2017 ACC Men’s Champs Fan Guide: Wolfpack Going for Three Straight

by Robert Gibbs 38

February 27th, 2017 ACC, College, News, Previews & Recaps


Last year NC State followed up its first ACC title in over twenty years with a repeat, and they look very well primed to make it three in a row.  They followed up their momentum from ACC’s with a win in the 400 free relay at NCAA’s (the school’s first NCAA relay title of all-time), along with a 4th place overall finish.  While they lost sprint star Simonas Bilis to graduation, junior Ryan Held is arguably the best NCAA sprinter not named Caeleb Dressel, and should be poised for a big championships season after helping the USA to a gold medal on the 4×100 free relay at this past summer’s Olympic Games.

Louisville should be runner-up once again, and could take a few relays from the Wolfpack.  Don’t forget that they beat NC State in the 400 medley relay at ACCs last season. The Virginia men seem to be building some momentum after a few rough years, while UNC seems to be heading in the opposite direction.  Florida State is having a resurgence after hiring Neal Studd to take over a program that had floundered in recent years.

Notre Dame and Georgia Tech had some great moments at last year’s meet, and both have some swimmers seeded high, but it’ll be tough for either school to challenge for a top five spot.  Duke and Pittsburgh should both stay ahead of Boston College, but aren’t likely to do much more than that.

Boston College doesn’t return a single individual point scorer from last year’s championships, and long-time head coach Tom Groeden resigned in the middle of the season.  Keep an eye on the Eagles, led by interim Head Coach Mike Stephens, to see if they’ll be able to bounce back and show some spark this week.



  • 200 Medley Relay
  • 800 Freestyle Relay


  • 500 Freestyle
  • 200 IM
  • 50 Freestyle
  • 200 Freestyle Relay


  • 400 IM
  • 100 Butterfly
  • 200 Freestyle
  • 100 Breaststroke
  • 100 Backstroke
  • 400 Medley Relay


  • 1650 Freestyle
  • 200 Backstroke
  • 100 Freestyle
  • 200 Breaststroke
  • 200 Butterfly
  • 400 Freestyle


Boston College – Taylor Cortens (sophomore IMer/breaststroker) — Cortens is the only Eagle swimmer currently projected to score any individual points, as he sits at 18th in the 200 IM.

Duke – Peter Kropp (senior breaststroker), Maximilian St George (sophomore IMer/backstroker) — The Blue Devils again have a strong breaststroke group, led by Kropp, but don’t really have the sprinters or freestyle depth they need to be competitive.

Florida State – Jason Coombs (senior breaststroker), Jason McCormick (senior sprinter), Connor Kalisz (junior backstroker) – Believe it or not, FSU comes into this week with a faster 200 free relay than NC State, and McCormick is a big weapon on the sprint relays.  Coombs and Kalisz, meanwhile, will pull in some serious points in the breast and back events, respectively.

Georgia Tech – Rodrigo Correia (sophomore freestyler), Moises Loschi (junior distance freestyler) — Correia will help replace Youssef Hammoud in the sprint freestyles, while Loschi will help keep the Yellow Jackets’ medley relays in the middle of the pack.

Louisville Carlos Claverie (junior breaststroker), Trevor Carroll (senior freestyler), Grigory Tarasevich (senior backstroker), Zach Harting (sophomore butterflier) — Claverie and Tarasevich represented their countries in Rio last summer, and Harting made the 200 fly at Olympic Trials memorable with his Batman getup.  All four of these swimmers should be able to score 70+ points again, and Louisville is currently seeded ahead of NC State in three of five relays.

North Carolina – Jordan Merrilees (senior distance/IM), Henry Campbell (junior distance/IM) –UNC lost a ton of points with last year’s graduating seniors.  Merrilees and Campbell should score some points, but a lack of sprinters is going to make it difficult for the Tar Heels to stay competitive.

NC StateAnton Ipsen (junior distance freestyler), Ryan Held (junior sprinter), Hennessey Stuart (junior backstroker), Soeren Dahl (senior IM/freestyle)   — There are probably several other swimmers we could mention here, but these four form the current core of the Wolfpack squad.  Held, Dahl, and Ipsen could collectively sweep the freestyle events, while Stuart will challenge Louisville‘s Tarasevich in the backstroke events.  There are enough other pieces to fill in relays and help NC State take its third-straight conference championships.

Notre Dame – Trent Jackson (senior free/breast), Justin Plaschka (junior free/butterfly), Matthew Grauslys (sophomore butterflier), Tabahn Afrik (sophomore sprinter) — Plaschka led the team in points last year after three A-final appearances.   The Fighting Irish have some free depth, as they’re currently ranked 5th in each of the free relays.

Pitt – Zachary Lierley (senior IM/backstroker)  — Lierley was Pitt’s top individual scorer last year on the strength of a single B-final swim.  There are a couple other guys who made C-finals, but looking at the psych sheet, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be much improvement this year.

Virginia –  Austin Quinn (senior IMer), Sam Magnan (sophomore distance freestyler), Zach Fong (sophomore butterflier) — All three of these men sit at #2 in at least one event on the psych sheet, and the Cavaliers have some other young guns who are going to score some points and help out on relays.  The men haven’t had quite the same success that the women have under Augie Busch, but what they do have should be enough to keep them 3rd in conference at least.

Virginia TechBrandon Fiala (senior breaststroker/IMer),  Robert Owen (senior IMer) — This is going to be the Hokies’ last year with the senior duo of Fiala and Owen, who combined for three individual titles and 172 points last year.  Those two should be on pace to repeat their performances, especially after a great showing at last summer’s Olympic Trials.



Stuart v. Tarasevich, round 3.  In 2015, NC State freshman Hennessey Stuart won this event in convincing fashion, touching almost one a half seconds ahead of Louisville‘s Grigory Tarasevich.  Last year, Tarasevich evened the score with a narrow win over Stuart.  Now that that Louisville Olympian is a senior, this year will be the tiebreaker.  Unless, of course, someone else, perhaps Virginia Tech‘s Robert Owen, plays spoiler and manages to touch out both of the defending champions.

1650 Freestyle

Sure, Anton Ipsen has to be considered the favorite.  But, what makes this event so intriguing is who will be touching after him.  Ipsen has four Wolfpack teammates seeded in the top nine in this event.  If you needed any more confirmation that NC State is more than just a sprint program, keep an eye on this event and see how their guys here do against more traditional mid/distance programs like Virginia.

100 Breast

This event was a bloodbath last year, with five swimmers finishing within half a second of each other, and NC State‘s Derek Hren depriving VT’s Brandon Fiala of a third individual event win by 0.01 seconds.  Fiala and Hren both return this year, along with two other top 5 finishers, Carlos Claverie of Louisville and Jason Coombs of FSU.  Last year Duke’s Peter Kropp blasted a 52-low in season, but was unable to replicate that time here.  It’s looking like it could once again be anyone’s race


Diving took place during last weekend’s women’s ACC Championships, and once again, VT leads the field, albeit with more than 50 points less than last year.  Notably, NC State actually has 34 points from diving.  They managed to win the last two conference championships without a single diving point.

Team Diving Points
VT 194
FSU 153
UNC 136
Duke 113
Miami 108
Pitt 107
Notre Dame 89
Georgia Tech 67
Louisville 43
Virginia 42
NC State 34
Boston College 0

While NC State did lose quite a few points due to some graduating seniors, they have quite the deep team, and even picked up a few points in the diving events this year, unlike last year.  Louisville could close the gap some, but will probably have to settle for 2nd.  It’s a bit of a crapshoot after that and all of the teams in the middle of the pack have good arguments why they could end up higher.

  1. NC State
  2. Louisville
  3. Virginia
  4. Virginia Tech
  5. Florida State
  6. North Carolina
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Duke
  9. Georgia Tech
  10. Pitt
  11. Boston College
  12. Miami (FL) – Diving Only

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Acc Swim Fan
4 years ago

Seems like 3-9 spots are a pretty open race

4 years ago

it starts tomorrow on Monday not Wednesday, jus tFYI

Reply to  Notswimnerd
4 years ago

Another victim of NC’s bathroom bill – so I think they had to take some off dates down in Atlanta.

4 years ago

ryan held is a junior isnt he?