Douglass hits 2:08 200 Breast, Men Come Down to Final Relay, as UVA Sweeps UNC

by Robert Gibbs 15

January 22nd, 2021 ACC, College, National, News

Virginia v. North Carolina

  • January 22, 2021
  • SCY
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Dual Meet Format
  • Full Results
  • Final Scores
    • Men: UVA 154, UNC 144
    • Women: UVA 174, UNC 121

The University of Virginia Cavaliers are on the road this weekend and taking on a pair of ACC opponents, swimming at UNC today and NC State tomorrow. In today’s action, the Cavalier  women (#1 in our last power rankings) took down the Tar Heels (HM) 174 to 121. The men’s side was closer, coming down to the final relay, but #13 Virginia held off UNC, 154-144.

Women’s Recap

The Cavaliers opened up a lead in the very first event that they’d never relinquish, as both their ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams touched before the Tar Heels’ two squads. Reilly Tiltmann (24.95), Anna Keating (27.98), Kate Douglass (23.19) and Alex Walsh (21.92) got to the wall first with a 1:38.04, although the ‘B’ relay got slightly faster first half splits from Caroline Gmelich (24.79) and Alexis Wenger (27.41), en route to a 1:39.08 finish, while UNC’s ‘A’ relay touched in 1:39.65.

Maddie Donohoe kept UVA moving along with a 10:21.01 victory in the 1000 free, although she was pushed by freshman teammate Quinn Schaedler, who touched just behind at 10:21.25. Donohoe would return toward the end of the session to complete the distance sweep with a 4:52.02 win in the 500 free.

Two other Cavaliers doubled up. Douglass won the 200 free by over 2.5s with a 1:46.51. In the second half of the session, she dropped a 2:08.26 200 breast, winning that event by over three seconds against a trio of teammates who all have been 2:06 or 2:07 this season. Virginia is nearing “2015 Texas men 100 fly” level of depth in this event, as they have four women who have been under 2:08 this season, plus Douglass, who went 2:05.89 at last year’s ACC Championships. It took a 2:08.42 to make the A-final at 2019 NCAAs, so the Cavaliers could conceivably put five “up” in this event. Of course, there’s no guarantee that all five women will swim it in the postseason; Douglass, for instance, also currently holds the fastest time in the nation in the 100 free.

Abby Harter swept the butterfly events with times of 54.31 and 1:58.40 as the third Cavalier woman to earn a double. UVA also got individual wins from Ella Nelson (4:08.14 in the 400 IM), Alex Walsh (1:01.27 in the 100 breast), and Paige Madden (50.13 in the 100 free).

UNC kept things from getting to out of hand by playing to their strengths, namely backstroke and diving. Grace Countie stopped UVA’s initial winning streak by taking the 100 back in 53.11, a time which appears to be her fastest in-season time ever. Sophie Lindner completed the Tar Heel sweep of that discipline later in the session with a 1:56.19 win in the 200 back, and Heidi Lowe added a 23.33 win the 50 free.

The Tar Heels’ lone individual double came on the diving boards, as Aranza Vazquez swept the two events with scores of 337.50/390.08.

With the meet in hand, Virginia left its strongest sprinters on the bench for the final event, the 200 free relay, and UNC took that in 1:31.46, getting a 22.72 leadoff from Countie and a 22.59 split on the third leg by Lowe.

Men’s Recap

It was a much closer race on the men’s side, as the two teams battled back and forth over the course of the session.

UNC took the first event, the 200 medley relay. Tucker Burhans (22.35), Valdas Abaliksta (24.07) and Boyd Poelke (20.85) all outsplit their UVA counterparts, handing anchor Jack Messenger over a one second lead heading into the final leg. UVA’s Matt Brownstead closed hard with a speedy 19.12, but Messenger’s 19.76 was more than enough, as UNC touched first, 1:27.03 to 1:27.41.

The two teams split the next events right down the middle. UVA’s Jack Walker won the 1000 free in 9:19.63, then UNC countered with 2020 ACC bronze medalist Tomas Sungalia‘s 1:38.02 victory in the 200 free.

UVA came right back, as Justin Grender won the 100 back in 48.23. Then UNC took the next two events, courtesy of a speedy 53.34 in the 100 breast by Valdas Abaliksta, the 2020 ACC runner-up, and then a 1:46.96 by freshman Boyd Poelke.

Brownstead put the Cavaliers back in the win column with a 19.91 in the 50 free, and UNC led 67-64 heading into the first break.

UNC kept piling up the points during the diving events, as Anton Down-Jenkins led 1-4 sweeps in both the 1m and 3m.

It turned out to be a day of repeat winners, as five of the six men who won events in the first half of the meet doubled up the second half.

UVA got the second half going with back-to-back wins, thanks to Brownstead’s 44.47 in the 100 free and Grender’s 1:44.91 in the 200 back. The two sides would alternate victories in the remainder of the individual events. Abaliksta completed the breaststroke sweep with a 1:56.86 in the 200, then Walker finished the distance sweep with a 4:27.06 in the 500 free, the event in which he was the 2020 ACC runner-up, followed by Poelke wrapping the fly sweep with a 1:46.96 in that 200. UVA’s Casey Storch took the last individual event, the 400 IM, with a 3:50.97, giving UVA the narrowest of leads, 141-140, as the two teams prepared for the final event, the 200 free relay.

Presumably amped by the moment, Brownstead improved on his individual 50 free time to lead off in 19.73, and while UNC kept it reasonably close, August Lamb (20.03), Konnar Klinksiek (19.99) and Grender (19.66) combined for a 1:19.41 to take the event and seal the meet victory. UNC got a pair of sub-20 splits from Messenger (19.81) and Sungalia (19.73), en route to a 1:20.09.

North Carolina Release

Courtesy of UNC Athletics

CHAPEL HILL – The University of North Carolina hosted the University of Virginia at Koury Natatorium Friday night for the first home meet of the new year. The Tar Heels put up a tough fight but fell to the Cavaliers, the women falling 174-121 and the men by a narrow 154-144 margin.

“I’m extremely proud of our team and the way they competed today,” said head coach of the Tar Heels, Mark Gangloff. “Going into the meet, we talked about UVA being one of the best teams in the country. During our post-meet team meeting, I looked at our team and said to them, ‘If we can look over there and say they are one of the best teams in the country and we almost beat them, then why can’t we say the same about our team?’ Ultimately we can say that we are and that we can compete with almost anyone.”

The Tar Heel women finished the night with multiple podium finishes. Grace Countie placed first in the 100-yard backstroke (53.11), and Heidi Lowe and Brieanna Romney tag-teamed first and second in the 50-yard freestyle (23.33, 23.47). Similarly, Sophie Lindner and Amy Dragelinfinished first and second in the 200-yard backstroke (1:56.19, 1:59.41).

Additional second-place finishes for Carolina included Countie in the 100-yard freestyle (50.40), Addison Smith in the 500-yard freestyle (4:54.77) and Ellie Vannote in the 100-yard butterfly (54.92).

UNC’s women finished the night on a high note with a team of Countie, Lindner, Lowe and Romney finishing first in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:31.45.

Carolina’s men’s team had an outstanding night, beginning with a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay by Tucker Burhans, Valdas Abaliksta, Boyd Poelke and Jack Messenger (1:27.03).

Like the women, the Tar Heel men also had an abundance of top-three finishes, including Abaliksta placing first in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke (53.34, 1:56.86) and Poelke came in first in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly (47.11, 1:46.96).

Tomas Sungaila also performed well, placing second in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle (45.07, 1:38.02). On top of that, Patrick Hussey finished second in the 1000-yard freestyle (9:19.86), Eli Coan came in second in the 50-yard freestyle (20.26), and Dimitrios Dimitriouplaced second in the 500-yard freestyle (4:27.18).

“I’m really proud of all of our divers tonight and this whole season,” said head diving coach, Yaidel Gamboa. “We are doing much more with less, and that’s what this unprecedented season is about. We had a lot of strong performances tonight, and the most exciting thing is that we still can and will do better.”

The Tar Heel divers also brought their game Friday night. For the women, Aranza Vazquezplaced first (337.50, 390.08) and Emily Grund placed second (307.73, 356.33) in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. In an outstanding feat, Vazquez, a first-year, broke team records in both the 1- and 3-meter events with these performances.

The men also competed phenomenally, sweeping first through fourth in every event. Anton Down-Jenkins (368.70, 414.30) placed first in both events followed by Fabian Stepinski(337.90), Alex Hart (335.03) and Connor Watling (273.98) in the 1-meter. In the 3-meter, Hart placed second (399.75), followed by Stepinski (378.00) and Watling (326.70).

UNC returns to Koury Natatorium on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. to host South Carolina.

Virginia Release

Courtesy of UVA Athletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Virginia men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams swept North Carolina in a dual meet on Friday (Jan. 22) at the Koury Natatorium.

The No. 10 Virginia men’s team overcame a 10-point deficit in the final two events of the night to defeat the No. 20 Tar Heels 154-144, while the No. 2 Cavalier women won 174-121 against No. 24 North Carolina.

The Women’s Meet

The women’s team won 10 events during the competition with sophomore Maddie Donohoe (Annandale, Va.), sophomore Kate Douglass (Pelham, N.Y.) and freshman Abby Harter (Broadlands, Va.) each winning a pair of individual races.

The Cavaliers opened the meet with the 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Reilly Tiltmann (Brookfield, Wisc.), freshman Anna Keating (Vienna, Va.), Douglass and freshman Alex Walsh (Nashville, Tenn.) recording a time of 1:38.04 to win by over a second.

In addition to her win with the 200-yard medley relay team, Douglass swam a season-best time of 1:46.51 in the 200-yard freestyle to place first in the event, before following with the top time in the 200-yard breaststroke at 2:08.26.

Donohoe won both distance freestyle events, turning in a time of 4:53.02 in the 500-yard freestyle and a time of 10:21.01 in the 1000-yard freestyle.

Harter dominated the butterfly events, going 54.31 and 1:58.40 in the 100 and 200-yard butterfly, respectively.

Virginia also recorded wins from freshman Alex Walsh in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.27, senior Paige Madden (Mobile, Ala.) in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.13 and sophomore Ella Nelson (Nashville, Tenn.) in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:08.14.

The Men’s Meet

Junior Justin Grender (Cincinnati, Ohio), sophomore Jack Walker (Charlotte, N.C.) and freshman Matt Brownstead (Port Matilda, Pa.) aided in the Cavaliers’ win over North Carolina as all three swimmers recorded wins in more than one event.

Grender swept the 100 and 200-yard backstroke with a time of 48.23 and 1:44.91, respectively.

Walker recorded a season-best time of 9:19.63 in the 1000-yard freestyle before swimming a time of 4:27.06 in the 500-yard freestyle.

Brownstead continued to dominate the sprint freestyle events. He won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 19.91 and the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 44.47.

Storch won the last individual event of the night, the 400-yard individual medley, by over two seconds. He swam a time of 3:50.97 to help the Cavaliers close the gap on the Tar Heels.

Brownstead, sophomore August Lamb (Charlottesville, Va.), sophomore Konnar Klinksiek (San Antonio, Texas) and Grender captured the fastest 200-yard freestyle time of the meet at 1:19.41 to secure the win for the Cavaliers.

Quote from Todd DeSorbo

“Proud of our teams’ fight tonight on the road against a strong UNC team,” head coach Todd DeSorbo said. “We knew they would provide a great competition and our team stepped up to the challenge. The ladies stepped on the gas from the first relay and didn’t look back. The men had a battle down to the wire, coming down to the last relay. It’s a position our men have been in before so they know how to close a meet with great IMs and a finishing free relay. We had a lot of great performances overall. Not much time to think about this meet as we turn around and race at NC State tomorrow morning. Looking forward to another great battle!”


Virginia will return to action on Saturday (Jan. 23) as the teams head to Raleigh to face NC State in an 11 a.m. dual meet.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

The tarheel men are definitely on the come up. A 7th place finish at ACCs last year and now on the verge of beating UVA. With their impressive 2021 class, I feel like they could be a top 3 team very soon.

Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

While the Tarheel men fought great, you have to keep in mind that as teams are coming out of winter training, they might not be in the same place. UNC started classes this week, but UVA has another two weeks of nothing other than swimming

3 years ago

Looks like UNC men are on the rise

3 years ago

390?? On 3m????? Yeesh

3 years ago

Is the 20.84 by Madden accurate on the B medley?

Robert Gibbs
Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

I’m assuming not, since it had the fly leg at 26-something, IIRC.

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

The fact that you’re even debating that time just showcases what we all think she can do.

Reply to  Swammer
3 years ago

Well, I know she’s not a sprinter was just making sure.

Reply to  Swammer
3 years ago

Paige madden is REALLY good but no one thinks she can do that in the 50

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

Probably not. Lexi Cuomo is a :51 flyer

Reply to  Robert Gibbs
3 years ago

Dang lol

Reply to  Robert Gibbs
3 years ago

Watch ESPN has the replay. First hour is diving, then the swim meet…..

Inclusive Parent
Reply to  Robert Gibbs
3 years ago

You just need to go forward about an hour before the swimming starts.

About Robert Gibbs