Feb. 28, 2004
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. –
Going into the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Florida State University head coach Neil Harper knew that it would take a perfect meet to unseat defending champion Virginia. The hosts were too strong to overtake, but the Seminoles did collect their second runner-up prize on Saturday (February 28).
Virginia won its sixth championships in a row with a total of 848.5 points. Florida State held off a charge from North Carolina to take second with 537. The Tar Heels were 30 markers back at 507 points.
“The kids did great tonight,” Harper said. “We moved up in every event and every time North Carolina stepped up, we answered. It was a great evening and nice way to end the meet. We won second place this morning by having a lot of guys in the finals and consoles because one you get in you can’t loose those points.”
Scoring the Seminoles highest finish for a second day in a row was senior Wickus Nienaber (Manzini, Swazliand). Following a victory in the 100 breaststroke on Friday, he came back on the last day to take second at the 200-yard distance with an NCAA “B” cut and season-best time of 1:59.01. Also making it to the finals was Tal Stricker (Ramat-Gan, Israel) with his season-best mark of 2:02.26, while Paul Erben (Panama City, Fla.) posted a career-best time of 2:04.02 to take 11th.
Just as it has been all meet, the sprint races produced Florida State’s most points. Scoring an NCAA “B” cut and a third-place finish with his season-best time of 44.46 was sophomore Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.). Touching in with his exact time from the prelims was Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.) as he chalked up a career-best 44.95 to place seventh. Also scoring a personal best was Michael Paulus (Somerset West, South Africa) as he finished a spot back at 45.19.
The evening session got underway with rookie Thomas Bishop (Houston, Texas) nearly setting the school record in the 1,650 free. He missed the mark by 0.17 as he finished seventh with a personal-best NCAA “B” cut of 15:24.79. Fellow freshman Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio) touched in at 12th with a time of 15:44.01. Roof came back later in the meet to take tenth in the 200 butterfly with a career-best time of 1:50.57.
The 200-yard backstroke saw three Seminoles score points in the top 16. Winning the consolation final was Justin Lawrence (Sloane Park, South Africa) as he finished ninth at 1:49.41. Touching the wall just two spots back was Chris Vythoulkas (Nassau, Bahamas) with a 1:50.28. Getting the final point-scoring position was Jared Heine (Honolulu, Hawaii) with a time of 1:51.74.
“They’ve been the core of everything,” Harper said of Nienaber, Roycik and Vythoulkas. “They’re our spark and they are invaluable. All three of them have worked hard, dedicated themselves and those three are the type of swimmers that FSU is all about. If you have talent and work hard, you can achieve great things.”
Even though they didn’t make it to the finals, Florida State’s divers collected a good chunk of points for their effort in Friday’s prelims. Leading the way in ninth place with a season-best 419.15 was Curtis Schroeger (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) at 4:19.15, while a 415.15 put Stuart de la Rosa (Erdenhiem, Pa.) a spot back.
Occupying the No. 12 position was Derek Jones (Jacksonville, Fla.) with a 399.70, to go along with a 396.10 from Jason Bienlich (Ridley) to end up one slot behind. Coming in 15th with a tally of 394.95 was Peter Crane (Fairport, N.Y.), while Mark Moss (Palm Harbor, Fla.) rounded out the scoring at 384.35.
Closing out the league meet was the 400 freestyle relay. The quartet of Vythoulkas, Paulus, Averett and Roycik ended the four-day event with a season-best mark of 3:00.35.
Up next for Florida State is either a last chance meet to try to qualify for the NCAA Championships or the national summit itself, March 25-27 in Long Island, N.Y.
ACC Men's Swimming & Diving Championships
February 28, 2004
1. Virginia 848.5
2. Florida State 537
3. North Carolina 507
4. Clemson 436
5. Georgia Tech 392
6. NC State 334.5
7. Maryland 283
8. Duke 123=
Event 20 - 400 Freestyle Relay
3) Florida State 3:00.35 - Season-Best
(Vythoulkas Paulus, Averett, Roycik)