It's been more than a week now since the Auburn University men's swim team claimed the NCAA title.
Many things around campus have started to return to normal for the Tigers. Even the rain has helped wash the strands of toilet paper out of the two trees in front of Toomer's Drug Store following Auburn's traditional "Rolling of Toomer's Corner" after any big victory.
But 1999 Petersburg High School graduate Derek Gibb, a junior sprint freestyle/backstroke specialist for Auburn, is still in a state of euphoria.
"This is absolutely awesome," Gibb said. "This is probably the biggest high I've ever been on. I had no clue this was what it was like winning the national championship. This is so awesome it happened."
The Auburn men claimed their first NCAA title since 1999 on March 29, becoming just the second team in NCAA history to break the 600-point barrier. Auburn scored 609.5 points, easily beating runner-up and meet host Texas with 413 points. Rounding out the top-five teams were Stanford with 374, California with 329 and Southern Cal with 268.
The victory gave the Tigers a sweep of both NCAA swimming titles this year, as the Auburn women won their meet a week earlier for their second straight championship.
"It's unbelievable, it feels so great to be a national champion," said Gibb, whose parents Larry and Kim Gibb now live in Juneau. "I never thought, coming from Petersburg, Alaska, I could do anything like this. It's been a long road."
"He's worked out wonderfully for us," Auburn coach David Marsh said of Gibb. "He's made excellent strides with his training ability and increased strength. He's one of the most-loved guys on the team."
While he didn't win any individual events, Gibb played a major role in Auburn's national championship.
Gibb took fourth place in the 50-yard freestyle (19.51 seconds), 10th in the 100 backstroke (47.51) and 16th in the 100 free (44.62), easily bettering his pre-meet seedings of 17th, 21st and 27th, respectively. He also swam on Auburn's 200-yard freestyle relay team (1:17.28) and the 200 medley relay team (1:24.96), which both finished in second place.
"I had all B cuts (alternate entries in his individual events), so I was pretty happy to make the finals in the 50 free," said Gibb, a criminology major who hopes to become an FBI agent. "We had four guys in the 50 free finals and Fred (Bousquet, an Auburn freshman from France) won. George (Bovell, another teammate) had just won the 200 IM (individual medley) with an NCAA record. This was probably the best way we could have started the meet."
Gibb made the B finals (consolation finals) in the 100 back and 100 free, so he still earned team points even though he wasn't in the championship final.
"I haven't swam backstroke since high school," said Gibb, who still holds the state high school record in the 100 free and his 100 back time still ranks third in state history. As a senior, Gibb tied for the 100 back state championship with Juneau's Wade Walter.
"He rediscovered his backstroke," Marsh said. "We were able to get him out of doing too much freestyle. When he trains too much on freestyle, over long distances his stroke breaks down. Swimming backstroke was a welcome relief."
This was Gibb's second trip to the NCAA championship meet, and the second year he earned all-American honors.
Last year, Gibb was seeded 46th in the 50 free but finished seventh (he was sixth after the preliminaries). He took 39th in the 100 free, plus he was on Auburn's 200 free relay team that took fourth, the 200 medley relay team that finished sixth and the 400 free relay team that was fourth. During the 200 free relay, Gibb swam a leg time of 19.05, which is better than the NCAA record for the 50 free of 19.06 (relay splits for legs other than the first leg can't count as records).
Last August, Gibb swam well enough at the U.S. National Championships to earn a spot on the U.S. World University Games team that will compete this August in South Korea. Then he will start preparing for his senior year at Auburn and a shot at the Olympic Trials next year.
"Last year it was a surprise for him to be in the upper echelon," Marsh said. "This year there were more expectations and the pressure he had on him from his teammates was a lot higher. The fact that he made the finals again showed us a lot about him."
When he was in high school, Gibb was a 6-foot-6 basketball center who had to match up with Juneau's Carlos Boozer in the Southeast Championship game. Gibb has grown two inches since then - he's 6-8 now - but he's dropped basketball to concentrate on his swimming.
One thing he hasn't dropped is working on a commercial fishing boat. Gibb is known for supplying the Auburn training table with fresh salmon, black cod and king crab. Gibb's fishing and swimming were both featured on the USA Swimming Web site last August, http://www.usswim.org/superstars/template.pl?opt=news&pubid=2508.
Even though he has the World University Games in August, Marsh told Gibb to spend some time in Alaska this summer fishing. Gibb said when he returns to Alaska he splits his time between Juneau and Petersburg.
"I love being on a boat, that's one of the reasons I come back," Gibb said.
"I told him to go home for the first part of the summer," Marsh said. "He needs to smell the salt water. He misses Alaska, and he needs to bring me some crab."
Seattle University senior distance freestyle specialist Sean Seaver (Ketchikan) was his school's only representative at the NCAA Division II national championship meet held March 12-15 in Grand Forks, N.D. Seaver scored enough points, 22, to give the Redhawks 24th place in the meet. Seaver earned Seattle's first NCAA Division II all-American honor with an eighth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 35.93 seconds). He also picked up two honorable mention all-American honors with a ninth in the 1,650 free (15:59.13, which won the B final) and a 15th in the 1,000 free (9:35.29). In his only other event, Seaver finished 27th in the 200 free (1:43.42), but didn't score points or earn all-American honors. This was Seattle's first time competing at the NCAA Division II level after winning the NAIA national championship last year. Seaver was featured in College Corner on Jan. 3.
Shasta College sophomore Chad Walter (Juneau-Douglas) won the 100-yard backstroke and took second place in the 200 freestyle as the Knights beat American River College 51-49 in a dual meet on March 21. Walter also was a member of Shasta's winning 200 free relay team.
Arizona State University sophomore catcher Garrett Schoenberger (Juneau-Douglas) has seen limited action this season for the No. 3 Sun Devils (34-7 overall). Schoenberger, the only player to make the team as a walk-on in 2000, has played in three games and has just two at bats (0-for-2). Schoenberger is expected to return to Alaska this summer to play his second season for the Kenai Peninsula Oilers in the Alaska League. Schoenberger, a business marketing major, is the Pac-10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee co-chairperson and represents ASU in Pac-10 student-athlete meetings.
University of Dayton freshman pitcher Dylan Hickey (Juneau-Douglas) has a 2-2 record in seven appearances (one start) and a 5.93 ERA this season for the Flyers (8-17). Hickey picked up a victory with three scoreless innings of relief, with one hit and three strikeouts, as Dayton beat the University of Cincinnati 4-3 on April 1. Hickey will play for the Anchorage Bucs of the Alaska League this summer.
Belmont University senior third baseman Wade Walter (Juneau-Douglas) has played in just nine games this season (eight starts), posting a .258 batting average with two doubles, six RBIs and three runs scored in 31 at bats for the Bruins (15-12). Walter hasn't played in more than a month due to a vertigo problem and may seek a medical redshirt year. Walter won Belmont's Big Stick Award last year after leading the Bruins with a .352 batting average, so he was expected to be a big contributor for the team this season.
Shasta College has four former Juneau-Douglas High School players on its team this year - freshman shortstop/outfielder Kari Parr, freshman catcher/third baseman Suzanne Parr, freshman pitcher Nicole Adair and freshman outfielder Krista Staveland. No team stats were available for the Knights (20-10).
Linfield College freshman outfielder Zeta Moss (Ketchikan) has yet to show up in the team stats for the Wildcats (15-8). Moss played on Linfield's junior varsity volleyball team last fall.
Texas A&M freshman Seva Iwinski (a former Juneau resident who graduated from Walker School in Marietta, Ga.) ended an eight-match losing streak in singles last weekend and now has a three-match winning streak for the 30th-ranked Aggies. Iwinski was 9-19 for the fall and spring seasons entering last weekend, usually playing in Texas A&M's No. 6 singles spot. But Iwinski was moved up to the No. 4 spot on Friday, where she claimed a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Erika Rudich of Sam Houston State. Also on Friday, Iwinski claimed a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Texas Tech's Katja Kovacic in the No. 6 spot. On Sunday, Iwinski beat No. 14 South Alabama's Kiara Jarova, 6-2, 6-0. In doubles, Iwinski has been paired most of the season with freshman Nikki Mecham and the partners have a 12-10 record this season following a victory against Texas Tech on Friday and a loss to South Alabama on Sunday.
TRACK AND FIELD
Marquette University freshman Jodi Jakubek (Ketchikan) is competing in distance events for the Golden Eagles. Jakubek has yet to show up in outdoor track results this season, but last fall she competed for Marquette at the NCAA Division I cross-country running championships.
University of Portland freshman Jesse Stringer (Juneau-Douglas) is competing in distance events for the Pilots, although this winter Stringer said he plans to transfer to Western Oregon next year. Stringer competed as an unattached runner from Portland during the Willamette Invitational last weekend, finishing 12th out of 22 runners in the first section of the 5,000 meters with a time of 16 minutes, 5.0 seconds.
Portland State University freshman Hilary Young (Juneau-Douglas) is competing in distance events for the Vikings, but has yet to show up in results this season. She also was a member of PSU's cross-country running team.
Pacific Lutheran University senior Breea Mearig, formerly Breea DeSloover (Juneau-Douglas) is competing in distance events for the Lutes this season. Mearig ranks fourth in the Northwest Conference in the 10,000 meters with a time of 40:12.90. At the Ralph Vernacchia Team Classic held last weekend at Western Washington University, Mearig took fifth place in the 5,000 meters with a time of 18:37.88.
Western State College sophomore Brandy Weston (Juneau-Douglas) is competing in distance events for the Mountaineers, but has yet to show up in results this season. Weston also was a member of the cross-country running team last fall.
Adams State College graduate assistant coach Carl Blackhurst (Haines) is a former NCAA Division II all-American in cross-country running and track (steeplechase) who has returned to his old school to coach.
Lewis & Clark College freshman Lucinda Boyce (Haines resident, but a graduate of the Gov. Dummer School in South Byfield, Mass.) is competing in jumps for the Pioneers. Boyce has posted a season-best of 14 feet, 3.25 inches in the long jump, 31-10 in the triple jump and 79-4 in the javelin. She has also competed on L&C's 4x100-meter relay team.
Seattle University freshman Meghan Salveson (Juneau-Douglas) is competing in middle distance events for the Redhawks. At last weekend's Ralph Vernacchia Team Classic at Western Washington University, Salveson finished 20th in the 1,500 meters (5:24.3), 21st in the 800 (2:45.28) and was a member of Seattle's eighth-place 4x400-meter relay team (4:36.96).
Northwest College freshman Elisa Bolling (Ketchikan) is competing in middle distance events for the Eagles. During last weekend's Willamette Invitational, Bolling finished in second place in the second section of the 400 meters (1:04.31) and she took second in the second section of the 400-meter low hurdles (1:14.44). A week earlier, at the Edmonds Spring Break Open, Bolling long jumped 11-5, threw the javelin 31-7, threw the shot 20-4 and ran the 400 hurdles in 1:14.1, the first time she'd ever competed in any of those events. Bolling was a member of NWC's NAIA national champion cross-country running team.
Pacific University junior Leslie Jeffries (Ketchikan) is competing in middle distance events for the Boxers. Jeffries has a season-best time of 1:06.47 in the 400 meters.
Western Oregon University freshman Brian Nowlin (Juneau-Douglas) is competing in distance events for the Wolves, but no results are available for him this season.
Southwestern Oregon Community College freshman Matt Mangini (Sitka) is competing in the 400 meters and 4x400-meter relay for the Lakers, but no results are available for him this season. Mangini transferred from the University of Sioux Falls, where he redshirted last year.
University of Washington sophomore Michael Kohan (Juneau-Douglas) is a member of the junior varsity women's eight crew, usually rowing in the No. 2 seat. On Sunday, the Huskies junior varsity boat claimed the women's junior varsity eight race for the third straight year and 11th time in 12 years at the San Diego Crew Classic, posting a time of 6 minutes, 48.8 seconds for the 2,000-meter piece. The University of Washington varsity crew, which lost in a photo-finish to California on Sunday, was ranked No. 1 in the US Rowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA Division I varsity eight coaches poll, with Princeton second, Stanford third and California fourth. A week earlier, Kohan helped the UW sophomores claim the title in the annual Seattle Times women's eight race in the 102nd annual Class Day Regatta on March 29.
Colby College senior Ellie Boyce (Haines resident, graduate of Gov. Dummer School in South Byfield, Mass.) is a member of the women's varsity crew team, which is ranked third in the current US Rowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA Division III poll. Last weekend, Colby beat Wesleyan and WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) in a regatta on April 5 on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass.
Pacific Lutheran University junior Erin Jakubek (Ketchikan) is a member of the women's varsity eight crew for the Lutes, who are ranked 13th in the US Rowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA Division III poll. She has been joined on the team by several freshmen women's novice rowers from Southeast Alaska - Chrystal Aldrighette (Juneau-Douglas), Blaise Bellows (Sitka), Kristen Kuehl (Ketchikan), Sharon Mahoney (Ketchikan) and Sarah Truitt (Ketchikan).
Air Force Academy Cadet Second Class (junior) Josh Dean (Juneau-Douglas) is playing the eight position for the Falcons, who use the nickname Zoomies for their club rugby team. The eight or No. 8 is the player who digs the ball out of the scrum and starts a rugby team's offense. Dean was featured in the Juneau Empire on Nov. 4, 2002, after he traveled to South Africa as a member of the USA Rugby Collegiate All-American Team.
Brigham Young University sophomore David Shepro (Juneau-Douglas) is playing as a hooker/flanker for the Cougars, who were undefeated at 8-0 this spring. A hooker lines up in the middle of the first row of the scrum and his job is to kick the ball back to his eight, while a flanker lines up outside the scrum and is used mainly as a runner. BYU beat Air Force 43-27 on March 27, but no stats were available.
The Juneau Empire's College Corner feature runs about once a month during the school year and is compiled by sports editor Charles Bingham from school Web sites and tips from readers, coaches and parents. If you know of any other college athlete from Southeast Alaska who should be included in the feature, please let us know. You can fax information to 586-3028 (attention Sports), or you can e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org (please do not send text attachments).