The Florida State Seminole women came within 6 points of beating instate rivals Florida on the road, but the Gators escaped with a narrow victory in their first 2014 action.
The Gator men had a much easier go of it, winning 12 of 16 events in a cruising victory. “We were real sloppy,” Florida coach Gregg Troy said in the University of Florida’s coverage of the meet, but he also noted that several Gators have been battling the flu as of late.
The finals scores were 153-147 for the women and 180-118 for the men, both in favor of the home Florida squads.
Last year, the Seminoles upset Florida at home, and though this season made for perhaps tougher sledding (and required them to go on the road), it looked for awhile as if Florida State might be starting an upset streak.
All diving events took place Thursday, and after going 1-2 on both boards (Kelsey Goodman scored 292.50 on 1-meter followed by Ariel Rittenhouse, while Katrina Young won 3-meter in 298.95 with Goodman second), FSU sat on a 29-9 lead until Saturday’s swimming session kicked off.
Florida started eating away at the lead early, crushing the field in the 400 medley relay for the big relay points. The team of Sinead Russell, Hilda Luthersdottir, Ellese Zalewski and Natalie Hinds went 3:42.27, buoyed by their fast front half – Russell was 55.2 on backstroke and Luthersdottir went 1:01.84 on breast, both the fastest splits in their respective strokes by nearly a full second. FSU took second and third with their consistent and deep relay squads.
The Gators then went 1-2-3-4 in the 1000 free, with senior Alicia Mathieu leading the way in 9:55.24. Jessica Thielmann was second, Jordan Smith third and Autumn Finke fourth. Though only three of the four could score points, the event still all but erased FSU’s huge diving lead.
A 1-2 finish in the 200 free from Lindsey McKnight (1:49.53) and Sinead Russell (1:50.16) gave Florida its first lead, 49-44. A second-straight 1-2 from Elizabeth Beisel (55.60) and Ashlee Lin (56.08) in the 100 back and the Gators looked thoroughly in control of the meet.
Florida State’s Sami Pochowski made a charge in the 100 breast, but came up .03 short as Hilda Luthersdottir went 1:02.96 to touch out her 1:02.99 for yet another Florida win.
But the breaststroke seemed to be a sort of spark for Florida State, who started to wake up over the next few races. Chelsea Britt and Julia Henkel went 1-2 in the 200 fly at 2:02.22 and 2:03.00 respectively, and Kaitlyn Dressel and Tiffany Oliver did the same thing in the 50 (22.90 and 23.14) to send FSU roaring back.
Kicking off the second portion of the meet, Dressel/Oliver were at it again, going 50.49 and 50.84 to sweep the top two spots in the 100 free, and after surviving an early Florida scoring streak FSU looked like a sudden juggernaut.
But that’s what studs are for: to turn momentum around in a hurry. Florida Olympian Elizabeth Beisel won her second race of the night in the 200 back, going 1:58.49 to blow away the field. Her teammate Ashlee Lin was second, just as she was in the 100 back to start another Florida scoring spree.
Hilda Luthersdottir completed her breaststroke sweep by taking the 200 in 2:17.09 and Beisel swam back-to-back races, taking second in 2:18.24 to turn things around for the Gators.
FSU got a 500 free win from Madison Jacobi in 4:53.94, but Florida went 2-3-4 to limit the damage. That set up a huge 100 fly between Chelsea Britt, who won the 200 fly for FSU, and Ellese Zalewski, who was the only one to outsplit her on the 400 medley relay. In what turned out to be a meet-clinching win, Zalewski went 55.51, roaring back from a 0.3 second deficit at the halfway mark to top Britt’s 55.70.
Julia Henkel won the 400 IM in 4:22.38, but when Florida went 2-3-4, the damage was done and the Gators needed only two more points from the final relay to break the meet-clinching 150-point barrier.
FSU took first and third in the 200 free relay, riding their sprinting prowess that turned things around for them early in the meet. The relay team of Tiffany Oliver, Kaitlyn Dressel, Laura Flewelling and Sami Pochowski were 1:32.97 with a fast 22.3 split from Dressel to beat out Florida’s top team, but it wasn’t enough to get by the home team in total points.
The men’s meet was a much less back-and-forth affair, but FSU did jump out to an early lead by sweeping Thursday’s diving events. Tom Neubacher won both 1-meter (351.75) and 3-meter (342.60), and the Seminoles went 1-2-3 on the 1-meter board to grab an 18-point lead heading into the swimming portion.
That lead evaporated pretty quickly, though. Florida cut it in half in the 400 medley relay when the team of Corey Main, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Marcin Cieslak and Bradley deBorde won in 3:15.09. FSU was just behind in 3:15.83, but Solaeche-Gomez’s 54.9 split was the difference – FSU’s Jared Pike was only 56.2, although Matt Elliott actually outsplit the field from the Florida B relay with a 54.0.
Carlos Omana won the 1000 free in 9:08.26, Arthur Frayler completed the 1-2 sweep and suddenly Florida had tied the score. Andrea D’Arrigo (1:38.36) and Pawel Werner (1:38.98) swept the 200 free to give Florida its first lead, a lead it wouldn’t surrender the rest of the day.
The only swimmer Florida couldn’t seem to get by was FSU senior Pavel Sankovich, who dominated his events in much the same way his teammate Tom Neubacher dominated the diving well. Sankovich was 47.33 in the 100 back to win easily, although Florida did go 2-3-4 to keep the score difference manageable.
Matt Elliott went 55.01 to win the 100 breast in another 1-2 sweep (Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez was second in 55.42) and Sebastien Rousseau won the 200 fly with a 1:46.67 before Bradley deBorde took the 50 free in 20.05.
DeBorde also won the 100 free, going 44.93 to kick off the second section of the meet. Corey Main took home the 200 backstroke win in 1:47.70 and Solaeche-Gomez got back on top of the breaststrokes, going 1:59.91 in the 200 to dip back under two minutes and top his teammate Matt Elliott, who was 2:00.04.
Andrea D’Arrigo won his second event when he went 4:25.27 in the 500 free, an easy win over teammate Sebastien Rousseau.
FSU got its fourth and final win from Pavel Sankovich in the 100 fly – he went 46.49 to win by a second and a half, and teammate Connor Knight added a second-place finish for the ‘Noles.
But Carlos Omana bookended the meet with wins, taking the first event, the 1000 free, and the final event, the 400 IM, in 3:54.69.
Finally, Florida won the 200 free relay to cap off a dominating performance. Bradley deBorde led off in 20.1 and Corey Main anchored in 19.83. In between were Sebastien Rousseau and Marcin Cieslak – the relay was 1:21.12, a tenth ahead of FSU’s 1:21.22. The Seminoles took the lead on Paul Murray’s 19.9 split in the #2 spot, but couldn’t hold off Main on the closing leg.