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March 1, 2014
Big Ten Championships
Ann Arbor, Mich. Canham Natatorium
No. 24 Penn State
ANN ARBOR, Mich.; March 1, 2014 - Sophomore Shane Ryan (Havertown, Pa.) could not have scripted a better ending to his storybook 2014 Big Ten Championship, winning the 100 freestyle event on Saturday evening on his way to becoming the first Nittany Lion to ever be named the Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships.
The sophomore sensation entered the final with the second-best time in prelims with a mark of 42.46, just .04 seconds behind Minnesota's Derek Toomey, the winner of the 50 freestyle title on Thursday in which Ryan finished second. On Saturday it was Ryan's time to shine, as the sophomore posted a ridiculous time of 42.08 seconds, setting the Penn State record, the Big Ten Championship meet record and the overall Big Ten record while hitting the NCAA "A" qualifying standard.
"He's been working a long time," said head coach Tim Murphy. "His 100 freestyle race was impressive. I asked him to be ahead at the 75-yard mark because I felt if he was there he would beat anybody in the last lap and he decided to lead from start to finish. It was very impressive, an excellent swim."
Ryan broke the seven-year record in the event previously held by Northwestern's Matt Grevers, who went on to claim two gold medals and a silver medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Grevers held the record with a time of 42.33.
The Havertown, Pa. native also accomplished something else no other Nittany Lion has ever done, which is win two individual gold medals in the same Big Ten Championship. The sophomore now sits just one Big Ten title behind Penn State's most decorated swimmer at the Big Ten Championship, as Bob Molettiere won three events, one in 1999 in the 100 freestyle, one in 2001 in the 50 freestyle and one in 2002 in the 50 freestyle.
After celebrating Ryan's championship, the team turned its attention to the final event of the four-day competition, the 400 freestyle relay. The team of Ryan, Nate Savoy (Reading, Pa.), John Hauser (Pottstown, Pa.) and Shane Austin (Kennett Square, Pa.) obliterated the program record of 2:53.58 set in 2002 with a remarkable time of 2:51.32 en route to a second place finish and NCAA "A" cut.
The Blue and White finished just .25 seconds shy of first place Michigan, who set a new championship record with its performance.
The 400 freestyle relay capped off an incredible run of success in the five relays over the four day competition. Penn State hit the NCAA "A" qualifying mark in all five relays and recorded a first place finish in the 200 freestyle relay, two second place finishes in the 400 freestyle and 200 medley relays, a fourth place showing in the 400 medley relay and a fifth place spot in the 800 freestyle relay.
Another Nittany Lion to have a strong individual final swim at the championship was Savoy. Fresh off his second place finish in the 100 backstroke to the aforementioned Ryan one night ago, Savoy set a season best mark of 1:41.23 in the final of the 200 backstroke to finish fourth overall. The junior has now finished in the top four in all three years of competing in the event at the Big Tens. Savoy reached the NCAA "A" qualifying standard with the swim.
Other notable finishes were turned in by senior Hauser and junior Nick Ankosko (East Brunswick, N.J.). Hauser touched the wall third in the "B" final of the 100 freestyle with a time of 43.66 for an 11th place finish in the event. Ankosko also captured an 11th place finish, with his coming in the grueling 1,650 freestyle. The junior posted a time of 15:10.97 in the event, to hit the NCAA "B" standard.
In the end, Penn State finished fifth in the overall championship standings with 349.5 points. The Nittany Lions fifth place finish marks its highest place in the standings in over a decade, as the last time the Blue and White finished that high was in 2003.
After the conclusion of Saturday's events the Penn State swimming and diving program picked up a number of accolades from the Big Ten. Austin, Savoy, Hauser and Ryan each were named All-Big Ten first team swimmers and James Wilson (Nottingham, Pa.) garnered All-Big Ten second team status.
The four first team selections is impressive considering before this season the last time any Penn State swimmer was announced as an All-Big Ten first team honoree was in 2006 when Mike Alderman received the recognition. The four selections in one season tie the second most the Nittany Lions have received in one year.
Austin was one of 10 swimmers to take home the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
"With the way we swam, the way we scored and the overall team effort over the four days, fifth place is something to be proud of," said Murphy. "I hope we will get better in the future, but in this given weekend I feel we made our presence felt. In the pool and on the deck there was a lot of Penn State pride across the board and now we need to find a way to get better a month from now at the NCAAs."
Winning the meet was the host, Michigan, with 889 points, followed by Indiana (564), Ohio State (515), Minnesota (378), Penn State (349.5), Purdue (329.5) Wisconsin (299.5), Iowa (188), Northwestern (158) and Michigan State (107.5).
Penn State is scheduled to send a number of athletes to the Last Chance meet on March 9 before the NCAA Diving Zone Qualifying in Blacksburg, Va. from March 10-12. The NCAA Championships will be held in Austin, Texas from March 27-29.
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