Duke vs UNC (Men’s & Women’s Dual)
- Saturday, February 2nd
- Koury Natatorium, Chapel Hill, NC
- Short Course Yards
- Duke – 165.5
- North Carolina – 134.5
- Duke – 155
- North Carolina – 145
ACC rivals UNC and Duke faced off at UNC on Saturday, February 2nd, with the Blue Devils downing the Tarheels for the 3rd straight year. Both teams had their share of quick times, as we approach the ACC Championships in just a matter of weeks, but it was Duke that held the upper hand, winning the women’s meet 165.5-134.5, and the men’s meet 155-145.
Alyssa Marsh wasted no time getting off to a fast start, posting a stunningly fast 22.84 fly split to help lead the women’s 200 medley relay to victory. Marsh was helped by backstroker Maddie Hess (24.99), breaststroker Halle Morris (28.30), and freestyler Hunter Aitchison (22.50), for a final time of 1:38.63. UNC breastsroker Caroline Hauder threw down an impressive 27.71 split to help the Tarheels to a close finish (1:38.98). The men’s medley relay was actually even closer, with breaststroker Sterling Smith giving UNC the biggest advantage over Duke with his 23.99 split. Duke flyer Miles Williams made up a big chunk of that deficit with his 20.98 split. UNC ultimately beat out Duke, 1:27.41 to 1:27.67.
Duke earned a 1-2 punch in the women’s 200 free, where Melissa Pish, a freshman and the school record-holder, took the race in 1:46.89. Fellow freshman Easop Lee came in 2nd, posting a 1:48.21. Miles Williams was back in action in the men’s 200 free, taking the event with a 1:37.97. Duke also grabbed a 1-2 finish here, with Sheldon Boboff coming in 2nd with a 1:38.53.
UNC had a handle on the breastroke events, taking all 4 of the men’s and women’s breast races. Hauder won the women’s 100 breast with a 1:02.14, while teammate Lilly Higgs came in 2nd with a 1:02.57, and Allie Reiter was 3rd in 1:03.17. Those places shuffled in the 200 breast, where Higgs won (2:16.58), Reiter was 2nd (2:17.64), and Hauder was 3rd (2:19.01). Valdas Abaliksta took the men’s 100 breast and 200 breast. In the 100, Abaliksta swam a 53.71, while teammate Sterling Smith came in 2nd with a 54.17. Abaliksta then won the 200 breast with a 2:00.39.
Alyssa Marsh went on to win the 50 free by a large margin, posting a 22.45 to be the only swimmer under 23 seconds. Marsh also split 49.18 on the winning 400 free relay, where Duke posted a speedy 3:18.55. Pish led off that relay in 49.71, with 3rd and 4th splits by Aitchison (50.38) and Hess (49.28), respectively. Kylie Jordan took the women’s 100 fly for Duke, swimming a speedy 52.82.
PRESS RELEASE – DUKE:
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – In a back and forth battle that came down to the final relays, the Duke men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams came away with a pair of victories over North Carolina to cap the regular season in style Saturday at Koury Natatorium.
With both the men’s and women’s team scores tight at the final diving break, the Blue Devils received a boost from the boards and closed strong over the last few swimming events to defeat their Tobacco Road rivals for a third straight season. The 21st-ranked Duke women came away with a 165.5-134.5 victory while the Blue Devil men prevailed over the Tar Heels by a 155-145 score.
“To come here two years ago and win for the first time was huge,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We know how big a rivalry this is, and to now be in a position where we’re winning is enormous. For the last meet of the season, it’s a tremendous boost for the team. The performances today were just outstanding across the board. We told them it was going to take an absolute team effort, that every single point mattered and there’s no question that, swimming and diving, everybody stood up and did what they needed to do. Hats off to the UNC crew. They swam really tough today and it was a battle down to the last relay.”
Senior Evan Moretti and junior Nathaniel Hernandez finished one-two in both of the men’s springboard diving events and sophomore Spencer LaFata turned in a pair of exhilarating performances in the men’s 500 and 1,000-yard freestyle races, while senior Maddie Hess and freshman Cabell Ann Whitlow were both double event winners for the women’s squad. Duke claimed three of the four relay events on the day, including the crucial 400 freestyle relay races to close out the meet.
The women’s 200 medley relay of Hess, sophomore Halle Morris, junior Alyssa Marsh and senior Hunter Aitchison dropped a season-best time of 1:38.63 to kick off the afternoon with a victory. LaFata then touched first in a thrilling men’s 1,000 freestyle race, turning in the fourth-fastest mark in program history at 9:16.84.
The top two spots in the women’s and men’s 200 freestyle went to Blue Devils as freshmen Melissa Pish(1:46.89) and Easop Lee (1:48.21) went one-two for the women and juniors Miles Williams (1:37.97) and Sheldon Boboff (1:38.53) did the same for the men. Hess and Marsh added first-place finishes in the women’s 100 backstroke (53.51) and 50 freestyle (22.45), respectively, and Duke also excelled in the women’s and men’s 200 butterfly. Whitlow clocked the second-fastest time in school history (1:56.78) to take first on the women’s side, with junior Kylie Jordan following in second (1:57.67). Another Blue Devil rookie, Matthew Whelan, was first in the men’s race (1:49.74).
Duke kept the momentum rolling after the first swimming break, as Hess (49.83), Pish (50.27) and Aitchison (50.96) swept the top three places in the women’s 100 freestyle and senior Yusuke Legard(44.61) brought home a win in the same event on the men’s side.
In the meantime, the Blue Devil divers bolstered the team scores with strong performances at the other end of the pool. Moretti (371.03) and Hernandez (364.80) placed first and second in the men’s one-meter competition and later repeated that order of finish on the three-meter board. Senior Lizzie Fitzpatrick led the Duke women on the three-meter board in second (308.33) and was third behind a Maddi Pullinger first-place showing at the one-meter height (323.33).
After senior Max St. George recorded a victory in the men’s 200 backstroke (1:47.32), Duke’s distance swimmers made another statement. Lee claimed the women’s 500 freestyle (4:50.07) and LaFata finished strong once again for first in the men’s race (4:33.78).
“In that 500 free, Spencer and Riley [Hickman] and Zach [Washart] – that was one of the events we knew was going to be really, really tight,” Colella said. “We weren’t really sure which was it was going to go. Spencer today just really stood up and did a magnificent job, both in the 1,000 and the 500. He’s just one of many who really shined today.”
Team scores in both meets remained tight through the final break, but the Blue Devils capitalized in the women’s one-meter and men’s three-meter diving competitions, as well as in the 200 individual medley. Whitlow (2:01.24) and Jordan (2:01.71) finished one-two in the women’s race and senior Sean Tate(1:50.70) headlined a two-three-four-five showing by Duke on the men’s side. The top 400 freestyle relays of Pish, Marsh, Aitchison and Hess (3:18.55) and Williams, Legard, Nathaniel Hartley and St. George (2:56.70) secured the dual meet victories.
“We didn’t know exactly what was going to happen today,” Hess said. “We knew it was going to be really close. But we knew with our Duke family coming together, we were capable – just like the past two years. There’s always extra excitement for this meet knowing that they’re our biggest rivals, so it was fun to be a part of that again.”
With Saturday’s results, the Duke women closed the regular season with a 4-1 dual meet ledger and a 2-1 mark against ACC opponents while the Blue Devil men finished up at 3-2 (1-2).
The Blue Devils and the Tar Heels will share hosting responsibilities for next weekend’s Janis Hape Dowd Nike Invitational. Preliminaries and finals Friday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 10 will take place at North Carolina’s Koury Natatorium and both sessions Saturday, Feb. 9 will be held at Duke’s Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion.
Duke Women 165.5, North Carolina Women 134.5
Duke Men 155, North Carolina Men 145
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Women’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Maddie Hess, Halle Morris, Alyssa Marsh, Hunter Aitchison (1st), 1:38.63
Men’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Max St. George, Sean Tate, Miles Williams, Yusuke Legard (2nd), 1:27.67
Women’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Melissa Pish, Alyssa Marsh, Hunter Aitchison, Maddie Hess (1st), 3:18.55
Men’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Miles Williams, Yusuke Legard, Nathaniel Hartley, Max St. George (1st), 2:56.70
PRESS RELEASE – UNC:
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The North Carolina Tar Heels swam a hard-fought meet against the Duke Blue Devils in Saturday’s senior meet. The men’s races came down to the final few touches with the Heels falling 145-155 and the women held their own against the No. 21 Duke women, finishing 134.50-165.50.
“We anticipated that it would come down to the last couple events like it has in the past few years and it did,” head coach Rich DeSelm said. “We have to give credit to Duke for putting together a great lineup and a great strategy. There is more of the season left and after today, we have our sights set on the championship season. We have a lot to work for.”
Though North Carolina did not end the season with team wins, the senior meet had plenty of brilliant performances. The Tar Heels set 16 season bests and three new personal records to win 12 individual events and the men’s 200 medley relay against their Duke rivals.
Senior co-captain and Chapel Hill, N.C. native Noah Cairns wrapped up his Koury Natatorium career in the most fitting fashion. Cairns won the men’s 200 IM with a season-best time of 1:50.09, swam a career-best 2:02.10 in the men’s 200 breast and finished the men’s 200 fly in a season-best 1:49.98 for the runner-up finish.
“Cairns is a local product and I could not be happier for him,” DeSelm said. “I coached his dad when he was in high school so I have a long history with his family. He fought hard to get to this point. He wanted to step up for his team today and he did in a big way.”
The Tar Heels gave everything they had for their seniors in their final dual meet of 2019. Sophomores Alvin Jiang and Valdas Abaliksta each won two individual events and they bookended the men’s 200 medley relay with freshmen Sterling Smith and Tucker Burhans to clock UNC’s best time of the season (1:27.41).
Adding to the list of new lifetime bests, sophomore swimmer Nick Palmerand freshman diver Emily Grund both set personal records in one of their respective events. Palmer clocked a career-best 9:24.80 in the men’s 1000 free and Grund won the women’s three-meter board with a new career record of 350.40 points.
The women’s team even swept three events, including the 100 breast, 200 breast and 1000 free. Freshman Lilly Higgs and sophomores Allie Reiterand Carolina Hauder took the top-three spots in both women’s breaststroke events. Higgs won the 200 breast in 2:16.58 with Reiter (2:17.64) and Hauder (2:19.08) right behind and Hauder took the women’s 100 breast in 1:02.14. Higgs (1:02.57) finished second and Reiter (1:03.17) third.
In the women’s 1000 free, senior Robyn Dryer finished first (9:59.90) in her final dual meet appearance and junior Bryanna Cameron (10:04.41) and Emma Layton (10:06.41) both swam season-best times to secure the sweep.
OTHER CAROLINA HIGHLIGHTS
• Senior Maria Lohman scored a season-high 306.90 points to finish second in the women’s one-meter diving.
• Senior Tom Bilden finished the men’s 200 fly with a season-best time of 1:50.25.
• Sophomore Eli Coan swam a season-best 20.36 to win the men’s 50 free for the second-straight week.
• Sophomore Emma Layton finished second in the women’s 500 free with another season-best time of 4:54.56.
• Sophomore Tyler Hill clocked a season-best 100 free time of 45.12 for the runner-up finish.
• Freshman Thomas Bretzmann swam 9:16.93 for his best 1000 free performance of the season.
• Junior Greg Brocato tied his season-best time in the men’s 50 free, swimming 20.84.
UP NEXT: The Tar Heels and Blue Devils will split hosting responsibilities for the Janis Hape Dowd Nike Invitational from Feb. 8-10. The first (Friday) and last day (Sunday) of the three-day event will be held in North Carolina’s Koury Natatorium in Chapel Hill, N.C. and day two (Saturday) will be in Duke’s Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion in Durham, N.C.