Feb. 26, 2005
ATLANTA, Ga. - With every passing day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming & Diving Championships, Florida State University head coach Neil Harper keeps waiting for his team to flinch. Instead, the Seminoles just keep getting better, placing a meet-high eight swimmers in the finals with five more in the consolation races for Saturday's (February 26) evening session.
Going into the last session of the meet, Florida State is comfortably in second place at 383 points. Virginia is holding steady in the lead with 502.5 markers and North Carolina trails the Seminoles at 300.5 points.
"It's hard to get up and get excited about the prelims of the last day and the team that does that and does well in the morning usually finishes well," Harper said. "I think we laid the table for us to score a lot of points tonight and have some great performances."
The official colors for the finals of the 100 freestyle may be Garnet and Gold as half of the competitors in the race are Seminoles. Leading the charge is junior co-captain Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) as he improved the fourth-fastest time in school history with a personal-best NCAA "B" cut of 44.35.
Starting a run of three-straight Seminoles is rookie Ed Denton (Maidenhead, England) as his personal-best 44.99 won his heat and puts him sixth for the evening swim. Just missing a season-best mark by 0.01 was senior Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.), notching a 45.15 to earn the No. 7 position. Wrapping up FSU's dominance of the race during the morning was sophomore Alex Kennon (Winter Haven, Fla.) with a career-low 45.27 that got him into the finals by 0.03.
"I've got to hand it to our freestylers, they really got it done this morning," Harper noted. "To put four in the top eight of the 100 free, at this level and at this conference, which is a fast conference, I was very excited about. All four of them did a great job. I think Alex Kennon was the biggest surprise. For him to be swimming in the championships final is a great achievement."
Shaving a second off his career-best time got junior Stephan Connor (Burr Ridge, Ill.) the fifth position in consolation race as he won his heat with a 45.53. Also picking up another race during the evening session was sophomore Brett Irvin (Boca Raton, Fla.) as he touched in at a career-best 45.83. Just missing a career-best was Matt Hammond (Daytona Beach, Fla.) with a 47.18.
Registering his second pool record during the prelims, freshman Billy Jamerson (Savannah, Ga.) holds the number one seed for the finals of the 200-yard breaststroke. An All-ACC selection in the 100 breast, he garnered an NCAA "B" cut with his time of 1:59.24 during the prelims.
"Billy is doing well again, he's right up there in the 200 breast and he's got an opportunity to go faster," Harper added. "Paul did a lifetime best and he's in the consolations heat so we've got a great opportunity to score points there."
Hitting the wall with a career-best mark earned Paul Erben (Panama City, Fla.) a spot in the consolation heat with his morning time of 2:03.60. A spot in the bonus heat awaits newcomer Dan Keeling (Westminster, Colo.) following a time of 2:06.02 during the prelims.
Making his second final in as many days, freshman Jarryd Botha (Worchester, South Africa) grabbed the number six spots in the 200 backstroke. The semester addition posted a career-best time of 1:48.12 that rates as the fifth-best time in school history. Joining Botha in the finals will be fellow rookie Ian Powell (Guernsey, Channel Islands), after a 1:48.33 during the morning swim. A personal-best standard of 1:49.54 moved Jared Heine (Honolulu, Hawaii) up two spots to number nine in Seminole lore and 13th overall.
"Ian and Jarryd both did well," Harper commented. "They got up well and they're in the big finals so they've got an opportunity to swim faster tonight. Jared Heine did a personal-best time and did well to make consols."
Two tenths of a second was all that kept Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio) from making the consolation heat of the 200 butterfly. The sophomore hit the wall with a 1:52.30 to take the first alternate spot and make him the top seed for the bonus swim. Despite missing most of the second semester with a medical condition, sophomore Mark Nicholls just missed a career-best time with a 1:51.14. Rounding out FSU's entries was freshman Brendon Burke (West Des Moines, Iowa) at 1:58.93.
"Mark Nicholls was basically kept out of the water by the doctors for three weeks," Harper noted. "For him to bounce back and almost draw a personal-best time, you never hear of anyone ever doing that. That was a big boost for the entire team."
The four-day meet concludes at 7 p.m. with the finals of the 200 backstroke, 200 butterfly, 200 breaststroke, 1,650 freestyle and 100 free as well as the 400 free relay.