The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 75 of 83

76 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2016   OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE who notes the energy is immense in both competitions, it's just in different formats. "Being in international competition, the Olympics every four years, the world comes together and it's the pin- nacle of our experience as coaches and athletes," Bottom said. "The collegiate season is exciting because unlike some of the Olympic competition, you have people who are really developing and that developing is happening within a team. And when someone is getting better quickly, the team gets excited about." Eight current and former athletes have competed in the Olympics un- der Bottom, with sophomore Siobhán Haughey being the most recent after she represented Hong Kong in Rio, reaching the semifinals of the 200-me- ter freestyle. Haughey will make that transition from Rio back to Ann Arbor alongside her coach, who believes the respon- sibility of her working with U-M's younger swimmers will lead to her doing big things. "[Haughey] is going to step into our team," Bottom said. "She's going to lead our team in the water, to fight and to try and win in our natatorium." Haughey along with the number of other returning stars from last sea- son's team that placed 10th nationally during its history-making campaign look to continue riding the momen- tum from the Wolverines' first Big Ten championship in 12 years. U-M also qualified seven swimmers to the NCAA Championships last year. Sophomore Yirong Bi, who was named the Big Ten Women's Swim- mer of the Week Oct. 12 after winning five individual events in the season- opening dual meet against Louisville, will be one of the mainstays for Michi- gan this season. The Hangzhou, China, native has already won a conference champion- ship in the 800-yard freestyle relay, made the first-team All-Big Ten list and claimed a pair of All-America honors in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,650- yard freestyle, and she is looking to continue expanding her résumé. Freshman Kristen Hayden, who was selected to represent Team USA at the upcoming 2016 Junior World Cham- pionships in Kazan, Russia, (Nov. 29- Dec. 4), has already secured an NCAA Zone Diving qualifying score on the three-meter springboard with a 312.37. Hayden is one of nine freshmen entering Michigan this season for the women's team with the goal of rep- resenting their countries in the 2020 Olympics. "It's important that our diving pro- gram continues to improve," Bottom said. "Our recruiting has gone along very well. [Head diving coach] Mike Hilde is an incredible coach, as is Rick Bishop and Josh White, who lead the men and women's diving programs." "But the expectation for [Hayden] is continuing to get better. The realization of when that's going to happen, I don't know, but we're really excited about our diving program." With what could be the most veteran women's group Bottom has guided since taking over both the men and women before the 2012-13 season, the goal besides holding on to the top spot in the Big Ten conference is competing for a national championship. A couple of key returning veterans are juniors Clara Smiddy and Gabby DeLoof, who have combined for eight NCAA All-America honorable men- tions and six Big Ten individual cham- pionships. Smiddy is also a two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree with one All-America finish in the 200-yard backstroke, while DeLoof placed 33rd in the 100-meter backstroke and 40th in the 200-meter freestyle at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. U-M's national finish last season marked a huge improvement from 36th in 2013 — Bottom's first year in charge of the squad — but now the focus becomes sustaining the success. The Wolverines also won't enjoy a home-pool advantage at the Big Ten Championships like last year, with In- diana hosting this season. The coach understands that the women won't be favored heading to the Big Ten meet, but maintains that the team will be victorious if its desire to get better does not change. "We will fight and that's the great thing about college swimming — the improving of character over and over again," Bottom explained. "The under- standing that, 'Hey we are champions, whether we win the meet or the na- tional championship or Big Ten cham- pionship, we are champions,' and we will continue to be improving." — Zach Libby MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY Michigan was ranked No. 20 nation- ally in the Oct. 4 United States Track & Field And Cross Country Coaches Asso- ciation poll … U-M was the third highest rated team in the Big Ten behind Indiana (No. 13) and Wisconsin (No. 16) … In the squad's third meet of the 2016 season, senior co-captain Connor Mora and red- shirt junior Aaron Baumgarten placed in the top 15 to give the Wolverines a fourth-place finish and the highest con- ference team finish at the adidas Pre- Nationals meet Oct. 15 … U-M now has recorded eight top-four team finishes in the last nine regular-season meets that were scored … On Sept. 24, Baumgarten placed third at the 8,000-meter Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota … U-M was among six Big Ten schools that competed in the program's first trip to Minnesota since 2005, the site of the conference championships … The team's final meet before the Big Ten Championships Oct. 30 will be the EMU Fall Classic Oct. 21 in Dexter, Mich. — Zach Libby WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY The Wolverines jumped one spot in the United States Track & Field And Cross Country Coaches Association Oct. 4 poll to No. 13 in the country … U-M placed third at the adidas Pre-Na- Senior co-captain Connor Mora came in 13th at the adidas Pre-Nationals Oct. 15, giving U-M a pair of top-15 finishers and helping the Wolverines to place fourth. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

Articles in this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - November 2016