Starting last Wednesday and ending on Saturday, the Georgia Southern University swimming and diving team competed in the CCSA Championship Meet in Knoxville, Tn., bringing home a third place finish.
“I thought we did well,” Head Coach Nathan Kellogg said. “We thought we had a chance at third going into the meet and we’re pretty happy with that finish. There were definitely some events that we thought we’d do a little bit better, but we had some nice surprises in some other events and I was very pleased overall with our effort and our performance.”
Leading for the entire meet was Liberty University who finished first with 732.5 points for the first time in their program history. Shortly behind them, Florida Gulf Coast University had 718.5 points and took second place after finishing first in 2013. The Eagles ended the meet with 423 points and took third place for the second year in a row and Davidson College was right behind with 406 points.
“The difference [between last year and this year] was maybe the expectation,” Kellogg said. “We knew going in this year that Davidson would be really strong. Obviously Liberty and Florida Gulf Coast have always been the top one or two so we knew Davidson and us would be close, and it was, but I thought we had a little more depth than we did last year. The meet itself was a lot deeper and I think that kind of helped us and played to our strengths a little bit.”
Eagles hold steady in 2nd place
On day one the Eagles finished in second place after competing in the 200m Medley Relay and 800m Freestyle Relay events. Sophomore Christina Moran, senior Kristen Bates, junior Megan Heller and junior Elaina Lanson made up the Eagles’ Team “A” for the 200m Medley Relay and finished in third gaining 32 points to start the meet. Sophomore Kylee Parsons, senior Devan White, junior Amber Juncker and sophomore Becca Alves created the Eagles’ Team “A” for the 800m Freestyle Relay and rallied up 30 points with a fourth place finish to end day one. The Eagles overall score for day one was a 62 which held them in the second place spot.
Day 2 challenges GSU
Day two posed more of a challenge as the overall score for the Eagles was a 147, which landed them in fourth place. There were three top-eight finishes that day starting with Lanson’s seventh place finish in the 50m Freestyle. Moran, Bates, Parsons and Lanson formed the Eagles’ Team “A” in the 200m Freestyle Relay to gain sixth place. The highest-scoring Eagle of day two was senior diver Sara Meisenhelder who scored a 263.30 and landed in fourth place in the one-meter diving event.
Friday, day three, seemed to be more successful for the Eagles as they produced six top-eight finishes. Sophomore Lauren Campbell led the day in the 400m IM and finished fifth followed by Heller’s sixth place finish in the 100m Butterfly. In the 100m Breaststroke event, two Eagles had top-eight finishes including senior Megan Ostrom’s eighth place and Bates’ second place. Moran produced the sixth place finish in the 100m Backstroke and the Eagles’ 400m Medley Relay Team ‘A’, Moran, Bates, Heller and Lanson, swam into second place to contribute to the 305 overall score of day three.
The final day of the meet had five top-eight finishes. Moran placed fifth in the 200m Backstroke, Bates had a stellar third place finish in the 200m Breaststroke and Campbell scored eighth place in the 200m Butterfly. Sophomore diver Emma Weisel took fourth in the three-meter dive and the Eagles’ Team “A” also took fourth in the 400m Freestyle Relay, which secured the Eagles’ overall third place finish with a score of 423. For five of the swimmers, this was the last meet they will ever swim as an Eagle.
“It’s always kind of bittersweet and there are always mixed emotions. They’re always excited to finish on a strong note and at the same time they’re kind of looking forward to the next step in their life,” Kellogg said.
This meet was the big finale of the swimming and diving team for the 2013-2014 season. However, two divers, senior Sara Meisenhelder and Weisel, will compete in the NCAA Zones on March 10-12 and, even though the season just finished, there are big expectations for next year.
“Our expectations are that we perform better than we ever have. We have one of the best incoming recruiting classes that we’ve ever had and we’re still not finished recruiting,” Kellogg said. “Our goal is to crack into that top two and it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be a challenge, but nothing that was ever easy was worth it.”