Jan. 15, 2005
DALLAS, Texas –
With four of the best teams in the country on one stage, the Florida State University men’s swimming and diving team knew it had to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the 23rd Annual Dallas Morning News Classic, hosted by SMU. In the midst of their hardest training, the Seminoles didn’t get the results they were looking for, but still had a good showing on day one.
Florida State finds itself in fifth place at 115 points, but only nine out of fourth and a shot at second or third isn’t out of the question. Eighth-ranked California leads at 182 points, followed by No. 3 Florida (158 points), host SMU (145) and Arizona State (126). Eighteenth-ranked Texas A&M in sixth at 111 points.
“I think this meet shows that we’re right where we need to be,” FSU head coach Neil Harper said. “Our guys have been training the hardest they ever have and to come here and compete against some of the best in the country it’s tough to get up when you’re as tired as our guys are. Our goal is to peak at conference and NCAA and we’re still on track for that.”
The DMN Classic is different than most invitationals with only one swimmer per school in the finals and consolation heats of each event.
One of three fourth-place finishes came at the start of the meet in the 400 medley relay. Posting a time of 3:22.65, just 0.37 behind Florida, was the quartet of Ian Powell (Guernsey, Channel Islands), Billy Jamerson (Savannah, Ga.), Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.) and Edward Denton (Maidenhead, England).
Florida State’s top individual finished wasn’t produced until the fifth event of the meet. Freshman Alex Tilbrook (Largo, Fla.) posted a score of 276.25 to take fourth on the one-meter board. The rookie Jamerson produced FSU’s best finish in the water as he just missed out on first place with his fourth-place 56.68.
“Billy had his chance, but he made a big mistake in the third turn and went from maybe winning the race to fourth,” Harper noted. “At this level you can’t hesitate, but it was a good learning experience for him and he’ll improve because of it. Alex had a couple of good dives. (Diving coach) Patrick (Jeffery) said he was trying some new dives so he could have been a little safer, but just like the swimmers he’s trying to improve and get ready for bigger things.”
Freshman Dan Keeling (Westminster, Colo.) came through with a fifth-place mark in the 400 individual medley, posting a time of 4:03.63. That same mark was scored by Denton in the 200 free as he hit the wall in 1:41.80. Sophomore Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio) took third in the consolation heat, touching in at 1:51.35.
Normally a strong event for the Seminoles, the 50 freestyle was tough as Averett posted a 21.45 to take sixth. Racking up a fifth-place spot in the 100 butterfly was junior Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) as he just missed out on fourth place by 0.11 with a 50.84.
“The competition here is stiff and if you’re not on your game you’re going to get punished,” Harper added. “But the moral has been very good and our guys are happy to representing their university. It’s a great experience and it’s only going to inspire them when they get back to practice. It would be a lot easier to swim against an unranked team, but if you want to move up you have to go against the Florida’s and the Cal’s.”
One of five freshmen on the trip for FSU – seven of the Seminoles’ nine participants are freshmen or sophomores – Powell hit the wall in 51.82 to take fifth in the 100 backstroke. Rounding out the first day of competition was the 800 free relay of Roof, Roycik, Keeling and Powell as they hit the wall in fifth place with at time of 6:54.67.
The two day meet concludes on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (CST) with final 18 events, including the 200-yard distance of the stroke races and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays where the Seminoles have the ninth and 12th fastest teams, respectively, in the country.