Aug. 23, 2001
The 2001-2002 swimming and diving season looks quite promising for the Clemson Tigers. Clemson will return 21 athletes from last year’s team that finished 4-2 in the ACC, including senior Matt Wilson who was a two-event ACC champion (200 & 400 IM). The Tigers will also benefit from the return of junior Craig Thomas, an All-ACC diver. Wilson, Thomas, and the other returning Tigers will be expected to lead the way for six talented new swimmers.
Coach Bruce Marchionda, with the help of assistants Kathleen Milloy, Jim McGinnis, and diving coach Leslie Hasselbach, is looking for the men’s team to contend for the top honors in the ACC this season. “There are four teams on the men’s side that we’re going to have to set our sights on: Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Florida State,” said Marchionda. “With a very talented freshman class coming in, we can potentially beat two or three of those schools and make a remarkable difference in the conference championships.”
The Tigers will benefit from a series of renovations that are taking place over the course of the 2001 and 2002 summers. Coach Marchionda is enthusiastic about the facelift to McHugh Natatorium. “We are very excited about the renovations. They have already done a lot of renovations to the existing pool. Cosmetically, it looks very nice. Next summer, they will go in and replace all the decking and the starting blocks. We’ll have new team locker rooms and we’ll have more glass and better lighting. Obviously, it’s going to be a benefit to us,” said Marchionda. With improved facilities and continued hard work, the Clemson Tigers are looking to swim among the ACC elite in 2001-2002.
The sprint freestyle events were hit the hardest by graduation. Will Rogers graduated in May 2001 with a degree in Speech & Communication. Rogers holds the third fastest time in Clemson history in the 50 free (20.17) and the seventh fastest time in the 100 free (45.22). As a result of Rogers’ graduation, Coach Marchionda will be pushing the incoming freshmen to adjust quickly to NCAA competition.
“The loss of Will Rogers in the 50 and 100 free will be felt this year. We do have a number of returning sprinters who we are going to ask to step up, and we have a couple of freshmen coming in who can potentially develop and play a major role for us this season, ” said Marchionda.
Among the retuning Tigers will be senior German Martinez who posted the third best time for the Tigers in the 50 free last season against NC State (21.28). Fellow senior Kenny Roberts, who represented Seychelles in the 2000 Olympics and the 2001 World Championships, turned in Clemson’s second fastest time in the 100 free last year at the ACC championships (46.44).
Sophomore Drew Scheerhorn developed well in the sprint events last year, and Coach Marchionda expects that he will join Roberts and Martinez to play a major role for the Tigers. Freshmen Derek Mulder (Richmond, VA) and Brent Baker (Hixson, TN) are expected to help fill Rogers’ shoes.
Leading the Tigers in the middle distance events will be sophomores Brent Hitchcock and Mark Henly, as well as seniors Kenny Roberts and Andy Meek. The Tigers will be looking for Hitchcock to pace the team. As a freshman, he posted last season’s best performances in both the 200 and 500 free, with times of 1:40.92 and 4:34.19, respectively. Marchionda feels that all four returning swimmers have the ability to pick up where they left off last year and continue to improve. He is also expecting freshmen Derek Mulder and Brent Baker to range up from the sprint events to add depth to a middle distance group that will contribute to Clemson’s success this season.
In the distance freestyle events the Tigers will rely heavily on returning swimmers to lead the team, including sophomores Travis Taylor, Brent Hitchcock and James Stoffer, as well as junior Jeff Atteberry and senior Andy Meek. Taylor posted last year’s top time in the 1000 free (9:35.44) against South Carolina. He also turned in the third-fastest time of the season in the 1650 free (15:57.20) at the ACC Championships.
Hitchcock had last season’s second-best performance in the 1650 free (15:52.98) at the ACC Championships, and Stoffer recorded last year’s second best time in the 1000 free (9:44.05) against North Carolina. Marchionda considers the 1000 and 1650 free to be two of the most challenging events in ACC competition and he will be pushing the distance group all season to provide valuable team scoring.
The Tigers will focus on the depth of this year’s backstroke group to help provide top-level meet performances. With so many talented returnees, Marchionda and the Tigers will utilize inter-group competition during practice to facilitate improvement throughout the year. Leading the returnees will be seniors German Martinez and Joey Tighe, and sophomores Mark Henly and Drew Scheerhorn.
Martinez holds the fourth fastest time in Clemson history in the 100 back (50.08), while teammates Henly and Scheerhorn hold the seventh (51.07) and ninth (51.24) spots, respectively. Henly holds the second-fastest time in Clemson history in the 200 back (1:48.28) just ahead of Martinez, who occupies the third spot (1:48.38). Incoming freshmen Tommy Rappold and Buddy Reed will challenge the returnees for this year’s top times.
The Tigers will return three swimmers in the fly events and Coach Marchionda is expecting great things from this group at the conference championships. Leading the group will be sophomore Rob Kummer, who is coming off a stellar freshmen campaign during which he turned in two top-ten performances and was a finalist in both the 100 and 200 fly at the ACC championships. Kummer is ranked third in Clemson history in the 100 fly (48.91), and fourth in the 200 fly (1:49.17).
Fellow sophomore John Dean also had an impressive freshman year. Dean posted last year’s third-fastest time in the 100 fly at the ACC championships (50.69), and holds the 10th spot on Clemson’s all-time list in the 200 fly (150.72). Senior Kenny Roberts and freshman Tommy Rappold will help the team in the fly events as well.
Coach Marchionda is excited about this year’s breaststroke group and their scoring potential against ACC foes. “The 100 and 200 breaststroke are two of the strongest events for us. We are returning a group of breaststrokers that could make a major impact at the conference level,” said Marchionda. Among the talented returnees will be sophomore Ryan Cassella, juniors Gregor Govse and Matt Norman, and senior Matt Wilson.
Cassella holds the second-fastest time in Clemson history in the 200 breaststroke (2:01.14). Junior Gregor Govse holds Clemson’s fifth-fastest time in the 100 breaststroke (56.17) and the third fastest time in the 200 breaststroke (2:01.37). Matt Norman has the seventh fastest time in Clemson history in the 100 breaststroke (56.64), and Matt Wilson is sixth on Clemson’s all-time list in the 200 breaststroke (2:02.98).
Leading Clemson in the Individual Medley events will be 200 and 400 IM ACC champion Matt Wilson. Wilson, a senior, turned in a memorable performance at last year’s conference championships where he not only won both IM events, but he set the all-time Clemson record for the 200 (1:48.10) and 400 IM (3:51.68) as well. Other returnees in the IM group are junior Gregor Govse, and sophomores Ryan Cassella and James Stoffer.
Stoffer turned in a great freshman season in which he scored for the Tigers at last year’s ACC championships in the 400 IM (4:03.30). Incoming freshman David Liebers has the potential to develop into a great 200 IM swimmer and Marchionda expects fellow freshman Buddy Reed to develop in the 400 IM.
The Tigers will field strong relay teams in both the freestyle and medley relay events. Last season, Clemson earned a fourth-place finish in the 800 free relay at the ACC championships (6:45.51), and also finished fourth in the 200 free relay at the conference meet (1:22.85). Coach Marchionda is expecting stiff competition for spots on the various teams. “Spots on those relays are wide open. It is difficult to predict who will be on those teams this early, but with our depth, we are counting on strong relay teams to compete for the conference championships,” said Marchionda.
A corps of three juniors will provide leadership and experience for the Tigers in the diving events. Third-year divers Craig Thomas, Jonathan Folds, and Nathan Spice will use their experience to help freshman Eric Schulick adjust to NCAA competition. Thomas, an NCAA Zone qualifier in the 1m and 3m boards, will lead the Tigers in both events. He posted the top score for Clemson in the 1m event against Alabama (305.10), and finished second in the conference championships (260.60). Thomas also posted the top score in the 3m event (463.10) at the ACC championships where he finished sixth. Coach Marchionda is expecting Shulick to push Thomas and provide the depth that this year’s team will depend on for success.
Clemson will face a challenging schedule that includes five teams that were ranked in the top 25 of last season’s final CSCAA poll. The first test for the Tigers will be an ACC dual with the 13th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers at McHugh Natatorium on October 27, followed by a November 3, battle with ACC foe Florida State at Clemson. The Florida State meet will be held the same day as the Clemson-Florida State football game in Death Valley. The Tigers will also play host to the 10th-ranked Florida Gators on November 9, in the final home meet of the season.
The annual battle with South Carolina will take place in Columbia on November 16. The team will also travel to Athens to compete against the 18th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Invitational from November 30, through December 2.
Clemson will begin spring competition in Coral Gables, FL at a tri-meet against Miami and Rutgers. The Tigers will then face the 20th-ranked North Carolina Tarheels in Chapel Hill on January 12. Clemson will travel to Atlanta to battle ACC foe Georgia Tech on January 19. On February 2, the Tigers will complete the regular season ACC slate with a trip to Raleigh to take on NC State.
The University of Maryland will play host to this year’s ACC Championships in College Park from February 28-March 2. The NCAA Zone Qualifying Championships for Diving will be held at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY on March 15 and 16. Clemson expects to qualify athletes for the NCAA Championships in Athens, GA from March 28-30.
Despite the difficult schedule, Marchionda and the Tigers will be working together to make a mark in NCAA and ACC competition.
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