AUSTIN, Texas -- The Virginia Tech men’s swimming and diving teams used a trio of All-American performances to take home a 20th-place finish at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, as the H2Okies wrapped up competition at the University of Texas on Saturday evening.
The H2Okie divers continued their stellar week on the boards, as Tech placed a pair of competitors in the eight-diver championship final, earning them both All-American honors.
Senior Ryan Hawkins wrapped up his career at Virginia Tech by capturing his third career All-American honor in the platform event, taking home a career-best fifth place with a score of 440.85 in the finals after a preliminary score of 407.10.
Freshman T.J. Shinholser made a mark on his first career NCAA Championships, becoming the first male in Virginia Tech history to capture All-American honors with an eighth-place finish in the platform event, by way of 316.10 points in the finals. Junior Kyle Butts took home 20th place with a score of 302.45.
“What an awesome privilege it’s been to coach Ryan [Hawkins] throughout his career,” Head Diving Coach Ron Piemonte said. “If you look at the top scores from this week, it’s been such a close meet throughout and he did an outstanding job on all three levels. As for TJ, I couldn’t be more proud of him; making the top eight and being an All-American in his first season is an amazing accomplishment. I was so proud of the divers at this meet, in all their events, and the way they finished off a great season.”
On the swimming side, junior Collin Higgins broke his own Virginia Tech record and set a new Atlantic Coast Conference record in the 200 backstroke, clocking 1:40.10 to win the consolation final. The performance earned Higgins ninth place and the first Honorable Mention All-American honors of his career.
In the 200 breaststroke, junior Harrison Cefalo took home 33rd place, touching the wall in 1:57.10, while freshman Brandon Fiala clocked a 1:57.92 to finish 38th. Junior Morgan Latimer took home 38th in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:47.67 to wrap up the H2Okies’ individual performances in the pool.
The H2Okies’ 20th-place finish marked their third consecutive finish inside the top 20 at the NCAA Championships. Tech was also just four points behind 19th-place UNLV. California took home the team championship, besting second-place Texas by 51 points. Complete results from the week can be found at the above link.
“Three straight years in the top 20 is quite an accomplishment for our men’s program,” Head Coach Ned Skinner said. “Coach Piemonte and our divers should be commended for an outstanding week. Ryan Hawkins has been so important to this program and we’re very proud of the emergence of TJ Shinholser at the national level. To see Collin Higgins set an ACC record in the 200 backstroke was an especially thrilling moment for our team. This week capped a storybook season for our program and we’re so proud of this team and what they’re all about, in and out of the pool.”
Shinholser/Hawkins photo courtesy of Tim Binning, TheSwimPictures.com
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