Much like the previous week, there’s not much doing in the world of sports on the Flats. However, we do have a bright spot coming up - the start of women’s basketball. Not only that, but we have three days of swimming in Athens to dive into, as well.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — To be quite honest, it’s almost been a miracle not to have football these past few weeks. Sure, Saturdays are better when toe meets leather, win or lose, but, at least for me, it has been nice to also be at an 80% burn for two days of work over the weekend, rather than an all-consuming catchup drill for turning a day to work into a day for no productivity. But, no matter, that we have sports at all, live or in person, is a thing I think we all took for granted our whole lives up until this year. Same, for that matter, with classes that are in person. So, after a valiant attempt to make a short story long, to kick off this week of Thanksgiving, it’s important to know that, despite traditions that undoubtably could, and probably should, look different than they normally would, we get a [belated] return to the hardwood for the Jackets, the usual three NFL football games, and to see someone, somewhere, even if it’s not the whole family. In 2020, that honestly seems just about as good as we could have expected in March.
Hopefully the holiday week and December bring rest. At the very least, the country and the world, and you and me alike, dear readers, seem like we could use it. And on to 2021. We’re close.
Last Week on the Flats
No. 22/NR Swimming and Diving
I set up the rest of the article before I doubled back to this, just to make sure I could take as long as I pleased, without worrying about the rest. Because, boy, did swimming have themselves a weekend out in Athens.
For those who are less swimmingly inclined, it might be worth your while to throw two numbers at you. The good news is that Tech got top three in both the men’s and women’s side of the meet. The bad news was there were only three teams there. However, perspective is important. Firstly, Tech was a hop, skip, and a jump away from edging out Florida State on the men’s side, while, for the women, they were down a couple of swimmers, per the post-meet interview with head coach Courtney Shealy-Hart on RamblinWreck.com. Second, and this bears repeating, the school in Athens is very good at swimming. Think about their attitude when it comes to football success, and then add the fact that they actually have the results to back it up in the pool. That’s what Tech is dealing with. Here’s a completely unsubstantiated theory that only exists in my head - it’s this kind of dynamic that lead to them no longer wanting to be included on our dual meet schedule every year. But no matter. The wild thing is, when you dig into the teams, it’s pretty clear to see Tech actually had a very fine meet for itself, lead, critically, by strong team efforts in the relays.
Here’s why the relays are important: in a championship or prelims/finals meet setting, which this was scored as, relays count for double the amount of points as individual events. This was something that was tough to swallow in Tallahassee earlier in the season, as the dual meet scoring instead left Tech with not enough points to be able to make up, despite dominant showings down the stretch in the freestyle relays. Getting more of these into better finals positions at events like ACCs and NCAAs gives Tech quite literally double the opportunity to score more points than it does getting them into individual events. The Tech men’s blazing-fast 200 and 400 Medley relays may not have gotten them to the top of the podium, but it did get them A-cut qualifying times in both events. On top of that, it means relays with a provisional B-cut, like, say, the one they also snagged in the 400 and 200 Free Relays, get invited to the meet as well. If you have a lane, you have a chance. But, there’s a catch. Tech needs someone from the team to qualify as an individual to get invited to the meet.
That situation is a bit muddier.
Tech is definitely in the mix for these individual times, though. As noted in past editions, the B-cut is only enough to get an athlete considered for the meet. In Athens, Chistian Ferraro notched another in the 100 Fly, Batur Unlu got under the standard in the 200 Free and led the 400 Free Relay with his 43.70 B cut counting because, as the first man off the blocks, he did a flat start, which is where the athlete is stationary until the buzzer sounds, rather than the momentum driven launch seen later in the race. Freshman Caleb Blischke turned in a 15:25.88 in the mile to get his name in the mix, as well. Ferraro, even as an underclassman, has snagged A cuts in his top events, the 100 and 200 Fly, in the past, and we haven’t even mentioned Caio Pumputis here yet, who will have a very convincing argument for the greatest swimmer to ever represent Tech by the time his time on the Flats is done. When the results of the Florida State meet are also considered, Those two snagged B cuts in the 200 Fly and Breast, respectively, in Tallahassee earlier this month. Pumputis matched that in Athens and was within a second of the A cut. It’s intriguing to note that true freshman Justin Alderson wasn’t far off a B cut in that event, as well, which was refracted in the 100 Freestyle by Austin Daniels coming within a fingernail of provisional consideration. Meanwhile, Ferraro was within two of an A cut in the 200 Fly and within one in the 100 Fly, and he was joined in B-cut-land in both events by Kyle Barone, who is having an excellent season for himself, as well, as he also got a B cut in the 100 Backstroke. It’s also important to consider that the athletes in all likelihood weren’t tapered for the meet, which can play a huge role in time drops as the season comes to a close. The Tech men have their foot in the door for the NCAA meet in the fall - heck, I have even mentioned that Barone and Ferraro also have B cuts in the 50 Free, as well as Unlu and Clark Wakeland in the 500 Free. What I’m trying to say is this: these swims are not a fluke. They just need one A cut from one man, and the rest of the dominoes will fall in succession. I’ll be back with more analysis on this once I can develop a good cut tracker.
Getting a diver, like Jacob Kreider, who had a nice showing in the 3m diving event that earned him a berth at the Zones meet, through to the NCAAs would be a boon for Tech as well. it never hurts to have more entries in the big meets. That’s how schools like, dare I say, the one out East, are able to see such consistent success. That would almost certainly lead to their biggest contingent at a national meet in quite some time, and probably allow them to top their 24th place finish at the most recent NCAA meet in 2019.
Not to be left out, sophomore McKenzie Campbell’s 200 Fly time, a 1:57.25, was a B cut, as well. She also went and topped all of the men by taking the team’s first individual A cut in the 400 IM. She has been one of the most notable standouts for the women this year, and it was disappointing to see a few other big names from the impressive showing at Florida State not swimming a full contingent of events. Also worth mentioning is Tech’s continued success on the boards and platforms, where freshman Anna Bradescu achieved a Zones invite in the 3m and the platform, while Paige Gohr joined her in the former and Carmen Woodruff did as well on the latter.
Campbell’s 200 Fly, the aforementioned men’s 200 and 400 Medley and 400 Freestyle relays, and Ferraro’s 100 Fly were all school records on the weekend. Unlu, the freshman, posted the second fastest time in school history in the 200 Free.
Obviously, it’s not sunshine and roses everywhere. Not sure why, but the women’s team couldn’t put together much in the relays this week after a great showing against Florida State. In general, their sprint freestyle was a bit of an obvious hole, which is doubly unfortunate since that, by frequency of swims, it is probably the most important or versatile segment of a roster for points scoring, due to their participation in essentially every relay. However, I can’t end this on a bad note, so I’ll close with a story that looms large over my neck of the woods. I, personally, think it’s already a better story than Rudy. Because, as we all know, the movie was exaggerated pro-Notre Dame propaganda about a guy who played like one play of a game that wasn’t all that close (and was offsides in the process), and in real life, Rudy is not all that nice. This story is about a guy who was not offsides and did not beat Georgia Tech in football. This would be the story of Jonathan Shaheen.
Coverage from this weekend calls Shaheen a true freshman, but that’s not really true. He’s a first year to the team, alright, but there was a very vivid time in this author’s memory of meeting the kid somewhere between the Post Office and the Subway in the Student Center, and, as we all know, that doesn’t exist anymore. Point is, the kid, rated a 14.33 by SwimCloud’s Power Index coming out of Dalton High School in 2019 and was the state’s 18th best recruit, good for the nation’s top 400. He wanted to come to Tech, and, by golly, swim for the Institute and study MSE. When he didn’t get consideration for the team as a freshman, he joined the club team, and, before the pandemic, was positioned to be the freshest face as that team worked to defend its back to back titles, and had an outside shot at winning or getting a podium spot in three or four events before CCS Nationals was cancelled. Did that stop him? No. His hard work still paid off, and he was offered a shot at fulfilling his dream and joining the varsity team. What did he do this weekend in Athens? He went a 3:58.29 in the 400 IM. Is this a B cut? No. It did, however, get him in the A final against some great competition. He contributed key points in a race where there was a need. His addition mattered - even ranking as the Tech men’s 10th highest scorer in the meet. That’s why getting as many swimmers, relays or not, to the NCAA meet matters, like I elaborated on earlier. The wins in big meets come from the top, and they come from places that you might not expect. This is that idea, but more localized. I’m not saying him getting really good is guaranteed - nothing in this sport, or any other, for that matter, ever is. But, with three and a half years of eligibility left, he very well could at least get a consideration cut at some point in his career, even if he’s not ever actually invited to the NCAAs. And that’s a [Duran Duran] good story, I think. But I’m biased.
We’ll keep an eye on the swimmers. I have a half a mind they’re going to be pretty darn good come February. The ACC is stacked, as always, with six other teams in the men’s top 25. But, with good competition comes good racing. Circle your calendars whenever they’re back at it in spring semester.
Best of the Week
- ACC Schedule Breakdown
- Scions Preview Basketball, Talk Swimming, Etc.
- Tech Matches Graduation Success Rate Record
This Week on the Flats
So many options this week! This has to be the fullest we’ve seen the schedule since YJR got reformatted. The Tech men and women have a doubleheader against Georgia State to tip off the season on Wednesday, but if there’s any game to watch this week, it’s WBB hosting the School in Athens. They beat them - no, demolished them - on the road for the first time ever last year, and the Athenians typically have a pretty stout team on the women’s side, so keep an eye on that one. Tech was a bubble team last year when the tournament got called, and they’ve retooled entering the second year of the Nell Fortner regime. Oh, and maybe there will be football. We saw how that’s gone the last two weeks.
Poll of the Week
Will football finally not get cancelled this week?
This poll is closed
Yes, we will play.
No, we will not play.
I honestly have no clue.
Sinclair took away my RSN access, so I wouldn’t know even if we did play.