Combining a breakout day from sophomore Jeff Young, a pool record for Sean Grier, and a sensational start from a newly joined swimmer out of Mexico, Penn State’s swimming and diving teams dominated their Saturday meet.
The No. 19 men’s team took down Navy, 188-112, while the No. 14 women’s team won its matchup, 185-107.
“I thought we had some good races,” coach John Hargis said. “The energy was there. The confidence was there.”
Despite the individual accomplishments throughout the day, the men’s team (4-2, 0-1 Big Ten) started the meet by winning its 200-yard medley relay.
“Last year they beat us,” junior Andrew Sideras said. “So I think our relay was crucial, to come out with a good start like that and give us some momentum.”
Sideras anchored the relay tandem that finished second, giving the Nittany Lions a 1-2 finish in the race that set the tone for the rest of the day.
Young excelled for the Lions, finishing in first place during an exciting 50-yard freestyle race, putting up a time of 20.86 seconds. That time was a huge boost for the Lions, who also placed second and third in a sweep.
“I couldn’t see the board at first because I was in Lane 1,” Young said. “I don’t think the coaches expected me to win, putting me in 1. That was the same time I posted against Arkansas though, so I was happy about that.”
“Jeff Young’s coming into his own a little bit,” Hargis added. “That was fun to see.”
Outside of Young’s performance, the men got strong races from Grier, who broke a pool record in the 100-yard back, posting a time of 48.23, and John Hauser, who once again won both the 200-free and 500-free events.
“I’m really happy, my 200-free was an in-season best for me,” Hauser said. “I knew I had to be on top of my game today. Navy has always had a good team. They’re fast.”
The women’s team (4-2, 1-0 Big Ten) was bolstered by some strong performances as well.
Melissa Rodriguez, a freshman out of Mexico, who only joined the team at the beginning of the semester, claimed victories in both the 100-breaststroke and 200-breaststroke, pacing the Lions’ rout of Navy.
Joining her was sophomore Megan Siverling, who swam the two longest events of the day. Siverling placed first in the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:13:37 and finished second behind another Nittany Lion, Amy Modglin, in the 500-free.
“I was happy with my 500,” Siverling said. “That’s something I’ve been working on all season, recovering from the 1000 to still do well in the 500.”
Senior Paige Whitmire also had a great afternoon for the women, showing off some versatility by winning both the 100-back and 100-free events.
“The women, they swam well two weeks ago and got beat by a good Arkansas team,” Hargis said. “So I think there was a little salt in the wound there. They battled well.”
Hargis, however, is committed to keeping the team in shape for its final stretch of the season. The Big Ten championships loom at the end of February.
“These next three to four weeks, its all about cleaning up the little things, getting the kids some rest, getting their bodies ready,” Hargis said. “We got a lot to do over these next few weeks.”