January 26, 2019
Seniors Shine as Noles Take Down Owls

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  The Florida State swimming and diving teams sent its 14 seniors out with a day to remember as both squads defeated Florida Atlantic at the Morcom Aquatics Center to close out the 2018-19 regular season.

The women defeated the Owls 193-97, while the men won 191-100. The ladies finished the year 11-1, 3-0 ACC, which is the best regular season record since the 2012-13 season, while the No. 22 men improved to 4-5, 1-1 ACC with the victory.

“This is an amazing group of seniors,” FSU head coach Neal Studd said. “They’ve been great and it boils down to the fact that they’re great people and they have great leadership. We have four great captains and (they give) everything you want from your seniors. I am really excited to see how they finish off their year, but they’ve been remarkable.”

The women mixed up their relays and swept both races. The meet kicked off with the freshmen team of Madeleine McDonald, Ida Hulkko, Kertu Alnek and Laura Jensen taking the victory in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:42.82.

The senior squad of Leila Johnston, Shelly Drozda, Fabiana Ingram and McKenna Keith won the 200 free relay with the time of 1:35.21 to close out the meet. The win added an additional triumph as Keith competed in her first meet this season since she was sidelined in July of 2018 while she fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The Boca Raton, Fla., native returned to Tallahassee for the start of this semester after she learned she was cancer free.

“She’s inspired a lot of people,” Studd said. “She’s been a huge influence on the team. Everyone has their bad days and here she comes back after having cancer. It’s just a breath of fresh air. She’s just a great person and (today) was extra special for her.”

“Today was everything I could have imagined,” Keith added. “I am just so happy. I have been looking forward to this day for a long time. I was really happy to be on that last relay and finish, or start my season off here at FSU with that race.”

The women’s team won 13 of the 14 individual events competed, led by Johnston and Drozda who contributed a pair of individual wins each. Johnston won the 50 free with a time of 23.40 before taking the 100 fly at 55.36. Drozda cruised to the win in the 100 back (56.55) and held off freshman Kertu Alnek (5:01.28) for the victory in the 500 free at 5:00.46.

Senior Daniella Van den Berg was the winner in the 1000 free (10:25.25), touching ahead of junior Manuella Andrade (10:28.64) in second.

Freshman Nina Kucheran took home the 200 free (1:52.29), while Hulkko (1:03.69) held off senior Natalie Purnell (1:04.54) in the 100 breast for the win.

The Noles posted a sweep in the 50 free as sophomore Elise Olsen (24.23) took second behind Johnston, followed by senior Mykala Arnold and Keith (24.65) in third.

After the break, sophomore Ana Zortea won the 100 free from lane one, touching with a time of 52.97, ahead of freshman Lauren Hew (53.42) in second, freshman Klaudia Greer (53.46) in third and Ingram (53.54) in fourth.

Sophomore Kara Coughlin finished in first place in the 200 back with a time of 2:03.71 and Kucheran followed with her second win of the day, taking the 200 breast with a time of 2:16.98 ahead of her classmate Hannah Womer (2:17.89) in second. Womer came back after the break and won the 200 IM, clocking 2:07.50.

Junior Molly Carlson won both diving events, scoring 294.90 on 1-meter and 301.13 on 3-meter. Her classmate, Ayla Bonniwell followed in second in both times, tallying 281.02 on 1-meter and 293.18 on 3-meter.

The men’s team also won 13 individual events, led by seniors Emir Muratovic, Kanoa Kaleoaloha and junior Max Polianksi, who all contributed multiple victories.

Muratovic was the winner in the 100 back (50.34) and 100 free (44.22), while Kaleoaloha was victorious in the 50 free (20.01) and 100 fly (48.02).  Polianksi won the 200 fly (1:50.81) and 200 IM (1:54.32).

The Seminoles began the meet with a dominating victory in the 200 medley relay behind senior Will Pisani, freshman Izaak Bastian, Kaleoaloha and freshman Kuba Ksiazek with a time of 1:29.43.

Junior Rudo Loock took home the 200 free (1:41.25) ahead of senior John Vann (1:43.02) in second and junior Alex Cronin (1:43.96) in third.

Sophomores Jackson Seith (56.68) and Paxton Rhoads (58.05) added a one-two finish in the 100 breast.

Junior Griffin Alaniz dominated the 200 back (1:51.53) and sophomore Chad McGuire followed with the win in the 200 breast with a time of 2:08.35.

Freshman Max McCusker cruised to victory in the 500 free (4:35.13), ahead of senior Daniel Bis (4:41.06) in second.

The seniors closed out the meet with the victory in the 200 free relay behind Kaleoaloha, Muratovic, Pisani and Vann, with a mark of 1:19.37.

On the boards, sophomore Joshua Davidson put up another dominating performance, winning 1-meter with a score of 371.77 and followed with a total of 386.17 on 3-meter for the win.

The Seminoles will compete at the Auburn Invite from Feb. 8-10.

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