BERKELEY, Calif., October 24. WHEN the first CSCAA poll was released on Friday (Oct. 22) California’s men’s team was at No. 3 and their women seventh.
Florida State University swimming and diving head coach Neil Harper knew his squads were going to have to give the dual meet performance of their careers to beat the Golden Bears. While many Seminoles were close to or at their season-bests, it wasn’t enough as Cal prevailed in both meets according to FSU sources.
Florida State is also ranked in the initial coaches’ poll, with the women securing the No. 19 spot and the men checking in at 24th. The Seminoles lose their first dual meets of the year as the women (4-1 overall, 1-0 ACC) fell 147-126, while the men (2-1, 1-0 ACC) dropped a 171-127 decision.
“Cal swam really well,” Harper noted. “Most of our swims were at or close to season bests, but both of their teams are big and deep and they showed why they’re in the top ten. If there is a way to lose and still come out with positives, this would be it. Now we have to go to Pacific and get the same type of good swims or better and reverse the outcome to get a couple of wins.”
Early in the meet, Cal flexed its top-ten muscle as the best finish the Seminoles got in either meet in the first seven events was a trio of second place finishes. Freshman Kristin Oxford (Charlotte, N.C.) finished runner-up in the 200 free at 1:52.00 as did Lauren Brick (Culpeper, Va.) in the 100 breast (1:30.91) and rookie Leah Woodard (San Antonio, Texas) in the 50 free at 24.12.
The Seminoles didn’t break through for a first place ribbon until the diving event when senior Courtney McClow (Jacksonville, Fla.) took the one-meter board as part of the first of two one-two-three sweeps of the diving competition. McClow won the event at 306.45 with Brittany Lerew (Orlando, Fla.) second at 272.03 and Camille Akridge’s (Orlando, Fla.) coming in third. McClow and Lerew qualified for the NCAA Diving Zone “B” Qualifier meet with their scores on the one-meter board. That was the same order for the three-meter board with McClow posting a 279.53, Lerew at 271.05 and Akridge tallying a 222.23.
On the men’s side, five third-place marks were the best FSU could produce until freshman Alex Tilbrook (Largo, Fla.) placed second on the one-meter board to former Seminole, and current Bear Louis, Gagnet. Capturing the men’s first victory of the day was co-captain Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) as he was the first to the wall with a 46.68 in the 100 freestyle.
Roycik’s victory was followed by another triumph, this time coming from rookie Ian Powell (Guernsey, Channel Island) in the 200 backstroke as he scored a 1:49.52. Fellow newbie Dan Keeling (Westminster, Colo.) captured the final individual win with a 1:55.32 in the 200 individual medley. Florida State closed out the meet with the team of Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.), Roycik, Ed Denton (Maidenhead, England) and Alex Kennon (Winter Haven, Fla.) winning the 200 free relay in a time of 1:23.91.
“There were definitely some good swim and having the freshmen step up was really good,” Harper noted. “Golda had a great 1,000 and 1:52 and 4:57 is great for Kristin. Ed had a gutsy performance and Billy (Jamerson) almost won the 100 breaststroke. Some of the kids didn’t respond as well as they could, but others did.”
Third place finishes by Carrie Ellis (Varico, Fla.) in the 100 free, a third-place mark of 2:21.80—just 0.72 off her career-best—by Brick in the 200 breast and another second-place finish by Oxford in the 100 free were FSU’s best finishes until the 100 butterfly.
Senior Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.) produced the Seminoles’ first win in the water with her top time of 57.10. Freshman Lindsay Kenney (Plano, Texas) followed with another triumph, taking the 200 IM in 2:09.28. The 200 free quartet of Woodard, Breen, Abbie King (Brunswick, Maine) and Ellis ended the meet with a victory.
“We made a good account of ourselves,” Harper added. “It’s kind of difficult to come all the way across the country and perform well, but that’s by design. If we want to aspire to be a top ten team, than we have to face this kind of competition more often. If we can come all the way across the country and win some events against two top ten schools, then we can hold our heads up at the end of the day.”
The Seminoles are back at home on November 16 at 5 p.m. when they take on Florida.