The Florida State swimming and diving teams split a top 25 clash with Minnesota on Saturday in the opening dual meet of the 2017-18 season at the Morcom Aquatics Center in front of family and friends for the annual ‘Paint it Pink’ meet.

The 20th-ranked men’s team (1-0) took down the 21st-ranked Gophers, 179-121, while the (No. 23) women (0-1) battled through the last relay but fell 153.5-146.5 to No. 17 Minnesota.

“It was an amazing meet,” FSU head coach Neal Studd said. “The team really stepped up today and I could not be prouder. It was a very special day.”

After taking first and second in the opening 200 medley relay, the men kept rolling taking first and second in the 200 free as sophomore Rudo Loock won with a time of 1:37.85, just ahead of junior Kanoa Kaleoaloha (1:38.67) who was second.  Kaleoaloha added an impressive win in the 100 fly later in the meet, touching at 47.83.

The Seminoles found their stride after the 100 back, when senior Connor Kalisz won from the outside lane with a time of 49.24 just ahead of sophomore Nate Samson in second (50.78). Kalisz (1:49.12) later fished second behind sophomore Griffin Alaniz in the 200 back (1:48.95).

Minnesota took the 100 breast, but answered with a huge one-two finish in the 200 fly behind sophomore Max Polianski (1:50.05) and senior Jacob Urbano (1:50.61), just ahead of UM’s Matt Thomas (1:50.93). Both Polianski and Urbano took the lead on the final 50 yards of the race.

Florida State capitalized on the back-to-back sprint events with a pair of sweeps. Senior Chad Mylin led the 50 free with a time of 20.09 ahead of juniors William Pisani (20.53) and Emir Muratovic (20.82).

After the break, sophomore Felipe Ribeiro de Souza won the 100 free (44.69), Kaleoaloha was second (45.23), Murtovic took third (45.58) and sophomore Vladimir Stefanik rounded out the Noles in fourth (45.64).

On the boards, the Seminoles showed their depth as senior Tyler Roberge first dominated 3-meter with a score of 389.18 ahead of his rookie teammate Joshua Davidson in second (376.95). In their second event, the Noles put up a sweep of 1-meter led by Davidson with a score of 341.55, Roberge in second 325.20 and sophomore Cameron Thatcher at 322.10 in third.

Florida State closed out the meet with a dominating performance in the 200 free relay behind Mylin, Pisani, junior John Vann and Muratovic at 1:20.66.

The women’s meet came down to the final relay, with the Seminoles trailing by two points.

Sophomore Nika Blank, Lelia Johnson and senior Ariel Barber handed the anchor leg to senior Alexi Smith, who put up the fastest split of the event (22.41) however Minnesota held on by one-one hundredth of a second, putting the Noles at 1:31.58 for second.

Prior to the final relay, junior Shelly Drozda dug deep to win the 200 IM at 2:03.22 in order to give the Noles a chance after adding a second place finish in the 200 back (1:59.45) as well a third-place showing in the 200 free (1:51.85).

The Seminoles also got a huge boost from diving, as three ladies scored above the 300-point barrier to sweep 3-meter heading into the final two events.

Senior Blaire Mulka led the charge, winning with a score of 315.35 while sophomores Ayla Bonniwell (314.93) and Molly Carlson (303.23) followed in second and third respectively.

Earlier in the meet, Carlson and Mulka teamed up for the one-two punch as Carlson posted 280.95 for the win and Mulka followed in second at 278.40.

“I am really proud of the hard work these guys have put in already this year and we haven’t even really got going yet,” FSU head diving coach John Proctor said. They are really coming together as a family and supporting each other and pushing each other to train at their limits. It’s great to see them rewarded with a great performance like they had today. They worked for it and they earned it.”

The Seminoles also showed their strength in the opening medley relay behind the team of freshman Madeline Cohen, senior Natalie Pierce, Johnston and Smith, winning by over one second with a time of 1:40.81.

Pierce ended a three-event slide, cruising to a win in the 100 breast at 1:01.74 and redshirt junior McKenna Harris picked up valuable third place points at 1:04.72.  Pierce also came through to tie for first in the 200 breast, touching at 2:15.68 as Harris held on for third (2:20.04).

Minnesota won the 200 fly, however the Noles eliminated any damage by finishing second, third, fourth and fifth behind sophomore Macie Beairsto (2:04.57), freshman Kathryn Petrone (2:05.39), rookie Madi Tyle (2:06.14) and junior Meg Brown (2:07.19).

Smith and Blank put up a pair of second and third place finishes in the 50 and 100 free, as Smith clocked at 23.18 in the 50 free and 51.00 in the 100. Blank touched at 23.52 and 51.59.

Florida State will travel to Durham, N.C. for an ACC contest against (No.20/NA) Duke and (NA/No.19) Virginia Tech on Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

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Courtesy of Christa Salerno