Oct. 16, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The 2001-2002 Seminole men’s swimming team, under head coach Neil Harper who is in his third year at the helm, will head into the season with strong aspirations to improve on last season’s 6-7 record. The ‘Noles finished last season undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference and placed fourth at the conference championship. Junior Devin Crock will lead the charge as the Seminoles’ lone returning ACC champion.
The Seminoles enter the 2001-2002 season with a good core of swimmers in the Sprint Freestyle events. Junior Nnamnse Ammons will lead the squad in the sprint events, following an impressive sophomore campaign. Ammons finished sixth in the 50 Free and ninth in the 100 Free at the ACC Championship last season and will head the relay squad after turning out incredible split times last year. Junior Joey Marshburn will compete with Ammons as the top sprinter this year after taking the 2001 spring semester off due to personal reasons. Rounding out the top returnees in the sprints are senior Steven Forson, junior Matt Carmen and sophomore Michael Paulus. All three returnees will be heavily counted on in the relay and short distance events. Freshman Michael Averett will support the ‘Noles in the 50, 100 and 200 events. Devin Crock will provide added depth after a good run in the sprint relays at the ACC meet and may figure in both the 50 and 100.
The Distance Freestyle will be an untested area for the Seminoles in 2001-2002, as coach Harper will count on a young group consisting of sophomores and freshmen to score points for the team. This year will be one for the young men to gain valuable experience as well as an opportunity to develop and succeed in the future. Sophomores Jeff Boatright and Michael Clarke are the only returnees from last season. Each have experience in the 500, and will help bring along the freshmen. The freshmen group consists of Ted Bradley, Sky Hoagland, Alan Ribeiro and Andrew Skaggs. While all the freshmen swam competitively in the 500 as preps, Bradley and Ribeiro also have high school experience in the 1000.
Look for the Butterfly events to be a strong point for the Seminoles due to the squad’s quality and depth. Devin Crock will lead the team in the 100 Fly coming off an extraordinary sophomore year in which he won the ACC title, swimming his best time of the season, 48.09, in the final. Richie Armond, a junior transfer from the University of Georgia, specializes in the 100, and he will push Crock for the top spot in that event. Freshman Michael Averett, a two time Florida high school state champion and All-American in the 100 Fly, will look to provide added depth and success for the ‘Noles this season. Sophomores Matt Wheeler and Jeff Boatright will lead the 200 Fly. Both were qualifiers for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trial and gained valuable experience as freshmen last year. Wheeler placed ninth in the 200 Fly, while Boatright placed 13th and 18th in the 200 and 100 Fly, respectively, at the ACC Championship.
The Seminoles will look toward the senior leadership of team captain Jonathan Kaplan to lead the squad in an event that will depend on youth to play a big role. Kaplan is the most experienced in the backstroke, specializing in the 200. Michael Clarke will provide good depth for the 200 Back, while Devin Crock scored at the ACC Championship in the event. Freshman Chris Lang earned high school All-American honors and will be joined by fellow first-year teammates Ted Bradley and Andrew Castro to compete for a spot in the 200. The graduation of last season’s most valuable performer Greg Main-Ballie left a void in the 100 Back that will be hard to fill. Coach Harper will look for his 200 Back swimmers to compete for the open spots in the 100 event.
The Breastroke will be one of the Seminoles’ strongest events this season. The top three swimmers in the 100 and 200 Breast, sophomores Wickus Nienaber and Tal Stricker and junior Justin Betts, will have a likely opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championship. Both Nienaber and Stricker have proven international careers. They joined the ‘Noles in January and just missed qualifying times for the NCAA meet. Nienaber placed third in 100 and 200 Breast at the ACC Championship, while Stricker finished fourth in the 200 and ninth in the 100. Betts placed fifth at the ACC meet in the 100 as a sophomore. Senior Richard Cowling, the team’s assistant captain, finished seventh in the 100 Breast at the ACC meet and will look to not only be a leader in the event, but also push for the top spot.
The 200 Individual Medley will be led by Richard Cowling, Justin Betts and Tal Stricker, all who have proven their talent in the event. Cowling placed eighth last year in the 200 IM at the ACC Championship, while Stricker finished 17th overall. Jonathan Kaplan, Michael Clarke and Matt Wheeler, who are more suited for the longer event, will run the 400 IM. Kaplan finished 19th at the ACC meet in the 400 IM, while Clarke earned a first-place finish in the dual meet versus NC State.