April 28, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
With all the success that Florida State University swimming and diving had in 2003-04, choosing just a select few was a tough task for Seminole deck boss Neil Harper and his staff. When it came right down to it, four student athletes stood out above the rest as most valuable.
Capping off one of the best seasons in school history, Emma Dutton (Bradford, England) took home women’s Most Valuable Swimmer honors, while Joel Roycik’s (Winter Park, Fla.) consistency all-year earned him the men’s award. One of five talented divers, Tiffany Manning (Mission Viejo, Calif.) was the best of the best and was named women’s Most Valuable Diver along with Stuart de la Rosa (Erdenhiem, Pa.) on the men’s side.
To find a swimmer with a better season than Dutton, one might have to go back to the 1980’s when multiple All-Americans were the norm. The senior was the first swimmer since Kathy Isackson in 1988 to collect two All-America honors as she finished eighth in the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships.
A month earlier, Dutton was just the third women’s swimmer in league history to win seven league championships-three individual and four relays-as she was named ACC Swimmer of the Meet. She claimed her second award from the conference when she was selected ACC Swimmer of the Year, a first for a Florida State women’s swimmer.
While several men’s swimmers could have been selected, from beginning to end Roycik had the best season of any Seminole. He capped off a breakthrough campaign by winning the 100 butterfly at the ACC Championships. The sophomore made his first trip the NCAA meet where he competed in the 50 and 100 freestyle as well as the 100 fly.
“We had so many people who were valuable this year, but these two just stood out a little bit more than everyone else,” Harper said. “Joel was great the entire year and it culminated with him winning the 100 fly at the conference championships when no one thought he could do it. He was the go-to man all year.
“If she’s the ACC Swimmer of the Year, then she better been the FSU Swimmer of the Year. Emma had a phenomenal year and this reiterates how much we appreciate everything that she has done for us. She has set this program up for years to come.”
Perhaps the only equal to Dutton in the ACC was her own teammate. Manning dominated both the one-meter and three-meter boards at the conference meet, earning her ACC Diver of the Meet honors, before going on to win the platform event at the NCAA Zone “B” Championships.
Her signature event the last three seasons, Manning took another step towards becoming one of the best platform divers in the country as she placed fifth at the NCAA Championships. Showing that she is becoming one of the top all-around divers in the nation, the junior added Honorable Mention All-America accolades by taking ninth on the three-meter board and tenth in the one-meter competition.
The departure of All-American Louis Gagnet left the top spot wide open on the men’s team. Throughout the year, the diver that was most consistent was de la Rosa. The sophomore posted FSU’s best finish at the ACC meet as he took sixth in the one-meter competition. He added a tenth-place finish during the three-meter board.
“Tiffany and Stuart were selected because they scored the most points had our highest finishes at the ACC meet, Zone competition and national championships,” diving coach Patrick Jeffrey said. “Stuart is one of the easiest divers I’ve ever had to coach; I never have to worry about him. Tiffany was an obvious choice. She’s an All-American in three events, so there’s no question that she was most valuable.”
Along with Most Valuable honors, Dutton shared the women’s Most Improved Swimmer award with fellow All-American Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.). On the men’s side, the award went to freshman Paul Erben (Panama City, Fla.) for the huge strides he made during the conference championships.
“For a lower swimmer it’s easier to improve, but when you’re on top it’s harder and Emma and Emily really made a big jump this year in so many events,” Harper added. “With Paul it’s a rags to riches story. No one knew him coming out of Panama City. Coming out of high school his fastest time in the 100 breaststroke was a 58 and to drop three seconds this year is unheard of at this level.”
Just like Dutton, Manning made her jump to the elite level among the nation’s best she was selected for the diver’s Most Improved award. Taking the honors on the men’s side was freshman Derek Jones (Jacksonville, Fla.) and sophomore Jason Beinlich (Ridley) for the improvement they should over the course of the year.
“Tiffany really came a long way this year,” Jeffrey added. “Last season she was in the 20’s on both springboards and this year she moved up 10-15 spots at the national level. Derek walked on this year and didn’t have much of a three-meter lift and by the end of the year he was scoring at the ACC meet. That’s a huge learning curve. Jason went through a lot of adjustments outside the pool and took advantage of everything that was made available to him. He came back to score at the ACC meet after not scoring at all last year.”
As someone who shows their enjoyment for swimming and diving on their sleeve and the first to congratulate a teammate, junior Courtney McClow (Jacksonville, Fla.) and rookie Alex Kennon (Eagle Lake, Fla.) earned the Coaches Award. No one brought more enthusiasm to the pool day in and day out than freshman All-American Lauren Brick (Culpeper, Va.) and her love for Florida State was noted with the Spirit Award.
“Every time you look at Alex, whether it’s at 6 a.m. or 5 p.m., he is just excited to be there,” Harper noted. “He gave it all whether it was in the weight room, on the track or in the pool. This is someone we wish everyone else on the team was a little more like.”
“Courtney is the kind of kid that you cannot have enough of on your team,” Jeffrey noted. “She shows up every single day with a smile on her face. She’s does exactly what we ask her to do and she’s always in the right state of mind everyday. She’s just a gem.”
Perseverance over injury and illness earned the Warrior Award for Camille Akridge (Orlando, Fla.) Rachel Dong (Paramount, Calif.) Kayce Zemina (Plantation, Fla.) and Wickus Nienaber (Manzini, Swaziland). Dong and Zemina both overcame ACL injuries, while Akridge battled both a shoulder surgery and a stress fracture. Malaria put Nienaber in the intensive care unit of the hospital, but four months later he was onto of the podium at the ACC Championships.
“These kids were a pillar of strength for our team,” Harper noted. “After going through a lot of adversity they really led by example. All three of the girls battled back from tough injuries and we weren’t sure if Wickus was going to swim again, but the way all four of them came back was a huge inspiration.”
The 2003-04 season was the best during Harper’s five-year tenure in Tallahassee. For the third-straight season, the women’s team posted at least ten wins and the men amassed nine. The women’s 15 dual meet triumphs are a school and conference record, while placing the Seminoles 17th in the CSCAA dual meet poll.
2003-04 Florida State Swimming & Diving Awards
Most Valuable Swimmer: Emma Dutton (Women), Joel Roycik (Men)
Most Valuable Diver: Tiffany Manning (Women), Stuart de la Rosa (Men)
Most Improved Swimmer: Emily Breen & Emma Dutton (Women), Paul Erben (Men)
Most Improved Diver: Tiffany Manning (Women), Derek Jones & Jason Beinlich (Men)
Coaches Award: Courtney McClow (Women), Alex Kennon (Men)
Captains Award: Rachel Dong, Matt Wheeler, Tiffany Manning
Warrior Award: Camille Akridge, Rachel Dong & Kayce Zemina, Wickus Nienaber
Spirit Award: Lauren Brick
Tiffany Manning (One & Three-Meter Diving)
Taryn Ignacio (Platform Diving)
200 Medley Relay (Emily Breen, Lauren Brick, Rachel Dong, Emma Dutton)
400 Medley Relay (Emily Breen, Lauren Brick, Lisa How, Emma Dutton)
200 Freestyle Relay (Emily Breen, Lisa How, Rachel Dong, Emma Dutton)
400 Freestyle Relay (Emily Breen, Lisa How, Rachel Dong, Emma Dutton)
ACC Women's Coach of the Year: Neil Harper
ACC Swimmer of the Year: Emma Dutton
ACC Swimmer of the Meet: Emma Dutton
ACC Diver of the Meet: Tiffany Manning
All-ACC (Women): Emily Breen, Lauren Brick, Rachel Dong, Emma Dutton, Lisa How, Taryn Ignacio, Brittany Lerew, Andree-Anne LeRoy, Tiffany Manning, Courtney McClow
All-ACC (Men): Michael Averett, Wickus Nienaber, Michael Paulus, Joel Roycik, Chris Vythoulkas