Rutgers seniors ready for final home meet of their careers
Senior Day has a very unique feel to it, as it marks a time of both celebration and sadness.
Athletes often feel jubilation as they compete for the final time at their home venue in front of family, friends and fans.
That excitement, however, can turn to heartbreak for senior competitors when they realize that they’ve almost crossed the finish line and their careers will soon be complete.
The Rutgers swimming and diving team will honor its senior class on Saturday during the team’s last home meet of the season, a virtual meet against New Hampshire, after it was postponed last weekend due to inclement weather.
The Scarlet Knights and New Hampshire will have inter-squad meets on their respective campuses. The results of the events will be merged together and they will be used to determine who the victor is.
Rutgers will recognize Sarah Coyne, Sophie Newton, Morgan Pfaff and Joanna Wu for their accomplishments and distinctions during the course of their college careers on the Banks.
Given the circumstances, it is understandable for the senior Knights to be sentimental when the meet first begins. But, when the time comes to jump into the pool, the swimmers will have to push their emotions into the back of their minds and keep their feelings in check.
“I don’t foresee any big surprises this weekend,” said head coach Petra Martin. “We will be recognizing our seniors, so we’ll have a little special time with them which is important too, and recognize their four years as Scarlet (Knights). Butotherwise I think it should be pretty you know, smooth sailing for this weekend.”
For many of the senior swimmers, it’s difficult to fathom that they will compete in their home pool only once more before the culmination of their careers.
“I think it's part like denial and disbelief that it will be the last time that we’ll be racing at our home you know, the pool that we put our heart and souls into for four years,” Pfaff said. “So, it’s definitely emotional for us that it will be the last time we’ll be with our team at our home pool. But also exciting because we have Big Ten’s as well so, it’ll be a good way to leave off at our pool.”
During this time, many of the soon to be graduating athletes enjoy reflecting and thinking back on their respective careers, replaying memories in their heads over and over. In Pfaff’s mind, the memory that sticks out to her the most her team’s 400 medley relay win against Penn State last season.
“We were like a shot in the dark and there was no way we were even going to be close to them in anything and I have never seen those girls so excited, so fired up," she said. "I will never forget the atmosphere of the air of our team and Penn State (with) their jaws on the floor because they never thought that a team just coming to the Big Ten would be able to upset them right off the bat."
Penn State was able to bounce back from the rough start and defeat Rutgers 212-138 in the Knights’ inaugural Big Ten bout. Despite the loss, Rutgers was able to show that it was capable of swimming with the best of the best in its new conference.
The Knights will be somewhat familiar with New Hampshire going into their virtual meet with the Wildcats on Saturday. UNH participated in the Frank Elm Invitational with Rutgers in November at the Rutgers Aquatics Center.
New Hampshire finished in ninth place in the ten-team tournament with a score of 306, while Rutgers placed second with a 1,503 team total.
The Knights will try to bounce back from after two subpar performances. The team finished in third in their previous two tri-meets, a trend the swimmers would like to change this weekend.
According to Wu, the team will use the results of the last two outings and learn from them rather than burying the hatchet.
“Like I said … we got a mixed bag,” Martin said on the team’s performance. “When it came to performance we had some swimmers, the divers did a great job, but we had some swimmers that did the right things, they approached the situation, the challenging situation correctly. They went after things, they were confident and they just went and fought.”
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