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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Preview | Pitt cross country and swim and dive look to make splash in 2023

A+Pitt+swimmer+competes+during+the+Western+PA+Invite+on+Jan.+29.%0A
Jonathan Guo | Staff Photographer
A Pitt swimmer competes during the Western PA Invite on Jan. 29.

As students move back into Oakland and classes ramp up, the excitement around Pitt’s fall athletics begins to build. But with all the hype surrounding Pitt’s more well-known fall programs — like football, soccer and volleyball — students may find it hard to keep track of the lesser-known teams, such as cross country and swim and dive. 

Here is a preview of what to look out for from these two programs in 2023. 

Cross Country

As a program, Pitt cross country has struggled mightily in recent years. From both men’s and women’s teams regularly failing to finish in the top ten in the ACC to struggling to get a single qualifier for the NCAA championships, the Panther cross country program has trailed behind the rest of the NCAA for several years. 

But the Panthers hope the hiring of new head coach Griff Graves will help rebuild the program. 

Graves was only hired a few weeks ago, but fans can expect big changes in the near future, as the new coach has the experience to turn around this previously unsuccessful program. Prior to his tenure at Pitt, Graves was an assistant coach at Syracuse, where he helped the Orange become one of the most successful programs in the nation. 

Along with a new head coach, the Panthers have a few returning runners that could make a name for themselves in 2023. On the men’s side, seniors Luke Henseler and Jack Miller are set to return for the Panthers. Last season, the pair were the Panthers only NCAA qualifiers, placing 195th and 204th, respectively, in the nation. Look for these two runners to build off of last season’s success and potentially make serious moves in the NCAA championship. 

On the women’s side, the Panthers return senior Sadie Carey-Tharp for 2023. Carey-Tharp was a crucial member of the women’s team last season, as she was Pitt’s fastest finisher in the ACC championship, placing 58th in the conference. With Carey-Tharp leading the way, the Panthers will hope to improve off of their dreadful 13th-place team finish in the ACC last year. 

Moving onto the schedule, the Panthers are set to compete in seven meets this year, including the NCAA championship. Pitt will begin the season at home with the Panther Invitational on Sept. 1. 

The Panthers will then compete in three more invitations before gearing up for the ACC championship on Oct. 27 in Tallahassee, Florida. There, the Panthers will face off against fierce competition, such as returning women’s national champions NC State. 

Ultimately, the Panthers have a chance to turn their program around this season. With a new head coach and a few key returning runners, the Panthers have what it takes to make serious improvements in 2023. 

 

Swim and Dive 

Like the cross country program, Pitt swim and dive hasn’t had the best of luck historically — but the program is ready to make improvements in 2023. 

Last season, the men’s swim and dive team posted one of its best seasons in program history, as it placed 33rd in the NCAA championship and seventh in the ACC. Meanwhile, the women’s team lagged slightly behind, placing 11th in the ACC. 

But this season, the Panthers will look to build on last year’s successes and reach new heights as a program. 

Like the cross country team, Pitt swim and dive recently hired a new coach, as the Panthers announced the hiring of former-Alabama coach Roman Willets as an assistant coach in early August. Prior to his tenure at Pitt, Willets excelled at his position with the Crimson Tide, coaching several athletes and relay teams to impressive finishes at the NCAA championships. During his time at Alabama, Willets helped coach the Crimson Tide’s 800 free relay team, which set school records in 2022 and 2023 and finished 10th at the NCAA Championships.
Willets’ experience with coaching successful relay teams will prove useful, as the Panthers had several strong relay teams last season that could benefit from a coaching boost. This includes the men’s 400 medley relay team, which placed 16th at NCAAs last season. The relay team will only return one member, senior Krzysztof Radziszewski, this season, but it still could have another big year in 2023. 

The Panthers will begin their season with a swim-only meet against Army on Sept. 22 at home. The team will then hold its annual Blue and Gold intersquad meet on Sept. 29. 

Pitt will then compete in several more meets, including two invitationals — the Ohio State invitational from Nov. 15 to 18 and the Minnesota invitational from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. 

The Panthers will conclude much of their season in the winter, as the team will travel to the ACC championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, from Feb. 20 to 24. Finally, the women’s team will hope to send qualifiers to the NCAA championship in Athens, Georgia, from March 20 to 23, while the men’s team will set their sights on competing in the men’s championship in Indianapolis, Indiana, on March 27 to 30. 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor