AMHERST, N. Y. — John Kunishima came to the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships an unknown, but he walked away from the pool at the State University of New York at Buffalo Saturday night as the meet's top male swimmer.
Kunishima had a hand in 170 of the 392 points third-place Cal State Northridge scored in the meet.
He won a pair of individual titles, placed second twice, and helped Matador relay teams take two seconds and a fifth.
The Northridge sophomore bested Andrew Bures of champion Cal State Bakersfield to win the award in a vote of coaches.
Bures, a Czechoslovakian-import who began attending classes at Bakersfield at the start of the semester, won four individual titles and set three Division II records.
Pete Accardy, Northridge's coach, said he was not surprised that Bures was overlooked in favor of Kunishima.
"I knew John impressed a lot of people here this week," Accardy said. "Bures just showed up. What he did was expected."
Bakersfield won the men's portion of the meet for the fifth year in a row, finishing with 830 points. Oakland (Mich.) University was second with 686, followed by Northridge; Cal State Chico, 349.5; and Shippensburg (Pa.), 301.
Kunishima said he was listening for Bures' name when the award was announced, only to hear his own.
"When they said my name . . . . I still can't describe the feeling I have," a teary-eyed Kunishima said. "It feels good inside that the coaches thought I was swimmer of the meet."
Kunishima started the day believing he needed a victory in the 100-yard freestyle to have an outside shot at the award.
In the morning preliminaries he set a Division II record of 44.52 in the event, but it lasted less than eight hours.
Although Kunishima bettered his time during the evening's finals, he finished second.
Hilton Woods of Oakland out-touched the smaller and shorter Kunishima to win in a record 44.16, nine one-hundredths of a second ahead of Kunishima.
CSUN's Ted Hollahan, who held the Division II standard of 44.65 coming into the day, placed third. His 44.55 also was a personal-best.
Kunishima had set a Division II record in winning the 200-yard individual medley earlier in the week and also won the 200-yard freestyle in near-record time. In addition, he placed second in the 100-yard backstroke.
In Saturday's 100 final, he broke on top and was in front by a head after 25 yards. Woods, three-time champion in the 50-yard freestyle, caught Kunishima on the first turn but fell back into second after 50 yards.
"When we hit the 50 I thought, 'I've got this race won,' " Kunishima said. "I didn't think they could catch me."
Kunishima and Woods appeared even with as little as 10 yards to go but Woods, who at a muscular 6-foot-5 is about nine inches taller than Kunishima, touched first.
In addition to Kunishima's second-place finish, the Matadors earned the runner-up place in the 200-yard backstroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay.
CSUN's Sean Parker, a senior from Miami, turned in a 1:53.78 effort in the 200 back. Brady Stauffer of Shippensburg, the defending champion and Division II record-holder, won in 1:52.79.
In the 400 relay, strong opening legs by Kunishima (44.44) and Hollahan (44.34) helped Northridge edge Bakersfield for second.
Oakland, behind a 43.76 anchor leg by Woods, won in 2:59.58.
Jesse Kelly of CSUN was third in the 200 breaststroke in 2:04.37.