April 27, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The 2011-2012 season for the men's and women's swimming and diving team officially came to a close last weekend as the student-athletes were recognized for their achievements at the seasonal awards banquet.
As a team, the men the season with a record of 6-3 and a 2-2 showing in the ACC before taking fourth place finish at ACC's and a 16th place finish at the NCAA Championships. The women were 11-1 and 5-0 record in the ACC en route to a third place finish at ACC's before finishing in 30th at NCAA's.
Several individual awards were given out to both teams. The Most Valuable Swimmers were given to senior Mateo De Angulo and sophomore Tiffany Oliver.
In his final season, the Cali, Colombia native earned All-American honors in his last performance as Seminole with a seventh place finish in the 1650 free, setting a new school record with a final time of 14:42.77. During that race, De Angulo also set the 1000 free school record at the split at 8:54.22. In addition to the mile, he placed tenth in the 500 free with a final time of 4:16.32. He also cleaned the awards from the ACC, claiming the Swimmer of the Year and Swimmer of the Meet titles behind two gold medals and one silver at the 2012 ACC Championships in Christiansburg, Va.
Oliver made her NCAA debut as she was invited to the meet with a school record setting performance in the 100 free of 48.93. She was fifth in the event and sixth in the 50 free at ACC's.
"Both Mateo and Tiffany were counted on heavily in every dual meet and at the ACC Championships," head coach Neil Harper said. "The fact that both went on to compete at the NCAA Championships outlined just how valuable both were to our teams this year."
Sophomore Tom Neubacher was awarded the Most Valuable Diver honor as he made his debut at the NCAA Championships. The Winter Park, Fla. native was dominant on the 1-meter springboard at the NCAA Zone B qualifier, as he won the event by a margin of 56 points, moving on to NCAA's. Neubacher grabbed All-ACC honors with a third place showing on the one-meter springboard at the 2012 ACC Championships. In addition, Neubacher was fifth on three-meter and seventh on platform at the meet.
Earning the honor for the women was sophomore Katrina Young. Breaking through in her second season as a Seminole, Young dove an All-American performance at NCAA's with a fourth place finish in the platform. The Shoreline, Wash. native captured the gold medal at the ACC Championships in the event, setting a new school record with a score of 323.05.
"Tom and Katrina excelled beyond every other diver this year," Harper stated. " That is a hard thing to do because we have a very talented and deep diving team, one of the best in the ACC and they both went on to perform great at the NCAA Championships."
Winning the Most Improved Swimmer award went to junior John Jessell and sophomore Julia Henkel. A transfer from Indian River State College, Jessell dropped a near ten seconds in the 500 free over the course of the season, posting a personal best at 4:20.98. He repeated the massive time dropping trend in the 1650 free, where he shaved off 42 seconds en route to a final time of 15:12.86.
Henkel shattered the school record in the 400 IM with a 4:11.91, earning her trip to the NCAA Championships. She scored for the Seminoles in all three races at ACC's, placing eighth in the 1650 free, tenth in the 400 IM and 13th in the 500 free.
"In a year where so many of our athletes improved and were successful, Julia and John improved in every area and event, but more impressively improved their swimming to an All-ACC and NCAA Championship qualifying level." Harper said.
Jessell was also awarded the Coaches' Award, which is given to the student-athletes that best exemplifies their roles on the team, by setting examples for the rest to follow. Senior Tori Richmond also garnered those honors for the women's team. With only two seasons spent in Tallahassee, Richmond was elected the team captain after one semester on campus. This past year, she finished ninth in the 200 IM, tenth in the 200 breast and took 11th in the 400 IM. In addition, she set the school record in the 200 IM at 1:59.04 in 2011.
"Our coaches get together and vote on this award every year," Harper said. "Tori and John are our complete student-athletes who are so dedicated, caring and always team oriented. They are so coachable and demonstrated true Seminole qualities and capabilities."
The Most Improved Diver went to junior Nick Klein and sophomore Kelsey Goodman. Both divers earned their first podium appearance at ACC's with taking a bronze medal each en route to earning All-ACC honors.
Klein was third in the Platform event and Goodman took third in the three-meter springboard. She also took fifth on the one-meter competition.
"Nick and Kelsey's development and success has been consistent all year," Harper said. "They improved their diving and performed to All-ACC selections at the end of the season."
Freshman Juan Sequera was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award for the men's team. Sequera was voted as the ACC Freshman of the Year, for his debut at NCAA's and ACC's. The Miami, Fla. native earned a pair of bronze medals in the 200 breast and 400 IM in addition to a seventh place finish in the 200 IM at ACC's while garnering All-ACC honors. After that performance, the rookie wasn't finished as he went on to set a new school record in the 400 IM at 3:45.86 at last chance meet in Austin, Texas, securing his NCAA invite.
Elizabeth Pepper was awarded the honor for the ladies as she too made her NCAA debut in the 200 fly. Pepper swam a 1:56.92 in the event, posting a new school record. She was also seventh in the event at the ACC Championships.
"Juan and Elizabeth stood out in what was a very successful freshmen class," Harper said. "They both performed very well and consistently throughout the year and qualified for the NCAA Championships by breaking school records in their primary events."
Bailey has been battling injuries throughout his career and this past season he was a member of the All-American 400 free relay team that placed seventh at NCAA's and he was a part of the same team that took ninth in the 200 free relay. In addition, both the 200 and 400 free relays captured gold at the ACC Championships.
After spending two seasons with the University of Southern California and a fourth place finish at the 2008 Olympic Games, Rittenhouse came to Florida State as an athlete on the comeback. As a Seminole, she competed at the NCAA Championships after a solid season, specifically at the end of the season where she excelled on the big stage. In addition to qualifying for NCAA's, Rittenhouse earned the silver on the one-meter springboard and was fourth on three-meter at the ACC Championships. Over the course of the year, the Santa Cruz, Calif. native was clutch in dual meet scenarios, as she notched 17 first places.
"Trice and Ariel were popular selections after our entire team knew what they had both been through," Harper stated. "They not only came back, but to qualify and have success at the NCAA Championships, speaks volumes for their strength and determination."
Bailey was also awarded the Strength and Conditioning Award from strength coach Melissa Terry. Sophomore Hannah Wilson earned the honor for the women's team. Also being recognized was the senior class containing, Charlotte Broadbent, Richmond, Lisi Rowland, Stephanie Sarandos, Michael Aitken De Angulo, and Mike Neubacher. Along with Richmond, Rowland, Aitken and Neubacher, junior Jamie Barrett was honored for their services as team captains.
"I can't say enough about the leadership and contributions over the years of our captains and senior class," Harper said. "Most of our team's success is due to the incredible hard work and leadership of our captains and seniors."
"Both of our teams have a lot of success in the classroom and so for these two, they were the cream of the crop and excelled at the highest level possible and they make us very proud." Harper added.
Heading into the offseason, a number of athletes will compete in the Olympic Trials for the United States and other countries. USA Diving Trials will be held in Federal Way, Wash. June 17-24. Trials for USA Swimming will be held June 25- July 2. Check back to Seminoles.com and Twitter (FSU_Swimming) for more information.