dec. 3, 2002
What's Next for the Wildcats?: The eighth ranked Arizona women's swimming and diving team and the 15th-ranked Men's squad travels to Austin, Texas to participate in the annual Texas Invitational. The Texas Invitational is a perenial spot of heavy competition amongst the nation's best. At the 2001 Invitational, 20 nationally ranked teams swam, including currently top ranked Michiganand the host team, third ranked Texas. At last year's Texas Invitational, the Wildcats had great success. Arizona was able to secure eight NCAA automatic qualifying times during the two day competition. Athletes like Beth Botsford and Emily Mason accrued the necessary times for NCAA competition, and they expect to do the same this year.
Last Time In The Water: Paced by three individual titles for senior Beth Botsford and sophomore Emily Mason, the University of Arizona women's swimming and diving teams defeated Pac-10 foe UCLA 160-140. All-American Botsford continued her dominance of the backstroke events, as she garnered wins in both the 100y and 200y back by touching the wall with times of 54.95 and 1:59.17, respectively. Botsford also was victorious in the 100y fly by finishing in a time of 55.08. The Arizona men's squad was defeated for the second consecutive day by the fifth ranked USC Trojans. Today's loss regresses the men's record to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-10. The lone Wildcat victory in the November 23rd meet belonged to junior All-American Eric la Fleur won the 100y free by touching the wall in 45.83. Since the last meet, la Fleur has improved his time in this event by nearly two seconds. On Nov. 22, the Arizona men's and women's swimming and diving squads fell to USC in their Pac-10 conference opener. The Wildcat women were defeated 142-101, but the Cats managed to pull out victories in three different events. Beth Botsford was victorious in the 200y backstroke, while Marshi Smith took first in the 50y free in her first Pac-10 meet. Likewise, the Arizona men, still decimated by injuries, lost to a fifth ranked USC group 175-66 that won every event in the meet. There were no victories for the Wildcat men, but a few notable performences occured. Junior All-American Juan Veloz touched the wall in the 200y fly 1t 1:47.40, a time which was only .18 short of victory.
Rankings: In the latest College Swim Coaches Association of America poll, the Arizona women have ascended to their highest ranking to date. After an impressive victory over 14th ranked UCLA and a frenetic battle which ended in defeat with fifth ranked USC, the Wildcat women have been ranked eighth. While the Cats lost to USC, they rose in the rankings because of USC's number five ranking. The upcoming schedule continues to be arduous for the Cats. Before the season's end, the Cats will have swam against 5 of the top 9 nine teams in this week's poll. In contrast, the oft-injured Wildcat men dropped two spots to 15th in this week's poll. Due to injuries and a challenging schedule, the Wildcat men have plummeted from their season opening ranking of eighth to 15th. Like their female counterparts, the road ahead is rife with obstacles for the Arizona men. The Cats still have third-ranked Texas, second-ranked Stanford and fifth-ranked California on their remaining schedule.
Coach Busch's Corner: Each week Arizona Head Coach Frank Busch, a former NCAA Coach of the Year, sits down to chat about his squad. The following is a transcription of his comments: On Men's performance against USC: "We have lost some key players off of our team, which makes a huge difference inour depth and our relay's. These things are huge at dual meets.The men are at a point where our key athletes are unable to compete in their respective events. Our loss of depth due to injuries is an issue that will only be resolved with time." On the change in men's personnel: "If all goes planned, at the end of the semester, Lyndon Ferns and Simon Burnett will come to our team. Each of these guys has international expierence in some form or another, like the Commonwealth Games for example. Those guys are very good athletes. With the introduction of Ferns and Burnett, combined with Byron Jeffers and Jeff Dash's return a top level, we will have a nucleus of guys to lead us. All of a sudden we have a group that will make our relay's superb. For us, the keys to the NCAA Championship is the relay's. If we can put these guys with Eric la Fleur, you have a solid relay. We may not have the depth that we had in the past, but we still have eight or nine guys that can do some damage." On Beth Botsford's early season prowess: "Beth is training really well but more over, it's her mindset. Beth is really, really on her game right now and she is having a lot of fun. Her focus has been excellent. On the path that she is currently on, Beth is obviously able to compete for a national championship." On his reaction to the meet against USC andUCLA: "Our women's team performed subpar against USC. We went to USC in the morning, jumped in the pool and swam the meet. It was a bit of adversity for our team and that is something that I like. But, then again our ultimate goal is not to win at the dual meets. Our goal is to achieve NCAA qualifying times which will assure us of a good showing at the NCAA Championships. We certainly don't put the same emphasis on dual meets as we do the NCAA Championships.
Central American Champion: Wildcat All-American Juan Veloz, who originally hails from Mexico, participated in the Central American Championships last week. Veloz, a junior, won three different events; the 200y fly, the 400ymIM and the 800m free relay. In winning the 200m fly in a time of 1:58.45, Veloz established a new Central American record. Unlike NCAA events, which are short course and are measured in yards, the CAC's took place on a long course that was measured in meters. Veloz returns to competition this weekend at the Texas Invitational, where he figures to have a substantial impact on the outcome of the fly and IM events.
Fantastic Freshman Four: The Wildcat women's coaching staff knew they had a heralded recruiting class coming into the season, but they didn't know how much of an immediate impact they would have. The impact of the freshman quartet of Katie Willis, Marshi Smith, Lisa Pursley and Jenna Gresdal has been noticeable and often. Smith, in her first Pac-10 meet against USC, won the 50y free (23.87), the fastest time for any Wildcat swimmer to date. Pursley has garnered top 5 times in the 200y free, 100y fly and 200y fly. On Nov. 23 against UCLA, Willis claimed her first collegiate victory in the 500y free when she touched the wall in a time of 4:57.57. Finally, freshman sprint swimmer Jenna Gresdal has begun to engrave her mark on Wildcat swimming. In addition to being a member of the 400y free relay squad, Gresdal has clocked one of the top three fastest times in the 50y free, the 200y back and the 100y free.
Botsford continues to dominate: In what has become a theme of this season's releases, Beth Botsford continue's to roll over the competition, regardless of her opposition. After winning the 200y back against fifth ranked USC, Botsford culminated a fantastic weekend by finishing first in three different events against UCLA, the 100y and 200y back and the 100y fly. By adding four more individual titles against two Pac-10 rivals, Botsford has six through only three meets. Botsford has not been merely squeaking out her victories, but rather winning by a sizeable margain. Her victory in the 200y back in a time of 1:57.20 bested her nearest competitior by nearly seven seconds. Lastly, Botsford's times of 54.95 and 1:57.20 in the 100y and 200y back respectively, rank amongst the top times registered nationally.
Rankings Released 11/27/02 (First-place votes are in parenetheses)
Women 1. Michigan 172 (5) 1. Auburn # 200 (8) 2. Stanford* 164 (1) 2. Florida 192 3. Texas* 162 3. Georgia 180 4. Auburn* 160 (1) 4. Stanford # 173 5. California 144 5. USC # 168 6. USC* 142 6. SMU # 160 7. Florida 133 7. Texas# 159 8. Minnesota 127 8. Arizona 141 9. Tennesee 116 9. California # 139 10. Virginia 108 10. North Carolina 127 11. Arizona St.* 106 11. Virginia 121 12. Georgia 103 12. Wisconsin # 107 13. Wisconsin* 89 13. Indiana 102 14. North Carolina 83 14. UCLA # 95 15. Arizona 77 14. Maryland 95 16. Purdue 71 16. Purdue 71 17. Alabama 59 17. Notre Dame 69 18. Texas A&M 48 18. Michigan 59 18. Penn St. 48 19. Missouri 56 18. Pittsburgh 48 20. Arizona St.# 47 21. BYU 34 21. Penn St. 39 22. Harvard 22 22. Texas A&M 30 23. Georgia Tech 15 22. South Carolina 30 24. Hawaii 13 24. Florida St. 16 25. Washington 9 25. Washington 12 25. Tennessee 12 Others Recieving Votes: Indiana, Northwestern, and Virginia Tech *-denotes 2002-03 Opponent #-denotes 2002-03 opponent