March 28, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-Junior Tom Neubacher became the first Seminole to capture All-American accolades at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. Neubacher tallied a total of 383.50 points while finishing seventh in the 1-meter springboard event.
“I’m extremely proud of Tom,” head diving coach Patrick Jeffrey said. “He was very consistent today. He had to throw a great last dive in prelims in order to make finals and he dove as well as I could have expected. He hit everything today. I thought he really held his own against a pair of Olympic medalists in finals and I’m really proud of him.”
In prelims, Neubacher was toward the bottom of a ten-diver battle for places seven through 17.
“I knew I was pretty close and not out of it yet,” Neubacher said. “Pat came over to me and he said `you saved your best dive for last, you know what you need to do so go out there and hit it.’ Plus my brother (Mike Neubacher) keeps me calm and he was watching the scores in the stands and telling me how much I needed to make finals.”
Saving his best dive for last, Neubacher scored eight’s on an inward two-and-a-half somersault tuck for a total of 74.40 points.
“I knew I needed to go all out,” Neubacher said. “Once I hit the water I knew it was a pretty good dive. I looked over and saw my scores and then Pat had his hands up, just celebrating and I knew I made it. It was one of the best moments of my career.”
Neubacher completed prelims with a total of 345.10 good enough for eighth, just three points ahead of the ninth place competitor.
“I was pretty sure he was going to score but to get in the finals he needed to do exactly what he did,” Jeffrey said. “He was the last diver and he needed 73 points. He couldn’t have gotten a half-of-a-point lower, but he really did a great dive.”
Diving first in finals, Neubacher improved in his first four dives before closing out with another solid inward, placing him in seventh.
Neubacher goes down in FSU history along with Roger Slater, Curt Genters, Phil Boggs and Terry Horner to become the fifth diver to ever claim All-American honors on 1-meter.
“It’s fantastic,” Neubacher said. “Even before college, becoming an All-American is such an elite group of athletes and that was my dream. I just wanted to make that status and get the plaque and perform well.”
In swimming, junior Pavel Sankovich put FSU on the board with a 16th place finish in the 200 IM with a time of 1:44.61. Sankovich becomes the first Seminole in history to ever score in the 200 IM at the NCAA Championships.
“Pavel wasn’t as sharp as he was at ACC’s, but he did enough to make it into the top 16 to earn honorable mention honors,” head coach Neil Harper said. “It’s just another great achievement and he made a great effort.”
In the 50 free, senior Mark Weber posted a 19.73, just off his 19.53 he set in prelims for 14th place in the event.
“I’m really excited for Mark,” Harper said. “As a senior, making a `B’ final and bouncing back after he swam well on that relay speaks volumes and I am happy for him.”
Both swims were the first-career All-American honorable mentions for Sankovich and Weber.
In prelims, senior John Jessell posted a 4:23.51 in his final 500 free of his career. Jessell will swim the 1650 free on Saturday as his last race as a Seminole.
The Seminoles suffered a heartbreaking disqualification in the 200 free relay to start off the meet.
“We had such high hopes,” Harper said. “Any time you have a relay that would have been top eight and then find out that one of the exchanges was early, it’s devastating. It was very disappointing and we found it hard to rebound after that.”
After the first day of competition, Florida State is in 20th place with 16 points.
“We’re on the board and we have an All-American diver and two honorable mention swimmers.” Harper said. “Luckily, we have a lot more events where we can make up ground.”
Friday’s session will start off with the 200 medley relay. Sophomore Josh Friedel and Sankovich will swim the 100 back, while Weber will exercise the option to swim the 100 fly.
The top 16 qualifiers in each event will earn a spot in finals, which begin at 7 p.m. each night. All prelim sessions will be streamed live through the Indiana Spots Corporation. Friday and Saturday’s finals can be watched on ESPN3.com.
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