Successful Day One of Panther Invitational in the Books

By  //  November 20, 2015

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It looked as though the Panther Aquatic Center might be even wetter than usual for the opening day of the inaugural Panther Invitational. However, the heavens let up just in time for the start of competition, allowing Day One to go off without a hitch. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – It looked as though the Panther Aquatic Center might be even wetter than usual for the opening day of the inaugural Panther Invitational. However, the heavens let up just in time for the start of competition, allowing Day One to go off without a hitch.

Facing elite competition from some of the best of what the Sunshine State has to offer in North Florida, Saint Leo and West Florida, the Panthers showed strongly at their home venue.

Justin Andrade

Justin Andrade

“It was definitely a hectic beginning with the weather going on,” said head coach Justin Andrade.

“The team showed some resiliency today. We had some very good early swims, though there is definitely some things we can improve on. There were really good 1,000’s for our girls and our guys. The 200 free relays looked strong.”

The meet kicked off with the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay, in which the FIT “A” team of Willa Huddleston, Rachel Barczyk, Bernie Murphy and Shelby Pearce garnered seventh with a season best time of 1:40.16.

Carmen Montalvo was the top finisher for the Panther women in the 1,000-yard freestyle, taking ninth after touching in 10:56.87. The time was more than half a minute faster than her previous best this season.

The women finished the day with the 400 medley relay. In the race, defending Sunshine State Conference 100-yard backstroke champion Dar Raz returned to the pool for the first time this season after battling injury. Raz joined up with Schelli Linz, Trista Phelps and Liana Soileau for a sixth-place finish, timing in at 4:01.40.

On the men’s side, Nir Barnea, Filip Dujmic, Jonah Rieman and Edward Ilako joined forces to snag second in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:22.13. FIT also captured third and fourth in the race with its “B” and “C” teams, respectively. The “A” team’s time was quick enough to qualify as an NCAA “B” Cut mark.

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In the 1,000 free, Yagoh Kubagawa grabbed third after making the final touch in 9:28.05, another NCAA “B” Cut time. Emanuele Rossi wasn’t far behind, taking fourth with a season-best 9:32.59. Brother Ferruccio Rossi garnered sixth place with a time of 9:34.92. Both Rossi brothers set “B” Cut times in the process.

The real fireworks, though, came in the men’s 400 medley relay. Not only did the “A” team of Eric Berg, Brian Dumont, Barnea and Thomas Steenberg blitz the competition for the win and set the fifth FIT “B” Cut time of the competition but the group’s 3:20.63 broke the school-record by nearly eight full seconds (3:28.24). The Panther “B” team was second quickest in the day’s final event, registering a 3:28.48.

“Our guy’s 400 medley relay was definitely a surprise,” Andrade stated.

“We knew they were going to swim well and that’s exactly what they did. We’re excited. We’ve got to get the swimmers resting and recovered and get them ready to go for three more days.”

The Panther Invitational resumes on Friday and continues through Sunday. Friday’s competition will begin with preliminary races at 10 a.m. ET, while action will conclude with the finals, beginning at 6 p.m.


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