Rutgers splits weekend meets
While students and faculty were on winter break, the Rutgers swimming and diving team was not on break.
They were hard at work prepping for two meets that took place over the past month.
The Scarlet Knights entered the weekend winning every head-to-head meet this season, but that streak ended when they fell to the Penn State, 212-138, in their first taste of Big Ten action.
“I thought overall it was a great performance by the team,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “In our first glimpse at Big Ten Conference action, we stepped up and competed, which was fantastic to see.”
Rutgers gained momentum early in the two-day meet when they were led to victory in the 400 medley relay by juniors Joanna Wu, Morgan Pfaff and Sarah Coyne and senior Greta Leberfinger (3:44:84).
The Nittany Lions fought back by claiming the top-three finishes of the 200 freestyle, 50 free and 1,000 free to give them the edge going into day two.
Day two was much of the same story, as Penn State produced wins in seven events on Saturday to protect its lead from day one of competition.
They first set their sight on a tri-meet in Florida against Miami (Florida) and Tulane. Rutgers won both of the meets, dominating both teams to improve their record on the year to 7-0.
The Knights finished the day with eight first-place finishes out of 16 events, including six second-place results and three third-place marks.
Rutgers beat the Hurricanes, 164-134, and the Green Wave, 183-117.
Leberfinger led the team with three first-place finishes, including the 100 breaststroke (1:03.99), the 200 breaststroke (2:18.19) and the 400 individual medley (4:30.49).
“Personally, I’m very happy with the way I’ve raced and my mentality,” Leberfinger said of the last two meets. “I didn’t let good teams get in my head. I was confident in my training and what I had to do personally.”
Wu and Pfaff added in a pair of wins each in their respective events. Wu hit the wall first in the 100 (56.51) and 200 backstroke, in addition notching third in the 50 freestyle (24.48).
“Coming off the training trip, I knew mentally it was going to be tough after coming off hard practices,” Wu said. “But if I kept it together mentally, I knew my body was going to follow.”
Pfaff took first in the 100 (56.48) and 200 butterfly (2:03.56), while also capturing second in the 200 back (2:05.31).
Throughout the season, Leberfinger, Wu and Pfaff have remained consistent and have been bright spots on the team.
“They are upperclassman and leaders on the team,” Spiniello said. “They understand what it’s all about. They are doing a great job remaining consistent in their training, which leads to consistency in the meets.”
On the boards, freshman Addison Walkowiak led the divers when she placed second in the one-meter dive with a mark of 274.75 and third place in the 3-meter dive, with a score of 272.35.
As a result, Walkowiak earned her third Big Ten Freshman of the Week this season, as well as the Corvias wECAC Co-Diver of the Week for the Division I Metro/Upstate region in her stellar freshman campaign.
“I was very happy with how we performed down in Miami,” Spiniello said. “The team was pretty tired from training, but we were able to step up and compete and walk away with two victories.”
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