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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 22 Virginia men won the final relay to earn a two-point win over Penn State, while Virginia’s No. 13-ranked women’s team also defeated the Nittany Lion women, in the swimming and diving season opener for both teams Saturday in McCoy Natatorium.
On the men’s side, Virginia won 151-149, and on the women’s side it took a 184-104 victory.
The Penn State men led for most of the meet until Virginia pulled ahead by six points following wins in the 500 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 3-meter dive. Penn State sophomore Kaelan Freund put the Nittany Lions back in front by three points with a win in the 200 individual medley, touching first in 1:49.71, and also earned points from Nathaniel Bledsoe in third (1:53.47) and freshman Hayden Harlow in fourth (1:54.07). However, the Cavaliers were dominant in the 400 freestyle relay to close out the meet, winning in 2:59.91, while the Nittany Lions took second (3:03.60) and third (3:04.10).
“It stings a little bit to come so close, but we had a lot of good racing,” said head coach Tim Murphy. “I asked the team to challenge themselves, and more importantly, challenge Virginia, and I think they did that in a lot of different ways.
“We had freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors doing good things on the women’s side and on the men’s side, people on the boards doing good things, so we have a lot to be proud of. We’re way ahead of where we’ve been in the past, in a lot of different ways, this time of the year.”
Freund led Penn State with a trio of individual wins, as he also took gold in the 100 breaststroke (54.20) and 200 breast (2:00.34) in addition to his victory in the 200 IM. Freund also joined Liam Veregin, Sterg Dikos, and Gabe Castano in the meet-opening 200 medley relay, as the foursome placed first in 1:28.91.
Individually, Veregin also had a strong meet, placing first in the 100 backstroke (48.48) and second in the 200 back (1:48.01).
Freshmen Castano and Nathan Schiffman were impressive in their collegiate debuts, both winning their first races. In addition to his relay win, Castano won the 50 free in 21.05 seconds and placed third to lead the Lions in the 100 free (45.71). Schiffman led one of the Nittany Lions’ strongest performances of the meet, as he touched first in the 200 free (1:39.63), and was followed by fellow freshman Eben Krigger in third (1:40.03) and senior Ryan O’Neill in fourth (1:40.18). Schiffman also led the Lions in the 500 free, placing third in 4:31.49, less than three-tenths of a second shy of second.
Junior Hector Garcia Boissier led the Nittany Lions on the boards, winning the 1-meter (356.70) and placing second by less than three points in the 3-meter (333.52).
The Penn State women also benefitted from strong freshman efforts. Stephanie Szekely won the first individual race of the day, touching first in the 1000 free in 10:09.11. Jane Donahue earned three top-four finishes in individual races, winning the 200 IM (2:03.83), placing third in the 100 breast (1:03.34) and fourth in the 200 breast (2:18.18). Carly Hart earned two top-three finishes, placing just ahead of Donahue in the breaststrokes, taking second in the 100 (1:03.32) and third in the 200 (2:18.11). Additonally, Camryn Barry was six-hundredths of a second shy of equaling the first-place effort in the 500 freestyle, earning silver in 4:55.49.
The Lions’ upperclassmen also earned podium placings, as Tommie Dillione and Katrina Kuhn both posted runner-up finishes. Dillione placed second in the 200 free, less than a quarter-second shy of first in 1:49.62, and also placed fourth in the 100 free (51.56) and 500 free (5:01.44), while Kuhn was second in the 50 free (23.47).
Additionally, Heather MacDougall followed Donahue in the 200 IM (2:04.60) in second, while Christina Crowell led the Lions in the 1-meter dive (4th, 229.80) and Elaina Faerber led in the 3-meter (3rd, 254.85).
Penn State will next head south to Raleigh, taking on NC State and Duke Friday at 5 p.m.
Check GoPSUSports.com for coverage of the Penn State swimming and diving teams during the season. Follow the team on Twitter at @PennStateSWIM and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/pennstateswimminganddiving.