UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After spending the last two weeks receiving votes in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll, Penn State has entered the rankings at No. 12. The Nittany Lions are in the ranks for the first time since grabbing the No. 20 spot on Jan. 25, 2012.
The Blue and White climbed into the top 25 after posting 54 individual NCAA “B” cut times and a pair of NCAA provisional times in relay events at the Georgia Fall Invitational. That showing took Penn State from receiving votes to the No. 12 spot in the poll, equaling its highest ranking since reaching the same spot in the poll early in the 2004 season.
Penn State claimed fifth at the Georgia Fall Invitational behind No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Cal, No. 8 Virginia and No. 11 Auburn, while finishing in front of Harvard. Overall, the Nittany Lions own a 3-1 dual meet record with wins against Indiana, Villanova and West Virginia. Their only loss was to Virginia in a tri meet at Indiana.
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The 800 freestyle relay quartet of Alyson Ackman, Kaitlin Jones, Caitlyn Karr and Gabi Shishkoff set a school record in Georgia. Their time of 7:08.26 ranks eighth nationally, while the 400 free relay (No. 12) and 200 free relay (No. 15) are each ranked among the top 15. Both medley relay squads are among the top 20, with the 400 medley relay holding down the No. 16 spot and the 200 medley relay sitting at No. 18.
Ackman has had an impressive start to her rookie campaign and is the leading freestyler on the squad, holding down the top spot on the team in the 100, 200 and 500 free style events. The rookie ranks 15th in the NCAA at the 500 freestyle distance in an NCAA “B” cut time of 4:42.36, which is under one second shy of the school record, and has NCAA provisional times in the 100 free (49.06) and 200 free (1:46.15) , which rank her No. 20 and No. 22 respectively.
Senior Merritt Krawczyk, Amy Modglin and Paige Whitmire have all came off of the blocks quickly this season, each ranking among the top 25 and owning multiple NCAA “B” cut times. Whitmire holds the highest individual NCAA ranking for PSU, sitting at No. 12 in the 50 free with a time of 22.43, while Modglin ranks No. 16 in the 200 back (1:54.63) and Krawczyk is No. 21 in the 200 IM (1:58.90), No. 27 in the 400 IM (4:09.92) and No. 30 in the 200 fly (1:58.17).
Shishkoff has been a force in multiple events this season, swimming well in the distance freestyle events, as well as the individual medleys and the 200 butterfly. She owns NCAA “B” cut marks in five events, including team-best times in two of them. Shishkoff ranks No. 14 in the NCAA in the 400 IM (4:09.92), No. 19 in the 1000 free (9:55.72), No. 30 in the 1,650 free (16:28.40), No. 35 in the 200 fly (1:58.85) and No. 36 in the 200 IM (1:589.42). Her NCAA provisional marks have come in the 200 and 400 IM, 500 and 1,650 free and 200 fly.
USC sits atop the national poll and is followed by Texas A&M, Georgia, Cal and Texas to round out the top five. Overall, Penn State is the highest ranked of the five Big Ten teams this week, with Indiana (No. 22), Minnesota (No. 14), Ohio State (No. 15) and Michigan (No. 24) also among the top 25.