By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the first season under head coach Tim Murphy comes to a close for the men's swimming and diving team, the athletes will have one more chance to compete at the highest level of the sport as they travel to Austin, Texas, for the 2014 NCAA Championships.
Coming off of a strong showing at Big Tens and taking huge steps in the right direction, the Nittany Lions have spent the past three weeks making adjustments to ensure they will be ready to compete in one of the toughest competitions of their careers. The athletes will be taking what they learned from Big Tens, working on their technique, and solidifying their race plans before competing against the best in the nation.
Shane Ryan will be one swimmer to keep an eye on while he competes in his first NCAA's. After historic performances at Big Tens in his individual events, the sophomore has made a name for himself and got people in the swimming community talking.
"It definitely got my name out there. Before I went to Big Tens, there was no mention of where I would stand in the mix so that really got me riled up. Going into NCAA's, my name is out there and I think we really made a statement at Big Tens that Penn State is coming to NCAA's and we're coming in with a fight," Ryan said.
In order to qualify for this highly competitive meet, the swimmers had to swim to certain times in order to be considered for the event. All year, the swimmers are aiming for an "A" cut hoping to automatically qualify for the meet.
The NCAA releases time standards at the beginning of each year with "A" and "B" cuts. If the swimmer goes equal to or faster than the "A" cut, then they will automatically have a spot to compete in the NCAA Championships. However, if the swimmer goes a "B" cut, they are not guaranteed to make it into the meet. Swimmers with "B" cuts must wait until all of the conference meets across the country are over to see if they will be invited to the meet based on how they rank compared to others in the event.
Qualifying for the meet individually are swimmers junior Nick Ankosko, Ryan, and junior Nate Savoy. In addition, the swimmers competing in the relay events are James Wilson, Shane Austin, Scott Heil, and Mathew Stasiunas.
Here's a closer look at each of the swimmers and where they rank in their individual events going into this national level meet.
- 200 Freestyle - 54th
- 500 Freestyle - 26th
- 1650 Freestyle - 32nd
Ankosko swam in his first NCAA Championships last year where he competed in the 1,650 Freestyle and was a part of the 800 Freestyle Relay. With this experience, he will be competing in the 1650 again as well as the 200 Freestyle and 500 Freestyle. At Big Tens, the East Brunswick, N.J. native finished sixth overall in the 500 Freestyle and broke his own school record in prelims. The junior made the C final in the 200 Freestyle at Big Tens and finished 18th. On the last day in Michigan, Ankosko was the top finisher for the Nittany Lions in the 1650 Freestyle where he brought back an 11th place finish. Building off of a strong Big Tens, Ankosko looks to compete in his second NCAA's of his career and is invited in with "B" qualifying times.
- 50 Freestyle - 17th
- 100 Backstroke - 1st
- 100 Freestyle - 4th
After swimming in his first Big Tens, Ryan will now make the transition into representing Penn State in his first NCAA Championship. After putting up some of the best performances the Penn State program has seen historically, the sophomore enters NCAA's ranked first in the 100 Backstroke. This is a feat that separates Ryan from the rest of the swimmers and only a few athletes can accomplish this throughout their careers. The sophomore won the 100 Backstroke at Big Tens in route to being the first swimmer to stand on top of the podium since 2003. After this performance, his time automatically qualified him for NCAA's. In the 100 Freestyle on the final day of Big Tens, he won another individual title, setting the Penn State school record, Big Ten Championship meet record, and the overall Big Ten record. He enters NCAA's with an NCAA "A" qualifying standard.
With his outstanding performances, he left Big Tens as the first Penn State swimmer to ever be named the Swimmer of Big Ten Championships. Taking the name he made for himself at Big Tens just a few weeks ago, the Havertown, Pa. native will take his experience to represent the swimming and diving program on the national level. In addition to the 100 Backstroke and 100 Freestyle, Ryan will also compete in the 50 Freestyle. The sophomore is ranked 17th and is right in the mix to qualify for finals and see a second swim in this event. Hoping to close out a historic season on a high note, Ryan will finish out his sophomore season at NCAAs.
- 100 Backstroke - 6th
- 200 Backstroke - 14th
- 200 Individual Medley - 45th
Savoy enters the meet with two NCAA "A" standard qualifying times in the 100 Backstroke and 200 Backstroke. He will also compete in the 200 Individual Medley where he reached a NCAA "B" time. Savoy finished second at Big Tens in the 100 Backstroke adding to a historic night and will enter the meet seeded sixth in one of his best events. In addition, in the 200 Backstroke, Savoy was the first Nittany Lion in this event and finished fourth at Big Tens.
This will be the junior's third NCAA appearance. Last year, he was named two-time All-American and two-time All-American honorable mentions for his performances. He swam in the 200 Medley relay, which finished sixth in the nation in addition to the 400 medley relay. Individually he swam to a 14th place finish in the 100 Backstroke and 16th-place finish in the 200 Backstroke, scoring huge points for the Nittany Lions. Taking this experience and knowing what it's like to compete at this level, the Reading, Pa. native will close out another strong season in Austin, Texas.
Prelims start at 11 a.m. and finals begin at 7 p.m. each day. Follow the results as the Nittany Lions start competing Thursday, March 27. Below is the order of events for the 2014 NCAA Championship meet.
200 Freestyle Relay
200 Individual Medley
400 Medley Relay
200 Medley Relay
400 Individual Medley
800 Freestyle Relay
400 Freestyle Relay