Penn State prevailed over Georgia Tech Friday evening as the two teams opened their seasons with a dual meet at the McCoy Natatorium in University Park, Pa. For the men, it was a close contest as the Nittany Lions won 160.5-137.5, while the Nittany Lion women had a stronger showing, defeating the Yellow Jackets 170-119.
Sweeping up Results
Nittany Lions’ senior Nate Savoy, who co-captains the men’s team, factored heavily in the win with four first place finishes. Last year’s 10th place NCAA Championships finisher in the 100-yard back posted wins in the 100-yard back (48.82), the 200-yard back (1:49.70), the 200-yard individual medley (1:52.38), and with the help of sophomore Andrew Schuehler, senior Kyle Madley, and junior Shane Ryan, the 200-yard medley relay (1:29.32).
Melissa Rodriguez won the women’s 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.39) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:19.18) races for Penn State. Rodriguez, who in July set Mexico’s national records in the 50-meter and 100-meter breaststroke events, is picking up where she left off last year, when she set the school record in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:09.54) and competed at the NCAA Championships in a relay and three individual events (100-yard and 200-yard breaststrokes and the 200-yard individual medley). Junior Efrat Rotsztejn gave the Yellow Jackets points by placing second to Rodriguez in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.81) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:21.53).
Senior Megan Siverling swam farther than Savoy and Rodriquez to get wins in the 500-yard freestyle (4:51.50) and 1000-yard freestyle (10:02.07). Her teammate, sophomoreCasey Francis, padded the points in these events by placing second twice (4:57.29 and 10:04.53), and sophomore Bridget Moody made it a sweep for Penn State in the 1000-yard freestyle (10:25.48) by placing third.
Not to be outdone in the lady Nittany Lions’ win column, junior and Canadian Alyson Ackman won the women’s 100-yard backstroke (56.25) and 100-yard freestyle (50.49). Penn State made the backstroke a sweep with fellow junior Casey Fazio (56.69) and sophomore Anna Farnsworth (57.06) placing second and third. Ackman led another Penn State sweep with junior Kaitlin Jones (50.97) and senior Caitlyn Karr (51.78) taking second and third in the 100-yard freestyle. Ackman was a double relay medalist for Canada this summer at the Commonwealth Games.
The stack of wins by Savoy, Rodriquez, Siverling and Ackman helped Penn State secure its third straight season-opening win. It also gave the Nittany Lions an all-time 2-0 record against the Yellow Jackets.
Other key results for head coach Tim Murphy’s team include: winning three of the four relays; freshman David Gross taking the1,000-yard freestyle (9:21.39); Ryan winning the 100-yard freestyle (44.32); the Nittany Lions’ trio of sophomore Megan Wujciak, Karr and freshmen Niki Price sweeping the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.99, 1:50.23, 1:54.74); sophomoreMatt Stasiunas winning the 200-yard freestyle (1:40.32); junior Katie Rowe’s winning the 200-yard fly (2:01.18); Schuehler’s win in the 100-yard breaststroke (56.92); and a sprint sweep in the women’s 50-yard freestyle by senior Carolyn Fittin (23.50), sophomore Kaitlin Saloky (23.54), and senior Katelyn Miller (23.79).
“Early on to have that kind of enthusiasm and intensity, it’s nice,” said Murphy in the below. “It’s a solid start.”
Murphy, who is starting his second year at Penn State as head coach, is happy with the team’s performance, but he said the team needs to improve their fitness, racing strategy and technical skills, calling the meet “a good wake-up call.”
Pool records are the highlight for Georgia Tech
The jet that flew the Georgia Tech team to Pennsylvania wasn’t the only fast moving body that arrived from Atlanta, as senior and All-American Andrew Kosic set a pool record while winning the 50-yard freestyle (20.19) and then again for the 100-yard freestyle (44.10), as the lead-off man for the second place 400-yard freestyle relay.
Despite the record-setting form, Kosic placed second in the 100-yard freestyle to Penn State’s Ryan, who was 0.40 seconds faster than Kosic in the first 50 yards (21.37 to 21.77) and held on to win by 0.19 seconds in 44.32 to Kosic’s 44.51. Kosic did top Ryan in the 50-yard free (20.19 and 20.33) by 0.14.
Georgia Tech had a slow start. The first eleven events went to Penn State. Sophomore Ben Southern and senior Nico van Duijn broke the Nittany Lion run by taking first and second in the 200-yard fly with only 0.16 between them (1:49.66 and 1:49.82) and nearly four seconds ahead of Penn State’s Madley. Duijn and Southern switched positions later in the 100-yard fly going first and second (49.42 and 49.81).
“The men were a little slow to get out of the gate, but certainly got stronger as the meet progressed,” said Georgia Tech head coach, Courtney Shealy Hart on the team’s website. “Andrew (Kosic) broke a pair of pool records and I think he helped get some other guys going.”
The Yellow Jacket men made it close with a strong surge at the end of the meet by nearly winning four of the final six events. This started with freshman Alex Kimpel’s win in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:06.77), then with junior Yuval Safra winning the men’s 500-yard freestyle (4:31.48), next van Duijn taking the men’s 100-yard fly (49.42) and then the team led by Kosic’s pool-record performance nearly won the 400-yard freestyle relay, losing only by 0.35 seconds.
Hart gave a nod to Efrat’s strong breaststroke performance on the school’s website, but said, “Our women were a little sluggish today, and hopefully it’s a good learning experience for them.”
Most notably sluggish for the lady Yellow Jackets was junior Erika Staskevicius, who finished sixth and out of the points in both the 50-yard freestyle (24.81) and 100-yard freestyle (54.15). Last week, Staskevicius dominated the freestyle events at Georgia Tech’s White/Gold annual scrimmage, posting a 24.04 and a 52.61.
Penn State takes break while Georgia Tech races Saturday
Georgia Tech does not have to wait long for their next test, as they head to Annapolis, MDon Saturday to face the Navy Academy in Lejeune Hall at 11 a.m. EST. A link to live video and results will be made active on Navy’s website Saturday morning.
Penn State’s next competition is the Virginia Tech Challenge Oct. 18 in Blacksburg, Va.
Full meet results for the Penn West, Georgia Tech dual meet can be found here.