Oct. 18, 2005
With 13 letterwinners returning and a highly touted group of newcomers, ASU men's swimming and diving is aiming to finish in the top-15 this season at NCAA's. Last season, the Sun Devils finished 20th while only scoring in diving competitions at the NCAA's. If ASU can have a couple individuals and relays score at the NCAA's, then they should be able to crack the top-15.
Leading the way for ASU is senior diver Joona Puhakka (Helsinki, Finland). Puhakka was the only Sun Devil that scored in the NCAA's. Senior swimmer David Kolozar (Budapest, Hungary) and junior Leo Martins (Garanhuns-PE, Brazil) lead a list of returning swimmers hoping to finish in the top-15 this season.
ASU will add 11 new faces to its men's roster this season. Some of the newcomers include freshman breaststroker Marcus Titus (Tucson, Ariz.), junior transfer Cheyne O'Gorman (Vista, Calif.) and freshman middle-distance freestyler Chris Spriggs (Vancouver, Wash.). All three should make an immediate impact on a young Sun Devils team.
"The team is going to be a lot different," said swimming head coach Mike Chasson. "The boys we brought in are going to be a lot better. We'll be better in every phase of it."
Last season the Pac-10 had three men's swimming and diving teams finish in the top-5 at NCAA's, so the Sun Devils will have a challenging Pac-10 schedule. Oct. 30 ASU will travel to UNLV for what should be a good matchup for them. Then, the Sun Devils will host USC finished in the top-10 last season in the NCAA's. Dec. 1-3 men's swimming will travel to Austin, Texas, for the Texas Invitational and to Columbus, Ohio, for the Buckeye Invitational. ASU will host Purdue Jan. 6-7 and travel to California and Stanford Jan. 20-21 for what will be a challenging road trip. To close out the regular season, the Sun Devils will host intrastate rival Arizona who finished third at NCAA's last season.
"UNLV is a good matchup on the men's side," said Chasson. "I think we've got some meets that are really going to give people some really good swimming experience."
Juniors Richie Crowder (Los Gatos, Calif.) and Cheyne O'Gorman will lead the way for the Sun Devils in the sprint freestyle events. Crowder holds the eighth-fastest time in the ASU record books in the 50 freestyle. Junior transfer O'Gorman has broken seven school records at his junior college and looks to help out ASU in the sprint freestyle events.
"For sprint we've got Cheyne (O'Gorman) and Richie (Crowder)," said Chasson. "Richie just missed NCAA's and Cheyne's best times are a little behind Richie's, but those two guys hopefully can get to the NCAA's."
Other swimmers looking to contribute include freshman Mohammed Madwa (Kuwait City, Kuwait), senior Alex Smith (Houston, Texas) and Marcus Titus.
Middle Distance Freestyle:
The middle-distance freestylers are very young for ASU this season. Senior David Kolozar will lead a young, but talented group of middle-distance swimmers for the Sun Devils. Among them are freshmen Kerry Tannhauser (Seattle, Wash.) and Chris Spriggs.
"Our middle-distance freestylers are very young," said Chasson. "We've got two freshmen, Spriggs and Tannhauser, who hope to make big breakthroughs."
Sophomore Lucas Azevedo (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) may also swim middle-distance freestyle events. Another swimmer who looks to contribute in these events is freshman Sean Boyle (Lake Elsinore, Calif.). Senior John Zemaitis (Scottsdale, Ariz.) will add experience and depth for the middle-distance freestyle events.
"We hope that area is strong and those guys can step up," Chasson said.
ASU has a lot of depth in the freestyle events and distance freestyle is no exception. Lucas Azevedo and freshman Nawaf Al-Wazzan (Kuwait City, Kuwait) will be key contributors in these events for the Sun Devils. Kerry Tanhauser and Chris Spriggs could contribute in the distance freestyle events as well even though they haven't swam very many 1650s.
"We've got Lucas Azevedo who we hope will continue to improve," said Chasson. "We've also got some young swimmers who have potential. We've got a lot more depth in free, so hopefully those guys will step up."
With school record holder and sprint breaststroker Emerson Ward gone, the Sun Devils don't expect to miss a beat this season. Freshman Marcus Titus looks to step in and pick up right where Ward left off in the 100 breaststroke this season.
"Breaststroke should be one of our real strengths," Chasson said. "Marcus Titus is an incoming sprint breaststroker and we're hoping he can step right in as a freshman where Emerson Ward was as a senior."
Senior Joey Clements (Rowland Heights, Calif.) and junior Leo Martins will swim the 200 breaststroke. Martins has recorded the third fastest time in school history in the 200 breaststroke and Clements has the fourth fastest time. Sophomore C.J. Nuess (Medical Lake, Wash.) will add depth to a talented field of breaststrokers.
"There is a lot of potential there and that could be a real strength," said Chasson.
Lacking a true ace in backstroke, ASU will look to C.J. Nuess, John Zemaitis and freshman Brandon Pierson (Lake Forest, Calif.) to contribute. The Sun Devils will get help in backstroke at the end of the semester, but until then the Sun Devils will plug those three swimmers in there to take care of the duties.
"C.J. Nuess, John Zemaitis and Brandon Pierson can swim some backstroke, but we really don't have an ace there until the end of the semester," Chasson said.
The Sun Devils have a lot of depth in the 100 butterfly with a couple of newcomers taking the reins. Junior transfer Cheyne O'Gorman and freshman Chris Spriggs look to make an impact in the 100 butterfly this season for ASU. Also, sophomore John Dwelley (Brentwood, Calif.) will be a big contributor in the 100 butterfly. Senior Brett Meconis (Farmington Hills, Mich.) is also expected to help the Sun Devils in the 100 and 200 butterfly events.
"John Dwelley had a great summer in the 100 and I think he is going to step up this year," said Chasson. "WE also have some depth with Meconis, O'Gorman and Spriggs. I think we'll have some people with potential in the 100 butterfly."
Freshman Sean Boyle will make an impact in the 200 butterfly for ASU along with C.J. Nuess who can swim it when needed. Senior David Kolozar recorded the second fastest time in the ASU record books in the 200 butterfly and looks to get back to that form of two years ago.
"Sean Boyle is a good 200 flyer," said Chasson. "He's going to make some improvements in yards."
Sophomore C.J. Nuess is the Sun Devils ace in the IM. He swims all of the strokes pretty well and should be a key contributor to the team. Nuess hold the third fastest time in school history in the 400 IM. Senior David Kolozar can also swim the IM and holds the eighth fastest time in the 200 IM.
"We've got C.J. Nuess who is the main guy," said Chasson. "David Kolozar is going to swim more IM and he's very good."
ASU has a lot of depth in freestyle events, especially with the sprinters, and will look upon those swimmers to help out in relays. Of those swimmers, Sean Boyle looks to play a big role in the relays.
"He's a national level swimmer," said Chasson. "He's going to help quite a bit, especially on relays."
Sprint freestyler Richie Crowder should also have an impact on the relays. There are several freestyle specialists who will contribute on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Senior David Kolozar also returns for the 800 free relay and the depth in the mid distance events will have six or seven swimmers battling it out for four relay spots.
Heading into the season, the medley relays are still very open. Chasson is confident the back half of the medley relays will be very strong in the breaststroke and freestyle, but is still looking for someone to emerge as the team's top sprint butterfly specialist.
National Diver of the Year Joona Puhakka returns for his senior campaign. He owns four school records in the springboard diving events. Puhakka claimed the one-meter springboard national title and defended his three-meter springboard championship sweeping the springboard events. In doing so, he became the first male student-athlete to win two individual national championships in the same season. This season he looks to add to his four individual national championships he as already earned.
"Joona's accomplishments speak for themselves," said diving coach Mark Bradshaw. "He is the best diver in the country and that is the expectation he carries around with him every day."
Coming off a shoulder injury that cut his season short last year, senior Brant Bingham (Mesa, Ariz.) aims to have an excellent senior year. He could give a run at competing at the NCAA's this season.
"I am looking for Brant to really step up and have a great senior year," said Bradshaw. "It is a great year for him to move up nationally."
Joining the two seniors will be freshmen Micky Benedetti (Rome, Italy) and Billy Sweeney (Tempe, Ariz.). The freshmen are the future of the program and look to learn from Puhakka and Bingham. Sweeney will be able to help in dual meets, but Benedetti won't dive this season.
"It's nice to have two seniors passing the torch on to the younger guys," said Bradshaw. "I hope that Billy and Micky can learn from Joona and Brant and continue the excellence that exists in our program."