2016 M. NCAA Picks: Barring DQs, It’s All NC State in 200 Free Relay



  • NCAA record: 1:14.08 — Auburn — 3/26/2009
  • American record: 1:15.26 — Stanford — 3/24/2011
  • U.S. Open record: 1:14.08 — Auburn — 3/26/2009
  • 2015 NCAA Champion: Texas — 1:15.86

The NC State Wolfpack, who were expected to win the 200 free relay last year only to end up disqualifying on an early take off in finals, have quite possibly assembled their strongest squad yet in 2016. The improvement of sophomore Ryan Held along with VT transfer Joe Bonk filling in for the graduated David Williams make for a dominant pairing with upperclassmen regulars Soeren Dahl and Simonas Bilis.

They went 1:15.65 at ACCs, the only team under 1:18 in that final. Bilis and Held, with respective best times of 18.91 and 18.92, are now the two fastest 50 freestylers to come out of the ACC ever.

Last year, only Texas broke 1:16 in the finals (though NC State would likely have been under 1:16 as well if they hadn’t DQ’d), and Kip Darmody graduated from that relay. Cal and Auburn finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, but Cal lost half of its relay to graduation. It’ll help to have Ryan Murphy back, after they didn’t have him at Pac-12s, but the Golden Bears and the rest of the Pac-12 won’t be the big guns in this relay.

Auburn, meanwhile, has seen the rise of sophomore Peter Holoda, who’s provided big splits for them all year. They also return their entire relay from last year, and swapping in Arthur Mendes for Jacob Molacek might give them enough for an extra few tenths drop at NCAAs.

The SEC is going to be quick at NCAAs. Thanks to Caeleb Dressel and his potential sub-18 split, Florida is the team to beat for second. While they don’t have four legs right around the 19.0 mark, they got a very substantial 19.05 anchor from Jack Blyzinskyj at SECs, and Corey Main‘s 19.42 lead-off wasn’t too bad, either. Even if Dressel does put up a wild split, the Gators are going to need the other three legs to pull their weight if they’re going to hold onto 2nd. Meanwhile, SEC sprint school Alabama still has plenty of power, anchored by Kristian Gkolomeev. They added sophomore Laurent Bams to the relay, but they’ll need more from their three legs not named Kristian if they’re going to place in the top three.

Texas, last year’s champions, are much better altogether than the 1:17.10 they went at Big 12s. Whether or not they choose to put Jack Conger in the mix, it’s hard to believe Joe SchoolingJohn MurrayBrett Ringgold, and Tate Jackson won’t be pushing for a top three finish.

Meanwhile, Big Ten stalwarts Michigan and Indiana will be vying for top 8 spots as well. IU has found a new 50 free school record holder in Egyptian sophomore Ali Khalafalla, while Blake Pieroni adds some star power to their quartet. Michigan finished about four tenths behind IU at Big Tens, but with 50 free conference record-setter Paul Powers and freestyle weapon Anders Nielsen, they should have a solid relay at NCAAs, too.


NC State 1:15.65
Florida 1:16.46
Texas 1:17.10
Auburn 1:16.63
Alabama 1:16.82
Michigan 1:17.38
Indiana 1:16.93
Cal 1:17.89

Dark Horse: Missouri quietly placed 4th at SECs with a 1:17.89, but they have an ace up their sleeve in Michael Chadwick. The Tigers have a solid supporting cast around him, but he needs to show up and in a much bigger way than he did at SECs. They were a touch faster at their November taper meet (1:17.54), suggesting that they may have trained through SECs.

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The only team where you must say “barring DQs”


Add Stanford women to that list


Well off course this title must says “barring DQs”. NC State has way much depth and to talent too not win this race. I can definitily see NC State having 4 guys going under sub 19.0.


Texas seed of 1:17 is definitely a training artifact… Can’t wait to see no one DQ’d this year and how it turns out… I think whoever wins must have all four go well under :19 ea. Let’s see…


‘barring DQs’ is like saying ‘barring NCSU from this event’…..

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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