Swimming and diving teams honor the year's best
May 1, 2007
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's men's and women's swimming and diving teams ended their seasons in grand fashion over the weekend as the programs celebrated the best of 2006-07 at their annual awards banquet.
Team MVP honors were presented to first-time recipients senior Amanda Miller, sophomore Zach Schultz and junior Romain Maire. The trio was active in the Boilermakers' success at NCAA's, ensuring both Purdue teams finished among the top 25 for a third-straight season.
Miller, a native of Centreville, Va., left Purdue as a four-time All-American and varsity record holder on 1-meter with 340.20 points. Three of her All-America citations were earned at the 2007 NCAA's, where she was the only diver to reach the championship finals in all three events.
Miller was equally good at Big Ten's, finishing as the runner-up on 3-meter with a personal best total of 378.90 points. She also placed third on 1-meter and platform, scoring 49 of Purdue's 302 points.
Miller was named Big Ten Diver of the Week four times during the regular season as she won 16 events and posted five springboard sweeps.
Schultz made his NCAA debut and earned All-America honors in his first event after placing seventh on 1-meter. He followed that performance with a 15th-place showing on 3-meter and a seventh-place finish on tower.
Schultz was pushed into a leadership position in the first months of 2007 after senior All-American Steve LoBue suffered an injury. The Chicago native responded by winning five-straight regular-season springboard titles and setting a varsity record on 1-meter with 377.45 points.
At Big Ten's, Schultz reached the championship final in all three of his events, totaling 42 points.
Maire had a breakout meet at Big Ten's. He finished second in the 400 individual medley with a varsity record of 3:47.43; placed third in the 200 IM with a personal best of 1:46.31, and fifth in the 200 backstroke with an NCAA automatic qualifying cut of 1:43.54.
The native of Dijon, France, also scored as part of the varsity record-setting 400 and 800 freestyle relays. Maire's 400 free relay, which also included John Schmitt, Trey Smith and Eddie Kenney, finished the course in 2:57.41. The 800 free relay that featured Maire leading off, followed by Craig Thompson, Schmitt and Smith posted a mark of 6:34.63.
Schmitt not only helped rewrite the varsity record book, but also climbed to second on Purdue's all-time performance list in the 100 and 200 free. The Evansville, Ind., native posted prelim times of 44.22 and 1:36.73 at the Big Ten Championships, en route to placing 12th and fifth, respectively, in finals.
"John is one of those guys that leaves no stone unturned," said Purdue men's assistant coach Bill Weaver. "He does whatever is asked of him and his results this past season prove that."
The women's "Most Improved" award was presented to freshman Leah Henniger. As a rookie, Henninger posted the team's third-best time in the 100 free at 52.34 and fourth-fastest mark in the 200 free at 1:53.35; both times were personal bests. Henninger also scored on two relays at Big Tens: the 400 and 800 free relay.
Seniors Rachel Sitarz and Graham Malmgren earned the teams' coaches awards. On the women's side, the award is known as P2S or Purdue Pride in Swimming. The men's award is named after former Boilermaker coaching legend Robert O. Papenguth.
Sitarz was recognized for the daily amount of work she put into her own performance as well as her teammates. The Crown Point, Ind., native scored at Big Ten's for the first time in her career as part of the 200 free relay, and according to head coach Cathy Wright-Eger, stayed after practices to help others with their turns and starts.
Malmgren also impressed his coaching staff at Big Ten's with a lifetime best in the 1650 free (15:55.94).
"After being a manager for his first year with the team, Graham battled his way onto the roster his sophomore year and has continued to excel ever since," said Weaver. "It was nice to see him finally get that lifetime best in the 1650 free. Good way to finish his career."
Malmgren, a nuclear engineering major, along with team captain Steve Miskovetz and senior Rory Belk were announced as the programs' nominees for the Red Mackey Award. Each team at Purdue nominates an individual for the Mackey Award and three student-athletes are chosen at the end of the year to receive another year of scholarship money for their continuing education.
Nicknamed "The 400 Club" by Wright-Eger, the head coach said all of them went the extra mile for visiting recruits.
"Their house would host prospects every recruiting weekend and plan activities such as pumpkin carving," said Wright-Eger. "They'd also cook dinners and make them breakfast before we had to take them back to the airport."
Takaki came to Purdue four years ago as a true walk-on but left an All-American. Her efforts were recognized by the coaching staff as she was presented with the "Whatever It Takes" award.
Takaki left at the top of her game in becoming the first Boilermaker individual swimmer to score at NCAA's in four years with an 11th place and varsity record time of 1:58.09 in the 200 fly. In addition to her performance at nationals, Takaki took second in the 200 fly at Big Tens, placed fifth in the 100 fly, and scored as part of the 200 and 400 medley relays.
The Boilermaker Aquatic Center witnessed many great Purdue student-athletes during the 2006-07 season.