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Feb. 1, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; February 1, 2013 -- It will be the final competition for two men's and five women's swimmers on Saturday, Feb. 2 when the national-ranked swimming and diving programs host Towson at 1 p.m. inside the McCoy Natatorium. The women's squad (5-2, 1-0 Big Ten) will honor Ann Ragan Kearns, Merritt Krawczyk, Amy Lewis Amy Modglin and Paige Whitmire, while the men's team (4-2, 0-1 Big Ten) will recognize Jeff Gomez and Alex Marchinski, who are all competing for the final time on the University Park campus.
Today meet will serve as Senior Day, with the two men's and five women's seniors being honored prior to the meet. Along with Senior Day, the Nittany Lions will honor the Wounded Warriors program, with eight Wounded Warriors competing in the 100 free, 50 free or 50 back during the diving breaks.
With the Big Ten Championships just 19 days away, the Nittany Lions look to continue their fine tuning against a talented bunch of Tigers (10-1). Penn State is undefeated at home so far this season, defeating Villanova and Navy, and sits at No. 24 in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America. The Blue and White have watches as the contributions have come from a bevy of contributors, with 14 different student-athletes boasting NCAA qualifying marks and 13 competitors winning 39 individual crowns this season.
It was the newest addition to the roster that made an impact last weekend against Navy, as Melissa Rodriguez (Chihuahua, Mexico) won a pair of individual swims, helped a relay to the title and finished second in the 200 IM. The rookie joined the team to start the spring semester and after two competitions is among the team's top performers in the 200 breaststroke. Rodriguez won the 100 and 200 breast last weekend vs. the Midshipmen, clocking times of 1:04.51 and 2:16.83, respectively, while placing second in 2:07.90 in the 200 IM.
Megan Springsteen (Owego, N.Y.) will look to close out her senior season with a sweep of both boards in all three of her home meets. She set new personal bests on the one- and three-meter boards vs. Villanova this season to win each competition in November, while winning both boards against Navy last weekend. Her mark of 264.00 on the three-meter board vs. the Wildcats is her best career showing and she also compiled a score of 268.42 on the one-meter board. That score is her career-best and a qualifying mark for the NCAA Zone Diving qualifier.
Krawczyk (Kingwood, Texas), Modglin (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Whitmire (Lederach, Pa.) are among the team leaders in NCAA B Cut times, owning 11, nine and seven, respectively. Krawczyk has shown her consistency in five events this season, with NCAA B Cut times in the 100 & 200 breast, 200 fly, 200 & 400 IM. She owns the team's top time in the 100 & 200 breast, 200 fly and 200 IM. Modglin is at her best in the 200 backstroke, winning two of her four races in the stroke this season and claiming NCAA B Cut times during each swim. A freestyle sprint specialist, Whitmire has dominated the 50 and 100 freestyle events with five wins between the two races. She owns four NCAA provisional qualifying times in the 50 free and has one such effort in the 100 free, 100 back and 100 fly.
The Big Ten Championships draws closer for the No. 19 men's squad, who will be competing in the final dual competition of the season against Towson (3-7). The Nittany Lions have already racked up an impressive 23 NCAA B Cuts, with junior Sean Grier (Hummelstown, Pa.) leading the pack with six individual NCAA provisional performances.
Besides qualifying for the NCAA Championships four times in the 100 back and twice in the 100 fly, Grier has set four new records this season between the two events. This past weekend against Navy, the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week set his second individual McCoy Natatorium record with a time of 47.98 seconds in the 100 fly. Grier previously set new school records in the 100 fly (46.79) and the 100 back (46.38), as well as another pool record in the 100 back (48.00).
Highlighting Penn State's performances, as well, are sophomore Nate Savoy (Reading, Pa.) and junior Matt Salig (Downingtown, Pa.) who have dominated their individual events all season. Against Navy, Savoy topped the 200 back (1:47.55) for the third time this year, while Salig dominated the 200 fly (1:51.18) for his fourth win of the season. Both Lions have posted NCAA B Cuts in their respective events, with Savoy additionally qualifying for the 100 back twice.
T.J. Schenkel (Richboro, Pa.) proves to be steady force on the boards, boasting three NCAA Zone Diving qualifying scores this season. The sophomore recorded personal bests at Villanova on the one-meter (301.05) and the three-meter (332.92) boards, and qualified for a second time on the three-meter dive against Missouri State with a score of 321.10.
Several Lions continue to inch forward in posting NCAA standards, including sophomore Jeff Young (Hershey, Pa.) and junior John Hauser (Pottstown Pa.). Young had a stellar day against Navy, leading a Penn State sweep in the 50 free with a time of 20.86 seconds. It was his second straight competition winning the event. The sophomore also went on to be a part of the winning 400 free relay squad, claiming victory with a time of 3:02.50. Hauser once again won the 200 free (1:39.37), posting his fourth victory in the event, and claimed his first win of the season in the 500 free with a time of 4:32.54.
Making up the rest of the Penn State backbone, sophomore Nick Ankosko (East Brunswick, N.J) and junior James Wilson (Nottingham, Pa.) have already exceed NCAA standards in events such as the 1,650 free and the 100 breast, while junior Andrew Sideras (Philadelphia) and junior Shane Austin (Kennett Square, Pa.) have added depth and consistency to the freestyle events.
Both programs will be facing Towson for the first time in their respective histories. The men's squad is 4-1 against Colonia Athletic Association squads, facing Delaware (1-1) and James Madison (3-0), while the women's squad is 4-0 vs. the CAA, claiming victories over Delaware (1-0), James Madison (2-0) and William and Mary (1-0).
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