Knights travel to Morgantown in search of Big East win
The Rutgers swimming and diving team returns to action this weekend against Big East rival West Virginia after a much-needed bye last week.
The Scarlet Knights (1-2, 1-2), head down to Morgantown, W.Va., to take on the Mountaineers (1-3, 0-2) on Saturday at 11 a.m.
West Virginia is coming off two straight Big East losses. Louisville defeated the Mountaineers, 186-105, and Cincinnati then bested WVU, 162-130. These come on top of a non-conference loss to Penn State. West Virginia's only win came against in-state rival Marshall.
West Virginia will be looking for revenge, as the Knights defeated the Mountaineers, 159-125, last season at the RU Aquatic Center. Last year's victory for Rutgers was highlighted by a relay victory by a team featuring current Knights Taylor Curado and Brittney Kuras.
Curado, Kuras and the rest of the Knights will undoubtedly look to recapture some of that magic from last year's win on Saturday.
Rutgers comes off a Big East quad meet on Halloween weekend in which they defeated Georgetown, 226-127, but fell to Connecticut, 224-129, and Villanova, 209-144. The Knights had three first-place finishes in swimming at the meet — one from Curado and two by junior Brianne Lindblad.
Senior diver Jen Betz looks to continue her hot streak this week in Morgantown. She finished first in the three-meter dive at the Knights' first meet with a score of 269.60, while also taking second in the one-meter dive with a score of 244.55.
Although the Knights had their first taste of success with the win over Georgetown, there is still plenty of room for improvement from the squad.
"Our focus is on the little things and making our corrections in practice carry over to the meet," Betz said. "We've been doing great at keeping a positive attitude during competitions even though we're exhausted from training, and I'd like to see that carry over to this meet, as well."
The Knights are a very young team with no seniors aside from the captain Betz, but that may play to their advantage this weekend as West Virginia is similarly flushed with youth.
The meet will be a test of the young athletes' development on both teams. The meet will also be important for Rutgers first-year head coach Phil Spiniello, who is forced to match wits with West Virginia's veteran head coach Vic Riggs.
Both teams will ask a lot of their athletes in the first few weeks of Division I competition, but the winner of this meet will most likely be the one whose rookies show up ready to compete.
"I think [the younger girls] are all stepping up and taking their roles on this team very seriously," Betz said. "It always takes time to adjust to college swimming and diving, but I think they are doing a great job and will only continue to improve as the season goes on."