Jan. 29, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - For Florida State University swimming and diving head coach Neil Harper, his teams had everything to gain and nothing to lose as it took on the men's and women's defending national champions Auburn on Saturday (January 29). Despite great efforts in both meets, the Seminoles came up short against the number one and two teams in the country.
The top-ranked Tigers' men's beat the No. 24 Seminoles 172-126, while the No. 2 Auburn women were victorious 177-119 over the No. 24 FSU women's squad. With the loss, Florida State dropped 10-3 on the men's side with a 13-4 women's ledger.
"This was a great confidence booster," Harper said. "No one likes to lose, but if you're going to lose it's okay to lose to the defending national champions. We won some races and we got some seconds and thirds and our kids are realizing that they can hang with these guys. It's a win-win for us and our kids responded well."
All three of the men's losses this year have come to teams in the top seven of the CSCAA national rankings. Just as good, the only teams to beat the women's squad have been in the top 15.
Getting the women's meet started was a victory by the Seminoles in the 200 medley relay. Down after the first 50 yards, sophomore Lauren Brick (Culpepper, Va.) gave Florida State a lead it would not relinquish as quartet of Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.), Brick, Lauren Sprag (Durban, South Africa) and Carrie Ellis (Valrico, Fla.) posted a winning time of 1:42.97
The men's race in the 200 medley relay was a mirror image as rookie Billy Jamerson (Savannah, Ga.) swam a split of 24.45 in the breaststroke to put the Seminoles ahead for good in the race. The team of Jarryd Botha (Worchester, South Africa), Jamerson, Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.) and Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) posted a season-best time of 1:29.88.
"I think Auburn was wondering what they were in for at the start," Harper noted. "It wasn't an ambush by any means; I just think that our kids were up for it. If any thing our medley relays are a strength for us and they just happen to come at the start of the meet. We ran with it and lasted with it as long as we could. If anything it was an eye-opener for everyone else on the team that we can beat Auburn and the number one and two ranked teams in the country. It gave us a boost and set the table for us to swim well the rest of the meet."
Getting the next victory for the men was Thomas Bishop (Houston, Texas). The sophomore posted his second-fastest time of the season in the 1,650 freestyle as he won the event with at time of 15:34.49. A photo finish when Auburn's way in the women's 100 backstroke, but Breen did post a season-best 56.76 to take second.
Just like the medley relay, the breaststroke was big for FSU as it posted a pair of individual victories. Brick came from behind in the final lap to beat Julie Stupp with an NCAA "B" cut time of 1:03.22. Capturing the men's race was Jamerson as he led the entire race on this way to a NCAA provisional time of 55.32.
The race of the meet was the men's 50 yard freestyle in which the top four finishers were all within 0.50 of each other. Florida State took two of the top three spots with Averett winning the event in a season-best 20.47. Roycik was in third at 20.80.
Coming through as the Seminoles' only double winner on the men's side was the rookie Jamerson as he held on to win the 200 breaststroke. The second-fastest freshman breaststroker in the country, Jamerson pushed through in the final five yards to win the event with an NCAA "B" time of 2:00.80.
"The great thing about Billy is that he is still learning," Harper added. "He still makes some mistakes and he still ticks me off with some of the silly stuff he does, but if he can still win, but learn at the same time and do better next time it's a good thing. He leads the team by example."
Joining Jamerson as a double winner was diver Brittany Lerew (Orlando, Fla.). The sophomore won the one and three-meter boards for the second meet in a row. She started the day by winning the one-meter board by almost 20 points, posting a 296.40 to go along with a winning 301.20 during the three-meter competition.
Just getting beat to the wall in the 500 free was Bishop. He put together his best race of the year, posting a 4:28.41 that is eighth in the conference this season.
With the dual meet schedule complete, the Seminoles turn their attention the conference championships in Atlanta. The women compete February 16-19, while the men's meet is Feb. 23-26.