Rutgers wraps up NCAA meet with more new records
The Rutgers swimming and diving team wrapped up its season over spring break, as multiple athletes hit the road for the 2017 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Scarlet Knights sent divers Alyssa Black, Rachel Byrne and Addison Walkowiak, and swimmers Vera Koprivova and Francesca Stoppa to represent the University at the NCAA’s. This was the most student athletes the University has ever sent to the NCAA Championships since 2006.
“We had a strong meet,” said head coach Petra Martin. “We had a little bit of ups and down, but we had a lot of good stuff happening. It’s another great building block into the direction we are heading and what we are building as a program.”
In the first day of championship action, the Knights were represented by just Black on the boards, as Walkowiak did not compete because of injury. Black finished the 1-meter dive with a score of 241.80, placing 41st in the field.
The junior Walkowiak finished the 1-meter dive in first place just a few weeks ago at the Zone A Diving Championships in Christiansburg, Virginia.
In the final event of her career, Black closed the second day of competition by claiming her second straight Honorable Mention All-American in the 3-meter dive. Black received the honor after producing 15th and 16th place finishes in the preliminary and consolation rounds, respectively.
“It’s definitely a crazy experience,” Black said. “I’m very glad for the opportunity and I’m very fortunate to have gotten this far.
Two Knights made their debuts in the NCAA Championships this year, as Koprivova and Byrne each made the trip for the first time in their careers. Black, Stoppa and Walkowiak represented Rutgers in last year’s championships.
Byrne, a sophomore, capped her debut in the final day of competition, where she put up a 29th place finish with a 225.15 score in the platform dive.
Koprivova, who along with Stoppa is an international sophomore for Rutgers, produced another school record for the University in the 200 backstroke. She broke her program record of 1:53.94 at the 2017 Big Ten Championships with a 1:53.74 time this past weekend, good for 31st place.
“I am very happy with how I did,” Koprivova said. “I’m very happy I was able to improve my personal best and set a school record. To be honest I didn’t expect that and seeing the time on the board was a very nice feeling.”
The Knights left Indianapolis with an Honorable Mention All-American and another broken school record to cap their improved and impressive 2016-2017 season.
In last year’s championships run, after Black secured another Honorable Mention All-American for Rutgers after a two-year gap, Stoppa produced a then-school record in the 200 butterfly while just being a freshman. Additionally, Walkowiak placed 23rd and 25th in her dives, during her second straight trip to nationals.
“I think it was really nice for me. It was just a good way to send me off. I’m very excited that I did so well and am happy that I had gotten through the season and did so well,” Black said.
Added with Black, Rutgers said farewell to its senior swimmers Chantel Asselin, Barbra Brottman, Meghan Kiely and Rachel Stoddard.
The 2016-2017 season had many highlights from this year’s athletes, as Rutgers sent both the most swimmers to the NCAA’s since 2008 and the most divers since 1993, when head diving coach Fred Woodruff joined the Knights.
The team moved up to ninth in the Big Ten conference this year and broke five program records.
Rutgers will already be headed back into the practice pool at the Rutgers Aquatic Center to begin preparations for next season.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Martin said. “The grind doesn’t change, it just needs to keep on going. In our sport, there is no time off.”
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