Women's Swimming and Diving Ready for NCAA Championships
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 15, 2006 - The 14th-ranked Penn State women's swimming and diving team qualified 12 swimmers for the 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. The University of Georgia will play host to the 25th annual event, which will take place March 16-18 in Athens, Ga. at the Gabrielsen Natatorium.
The NCAA released its official psyche sheets for the championships on Friday, March 3, and the Nittany Lions are tied with Southern Methodist and California, sending the fifth most student-athletes of any school in the country. No. 2 Auburn leads the country with 18 swimmers, while No. 1 Georgia and the reigning national champions qualified 16, No. 4 Arizona and No. 10 Texas, qualified 15 and 13, respectively.
"I am not the least bit surprised to have 12 women qualified for the NCAA's. I believe that it is a fitting testament to the quality of young women that we attract and their driven approach to the sport," said Penn State head coach Bill Dorenkott. "We probably have more women in a position to score individually at the meet than at any other time in our program's history." The Lion women will compete in 16 swimming events, including all five relays.
The Nittany Lions will look to beat last year's 13th place finish, the second best team finish in school history. The team finished with 89 points, the third most points ever scored by the Nittany Lions during the championships. Penn State won its second consecutive Big Ten Championship Feb. 18. It was the team's third conference title since 2002 under Coach Bill Dorenkott. Penn State finished with 552 points. The women finished the season with a 9-5 overall record and a 2-1 conference record.
Penn State will return three 2005 All-Americans: Amberle Biedermann (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Sarah Haupt (Carlisle, Pa.) and Erin Morris (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Seven of the student-athletes who qualified will make their first-ever appearance at this year's NCAA Championships. Veterans Biedermann and Haupt will compete at the NCAA Championships for the fourth time. Juniors Erin Morris and Megan Palera (Santa Maria, Calif.) will compete for the third time while junior Nikki Collins (Carmel, Ind.) will compete for the second time.
"We have 7 of the 12 women going to the meet for the first time, so this is going to be a terrific learning experience," Dorenkott said. "Simply put, I am expecting us to go out and race tough and represent Penn State to the best of our ability."
Seven Lions earned All-Conference honors for leading Penn State to its third Big Ten Championship. Haupt and freshman Kaitlin O'Brien (Caldwell, N.J.) earned first team All-Big Ten honors. Barnes, Collins, sophomore Molly Crispell (Boalsburg, Pa.), Morris and freshman Kelly Nelson (West Chester, Pa.) earned second team All-Big Ten accolades.
Several athletes are seeded high heading into the NCAA Championships, according to the official NCAA psyche sheets. Morris is seeded 14th in the 500-yard freestyle (4:44.82), Nelson is seeded 18th in the 200 IM (2:00.78) and 12th in the 400 IM (4:15.31), the 400-yard medley relay team is seeded 12th (3:40.08), O'Brien is seeded second in the 400 IM (4:12.03) and Haupt is seeded fourth in the 100-yard backstroke (:53.36).
At last year's NCAA Championships, the Penn State 400-yard freestyle relay team set the school record during preliminary competition with a time of 3 minutes, 22.26.
Trials begin each morning at 11 a.m. Finals competition takes place each night at 7 p.m. A complete schedule of events and a link to live results can be found on Penn State's official athletic Web site at www.GoPSUsports.com.
Penn State's NCAA Qualifiers
Top Teams Sending NCAA Qualifiers