Here are 5 Big Things we noticed on day 3 of the men’s ACC Championships:
1. Louisville crushes the day. We have been talking about Louisville having the potential to finish near the top, and they put themselves in a better position to do that today. Nolan Tesone earned a third place finish in the 400 IM, then they really took off. Pedro Coutinho went from 8th seed to champion in the 100 fly, leading a field that included two Louisville teammates in Aaron Young and Josh Quallen. The Cardinals lost last year’s NCAA champion in the 200 free, Joao De Lucca, to graduation, and didn’t take first in the 200 free tonight, they did have three swimmers in the A final, picking up a lot of points. Thomas Dahlia upset Duke’s Peter Kropp to become the conference champion in the 100 breast. In the last individual event of the evening, the 100 back, Grigory Tarasevich picked up yet another Cardinal victory. Finally, as tends to happen when your medley relay includes the winners of each of the stroke events, Louisville beat out NC State for a victory in the 400 medley relay to end the evening. Added up, Louisville scored 431 points today. With all diving points included, that puts them in fourth place, while the official results have them in third.
2. NC State sweeps the 200 free, and takes the lead. One of the stories of this meet has been NC State trying to show that they are more than just a sprint school. While they came up a bit short tonight the stroke events, they continued to show their dominance in the freestyles, as they took the top three places in the 200 free tonight, led 50 free winner Simonis Bilis.
Regardless of whether or not you include all the diving points, or wait (as you would see in the live results tally) to add in the platform diving, NC State now has a solid lead. Although not quite as dominant as Louisville, they still earned 401 points today. If you include all the diving points, that puts them 46 points ahead of the Virginia Tech H2okies. Tomorrow will test whether they can hold their own in the stroke 200s, or if Louisville’s dominance in the 100s tonight can carry them to victory, or if UNC or Virginia Tech can come up big tomorrow to pull ahead.
3. ACC depth in the 100 fly. While Jack Conger and Joseph Schooling got a lot of attention tonight for both going under 45 seconds in the 100 fly, the A-final for the ACC tonight did something that was rather noteworthy collectively: every swimmer finished under the 2014 NCAA invite time of 46.56. While all the swimmers who made the A-final at the SEC champs a few weeks ago in this event finished under that time in either preliminaries or finals, it is still not something you see all the time. This shows how much deeper and faster this event is getting, and could be a portent of a big drop in the time it takes to get a NCAA invite this year. It’s also worth noting that last year, only one ACC swimmer got an evening swim in the 100 fly at NCAA’s.
4. Newell steps up for the Wolfpack. A captain does not necessarily have to be the fastest swimmer, but you do want someone who is going to step up when it is time. NC State’s senior captain John Newell has been that guy this week. First, he won a swim-off after tying for 24th place in the 50 free. He then dropped another tenth of a second that evening, to actually win the C final after barely making it in. Tonight in the 100 fly he did not have quite as much to worry about, easily making it into the B final after swimming 46.87 this morning, but again he finished at the front of his heat, winning the B final with a .2 second drop from this morning, helping put NC State on top.
5. Peter Kropp’s disqualification in the 100 breast. Duke sophomore Peter Kropp came into today with the sixth-fastest time in the NCAA this year in the 100 breast, with all five of the times ahead of him coming from the SEC Championship meet, and was probably the consensus favorite to win this event. He took the top seed this morning, touched second in the finals, but ultimately was disqualified. The results say his violation was a “downward butterfly kick,” which could mean he took a dolphin kick before his hands separated on his pullout, something for which he’s drawn disqualifications before. In case you’re confused about this, while FINA and NFHS (the body that governs high school swimming in the US) have amended their rules to allow the dolphin kick to occur at any point prior to the first breaststroke kick, the NCAA did not change their rules for this season.