TALLAHASSEE, FLA, December 2. FLORIDA State swimming and diving has parlayed their efforts into a national reputation that has translated into some of the best high school talent in the country taking notice in the Seminoles.
That national interest is evident as head coach Neil Harper announced the signing of four swimmers and two divers from five states to National Letters of Intent. The Seminoles’ fall signees include Ann Cipoletti (Charleston, W.Va.), Scott Derner (Grapevine, Texas), Kelly Dean (Longwood, Fla.), Dan Frebel (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Meredith Martelle (Charlotte, N.C.) and Christie Raleigh (Boca Raton, Fla.).
“We’re very happy with the four girls we’ve signed, the entire coaching staff worked hard to get this talented group to Florida Sate,” Harper said. “They’re all strong in their events and a lot of them swim several events so that helps. There were no guys out there that fit what we were looking for. We have a few specific holes that we need to fill and we’ve got our eyes on some guys to fill those holes.
“The word is getting out from swimmers that are here or that have swum here that it’s a good place to combine academics and athletics and that there are good relationship with the coaches. The coaches are very experienced and we’ve had a lot of success, but we’re young and enthusiastic so it’s a fun place to be and that’s the feeling we got from these kids that they couldn’t see themselves going anywhere else.
Cipoletti is the second member of her family to swim in college, following in the footsteps of her older sister Ellen, who holds the 400 individual medley record at West Virginia. The younger Cipoletti holds the West Virginia high school records with a time of 2:08.91 in the 200 IM as well as the 100 breaststroke mark at 1:06.83 after winning both events at the state meet her junior year. During the first three years of her prep career at George Washington high school she collected all-conference and all-region honors.
“Ann is one of our more versatile signees,” Harper noted. “She swims the IMs, breaststrokes so there are a lot of things that she does that will help us out. She’ll be very valuable in dual meets and we’ll be picking and choosing what will be the best three events for her to swim at the conference meet.”
The last three years Cipoletti has posted ISCA All-America consideration times in the 100 breaststroke and has added marks in the 200 IM and 200 medley relay. In 2002, she won the YMCA long course championships in the 200 breaststroke, taking the event in a time of 2:39.63. That year she also finished 12th at the national meet with a time of 2:17.29 in the 200 IM.
Currently enrolled in William Boyd high school in Roanoke, Va., she is training with head coach Doug Fonder with the Virginia Gators club team. Cipoletti also excels in the classroom where she is a two-time Scholastic All-American and a member of the National Junior Honor Society.
“It’s says a lot that we got our number one and number two guys this year,” FSU diving coach Patrick Jeffrey said. “It says a lot about our team that’s here already. I think that Dan and Scott are going to bring a lot because they are going to walk in with better, harder dives than anyone we’ve got. We’re going to be competitive on the national level almost immediately with our diving list.”
Bolstering the men’s diving team will be the addition of Derner, a two-time All-American. Heading into his senior year at Colleyville Heritage High School, he has earned All-State and All-American honors his first two seasons. For the second year in a row he was a member of the Dallas Morning News’ Swimmer/Diver to watch list for 2004-5.
The past three seasons, Derner has been one of the top divers in the state of Texas with back-to-back top three finishes as the state meet. His 11-dive score of 432.25 earned him second place during the 2003 meet, while last year he scored a 435.5 to take third. Derner has dominated district and regional competitions, collected titles at both the District 5 and Region 2 meets the last two seasons. Earlier this year, he defended his TISCA title with a winning tally of 495.20.
“Scott Derner is just an all-around great kid,” Jeffrey noted. “He likes to work hard; he doesn’t skimp around the edges with conditioning. He’s got a 4.8 gpa in school and over 1,200 on his SAT. He always seems to be in a great mood and he loves to dive. This is a kid who is going to work hard and be a positive influence on the team immediately. I can’t say enough about Scott.”
Derner has been just as successful against the nation’s best divers at the Junior Olympic competitions. At this year’s summer nationals he placed third on the one-meter at 450.90, while his 448.95 earned him eighth during the three-meter, an improvement of nine spots and 16 places, respectively, from a year before. Derner took on the nation’s best at the Summer Senior Zone C meet where he took seventh on the one-meter with a 515.95 to go along with a tenth-place 425.60 in the three-meter. He is coached by Kevin Wilson at CHHS and Krista Klein and Jeff Bro at Grapevine Carroll Divers.
The Seminoles were pleased to keep one of the top stroke swimmers in the state of Florida with the addition of Dean. At this year’s state championships, she collected a pair of All-American awards, topped off by a second-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. Dean placed fifth in the 100 fly at 57.43 after a tenth-place 2:11.34 in the 200 IM.
“With Kelly Dean I’m just excited about having her here,” Harper admitted. “She’s vibrant, excited about swimming and brings a good attitude and determination to the pool. I think she’ll really enhance our butterfly core, but also her personality and work ethic will be a big contribution to our team.”
Last season she captured her first state title as a member of the winning 400 free relay. Dean’s highest individual finish came in 2003 when she took second in the 100 fly in a career-best All-American time of 57.08. She also earned All-America notoriety as a member of the third-place 200 medley relay to go along with a fourth-place swim in the 200 IM.
Team captain this year for the Patriots, Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley placed in the top three in the 3A state meet all four years of her prep career. During the 2001 and 2003 meets the Patriots walked away with the state title. Dean is a three-year all-district and two-time all-conference selection. Her older brother Clayton is a member of the men’s team at Duquesne University. She is coached by Clay Parnell at both Lake Brantley and Patriot Aquatics club team.
Every season Frebel has improved on the board and Jeffrey expects that improvement to continue upon his arrival at Florida State. A state qualifier each of his first three years at Homestead High School, he had his best finish last season as a junior. Frebel earned Honorable Mention All-State honors with his fifth-place tally of 449.10. In 2004 he captured his third-straight Northeast Hoosier Conference title, while setting sectional (523.21) and regional records (308.53).
“Daniel hasn’t been able to train for the same amount of time that we’re going to train him so he’s potentially one of the best divers in the country and I think he’s a real dark horse,” Jeffrey noted. “He hasn’t actualized it yet, but he’s got all kinds of potential and he loves to dive. He eats, sleeps and breathes diving. He’d do anything to be a great diver and that’s the kind of kid you want on your team.”
As a sophomore he finished tenth at the state meet after racking up sectional and regional titles. That year he set the conference record with a tally of 501.52. During his rookie campaign he captured his first NHC title before taking ninth at the state summit.
The Junior Olympic level as bred success for Frebel, including a pair of top 15 finishes at this the Summer Nationals. He captured the JO Summer Region 2 title on the one-meter board with a mark of 423.30. Over the last four years, Frebel has posted nine other top five finishes at Junior Olympic regional meets. He is coached by Jill Eckright at Homestead with Todd Wickel handling the duties at Northern Indiana Diving. He is also a member of the HHS track and field team.
For the third-year in a row, the Seminoles pulled in a swimmer from the strong Mecklenburg Aquatic Club in Charlotte, N.C. with the addition of Martelle. High school teammates at South Mecklenburg of current Seminoles Stacy Rademacher (Charlotte, N.C.) and Mark Nicholls (Charlotte, N.C.), all three swam with Kristin Oxford (Charlotte, N.C.) at MAC. Martelle is coached by Ellen Mullis at South Mecklenburg with Dave Gibson handling the club duties.
“With Golda (Marcus) and Angie (Leach) graduating, we’re going to need to fill the hole in our distance program,” Harper commented. “Meredith has great potential, so we’re excited about her upside. She really felt that FSU was a great fit for her and we really enjoyed having her here on her visit. She’s excited about college swimming and you want people who are excited about that.”
A two-time All-Mecklenburg selection by the Charlotte Observer, Martelle had a strong showing in her first trip to the NCHSAA state meet in 2003, the same year that SMHS claimed the 4A state title. Her best individual finish came in the 100 breaststroke where she posted a fourth place finish, to go along with a fifth-place mark in the 200 individual medley. She joined Rademacher as a member of the third-place 200 medley relay.
This past year Martelle posted the best times of her career at the US Senior Nationals and the NCS Senior Championships. Her top marks at the Senior Nationals included: 400m free (4:36.35), 800m free (9:27.34) and 1500m free (17:56.45). At the NCS meet she posted times of 1:55.58 (200 free), 4:59.38 (500 free) and 16:54.00 (1,650 free). In addition to her prowess in the pool, she is equally as strong in the classroom where she is a Scholastic All-American and a member of the National Honor Society.
Filling the void left next year by the departure of All-American Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.), Raleigh will step right in to the sprint and butterfly events. A ten-time All-American, Raleigh capped off her high school career last month with her fifth state championship at the FHSAA 1A state meet. She is coached by Jay Fitzgerald at Pine Crest high school and on the Pine Crest club team where she was a teammate of current Seminole Brett Irvin (Boca Raton, Fla.).
“Christie is a fireball, she’s got god-given speed,” Harper noted. “She’s a threat. She’ll obviously be a great replacement for Emily in the freestyle and the butterfly. Christie is someone who will add to the long line of great sprinters who have been here. Being a Florida kid we’re excited to keep her in the state.”
During the 2004 state meet she won her second 50 free title, notching a top time of 23.48 after a winning 23.43 the year before. Her career-best time of 23.21 would rank her sixth in FSU history. As a junior she was named Florida High School Female Swimmer of the Year after winning a pair of events and taking part in two All-American relays. That year she won her first 50 free title and second 100 butterfly gold medal (55.53). She also swam on two second-place relays.
A three-time All-Broward selection by the Miami Herald, Raleigh won her first FHSAA title in 2002 when she captured the 100 fly in 55.45, a mark that would rank seventh in FSU history. As a freshman at Toms River high school in New Jersey, she set the state record with a winning time of 23.36 in the 50 free while being named NJSIAA Female Swimmer of the Year. At this year’s US Summer Nationals she set her best time in the 100-meter free, going 59.03. Her top 100 free time in yards, 51.24 set at the 2002 YMCA Short Course Nationals, would place her ninth in Seminole lore.
The current Florida State swimming and diving squad finishes up the fall season of its schedule this weekend when they travel to the Georgia Fall Invitational, December 3-5.