ATLANTA, GEORGIA — I never begrudge any student athlete this time of year. It’s cruel, almost. The weather turns beautiful, the skies go to that beautiful powder blue, cloudless infinite wash that so pervades the springtime in Atlanta. Oh, and there’s pollen. But as all that happen, I think this is almost certainly the hardest time to be a student. The springtime is nice, but the spring finals, especially in a year with no Spring Break, are a monotonous slog, with plenty standing in the way academically, let alone on a diamond or a court, before the release of summer, working or training without the grind of spending 15+ hours in a classroom and 45+ hours in homework a week.
But we’re almost there. The end is in site. Up and down the Flats, teams prepare for their postseasons. One, a club team, has their national championship to report this week. Everyone else? They’re getting awfully close.
Last Week on the Flats
Overall: 12-20 / Last Week: 2-2
Polls - NFCA Coaches: NR / D1 Softball: NR / ESPN USAS: NR
Nerd Stuff - RPI: #113
Softball, after suffering many an unlucky break over the past few weeks - COVID delays, rain delays, heartbreaking walkoffs - finally got to exact some revenge this weekend as the Louisville Cardinals came to town for a four game set. Although it seemed that it would be more of a weekend of “same old, same old” when a rally came up ever so shortly on Friday in Game 1 - Tech lost 6-5, despite some late heroics from Cameron Stanford, who hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh - Tech was able to get a walkoff in game 2, as they beat their guests 4-2. The other two games were extraordinarily lopsided, with Lousiville taking one 10-2 before the Jackets marched back and won 12-2 in their first run rule win in quite some time. That felt nice.
Hopefully the bats stay alive and the pitching follows as they roll into their last two weeks of the regular season.
Polls - Golfweek Coaches: #33, Golfstat: #28
Golf picked a really rather excellent time of year to be playing their best golf yet this spring. As Tech wraps up its spring regular season, Tech managed to not just hold on to its fourth place tie we discussed last Monday, but improve two spots to edge out two top 10 teams in the final results. A late charge from #1 Florida State came up just short of taking down Tech, who shot +1 on the final day, but the Jackets, who finished quite a bit back of #2 Oklahoma, led the best of the rest as Christo Lamprecht led the way, tying for third individually, and looking to this untrained eye as the best bet to be Tech’s next golf wiz kid. Ben Smith also finished within the top 10, as well.
Tech rests until ACC play at the end of the month.
Overall: 14-9 / Last Week: 2-0
Polls - ITA/Oracle Coaches: #15
It was a great return to form for a team that dropped a heartbreaker in their only match out last week as Tech headed to Notre Dame and Louisville. Man, it really is interesting when all of these travel pairings line up, isn’t it? With their star senior Kenya Jones back, it was all Jackets this weekend, as Tech was able to handle Louisville 5-2, and then dispatch Notre Dame 4-3 in South Bend. Tech dropped the doubles point on Sunday, but won on courts 1, 2, 4 and 5, as Jones, Victoria Flores, Carol Lee, and Mahak Jain continue the rather inspired tennis they’ve been playing so far this year.
Other than that, it’s waiting time until the ACC Championships in Rome starting on 4/21.
Overall: 11-8 / Last Week: 1-1
Polls - ITA/Oracle Coaches: #32
Men’s tennis had a split weekend in their home finales playing Notre Dame and Louisville this weekend. Both teams are somewhere in that mid tier of the ACC with Tech, and it seems fitting that Tech was then able to split the two matches, though the Racquet Jackets are likely the best of the three teams. Tech dropped the contest with #42 Notre Dame on Friday, a tight 4-3 match that saw both teams in the mix until the very end, when Pablo Schelcher fell on court 3 in a second set tiebreak. The Jackets were upset on courts 1 and 2, which was a disappointing result, especially for a team that needed four singles courts, as they had dropped the doubles point already.
However, Tech was able to battle back on Sunday, a gorgeous day in Midtown, as they were able to swiftly dispatch Louisville 5-2. A good ending to a nice bounce-back year for Tech, who sports a lineup of all underclassmen that have a real chance of making some noise in both the ACC tournament, as well as the various NCAA team, singles, and doubles draws as the season nears postseason time.
Track and Field
Nerd Stuff: USTFCCCA Index M: #127 / W: #43
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before already this year - Nicole Fegans broke an ancient school record this weekend, while Olivia Moore found herself at the top of the podium. This weekend in Tuscaloosa, both found themselves in very similar, very successful positions as they have throughout the spring. I generally avoid quoting the blurbs that the coaches provide RamblinWreck.com recaps, since that feels unearned because it wasn’t a conversation I had with them or anything, but this was too good to ignore:
“Nicole showed great fight, she was tripped, lost a shoe, ran the last two laps in a sock, and outkicks the national cross country champion to secure 2nd place and the school record. You can’t ask for more than that.” - Alan Drosky, Women’s Track and Field Head Coach
That says it all, I think.
As for the rest of the team, the jumpers again had success, in both the long and high editions of the jumps. Bria Matthews, Carla du Plessis, and Shanty Papakosta all found themselves in the top three of their respective events. Several other athletes found themselves in the mix for top-3 finishes, so, all in all, a successful weekend for sure for Tech.
They’ll run on their home track for the second and final time this season next week at their invitational.
In the Club House
In what was perhaps the best (and only) big weekend for club sports that we’ll have all year, hockey, men’s lacrosse, and swimming were all out on the prowl this weekend, and all had quite excellent weekends for themselves.
Leading off with hockey, seeing as it was their season opener up at the Atlanta IceForum, the boys on blades netted a 8-2 win over the Auburn Tigers. There wasn’t a ton in terms of tweets from the game, but they jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first and at one point led 8-1, so it seems safe to say this one was never in doubt.
As for lacrosse, the boys headed to Tallahassee for two games against Florida and Florida State. The Jackets won both games, moving them to an undefeated 4-0 on the season. They averaged 17 goals per game and an average winning margin of 8.5 on the weekend, so it seems pretty certain that these games weren’t really in doubt, either.
Swimming, meanwhile, hosted a satellite site of the 2021 CCS National Championships this weekend at the McAuley Aquatic Center. Your two-time defending national champions played host to nearby Clemson and Florida swim clubs, their first live competition since March of 2020. The meet had some fast swims, sure, but the national results won’t be known until next week when the other satellite sites wrap up their meets.
Among them, Vojtech Kupka broke the team record in the 1000 Freestyle with a 9:59.69 - an anonymous writer of this here column once held that mark with a 10:00.69, for what it’s worth - and becomes the fifth different GTSC swimmer to have broken that record in the last five years, which is quite a rare distinction for a swimming or track event record, as I’ve noticed covering those sports over the years. Kupka also edged a record set in 2016 in the 500 Free with a 4:45.20, while Landon Eisenhut broke the 400 IM record with a 4:09.01. This joins his existing team records in the 200 Breaststroke and 200 IM. Abbie Cochell broke the 50 Breaststroke record with a 31.78 and the 200 Breast with a 2:29.43. She already broke her own record in the 200 Breast, and already held the 100 Breast record, meaning she now holds all 3 team breaststroke records. Her older brother Eddie is notably also on the GTSC record board, as a member of the men’s 400 Freestyle Relay record.
Tech, by virtue of having the most swimmers, almost certainly will wind up the highest meet scorer from their site, but it remains to be seen if they will return as 3 time national champions. In the meantime, we can simply pour one out for the Clemson fellow who swam a 1000 Butterfly for his final collegiate race. Ouch.
Hockey and Men’s Lacrosse will both be playing at home next weekend, so, if you’re around, head to the IceForum or the Stamps Fields to check them out.
Best of the Week
This Week on the Flats
Volleyball. Thursday. ESPN, thanks to some necessary action from the movers and shakers. Watch it. First tournament in over a decade. Should be fun.
Poll of the Week
If an ump gets injured, what would you prefer:
This poll is closed
Just play with three umps
Alternate team reps
Pull some guy out of the stands
Other? Tell me below