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Men Combine Experience and Youth For A Winning Combination

Oct. 18, 2002

If you take an experienced group of talented veterans and an enthusiastic group of capable newcomers, you will have the 2002-03 Michigan State men's swimming and diving team.

Head coach Jim Lutz senses the excitement in the air for the upcoming season.

"The experience of the veterans compliments the talent and excitement of the freshmen," said Lutz. "We anticipate many successful surprises along the way as we position ourselves to move up the Big Ten ladder. This is the most talented group overall that we have had here at MSU in quite a while."

"We have a good group of seniors who have a lot of Big Ten experience and we have a pretty talented group of freshmen," concurred associate head coach Matt Gianiodis.

Behind the strong leadership of co-captains Joe Brennan and Nick DeFauw, the Spartans are strengthened by a senior class that has competed at a high level throughout their tenure at Michigan State.

"Nearly everyone in our senior class has scored at the Big Ten Championships and that is something that you don't see very often." Gianiodis commented about the team's eldest class.

The freestyle group for MSU is full of returning talent, led by Brennan, who was the fastest swimmer last season in the 200 and 500 free. Brennan is the top returning Spartan in the 100, 1000 and 1650 freestyle events.

Juniors Joel Hageman and Michael Rigali will return in the sprint group for Michigan State, along with DeFauw and sophomore Patrick Saucedo.

Returning Spartan senior Karl Sunryd will lead the backstroke core, as the fastest in the 50 and 100 events one year ago, while classmate Aaron Benore was his counterpart in the 200 back.

Rigali headlined the breaststroke group last season, holding the fastest times in the 50 and 100 events. Ross Clay and David Sloan will join him to add depth to the breaststroke event.

Due to graduation, the butterfly events suffered the most loss in the top spots. Hageman and Sloan will look to continue the strides they made from last season.

In the individual medley, the Spartans return the top four finishers in the 100 with Benore, Rigali, Sloan and Brennan. DeFauw, Sunryd and Rigali return as three of the four members of a 200 medley relay squad that set a new school record one year ago.

The Spartans return all three divers, as senior Nick Visscher, junior Patrick Sheahan-Stahl and sophomore Justin Laskowski all take to the water for another season with the Green and White.

Michigan State adds nine freshmen to the mix and a new level of competition as everyone competes for a spot in the dual meets.

"The newcomers are a very talented class," said Gianiodis. He looks for the incoming class to provide a spark for the team, adding depth to every event. "They have a lot national and international experience."

Ian Clutten and Rudolf Wagenaar have traveled the farthest to join Michigan State, as both come from Capetown, South Africa to swim as Spartans. Clutten will join the breaststroke group and provide depth in the IM, while Wagenaar will contribute his talents in the backstroke and middle distance.

Jason Fish, David Habel, Nick Harley, Nick Mrozowski, Chris Stevens, Jason Utah and Matt Wisniewski round out the freshmen class that adds deep depth and versatility to the Spartans' swim team.

The team is determined to make their mark on the history of the Michigan State swimming and diving program. The coaching staff knows that in order for the team to succeed at their utmost potential, discipline will be a key factor.

"If we can discipline ourselves to maintain our focus over the six-months of the season, then we have the opportunity to really climb up and be happy with the results," said Gianiodis, reviewing the goals for the upcoming season, knowing that this team has the will to accomplish them.

The quality of swimming and diving athletes goes beyond the walls of the Charles McCaffree Pool in the IM West Building.

"This is a talented group of students," Gianiodis stated. "We have a great group of students and athletes."

The blending of current Spartans and newcomers coincide with the new look of the Michigan State coaching staff this season. Kathleen Milloy and Eric Best join Lutz, Gianiodis and Richard Mull poolside. Milloy comes to Michigan State after serving stints at Clemson, Toledo, Tennessee and Brown, while Best begins his first season as diving coach, replacing legendary diving coach John Narcy, who retired last season after 37 years of coaching.

Old and new, young and old, the Michigan State men's swimming and diving team is brimming with talent that is ready to explode.



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