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February 12, 2007

Casares Reflects on NCAC, Looks Ahead

Howard W. Hewitt - This will be the final entry in this blog on the Wabash swimmers' 2007 NCAC swim championships.

The Little Giants really hit some remarkable numbers en route to their third-place finish behind Kenyon and Denison.

Six swimmers turned in times which qualify them for the "B" cut of the National Finals. The "B" cut simply means they are alternates and may or may not be invited to the big meet.

Those swimmers are:

Kyle Weaver - 200 medley relay;

Blaine Cooper-Surma - 200 medley relay;

Jordon Blackwell - 400 medley relay;

Adam Petro - 400 medley relay/200 fly;

Robert Dent - 200 medley relay/400 medley relay;

and Tony Caldwell - 200 medley relay/400 medley relay/100 back.

"We had some very good performances, but struggled as a team finding a rhythm," Coach Peter Casares said today. "In fact, I don't think we ever found that rhythm, that 'magic.' The team tried its hardest to though and that was great to watch."

But the results remained rather staggeringly positive. The Little Giants recorded 68 performances that were their fastest of the year. They had more than 35 lifetime bests. They turned in five national qualifying event performances, three all-conference relays, and one school record.

"That's pretty darn good especially seeing we didn't 'find our rhythm,' " Casares said. "I'm proud to see that the team's hard work did pay off."

Casares has written about the meet in his own blog, Lanelines, throughout the weekend. He also put up some final thoughts today.

I'm posting two more photo albums here. The first album is all new material from the opening of the Saturday night finals. It features photos from a couple different swim programs but gives a flavor of the meet excitement.

The second album is a collection of my favorite photos from the three-day event. Some have appeared on the website before and some have not.

Now the Little Giants will prepare for a meet this weekend at Kenyon where they can potentially lower their times and solidfy their chances to compete in the National meet. "I truly believe we can swim even faster this weekend," the coach said. "Combing one more week of rest with the fastest pool in the country is exactly what we need."

In photo above: Casares gives senior swimmer Kyle Weaver a hug during the senior walk at the start of Saturday's finals. Asst. Coach Kyle Dunaway hugs Tony Caldwell behind them.

February 10, 2007

Six National Qualifiers Lead Wabash's 3rd Place Finish

Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - It could have been the last relay and should have been the first, but Wabash College Little Giant swimmers scored 998 points en route to a third-place finish in the North Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming and Diving Championships here Saturday night.

Kenyon College, which has won the past 27 straight national titles, held off a huge challenge from Denison in both the mens' and womens' competition. For detailed times and results click here.

One of Coach Peter Casares' championship goals was to break the 1,000-point barrier. On the first night of competition in the first event, the Wabash 200 free relay team swam to a third-place finish worth 54 points but was later disqualified for a false start. Saturday night's last event was the 400 free relay but the Little Giants were just touched out at the end.

But Coach Peter Casares called the 998 the 'perfect score.' It provides great incentive for his heralded freshmen and sophomore classes to work harder now that they understand the competition. And there were a number of "B" qualifying cuts for the National Championships next month.

The Little Giants opened Saturday's finals with three swimmers in the final eight of the 200 backstroke. Adam Petro finished fifth with Tony Caldwell claiming sixth and Pat Laughlin scoring in eighth. Peter Hewitt had a 16th place finish.

Jordon Blackwell, Phillip Towne, Blaine Cooper-Surma, Kyle Weaver, and Nick Rockefeller all scored in the 100 Free. Brent Graham, Robert Dent, and Paul Wilson were 14-16 in the 200 breaststroke.

Adam Petro had a fifth place swim in the 200 butterfly. Robert Fozkos had one of the night's strongest swims, claiming 11th place with a 1:59.26 - which was nearly four seconds off his morning qualifying time.

Rob Fenoglio helped the team move up by climbing from 8th place to 6th in the Saturday night finals of the 1-meter diving.

The last relay was touched out at the wall but managed a fourth behind Fozkos, Blackwell, Cooper-Surma, and Craig Vetor.

Three Wabash swimmers placed in the top 12 of the 1,650 freestyle. Elijah Sanders swam a 16:40 for seventh place. Vetor finished 9th and Paul Wilson 10th.

Casares has been writing about the meet on his own blog, Lanelines, for the past three days. Also look for more photos and wrap-up information on the Wabash website Monday.

In photos: Above right, Pete Hewitt in the backstroke. On homepage: Fozkos has a strong butterfly effort.

Final Night of Competition Underway at Canton

Howard W. Hewitt - The finals of the NCAC Swimming and Diving Championships are underway in Canton. The Wooster Scottish pipers led the Scots swim team into the natatorium to start the fanfare.

The swim teams went about their warmup cheers, a big crowd settled in to their seats, but leave it to a Wabash man to really wow them. Howard Bailey, Little Giant diving coach, sang the national anthem for the sixth time of his Wabash career - four when he was a student diver.

Bailey got, perhaps, the loudest ovation of the three-day meet.

Depending on how tonight's events play out, I'll try to update at mid-evening. If not, a full wrap up will appear much later tonight.

Wabash College Staff Keeps Meet Running Along

Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - I'm back at the motel while guys work the afternoon session of the final day of the NCAC Swimming and Diving Championships. This afternoon consists of the men's 1-meter and women's 3-meter diving, along with the mile swims. A long afternoon!

There will be plenty of fun highlights tonight, but no big event comes off without plenty of help. Each year one of the nine NCAC schools takes a turn hosting the swim event and this was Wabash's year.

Sports Information Director Brent Harris has worked the meet the last two years and has acted as meet director this week. It's no small accomplishment to keep track of all the details, scoring and timing, and keeping everyone happy... when you have swimmers, swim coaches, and parents to keep happy, too. He's really hustled and put in some long hours since our arrival here Wednesday evening.

Everyone working is a volunteer. With the exception of a few meals and a T-shirt, it's Wabash people organizing, planning, and solving problems much as they usually do. And, it is a bit of an eclectic group!

We have the Schroeder Career Center Director Scott Crawford at poolside with a stop watch. In Scott's words, not mine, he is "the back up to the back up" on manual timing each event. He got to sit through the multiple heats of the mile swim this afternoon. He did say this morning that he really liked his job — the one back at Wabash!

At almost any Wabash sporting event you'll run into our Athletic Trainer Mark Colston and this one is no different. He is the trainer for the meet. He's iced quite a few tender shoulders and a few knees. He has handed out pain reliever for the aches and pains — even for a photographer with a headache.

Jeff Oleck, assistant soccer coach, and Forrest Campbell '08 have spent a good amount of their time running back and forth from official scoring to the meet headquarters on the deck off the diving well. It's a thankless job of lots of sitting then lots of hustling but both have performed tasks without much complaint.

Wabash's Athletic Director Vern Mummert is the host A.D. and has mingled and made sure everyone had the things they needed to perform their tasks. Alison Kothe, a senior major gifts officer, was on business in the area and spent Thursday and Friday nights helping time.

I've spent most of my time taking pictures for this blog but also shot photos for the NCAC web site, Allegheny College, and Wittenberg. It's a long drive home Sunday, but one we'll be looking forward to after we wrap up tonight.

Sometime late tonight I'll have a wrap up on site with results. We'll probably have some additional information on Monday as well.

Casares Thrilled With Saturday Morning Performance

Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - Calling it "the best ever" Saturday performance, Little Giant Swim Coach Peter Casares was thrilled with his team's morning effort.

"We've trained for Saturdays for a couple of years," Casares said of the necessity to still swim fast after two days of the conference meet. "This morning was our best-ever effort in my years at Wabash."

It got off to a great start with the 200 backstroke. Tony Caldwell, Pat Laughlin, and Adam Petro were in the top eight times. Laughlin clocked in at 1:59.46, Caldwell at 1:57.62, and Petro was fourth fastest of the day at 1:56.03. Petro's time was just off the Wabash school record of 1:55.19 held by Jason Cain. Cain set his 1993 record at the NCAA championships.

Wabash will have five swimmers in the 100 free tonight led by Jordon Blackwell's :47.8, which was good enough for eighth place. Phillip Towne, Kyle Weaver, Blaine Cooper-Surma, and Nick Rockefeller placed in the top 24.

Wabash couldn't get a swimmer into the final eight of the breaststroke but did have three swimmers in the next eight. Brent Graham, Robert Dent, and Paul Wilson made the second group.

Freshman Adam Petro continues to shine at his first-ever NCAC meet. He posted the second fastest time in the 200 butterfly at 1:54.00 - easily reaching the "B" qualifying standard for Nationals and within reach of the 1:52.14 time which would earn him an automatic berth.

Robert Fozkos,has the 12th fastest time in the fly to join Petro in the finals.

The 400 relay might not have been as good as Casares had hoped but it still managed to qualify in the fifth spot. The relay consisted of freshmen Peter Hewitt, Matt Routh, and Nick Rockefeller along with senior Tony Caldwell.

In photos: Top left, Nick Rockefeller takes off for his leg of the 400 free relay. Lower right, assistant coach Kyle Dunaway keeps track of times for the Little Giants. To Dunaway's left is freshman Phillip Towne.

Little Giants Off To Great Saturday Start

Canton, Ohio (10:23 a.m.) - The Little Giants could not have asked for a better start to Saturday's NCAC finals.

In the day's first event, three Wabash swimmers qualified for the finals in the 200 yard backstroke. Tony Caldwell, Adam Petro, and Pat Laughlin all made the finals cut with Petro's effort just fractions of a second off the school record.

Click here to see photos from Friday's action.

Follow live updates on times and events on the Wabash website by clicking here.

Final Day of NCAC Swim Meet Underway

Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - The final day of the 2007 North Coast Athletic Conference Championships is underway. The Little Giants will be trying to advance more swimmers to nationals and add to their two-day 571 point total.

We'll be blogging throughout the day so look for frequent updates. I want to get up a little about the Wabash College staff here working the event as hosts and will add that throughout the day. I also left a piece of equipment at the pool last night and was unable to get photos from Friday competition up on the website, but that will happen this morning.

Today's events include the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 butterfly, 200 free relay, 1-meter diving, and the marathon of swim competition - the 1,650 free. Again the Little Giants have a big number of swimmers hoping to qualify this morning for scoring position tonight.

We'll have frequent updates, so check back during the day. For full coverage of events, scroll down through the blog.

On the homepage this morning: Rob Fenoglio in a tight spin during his final Friday night dive. He finished sixth in the 3-meter competition.

 

February 09, 2007

Wabash Scores in 22 Possible Swims in Friday Competition

Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - With a huge freshman and sophomore class, Wabash swim coach Peter Casares knows there is a learning curve. His team passed one test, but will have to continue to show improvement to make up distance on Kenyon and Denison in future NCAC meets.

The Little Giants entered the day with 22 scheduled swims where they could score points in the night's finals. Remarkably, that's just what happened when the second night of finals concluded.

"The highlight of the day was having 22 possible swims scoring this morning scoring and having all 22 come back tonight, that’s the first time that’s happened since I’ve been here," Casares said."What we need to do is to do a better job at night and find a way to improve."

Wabash had some great evening swims but many of the swimmers were not able to substantially improve their times from  the preliminaries. But there was still plenty of positive performances.

"We did have some spectacular swims from Adam Petro and Tony Caldwell, both relays did great, and Rob Fenoglio’s diving was wonderful. Casares said. "Our depth is one of our keys and we can get better at improving at night."

The 200 medley relay team opened the night's competition with a second-place finish and 1;34.71 swim that knocked five seconds off their morning performance. The time puts the relay in possible position for a trip to Nationals. They made the "B" cut as possible alternates.

It was also a good day for senior Tony Caldwell whose 100 backstroke swim earned him a "B" cut also with a fourth place swim.

Brent Graham and Elijah Sanders scored in the top 12 of the 400 individual medley. Adam Petro swam to a fifth place finish in the butterfly, just missing the national cut time. Five Little Giants scored in the 200 free paced by Jordon Blackwell's seventh in the A final.

Rob Fenoglio claimed a sixth in the three-meter diving and will return to the board Saturday in the 1 meter competition.

So the positive results become a building block. Casares acknowledges it's one thing to qualify in 22 races in the morning preliminaries, but quite different to come back at night and substantially drop times.

"There is a huge learning curve," the coach said. "There’s no faster meet in the country and its extremely difficult to swim against talent that will be placing in the Division III championships. When you have a young team competing against this type of talent you learn about a whole new level of swimming and it takes some time to adjust to that."

A note about photos: I'll post some Friday night photos up early on Saturday. A very small technical glitch. Also tomorrow, will try to get a posting up about the Wabash staff people who've been here helping run the meet. Each NCAC school takes a turn hosting at McKinley High School. The high school is less than a mile from Canton's best known attraction, the Pro Football Hall of fame.

 

 

Wabash Has Solid Friday Morning, Diving Underway

Howard W. Hewitt - CANTON, Ohio - A solid Friday morning performance set the Little Giants up to rack up some points in tonight's Round Two of the NCAC Conference Swim Championships. The Little Giants trail powers Kenyon and Denison after one night of competition and hold a slim margin of Wittenberg and Wooster.

Before the week began, Coach Peter Casares said its all about getting numbers into the final heats and the Little Giants came through Friday morning.

The Little Giant 200 medley relay team finished fourth in preliminaries with a 1:39.04 swim. The "B" squad, which will swim tonight swam a 1:35.35.

Wabash will have two swimmers in the top 16 for the 400 individual medley. Brent Graham '09 had the seventh best time while Elijah Sanders just missed the finals cut, claiming the ninth slot. Four Wabash swimmers will compete tonight in the butterfly with senior Kyle Weaver and freshman Adam Petro both in the top eight. Robert Fozkos and Pat Laughlin swam the 19th and 20th fastest times.

Sophomore Jordon Blackwell will compete in the 200 freestyle finals while teammates Blaine Cooper-Surma, Phillip Towne, Craig Vetor, and Matt Routh all swam in top 20 times.

The 100 breaststroke and backstroke results were still being compiled when this blog was published.

Diving is underway with 8 competitors attempting to advance to tonight's finals. The Little Giants best hope in diving will be Rob Fenoglio '09 who finished fourth last year.

Note: Last night's school record performance by Brent Graham didn't go unnoticed. The sophomore broke John Murphy's 1980 500 free record by three seconds. Go the previous blog entry here and you'll see Murphy posted a comment of congratulations.

For live updates on scoring click here.

In photos: Top left, Robert Dent qualifies in the 100 breastroke. Center right, Adam Petro closes in on the all in the fly. Lower left, sophomore Jacob Peerman shows good form on his first dive of the NCAC diving competition.

February 08, 2007

Little Giants Fight Off Adversity on Opening Night

Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - A close disqualification in the opening event, the 200 freestyle relay, of the NCAC swim finals stung the Wabash College swim team Thursday night. But three freshmen and a sophomore hit the pool in the 500 free to turn emotions and momentum back around for Wabash.

The evening appeared to be off to a great start with the 200 free relay team recording a third-place finish behind perennial powers Kenyon and Denison. But after the event, the Wabash swimmers learned they were disqualified for an early start and lost 54 points in the process.

But the turn-around came quickly and started with Paul Wilson '10. The freshman lifted emotions by winning the first heat of the 500 free and doing it with a personal best time. But the best was yet to come. Sophomore Brent Graham had the slowest time in the next heat. He had swum a 4:56.60 in the morning preliminaries. Graham went out on a fast pace and didn't slow. He recorded a rather remarkable 4:42.15 which gave him second-place in the heat, but more importantly was a new Wabash College school record.

Graham's time bested the 1980 effort of John Murphy at 4:45.15. Murphy's time came in the NCAA Championships. Freshmen Elijah Sanders and Craig Vetor also swam personal bests. Sander's time of 4:43.88 also bested the old school record, but not the new one.

The roller coaster beginning was complete after the first two events.

"One thing I’ve always known about Wabash is that we’re a school that likes to take risks and go after it," Coach Peter Casares said. "It seemed to backfire a little bit on that 200 free relay but I don’t think the guys would have done it any different. If they had a chance to do it again, they'd push it and go fast.

"The team was a little bit upset about that then we went†into the 500 free and to see†all four of our guys drop time and go lifetime bests and culminate that with a school record really picked the whole entire team up again."

Wabash had only one representative in the 200 yard individual medley. Freshman Robert Dent finished 13th.

Wabash had seven swimmers score in the three heats of the 50 freestyle. Senior Kyle Weaver qualified in the top eight but wasn't feeling well during the finals. After turning in a :21.46 in the morning round he struggled to a :22 in the finals for eighth.

The night's final event was the 400 medley relay and more good news for the Little Giants. The team of Tony Caldwell, Robert Dent, Adam Petro, and Weaver claimed third place and just beat the "B" qualifying time for Nationals. The "B" time means they go into a pool of alternates which could be selected for competition in Houston, Texas. An "A" cut time is an automatic berth. Not only did the team qualify, but Caldwell's swim earned him "B" cut in the 100 backstroke at :52.65.

So an up-and-down type of night left the Little Giants more positive than down from the slow start.

"It says a ton about the team to be in last place after the first relay and then before the last relay hits we’re back in third," Casares said. "They’re okay taking risks, they’ve never gone fast going out slow.So being back in third place when the day is over says a lot about our depth, our vision and our guts and determination."

Kenyon held a slim lead over Denison in the mens' competition. For times and results, click here.

In photos: Top left, Graham during his record-setting swim. Center right, Sanders during his swim. Lower left, Caldwell's backstroke leg of the medley relay team's swim. Photos posted on homepages as of 2/8/07: Homepage: Graham's record-setting swim. Current students' page: Paul Wilson celebrates his win in the second heat. Sports page: Sanders congratulates Graham on new school record.

Big Splash After Disappointing Start

CANTON,Ohio - The Wabash College Little Giants suffered a devastating blow in the opening Thursday night event of the NCAC swim finals but an amazing performance by a freshman turned the swimmers' spirits around.

Wabash swam to a third-place finish in the 200 free relay only to be disqualified after the race for an early start, costing them 54 points in team standings.

But the boost came from, arguably, an unlikely source. Sophomore Brent Graham who entered the "B" finals of the 500 free with the slowest time of the eight swimmers finished second in his heat and smashed the Wabash College school record with a 4:42 swim. The record of 4:45 had stood since 1980.

We'll update the blog late tonight with full opening round results and photos.

Swimmers Have Good Round of Preliminaries

Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - Wabash College swimmers got off to a good start in Thursday morning's preliminary rounds of the NCAC swim meet.

Wabash College is hosting the 2007 meet. To provide the Wabash community with up-to-date results, we've created this blog for frequent updates and photos.

Coach Peter Cesares was measured in evaluating his team's performance. "Tonight will be our night," he said of the morning swim. The coach was happy with most of the swims, but thought a couple of swimmers might have snuck into the finals who just missed out.

One relay team was disqualified in the morning's last event, the 400 medley relay. But the morning got off with good relay news. The 200 free relay team qualified first with a 1:26. Kenyon College, the 27-time defending national champs, will look different tonight though. They played the morning swim safe in qualifying.

Much has been made of the Wabash freshman class and they didn't disappoint. Elijah Sanders '10 claimed the 8th and final spot in the 500 freestyle, matching his season best time of 4:46. The 500 was good to Wabash with Craig Vetor and Brent Graham qualifying other finals heats.

Kyle Weaver '07 qualified fifth in the 50 freestyle at 21.46 putting him in the hunt. Kenyon sophomore Josh Mitchell wowed the morning crowd with a 20.85 swim in the 50. Three Wabash swimmers including Blaine Cooper-Surma, Jordan Extine, and Robert Fozkos made the finals cut. Cooper-Surma missed the finals' cut by 4-tenths of a second.

The Little Giant medley relay team qualified 5th at 3:38 but the "B" squad was disqualified.

Today's events included the 500, and 50 freestyle races. The 200 individual medley, 200 free relay and 400 medley relay. Diving starts Friday with the 3-meter competition.

Results will be posted live throughout the meet. Meet Director and Wabash College Sports Information Director Brent Harris will be posting all results to the Wabash Sports Website. Click here to see meet results.

 

The finals for the morning events are tonight. I'll update the blog late this evening.

In photos: Top left, freshman Robert Dent is fast off the blocks. Center right, Adam Petro closes a gap in the medly relay. Lower left, Casares and his team cheer on a Little Giant swimmer.