March 23, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- What they lack in numbers they make up for in skill as three members of the Florida State swimming and diving team compete for All-American honors at the 2011 Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships beginning on Thursday in Minneapolis, Minn. Seniors Rob Holderness, Landon Marzullo and Mike Neubacher all look to earn top eight finishes in at least one event for the Seminoles.
“Our team is not as big as it’s been in the past, but what we come with has a chance to perform extremely well,” head coach Neil Harper said. “They survived the difficulties of getting here and they have a very good chance a performing well and their goals are very high.”
“Because our zone is so difficult anyone who qualifies out of our zone has the chance to make the finals and score points,” diving coach Patrick Jeffrey said. “I feel that Landon (Marzullo) and Mike (Neubacher) can go toe to toe with anyone in the country.”
In the pool, Holderness has waited all season for his chance to compete against the best in the nation. The senior has already dominated the ACC becoming the first Seminole to sweep the 100 breast and 200 breast at an ACC Championship meet.
“He’s really had a great season,” Harper said. “We wanted him to work hard during the season to help us win dual meets and he did that and then we wanted him to perform well at ACCs and he did that as well. Now’s it’s time for the next step and that’s the NCAA Championships.”
At stake for the Butleigh, Somerset, England native is the chance to become the first All-American swimmer since Scott Baker in 2008. Holderness enters the meet seeded 14th in his signature event the 200 breast. A move into the top eight would help him accomplish the goal that was set before the season even began.
“The goal at the end of the season was coming to come here and really make a name for himself and compete at the NCAA Championships,” Harper said. “I think coming so close last season coupled with his maturity and experience has really made him better.”
Last season Holderness won the consolation final to earn ninth-place and honorable mention All-American accolades. He also placed 17th in the 100 breast just missing out on honorable mention All-American honors.
On the boards, Marzullo and Neubacher both have the opportunity to shine against some of the best divers in the world. Marzullo’s all-around talent gives him a chance to do something not even all-everything diver Terry Horner could do, finish top eight on all three boards.
“Landon has a great shot on any three boards,” Jeffrey said. “He can hang with anyone in the country because of his versatility as a diver.”
Neubacher’s best chance at All-American honors will come Saturday on the platform. The Orlando, Fla., native earned All-ACC honors on the platform in each of the last two seasons and had a list of dives second to none in the sports most dangerous event.
“Mike’s best chance is on the platform because he has a difficult list and is consistent,” Jeffrey said. “I know that he can put together six great dives and find himself in that top eight.”
What’s unique with Marzullo and Neubacher is they both started at different schools; Marzullo at Indiana and Neubacher at LSU. While both transferred for different reasons, it has been apparent that it was the right move.
“We were in the picture for both guys out of high school and when things didn’t work out for them I left the door open and it was a nice surprise to get them both,” Jeffrey said. “I’ve been able to build upon the great work their coaches did with them at their previous schools and I’m proud of the work the two have put in.”
Competition for the Seminoles begins on Thursday with the men’s one-meter board. Holderness will begin his meet on Friday with the 100 breast. For live results and recaps log onto www.seminoles.com. You can also watch the diving finals live at ESPN3.com.