Oct. 9, 2002
Bill Wadley has never had a losing season in his 13 years at the helm of the Ohio State men’s swimming program and he hopes to continue that streak.
The men’s swimming and diving team finished 2001-02 with a 10-1 record, giving Wadley a 122-20 mark overall at Ohio State.
While 2002 saw the departure of several crucial members of the team, a strong troop of returning athletes, combined with 12 incoming freshmen, creates a strong foundation for the 2002-03 squad.
“We expect it to be a challenge,” Wadley said. “The Big Ten has continued to get better and we graduated six seniors who were not only excellent swimmers, but many also were some of our best leaders. We believe that the Big Ten is so good there is no room for error. We are going to have to be on our toes and have a great meet at Big Ten’s.”
Among the list of seniors the Buckeyes have lost includes Nick Cheney (freestyle). Cheney opens a hole for the team in the sprint freestyle events where he had a excelled in 2001-02. Cheney finished ninth in the 100 freestyle at the 2002 Big Ten Championships.
The Buckeyes also will miss the services of Ivan Petrovic, who won the 100 backstroke in an intense duel meet versus Michigan in 2002 and later went on to finish sixth and 11th in the 200 and 100 backstroke, respectively, at the Big Ten Championships.
To fill the void of the non-returning seniors, Wadley will look to his juniors and seniors to provide support in and out of the water.
“You always expect your upperclassmen to be the leaders of the team,” Wadley said. “It is their turn, it is their responsibility and they’re supposed to be old enough, wise enough and mature enough to handle the leadership role. Its their opportunity now to direct the team (to the place) that we want the program to go in the pool and in the classroom.” Wadley said that he specifically looks to seniors Nicholas Rees (butterfly), Matt Rusnov (individual medley/breaststroke) and Vladi Dusil (freestyle), juniors Steve Plogsted (butterfly) and Andreas Campioni (backstroke) and sophomore Sean Veit (freestyle) to be the athletes who step up to lead the Buckeye squad in 2002-03.
Rees, who is from Nassau, Bahamas, is a former Olympian, who competed in the 2000 Olympics for his homeland. He qualified for the 2002 NCAA Championships in the 100 butterfly for the second-consecutive season, placing 34th.
Rees also had a strong showing at the 2002 Big Ten Championships where he took eighth in the 100 butterfly, 16th in the 200 butterfly and was a part of three relay squads.
Dusil also will look to build off his successes at the 2002 Big Ten Championships where he placed 12th in the 500 freestyle, 20th in the 200 freestyle, 15th in the mile and was a part of the Ohio State 800 freestyle relay, which placed fourth.
Tommy Seay, another returning letterwinner, brings several strong finishes in IM last season back to the table in 2002-03. Seay won the 200 IM in meets against Ohio, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Cleveland State and Michigan State. He then traveled to the Big Ten Championships and placed 18th in the 400 IM, 22nd in the 100 freestyle and was a part of three relay teams including the fourth-place finish in the 800 freestyle relay.
The 2002-03 Buckeyes also will feature a strong class of a 12 freshmen. The class, which includes eight swimmers from Ohio, is comprised of freestyle swimmers Adam Braun, Ben Knickrehm and Brian Tiemeier, butterfly swimmers Tim Webb and Peter Cardarelli, distance swimmers Matthew Chute and Benji Herschberger, Jeff Gullett in the IM, as well as Blake Foltz, Chris Stoneberg and Marty Tomes, who look to contribute in multiple events.
Highlights of the class include Tomes, who qualifies for the 2002 U.S. Nationals in the 100 butterfly. He is expected to step in right away and compete in the Big Ten. Gullett, also is a freshman and can immediately contribute. He swims several events but Wadley and his staff wish to make him a full-time competitor in the 200 and 400 IM.
Overall, Coach Wadley always brings a sense of optimism and plans for success in the upcoming season.
“Our goal is to eventually win a Big Ten title and to be in the top two or three on an annual basis and this year will be a real challenge to do that, but we’ve done it in the past,” he said. “There have been years where we thought we would end up fifth and have finished third. This very well could be one of those years.”
The Buckeyes come into the 2002-03 season with no superstars to provide dominance in any particular event, but they should have solid competitors in every race.
The strongest event for Ohio State in the upcoming season may be the butterfly. The team returns Nick Rees and brings in an outstanding freshman in Marty Tomes. The team also will look for production out of junior Steve Plogstead.
Another strength should be in the individual medley, where sophomore Tommy Seay will lead the charge along with freshman stand-out Jeff Gullett.
The breaststroke will be another strong point in the 2002-03 team. Sophomores Matt Jeffries and Rob Kauscher will return and guide the way in the event along with senior Matt Rusnov.
If the team does have one area of concern, it may be in the backstroke.
“We are a little uncertain of our backstroke, we’ve always had great backstrokers, but this year we may be a little thin,” Wadley said. “We do have one backstroker, Andreas Campioni, and we’ve got to get him faster. We’ve got to help him take a step to the next level.”
The team also should continue its success in both sprint and distance freestyle. Vladi Dusil, Sean Veit, Andy Swonger and Ryan Sciortino among others will look to help develop a large class of freshmen in the freestyle events.
Ohio State opens the fall season for the second-consecutive year with a duel meet versus instate opponent Ohio. This season the meet will take place at the Mike Peppe Aquatic Center in Columbus. The team then will travel to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers and Louisville Nov. 8.
After home meets against Miami (Ohio) and Utah, the team will compete against another instate opponent when it travels to Cleveland State Nov. 26, wrapping up the fall season.
“Our schedule is set up so that our guys can focus on two things in the fall,” Wadley said. “No. 1 is that our guys focus on great school work and doing well in the academic arena. The second goal is to make sure our team focuses on training and learning about their strokes and getting stronger in the weight room and continuing to develop so that they are ready in February for the Big Ten championships.
In the winter, the Buckeyes take on conference foes Indiana (Jan. 11) and Michigan State (Jan. 17), both at home. The team then will wrap up its regular season in usual fashion by competing in a duel meet against rival Michigan, this year in Ann Arbor Feb. 1. After a few weeks away from competition the team will return to Michigan for the 2003 Big Ten Championships Feb. 27 – Mar. 1.