User ID: Password:

March 14, 2012

Tech men's swimming and diving team finishes program-best second at ACC's; women claim fourth

By: Jimmy Robertson

The Virginia Tech swimming and diving teams certainly felt at home at the ACC Championships, using the home pool advantage at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center to finish near the top of the league’s marquee event.

Led by a strong performance from its divers, the Tech men’s team finished a program-best second with 594.5 points, coming in just 32 points behind Virginia in the battle for first place.

Logan Shinholser, a junior from Burtonsville, Md., captured the gold medal in two events. He won the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events, while finishing second behind teammate Ryan Hawkins in the platform event. Shinholser was named the most valuable diver of the meet.

Hawkins won his first ACC title. He barely qualified in the preliminaries, but was almost perfect in the finals to take the gold medal.

Other individual winners for the men included Gregory Mahon and Zach McGinnis. Mahon won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 46.55 seconds, while McGinnis took home gold in the 100 backstroke in a time of 46.79 seconds.

Also, the 200 medley relay team brought home gold. The quartet of Mahon, Charlie Higgins, Greg Morgan and Emmett Dignan set a school and pool record with a time of 1:26.34.

A year ago, the men’s team finished in fourth place.

Moving from fourth to second is very gratifying,” Tech head coach Ned Skinner said. “Especially in light of the complete team effort, whether it was from diving, our sprinters, our distance or our strokers. The senior leadership has been outstanding this year, and the staff has been magnificent, so I am just really proud of our team. Of course, you want to win titles, but I am really proud of what we have done and where we are headed.”

On the women’s side, the Tech women finished in fourth place with 401 points, coming in behind Florida State, North Carolina and winner Virginia. It marked the program’s best finish at the ACC Championships since 2009.

Again, the divers led the way. Kaylea Arnett, a freshman from Spring, Texas, was named the most valuable diver of the meet after winning gold in the 1-meter event. She became the first Tech female diver ever to win a gold medal at the ACC Championships.

Arnett also placed second in the 3-meter event and third in the platform event behind teammate Logan Kline. Kline, a junior from Mission Hills, Kansas, set a school record with 302.25 points. Also, Kelli Stockton came in fifth, providing valuable points toward the team total.

Tech’s other individual winner on the women’s side was Heather Savage, a junior from Canandaigua, N.Y. She won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 52.14 seconds. That time broke the meet, the ACC and the school record in the event.

“The performance from Heather Savage is arguably one of the finest moments in the history of our program,” Skinner said. “I am so happy for her because of the way she conducts herself as an overall student-athlete.”

Erika Hajnal, a senior from Budapest, Hungary, was terrific in her final ACC championship meet. She finished second in both the 400 individual medley and the 1,650 freestyle events, and she placed fourth in the 500 freestyle. Her time of 4:08.43 in the 400 IM snapped her previous school record, and she qualified for the NCAA Championships in that event.

“Clearly the efforts of the divers gave us an opportunity to jump up in the rankings and beat a fifth-place finish from last year,” Skinner said. “The swimmers came together so well and performed. Every one contributed in one way or another in this team finish, and I know that every one of our coaches is very proud of the way our swimmers and divers conducted themselves and represented Virginia Tech.”