March 18, 1998
CAVALIERS SEND FIVE TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Virginia has qualified five swimmers for the 1998 NCAA Championship, which will be held in Auburn, Ala., from Mar. 26-28. The Cavaliers who will swim at NCAAs are Doak Finch, Jamie Grimes, Shamek Pietucha, Austin Ramirez and Jason Webb. All of the UVa swimmers going to the meet except Grimes, a freshman, won All-America honors at last year’s NCAA Championship.
VIRGINIA PLACES SECOND AT ACC CHAMPIONSHIP: In the 1998 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship meet, held at the UVa Aquatic and Fitness Center from Feb. 25-28, the Cavaliers finished in second place with a total of 690 points. North Carolina won the meet for the sixth consecutive season, finishing with a total of 735.5 and outdistancing Virginia by 45.5 points. Florida State finished in third place with 587.5 points and North Carolina State came in fourth with 502.5. Maryland (359), Clemson (298), Georgia Tech (156.5) and Duke (130) rounded out the scoring.
UVA AT THE 1997 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: The Cavaliers had six swimmers compete at last season’s NCAA Championship and finished in 20th place with a total of 55 points. Three Virginia swimmers competed in championship finals, with Shamek Pietucha placing fourth in the 200 yard butterfly (1:45.61), Jason Webb coming in sixth in the 200 yard backstroke (1:44.55) and Doak Finch finishing eighth in the 200 fly (1:48.58). Austin Ramirez also scored points in individual events for Virginia, coming in 11th in the 1,650 yard freestyle (15:13.31) and 13th in the 500 yard freestyle (4:24.31). In addition, the 400 yard medley relay team of Webb, D.J. Gallagher, Pietucha and Tom Woodworth earned a 14th place finish with its time of 3:16.84. Virginia’s 20th place finish was its best showing since coming in 19th in 1992, while the 55 points were the most the Cavaliers had scored since totaling 69 in 1989.
UVA BREAKS CAROLINA’S STREAK IN 800 FREE RELAY: At the 1998 ACC Championship, the Cavaliers pulled a big upset by defeating North Carolina in the 800 yard freestyle relay. The Tar Heels had won the event each of the last eight seasons and returned three out of four swimmers off last year’s team, but they were not able to hold off Virginia. The team of Shamek Pietucha, Michael Renshaw, Austin Ramirez and Doak Finch swam a time of 6:34.32 for the Cavaliers. With the victory, the Cavaliers won their first relay event at the ACC Championship since the team of Adam Boch, Drew Calver, Jason Webb and Tom Woodworth took first in the 200 yard medley relay in 1994.
FOUR CAVALIER SWIMMERS WIN ACC INDIVIDUAL TITLES: In addition to the 800 yard freestyle relay, four Virginia swimmers captured first place in at least one individual event. Doak Finch won three titles, taking first in the 200 yard butterfly (1:45.52), the 200 yard individual medley (1:47.97) and the 400 yard individual medley (3:51.27). Austin Ramirez won a pair of events for the Cavaliers, successfully defending his titles in both the 500 yard freestyle (4:22.13) and the 1,650 yard freestyle (15:11.29). Both D.J. Gallagher and Jason Webb won one event, as Gallagher finished first in the 200 yard breaststroke (2:01.42) and Webb took first in the 200 yard backstroke (1:45.32).
FINCH NAMED ACC MEET MVP: Sophomore Doak Finch was selected as the MVP of the 1998 ACC Championship meet, after winning three individual events and also being on a first place relay team. Finch came in first in the 200 yard butterfly, 200 yard individual medley and 400 yard individual medley, while swimming the anchor leg on the Cavaliers’ victorious 800 yard freestyle relay team. The outstanding performance turned in by Finch should have come as no surprise after the promise he showed as a freshman a year earlier. Finch was named the 1997 ACC Rookie of the Year after winning the ACC title in the 400 I.M. and earning first team All-America honors in the 200 fly.
WEBB LOOKS TO CLOSE OUT CAREER IN STYLE: Senior Jason Webb, who has had an outstanding career at UVa, will look to close out his senior season with another excellent performance at the NCAA Championship. Webb is coming off an ACC Championship meet in which he took first place in the 200 yard backstroke, marking the first time he has won an ACC individual event title. He will now look to once again improve on his performance at NCAAs, as he placed 16th in the 200 back in 1994, 12th in 1995 and sixth in 1997.
THE INTERNATIONAL FACTOR: In addition to their accomplishments at Virginia, junior Shamek Pietucha and sophomore Austin Ramirez have competed in a number of international competitions during their careers. In January, Ramirez represented the United States at the FINA World Championship in Perth, Australia. He placed 15th in the five kilometer open water swim with a time of 56:51.4, while helping the U.S. to the team gold medal. Ramirez had previously competed at the 1997 World University Games, where he placed fourth in the 800 meter freestyle. Pietucha won a pair of titles at the 1997 U.S. Open, which was held in December. He captured first place in both the 100 meter butterfly (54.22) and the 200 meter butterfly (1:59.85). A few months earlier both Ramirez and Pietucha took part in the World University Games in Italy. Pietucha won two medals, placing second in the 100 meter fly and third in the 200 meter fly, while Ramirez came in fourth in the 800 meter freestyle.