March 1, 2014
The 400 free relay team shows off their silver medals after swimmin an NCAA 'A' time in the race.
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The 2014 Men’s ACC Swimming and Diving Championships came to a close on Saturday night at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, but not before the 17th-ranked Florida State men’s swim team could capture a pair of silver medals on top of the meet’s MVP.
In one of the tightest ACC Championships the league has ever seen, the Seminoles finished fifth with a total of 957.5 after battling with Virginia (972), North Carolina (995) and Notre Dame (907.5) on the final day of the meet to decide third through sixth place. Virginia Tech won its first-ever title in program history (1,264.5), outlasting NC State (1,226) in the final few events.
“We had a good night,” head coach Frank Bradley said. “It was risky but I think we are in a good spot heading into NCAA’s. It was a major learning experience for a lot of our guys and the result might not what everyone wanted but the experience we gained will pay off in the long run. We’re still going through a bit of a learning curve for both the men’s and women’s teams had to go through and learn to trust the team and themselves and that’s something that doesn’t happen overnight.”
For the third consecutive season, the Seminoles have taken the ACC Meet MVP back to Tallahassee as Pavel Sankovich became just the second swimmer in conference history to win back-to-back titles since Matt McLean of Virginia did it back in 2008 and 2009.
“He flat out had a great performance,” Bradley said. “It was well deserved for him but the team also bought into it to and helped him push through it in order to him get there. He had great race management and just had a good weekend from top to bottom.”
The senior from Hronda, Belarus won the 200 IM, 100 fly and 100 back races while helping the Noles to a gold in the 400 medley relay and silver in the 400 free relay. Every race except the 400 free relay was a new ACC meet, Conference and FSU record.
“It feels great to win this award, especially for the second year in a row,” Sankovich said. “It is a great feeling, and it is definitely one that I worked hard for this year. Now, I am turning my focus on performing well at the NCAAs.”
It marks the third straight year the Seminoles have captured the meet MVP as Mateo De Angulo first took home the award after the 2012 meet.
Starting off the session, Josh Friedel won the ‘B’ final of the 200 back with a time of 1:43.63, finishing ahead of Kevin Rogers who placed 11th with a time of 1:43.96 after swimming a personal best of 1:43.53 in prelims.
In the 100 free, Paul Murray went out hard in order to defend his 2013 title splitting a 19.91 ahead of the pack of the way out, but he could now hold on as he touched for silver with a career best and new FSU record of 42.59. Jason McCormick also swam in the championship heat and placed eighth with a final time of 43.72 after going a personal best in prelims of 43.37.
“Paul got a step ahead of himself on that third wall,” Bradley said. “He still went a best time which was great, but now we will shift our focus to NCAA’s for that race and we’ve got to get things worked out.”
After swimming his career best in prelims of the 200 breast at 1:56.39, Juan Sequera held his seventh seed in finals, touching with a final time of 1:56.79. Jason Coombs got out in front early and held on to win the ‘B’ final, posting a personal best of 1:55.81 while Jared Pike placed 19th (1:58.59) and Alex Rodriguez was 22nd (2:00.33).
Connor Knight finished in fourth place in the 200 fly with a final time of 1:42.96, however his prelim swim of 1:42.46 was a new FSU record that took down Stephen Parry’s mark set back in 1998 of 1:43.69. That swim was also an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
“Like Paul, Connor got caught up in the moment tonight in finals,” Bradley said. “He still had a good swim and it was awesome to see him take down that record. I was happy for him.”
Cole Hensley also scored points by winning the ‘C’ final with a career best mark of 1:46.21.
Closing out the meet with silver in the 400 free relay, the team of Murray, McCormick, Rogers and Sankovich turned in an NCAA ‘A’ standard of 2:53.27.
Both the men’s and women’s swim teams will wait to see which individuals have been selected to swim at the NCAA Championship later in March. The divers will look to qualify by ways of the NCAA Zone B Championships which will be held March 10-12 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
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