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April 14, 2014

News & Notes

By: Jimmy Robertson

Swimmers collect hardware from ACC

The Virginia Tech swimming and diving teams had a great season, and the league’s head coaches certainly took notice.

Tech swimming coach Ned Skinner and diving coach Ron Piemonte received the ACC Men’s Coach of the Year and the ACC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year awards, respectively, in a vote conducted among the league’s head coaches. Also, Tech diver Kaylea Arnett was named the ACC’s Women’s Diver of the Year, and Tech freshman Jan Switkowski received the ACC Men’s Freshman of the Year honor.

Skinner led the Tech men to their first ACC championship and to a 20th-place showing at the NCAA Championship – their third straight top-20 finish. The award marks the fourth career Coach of the Year honor for Skinner and his second since Tech joined the ACC.

“I’m accepting my award on behalf of our staff,” Skinner said. “In my opinion, it’s truly a ‘Staff of the Year’ award. I know that sounds easy to say, but it really is the case in our sport, where all of our coaches are in this together. It makes me feel good that all of our colleagues acknowledged the success we had at Virginia Tech this season.”

Piemonte earned his first career Diving Coach of the Year award after guiding the Tech divers to another historic season, as Arnett and senior Ryan Hawkins, who earned two All-America honors, enjoyed a fantastic year.

Arnett, a junior from Spring Hill, Texas, was named the ACC Championships’ Most Valuable Diver after winning the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events and finishing third in the platform event. At the NCAA Championship, she advanced to earn a trio of All-America honors, including a bronze medal in the 1-meter event.

Switkowski, from Lublin, Poland, earned Tech’s first conference freshman award since 1998. At the ACC Championships, he earned Tech’s only gold medal, taking first in the 500 freestyle. After just one season at Tech, he owns a pair of individual school records (200 free, 500 free) and is a member of three school record-holding relay teams (400 free, 800 free, 200 medley).

Dresser, Dance earn top ACC honors

Virginia Tech won the ACC wrestling title a few weeks ago, and the Hokies reaped postseason accolades as a result.

Tech coach Kevin Dresser was named the ACC’s Coach of the Year, and freshman Joey Dance was named the league’s Freshman of the Year in a vote taken among the league’s seven head coaches.

Dance, who posted a 28-10 overall record, finished third at the ACC Championship, and dropped his second match in the NCAA Wrestling Championships before winning five consecutive consolation matches to garner fourth-place honors. The Christiansburg, Va., native became the highest-finishing ACC freshman at the NCAAs in Tech history.

Dresser, who just completed his eighth season at Tech, earned the ACC Coach of the Year honor for the second straight year. He guided the program to an eighth-place finish at the NCAAs – its highest finish ever.

“Ten guys came together at the ACC Championship as underdogs and were ready to go,” Dresser said. “They went out and won by a margin that was pretty significant and impressive. This award goes to those 10 guys, along with Coach [Tony] Robie, Coach [David] Hoffman and Coach [Eric] Morrill for getting Virginia Tech ready to go for the ACC Championship and then again for the NCAA tournament.”

A reunion of sorts for Emelogu

All of the players on the Tech men’s basketball roster had heard of new coach Buzz Williams from his days at Marquette, but only Ben Emelogu had been personally acquainted with the coach.

Williams, a native of Texas, attended a practice at South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, to check out Emelogu, a standout for South Grand Prairie. He met Emelogu’s mother, and Emelogu said he would have seriously considered Marquette if not for the commitment he had made to Tech.

“They were definitely a top choice,” Emelogu said. “He’s a great coach and a great guy. I look forward to knowing him even more.”

“I know all of Ben’s people,” Williams said. “They wanted me to go watch him. I knew his high school coach, so I went by his high school and watched him practice.

“Ben remembers that. He remembers the assistant that was with me that day. As far as did I do a home visit or did he come on campus? None of that happened. I just knew the people around him. He was a late bloomer. He’s a really, really good kid.”

As a freshman this past season, Emelogu played in 22 games, starting 12. He averaged 10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.