The Wolverine

April 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 54 of 67

APRIL 2021 THE WOLVERINE 55 M ichigan men's swimming and diving team entered the fifth and final day at the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio, down 26.5 points to first-place Indiana and only 10 points ahead of third-place Ohio State. The Wolverines had to rally if they wanted to repeat as Big Ten champions, and that's exactly what they did. The final day's fireworks started in the morning, with the Wolverines showing out in the preliminaries and putting 12 swimmers in A or B finals, compared to eight for both Indiana and Ohio State. Five swimmers then earned spots in the finals, which allowed U-M to capitalize and gain more points to make up ground. When it came time for the final event of the championships, the 400- yard freestyle relay, all the Maize and Blue — who had a 54-point lead at the time — had to do was finish the race to clinch the Big Ten title. The Wolver- ines came in third (2:49.66), winning a bronze medal, highlighted by sopho- more River Wright's school-record time of 42.06 in the first 100-yard leg to lead things off. All told, U-M won three Big Ten indi- vidual or relay titles, set 49 new career bests and saw 11 swimmers put them- selves on the program's all-time top performers list. Thirteenth-year head coach Mike Bottom told The Wolverine before the season that his goals were to take things "day by day," due to the unique and uncertain nature of sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wolverines went through a lot, including the loss of junior Ian Miskel- ley, who passed away in September, but U-M was able to finish strong on the final day of the Big Ten season to come out on top. Despite the immense success the coach has had over the years, this title means just a little bit more. "This is a victory that stands apart," Bottom told following the championship. "We came into this thing 200-plus points behind. We lost a crazy amount of points last year from seniors who graduated. We didn't have [former All-American swimmer] Ri- cardo [Vargas] with us, and he's a big scorer. If you look back at all the time drops, to do what we did, it's insane. "You know, it's sad Ian Miskelley couldn't be with us, but this team moved forward with him in an incred- ible way. It's sad that we missed all those times earlier in the year when we couldn't train at Canham [Natatorium], but that united us. "There's no other Big Ten champion- ship like this in our history. There are no words. It's just amazing." U-M qualified 12 individuals and all five relays to the NCAA Champion- ships March 24-27 in Greensboro, N.C. — Clayton Sayfie WOLVERINES LINE NHL DRAFT PROSPECTS LIST Steve Kournianos of TheDraftAna- came out with his list of the top 32 NHL Draft prospects for 2021, and five U-M hockey players and commits were found on the list. Most notably, three Wolverine freshmen ap- peared in the top four. Defenseman Owen Powers checked in as the top prospect in the nation, and the Mississauga, Ontario, native has been named a finalist for Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. "He's a powerful skater who attacks openings with confidence but is agile enough to change direction or cut back and allow support to join the play," Kournianos noted. Forward Matty Beniers was second in the rankings, with the analyst saying he "has all the makings of a productive top-line center in the NHL." Forward Kent Johnson checked in fourth, and was lauded for his play- making ability. "I wouldn't go as far as to call John- son a prodigious offensive talent, but the kid continues to pile up points ev- erywhere he goes," Kournianos noted, adding that Johnson is more of a passer right now but will likely score more goals soon in his career. U-M defenseman commit Luke Hughes, a 2021 recruit, was ranked No. 13, while fellow 2021 pledge Dylan Duke, a forward, came in at No. 29. — Clayton Sayfie WRESTLER MYLES AMINE WINS BIG TEN TITLE Michigan sixth-year senior Myles Amine had finished in second place at the Big Ten Championships in the 174-pound weight class in 2018 and 2019, before taking an Olympic red- shirt in 2020. But, despite moving two weight classes up to 197 pounds, he OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE Men's Swimming And Diving Team Wins Second Straight Big Ten Title The U-M men's swimming and diving team won its 42nd Big Ten championship this season, its 100th year of varsity competition. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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