The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2018 THE WOLVERINE 33 water, and it was going to be a walk- away." Sophomore Siobhán Haughey posted a pair of Big Ten individual championships, in the 200-yard free- style and the 200-yard individual medley, and was part of the title- winning 400-yard freestyle relay. She became one of several Wolverines to overcome physical ailments to de- liver a title. "Siobhán was pretty incredible, the way she battled, every swim," Bot- tom said. "We didn't even know if she was going to compete, because of her injury. "She didn't get to swim at her top, but everybody around her stepped up with a purpose, and it wasn't a problem. Clara Smiddy in her swims as a senior — her 200 back was great, and she stepped up on her 100 back." The entire effort raised Michigan's promise for the upcoming national competition, Bottom asserted. "The relays are always fun," he said. "The 800-yard relay, those four girls [juniors Yirong Bi and Catie De- Loof, along with seniors Gabby De- Loof and G Ryan] just cranked it out, not only winning the Big Tens but, at that point, we were No. 1 in the country with that time. "Those are things that open up the team's vision to things bigger than the Big Ten. That set us up for some great swims at the NCAAs." The Wolverines achieved those great swims, beyond Bottom's ex- pectations. He was looking for a top- seven finish, perhaps a climb to No. 5 if his team swam really well. Once again, the Wolverines de- lighted their coach — and disap- pointed the locals — by excelling. "To get fourth was pretty special," Bottom said. "The team had that in mind the whole time, to get hard- ware. I wanted to be realistic at the beginning of the year. I didn't set that as a goal, because there are some really great teams in the NCAA, and we were coming from so far back in the last few years. "When we did come through with fourth place, we were ecstatic. It was a matter of each member of the team stepping up and battling for every point that got on the board." Michigan featured 11 All-America performances, including runner-up finishes by Haughey in the 200-yard freestyle, Tucker in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 800-yard free- style relay squad. The Wolverines have risen quickly over the past few years, but the next steps will be even tougher, according to their head coach. "It's always easier to rise as a team, coming from 36th in the country to No. 4," Bottom said. "To stay on the top is the most difficult thing. You look at teams that have won the NCAAs, including our own men's program. To stay at the top of the heap is always tough, because you have so many people shooting at you. "Part of what they did for us this year is recruiting. We have a great class coming in, a great brand, that they've set a standard for. The stan- dard isn't only in the water." It's also in academics, community outreach and leadership, Bottom pointed out. He appreciated the way his senior captains proved equipped to guide this crew. "It was a really diverse class that reached out to every group on the team," Bottom explained. "Clara Smiddy has been injured her whole career here, so she was sympathetic to those who are battling back from injury and challenges. Carolyn Mc- Cann has a 4.0 in engineering, is very logical and was a great planner. Gabby DeLoof is just a workhorse who could speak to those athletes who are workhorses. "The captains really reached to ev- ery corner of the team. Everybody understood the purpose, which was to reach for our potential, and doing it for Michigan and for each other. That resonated over and over again, not just in the meets but in everyday workouts. "That's where a team is built — ev- ery day, every workout." Another major plus for this group involved assistant head coach Rick Bishop, according to Bottom. "He's done an incredible job in the training aspect of the individuals," Bottom noted. "He's an amazing coach that has redefined individual training, making each workout fit for the individual. "Because of all the injuries, he had to do an amazing job this year to keep people moving forward." Bottom keeps people upbeat and motivated, even when hearing Co- lumbus-style jabs. "When those comments come, when we're walking around town, it's the old duck in the water theory," he assured. "It just rolls off. We're coated with the Michigan blue." ❏ Filling Out The Top Five Female Teams Michigan's swimming and diving crew wasn't the only successful female squad in Ann Arbor, by any means. Tough competition at the top and down the line marked this past year. 2. Field Hockey — If swimming stands out as No. 1, Marcia Pankratz's field hockey squad is 1-A, and in fact became the Michigan athletic department's female team of the year. After a 3-2 start, U-M won a program-record 18 in a row. The Wolverines set a program record for wins (21-3), swept the Big Ten regular- season and tournament titles, and took advantage of the home field in the NCAA Tournament to make it all the way to the NCAA semifinals. 3. Water Polo — Dr. Marcelo Leonardi's crew put forward another strong effort, winning its third consecutive Collegiate Water Polo Association championship. The Wolverines compiled a 32-9 record, including a 20-game winning streak, and battled their way to the NCAA quarterfinals. 4. Gymnastics — Bev Plocki's team earned its fifth straight Big Ten champion- ship with an 8-1 league record and a 26-5-1 mark overall. The Wolverines went on to finish fourth in the NCAA Regionals. They wound up ranked No. 13 in the nation, the top spot for any team that did not make the NCAA Championships, and posted a pair of top-five victories. 5. Softball — Carol Hutchins' squad surged to its 10th regular-season Big Ten championship in the past 11 years. The Wolverines wound up 18-3 in the con- ference and 44-13 overall for the squad's 24th straight campaign with 40 wins. Bolstered by the pitching of 33-6 freshman and Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Meghan Beaubien, the young Wolverines took some lessons for the future after early exits from the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Regional. — John Borton

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