Press Release courtesy of Pitt Athletics
The Pitt swimming & diving team opens its much-anticipated 2017-18 campaign on Friday afternoon with a dual meet against ACC foe Georgia Tech. The meet is set for a 3 p.m. start at the McAuley Acquatic Center in Atlanta, the host of last year’s ACC Championships.
The long road towards its ultimate goal—excelling at the ACC and NCAA Championships in the spring—will begin tomorrow for Pitt, which features one of college swimming’s youngest combined squads.
For the men, Boris Kulizhnikov is the lone senior, while the Panthers are loaded with young talent in the form of eight sophomores and 13 freshmen that will need to score the majority of Pitt’s points. Juniors Aaron Sett and Brian Lovasik add a quality veteran presence to the team, however.
The Pitt women’s team is fortunate to have three seniors, all of whom have All-America potential: swimmers Lina Rathsack and Amanda Richey and diver Meme Sharp. But the Panthers will also rely on youth as 12 sophomores and 10 freshmen on the roster could feature regularly in the lineup, especially returning ACC scorers Valerie Daigneault and Sarah Giamber, both sophomores.
In diving, the Pitt women are led by Sharp, who is a former ACC champion and NCAA qualifier. Krista Jones, Cortnee Williams and Lisa Coe are all hoping to build off strong debut seasons, while Cheyanne Neuenschwander is another veteran to watch out for. Sophomore Joe Ference, who was an ACC finalist on 1-meter last season, aims to improve on his fantastic freshman season, with sophomore Samuel Jenkins and newcomer Noah Marble rounding out the Pitt diving roster.
This ear marks the fourth consecutive year that Pitt will meet Georgia Tech in a swimming & diving dual meet as members of the ACC. The Pitt women own a 3-0 record against the Yellow Jackets, while Georgia Tech has won all three meets on the men’s side.
QUOTES: Pitt Head Coach John Hargis
On the team’s excitement for the first meet of the season:
“We’re very excited to finally have the opportunity to race. I’m especially looking forward to seeing our newcomers race for the first time in college to see how they adapt to the competition of a dual-meet environment.”
On which swimmers could make a big impact for Pitt against Georgia Tech:
“We have so many student-athletes training at such a high level right now. I think Valerie Daigneault and Eben Vorster have looked very strong in our workouts. Brian Lovasik is another veteran who has been really impressive in practice. In terms of newcomers, I’m excited to see the Hungarians—Armin Remenyi and Bence Szucsik—and the Israelis—Artur Polyak and Shahar Menahem—in action for the first time.”
On opening the season against an ACC rival in Georgia Tech:
“Competing against Georgia Tech will give us a good idea of where we are and where we stand in the ACC. It’ll be good to get an early read on that. Last season, our men battled with Georgia Tech right down to the last day at the ACC Championships, so it will be a good test for us for sure.”
On who is emerging in leadership roles given the relative youth of the squad:
“The leadership on this team is actually some of the best I’ve been around. Our four seniors—Boris Kulizhnikov, Lina Rathsack, Amanda Richey and Meme Sharp—have done a phenomenal job. We also have younger athletes stepping into those roles. It’s been great to see the competitive spirit on the pool deck each day as we’ve been preparing for the 2017-18 season.”
QUOTES: Pitt Diving Coach Katie Hazelton
On the first meet of the season for Pitt diving:
“I’m really excited to see how everyone competes. As a coach, it’ll be a good learning curve for myself to watch all of our divers in action because executing in competition is definitely different than practice. Also, for me personally, the dual meet setup will be a very new experience. I’m looking forward to partaking in the meet as a team with swimming and diving together and hopeful we’ll be successful.”
On how evaluating how the divers’ preparation for the 2017-18 season:
“It’s still very early in the process. We’re in what we call preparation phase, so we’re still working primarily on technique-based skills that translate into dives. Our goal is to build up towards the end of the season and be posting our highest scores at the important championship meets.”
On which divers could make a big impact for Pitt against Georgia Tech:
“Joe Ference had a really good meet at this pool at last year’s ACC Championships and will go in feeling really confident. Meme Sharp is our senior leader and should also have a really strong performance. I’ve been particularly impressed with Krista Jones as well; she’s been working really hard and her dives in practice have been technically sound, so I’m excited to see how she does. This is a really nice facility, which will present a great test for all of our divers.”