The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 74 of 83

NOVEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 75   OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE playing really well as a team, espe‑ cially with the players we haven't had available this year." After its great start to the year, Michi‑ gan dropped two disappointing games on the road in early October to Illinois and Northwestern, respectively. De‑ spite the defeats, U‑M was still listed No. 25 in the Oct. 11 coaches' poll. "We stopped doing some of the things that have gotten us where we are," he said. "We did not defend well or play with the same level of intensity, so we just have to get back to that. Be‑ ing 9‑1‑1 going into that weekend, we got complacent. We thought we could win without the same level of work, without the same level of intensity, without committing to team defense, and we got punished for it. "Fortunately, those are things that we know how to do, so it's just a mat‑ ter of getting back to what we've been doing all season." When his team his at full strength, Ryan believes the sky is the limit. "It just depends on how healthy we are, because this team can go far if we keep players healthy," he said. "We currently have some injury issues, and we're not sure if they're going to be resolved even by this weekend, so we could be missing three more starters out of our lineup. "If we can get these players healthy again, this is a team that can beat any‑ body on its schedule, and go deep into the NCAA Tournament. If we don't get these players back, it's going to be a real challenge for us in every match." MEN'S SWIMMING LOOKS TO CONTINUE CONFERENCE DOMINATION The men's swimming and diving team had just one previous meeting with Louisville — in 2014 — before the season dual opener in Ann Arbor between the two programs came to a close Oct. 8. With eight swimmers winning their respective individual events on the second day of the unique three‑day event, the men swept the Cardinals, last year's 11th‑place finisher at the NCAA Championships, 246.5‑188.5, 285‑187 and 283‑188, to extend their dual‑meet winning streak to 53. Head coach Mike Bottom has lost just three times during his time at the helm of the men's team, with 73 wins overall, including a 43‑1 record in Big Ten competition. The win is a stepping‑stone for the men to capturing their seventh straight conference title and eighth since 2009. Gunning for the national champion‑ ship is also a goal, having not success‑ fully claimed the title since 2013. Bottom, despite the accolades his team has achieved before this season, was honest with how Michigan could finish in the conference standings, not‑ ing this year is the first in a while that the Big Ten boasts more than one team with a strong roster. Two threats to U‑M's string of con‑ ference domination are Ohio State and Indiana. When the Wolverines lost the 2010 Big Ten championship, it was the Buckeyes who were victorious in front of their home crowd at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. "We understand that [Ohio State and Indiana] are ready to win a conference championship," Bottom said. "We can end up third and we understand that. We never take any championship lightly and we go after each champion‑ ship with everything that we have." Bottom's swimmers have captured the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year honor in four of the last five years — and a Michigan swimmer has held at least a share of the award in 20 of the last 24 seasons — but Wisconsin's Matt Hutchins claimed it last season. The U‑M coach did not name a spe‑ cific swimmer that could bring the prize back to Ann Arbor, but he did rave about the upperclassman leader‑ ship and incoming freshman class. One of the most impressive rook‑ ies is Felix Aubock, the Vienna, Aus‑ tria, native who finished 18th in the 200‑meter freestyle at the 2016 Olym‑ pics. Joining him is Jacob Montague of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., a member of the U.S. Junior National Team and a gold medal recipient in the 100‑meter breaststroke and the 4x100‑meter med‑ ley relay at the 2016 Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Montague was also named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after win‑ ning the 50‑yard breaststroke and 100‑ yard breaststroke against Louisville, and finishing runner‑up in two other events. Leading the talented veterans is ju‑ nior PJ Ransford, a 2015 NCAA All‑ American and the 2016 Big Ten cham‑ pion in the 1,650‑yard freestyle, and classmate Paul Powers, a six‑time Big Ten champion who has earned five NCAA All‑America laurels (50‑yard freestyle and 200‑yard freestyle relay in 2016; and the 50‑yard freestyle, 200‑ yard freestyle relay, 400‑yard freestyle relay in 2015). Ransford was also recently named to the 2016‑17 U.S. National Team Sept. 9, along with three former Michigan swimmers in Connor Jaeger (2011‑14), Sean Ryan (2011‑14) and Tyler Clary (2008‑10). He will compete in the 1,500‑meter freestyle. "All of our student‑athletes are at‑ tempting to get better," Bottom said. "And they're trying to figure out how to get better and we're working with them to give them opportunities to stronger." The men's team returns to official action Nov. 4‑5 against Penn State and Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. — Zach Libby WOMEN'S SWIMMING NOW HAS A TITLE TO DEFEND Head coach Mike Bottom is no stranger to the international swimming scene, having more than two decades of coaching experience, including in the six previous Olympic Games, most recently this past summer in Rio de Janeiro. There aren't many who understand the transition from the Olympics to the collegiate level better than Bottom, Junior Paul Powers claimed two NCAA All- America laurels, three All-America honor- able mentions and a pair of Big Ten titles last year. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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