2011-12 Spartan Men’s Swimming & Diving Preview
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Fresh off of its breakout season from a year ago, the Case Western Reserve University men's swimming and diving team is ready to take another successful step forward during the winter of 2011-12.
In just the first season of the Doug Milliken era at Case Western Reserve, the Spartans improved two spots in the University Athletic Association standings (fourth) in addition to breaking four school records and landing a multitude of NCAA "B" cut qualifying marks.
"I think the success we had last year left our men hungry for more," said Milliken, who enters his second season as head coach. "After seeing what they can accomplish, our guys have set some very lofty goals and expectations for this season. Now, we just have to make sure we are putting in the required work to accomplish those goals."
Milliken and second-year assistant Emily Wylam were tabbed as the 2011 UAA Coaching Staff of the Year as the men earned their best conference finish since 2006.
The 2011-12 edition of the Spartans will feature a young, yet talented roster with three upperclassmen and plenty of depth from top to bottom.
"We truly are a very young team, but the leadership from our upperclassman, combined with the energy and enthusiasm from our younger athletes will make us strong," noted Milliken.
The team's three upperclassmen, seniors Sam Geiger (Westlake, Ohio/St. Edward) and Nathan Vonder Haar (Gahanna, Ohio/Columbus Academy), along with junior Chris Emr (Rockville, Md./Thomas S. Wootton) all have significant experience during the past three seasons.
In 2010-11, Geiger posted team-bests in the 500-yard freestyle (4:39.29), 1,000 free (10:03.59) and 1,650 free (16:25.96). Geiger also placed sixth in the 1,650 free and seventh in the 500 free at the UAA Championship Meet.
"Sam (Geiger) is just flat out one of the hardest working student-athletes I know," said Milliken. "Being a distance swimmer, he has to be. Sam has the potential to put up some great times, and he has certainly put in the work needed to do it."
Vonder Haar has three years of varsity experience in mid-distance events, and Emr placed eighth in the 1,650 free at the UAA Championship.
Milliken's sophomore class made a significant impact last season, and the head coach is expecting even more in 2011-12.
"We have a lot of talented younger swimmers who will be expected to step up in big spots," noted the head coach. "Last season, our freshmen were able to do that, and now as sophomores, I am relying on them to push this year's freshmen to do the same."
Sophomore diver Daniel Jacobson (Solon, Ohio/Solon) earned All-UAA finishes on both the one-meter (486.5 points) and three-meter (441.75) boards with school records and NCAA "B" cuts in each event. A three-time UAA Athlete of the Week, Jacobson also earned the CWRU Bill Sudeck Rookie of the Year award.
"Not only is Dan one of the top divers in the conference, he is one of the strongest divers I have ever worked with," said Milliken. "The challenge for Daniel this season is to become more consistent and dominate both boards at the UAA meet."
Classmate Sean Nickley (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) hit a pair of "B" cuts in the 100 breaststroke (57.44) and 200 breaststroke (2:05.90) – earning All-UAA finishes (third) in the 200 and with the 400 medley relay team.
"Sean is a very diverse swimmer that is capable of excelling in a lot of different events," noted Milliken. "Last year, he had to be successful for us in a lot of different events. This year, he will be able to focus more on the breaststroke and set himself up for a great season."
Fellow sophomore Nick Clyde (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron) turned in qualifiers in the 400 individual medley (4:06.19) and the 200 breaststroke (2:06.65), in addition to breaking the school record in the 200 IM and swimming a leg on the All-UAA 200 medley relay.
"Nick was a pleasant surprise for us as a freshman," said Milliken. "He is very talented, and he really came on at the end of the season. With more depth on the team this year, we are looking forward to using Nick's versatility in a lot of different events."
Sophomore Gus Bailey (Grove City, Ohio/Grove City) recorded team-best times in the 50 free (21.09 seconds) and 100 free (46.68) as well as the 50 fly (24.42), while his season-best time in the 100 fly (52.17) was second-best on the squad. During the UAA Championship meet, Bailey placed sixth in both the 50 and 100 free and was a part of the third-place 200 and 400-yard medley relay teams that earned All-UAA honors. In the classroom, Bailey earned UAA All-Academic and College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America Honorable Mention status.
"Gus is our top sprinter, and he is capable of becoming one the best sprinters in the conference," noted Milliken. "The thing I love about Gus is that he is a competitor. He is the guy you want anchoring your relay when you need a win. Gus has that sprinter mentality that coaches love."
Providing depth will be sophomore Heath Hudgins (Chapel Hill, N.C./East Chapel Hill), who posted a team-best time in the 200 freestyle (1:44.26), sophomore Scott McHenry (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury), who posted a team-best in the 200 fly (2:00.36), twin classmates Karch Petersen (Nassau Bay, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) and Kyle Petersen (Nassau Bay, Texas/Lutheran South Academy), and Tyler Piedimonte (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley).
Milliken also welcomes 14 incoming freshmen who are expected to play major roles in the Spartans' success.
"I am expecting big things out of this class. They fill not only the holes left from graduation, but also areas where we needed depth. They are an extremely talented group of young men. If they can perform like I think they will, then this will be a very special class. Time will tell if they are willing to put in the work, but, so far, I have been impressed with their work ethic and their high expectations."
The Spartans open the 2011-12 campaign in quad meet action with UAA foes New York University, Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) and host University of Rochester (N.Y.) on Friday-Saturday, October 28-29. Action is slated to begin on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
The squad's first home action will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 11-12, with the annual Veale Classic Duals at Veale Natatorium.