March 15, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The No.15-ranked Florida State men's swimming and diving team will send ten competitors to the 2013 NCAA Championships on March 28-30 in Indianapolis, Ind.
"It's a great team," head coach Neil Harpersaid. "It's a group that can do some damage. We have individuals that can step up and score points. We have four strong relays that can compete to be top eight. We also have Tom (Neubacher) that can do great things on the boards. We are a complete team this year."
Seniors Mark Weber and John Jessell will finish out their Seminole careers by swimming their individual races at the meet. Weber earned his second career bid, while Jessell makes his debut. Juniors Tom Neubacher, Pavel Sankovich and Paul Murray along with sophomore Josh Friedelwill contest in their individual events as well.
Weber is seeded ninth in the 50 free with a time of 19.42 after he grabbed the gold at the 2013 ACC Championships with that mark. The Warner Robins, Ga. native also has the option of swimming the 100 fly and 100 free at the meet.
In addition to his sprints, Weber serves as the anchor leg for the 200 and 400 free relays, which are the fastest in Florida State history. Weber serves as the flyer in the 200 medley relay, which is another FSU fastest. Both the 200 free and 200 medley relays that Weber is a part of are ACC records as well.
With the departure of All-American Mateo De Angulo in 2012, Jessell will look to follow in those footsteps as he earned a pass to the meet in the 1650 free after posting a 14:58.89 en route to earning a silver medal at his first career ACC Championships.
Since his arrival in the fall of 2011, Jessell has proved to be one of the most improved distance swimmers in the country as he has dropped over one minuet off his time in the mile. The Miami, Fla. native will have the option of swimming the 500 free as well.
After joining the team in January, Sankovich has electrified the lanes of the pool with record-shattering performances at the ACC Championships. The ACC Swimmer of the Meet captured three individual gold medals and added a fourth in a relay while breaking 10 records over the course of six races. Sankovich earned two top 10 seeds for his first career NCAA's. The two-time Belarusian Olympian has the fourth fastest time in the 100 back at 45.86 while taking the seventh best time in the nation in the 200 IM at 1:43.22. He is also ranked 11th in the 200 back with a time of 1:41.83.
Sankovich has also sparked the 200 and 400 medley relays with a blazing lead-off backstroke leg.
"Any time you get a world class swimmer it reenergizes your team," Harper said. "It's someone that can carry the flag and step up in a clutch situation and perform. He changes our medley relays and he can step up and have a shot an individual medal. I think it takes the pressure off the guys and it helps them say `hey, I'm just going to get up and compete.'"
Murray earned a bid in the 50 and 100 free with the option of swimming the 200 free. The Coconut Creek, Fla. native is seeded sixth in the 50 and 13th in the 100 free. In addition to his individuals, Murray carries heavy relay duties as he serves as the lead-off man for the 200 and 400 free relays.
Friedel earned his spot after swimming a 1:42.82 in the 200 back at the Georgia Tech Last Chance meet. The Fredericksburg, Va. native took seventh place at the ACC Championships in the event and he will also have the option of swimming the 100 back.
Neubacher will be competing on the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform events. He qualified for his second-consecutive spot in the field after a second place finish on 1-meter at the Zone B Qualifier. The Windermere, Fla. native earned one of the five spots available for the meet.
"Instead of having two or three people going to try and put us on the map we have ten," Harper said. "It takes the pressure of the big guns. It looks good and we look good."
The Seminoles will field four relays, two of which are looking to improve upon their All-American finishes from a season ago.
Murray, seniors Trice Bailey, David Sanders and Weber earned the third seed in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:16.76, just behind Auburn and Michigan. In the 400 free relay, the same four will look to better their seventh place finish from 2012 with the 11th fastest seed time in the meet (2:52.74).
"Ever since they got back from last year's meet they've wanted to do better," Harper said. "Winning that consolation heat in the 200 and getting All-American in the 400, their goal is to go back and do better this year. They've done everything together for the last two years and that says a lot about these guys. They haven't been aiming for ACC's, they've been aiming for NCAA's."
Junior Jared Pikeand sophomore Connor Knight will also make the trip to contribute on the 200 and 400 medley relays. The Seminoles are seeded eighth (1:24.84) in the 200 distance, while holding the 12th best time in the 400 (3:09.46).
"The fact that we have both medley relays in the thick of the meet really helps with the team situation," Harper said. "Maximizing the scoring opportunities this year is going to be important for us."
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