Meet at MSU last obstacle before ACC Championships
Charlotte Edmonds | Thursday, January 31, 2019
After a strong home showing at the Shamrock Invitational last weekend saw the women’s and men’s swim and dive teams finish first and second, respectively, the Irish will travel to East Lansing, Michigan, on Saturday to compete in their last regular-season meet of the year in a dual competition against the Spartans.
“The Shamrock Invitational is traditionally a great leaping off point for us as we head into the championship phase with the ACC tournament,” head coach Mike Litzinger said.
Despite the postseason looming on the horizon, Litzinger’s primary concern is the lack of exposure his men’s program has received this season, having not raced since Nov. 16 prior to last week’s home meet.
“It’s very unusual for us, simply because our meet against Iowa was cancelled, and we had a meet against Florida State but that was cancelled … so racing against other teams that had already had two meets to sharpen up, not sure what we were going to get … but what we ended up getting was knocking the dust off and getting up and raising,” Litzinger said about his team’s second-place finish.
For Litzinger, the biggest takeaway from the meet was the team’s resiliency and the strong end to the senior class’ careers at Rolfs Aquatic Center.
“It’s always tough to see a class finish at home, but this is a special one for myself and [associate head coach] April Jenson because we came in with this group,” Litzinger said.
Going forward, Litzinger is working to keep his team focused on the Spartans. The meet is the team’s last obstacle before the ACC conference championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. Only select athletes will travel and compete, with the remaining Irish team members traveling to Columbus, Ohio, for the Ohio State Winter Invitational.
“We do have a championship level meet for the athletes that don’t make the ACC squad, so it’s really unique, it’s really fun to go to Ohio State,” Litzinger said. “A lot of teams use this meet for their non-conference competitors, but what it does for us, it’s almost like a preview of what we’re going to see at ACCs. When those athletes perform well, it’s usually a good indicator that we’re ready to go at ACCs, so we’re excited to take those athletes to Ohio State, watch them go fast … and prep for the ACC meet.”
Litzinger said the athletes were selected for each of these championship meets at least three weeks in advance, giving each of them the opportunity to prepare for their specific events with direction and purpose.
Considering the record the women have built by going undefeated against dual competition over the past two years, and the minimal competition the men have faced this season, the coaching staff has decided to take two different strategies this upcoming weekend.
“[The Spartan] men are very capable and at home; they’re pretty dangerous,” Litzinger said. “We’ll have to be very honest in our event schedule, but it’ll be very good — again, since we haven’t raced a whole lot this semester — it’ll be important for us to get off the blocks and give it a good go. Our women are a little more talented than theirs so we’ve got a little bit of play, so we’ll see some different events from our athletes in this one, but I feel pretty confident that our women will come away with their second-straight undefeated season.”