Gezmis, Hansson, Izzo and Kusto Return as Wolfpack Rolls Tar Heels

by Robert Gibbs 0

January 16th, 2021 ACC, College, News, Previews & Recaps

NC State v. North Carolina

  • Friday, January 15, 2021
  • Casey Aquatic Center, Chapel Hill, NC
  • SCY
  • Dual Meet Format
  • Full Results 
  • Scores
    • Men: NC State 173, UNC 127
    • Women: NC State 188, UNC 109

The NC State women (#5 in our first round of power rankings) and #9 NC State men once again swept the UNC Tar Heels, winning the vast majority of events, but the bigger story, at least when looking towards championship season, may have been the return of four championship-impact international swimmers who spent the fall in their respective countries: Erge Gezmis, Sophie Hansson, Giovanni Izzo, and Rafal Kusto.

Hansson scored 84 points and swam on three NC State relays at 2020 ACCs. She also scored 32 points at the 2019 NCAA Championships, taking 3rd in both breaststroke events. At last year’s ACCs, Gezmis scored 72 points and Kusto scored 22 points and swam breast on the Wolfpack’s medley relays. Izzo redshirted last year, but scored 55.5 at 2019 ACCs, and should provide a big boost to NC State’s relays.

Yesterday, Hansson made an immediate impact by splitting 27.73 on NC State’s ‘A’ medley relay, which won in 1:37.96, then winning the 100 breast in 1:01.07, and taking 2nd to teammate Andrea Podmanikova in the 200 breast, 2:12.91 to 2:12.98.

Izzo won the 50 free in 20.28, took 4th in the 100 free, swam a leg on the Wolfpack’s winning 2:56.31, and most interestingly, actually swam a 22.08 leadoff on NC State’s medley relay. The graduation of Coleman Stewart has left the Wolfpack a bit thin on backstroke, but they should get a big boost in that department if 21.0/44.9 backstroker Kacper Stowkowski does arrive this semester from his native Poland. Stowkowski swam for Florida a freshman in 2018-2019, announced his plans to transfer to NC State but sit out the 2019-2020. As of last month, NC State still expected Stowkowski to return to the States this semester.

Looking beyond the returners, junior Kylee Alons had a great day of racing, anchoring NC State’s medley relay in 22.01, and then winning all three of her individual events. Alons swept the sprint freestyles, going 22.62 to win the 50 free, then returning after the first break to win the 100 free in 48.94 as the only woman to break 50.0. Alons wrapped up her racing with a 52.66 win in the 100 fly.

Freshman Abby Arens took 2nd to Alons in that race with a 54.30, but she picked up two individual wins of her own. She won the 200 fly by over two seconds with a 1:59.45, and then, right after racing the 100 fly, won the 200 IM with a 2:01.30.

Ross Dant led the NC State men with two individual wins, as the distance ace won the 1000 free by over 12 seconds, touching in 9:04.41, then came back at the end of the session to win the 500 free in 4:23.55.

The NC State women won every event but the 400 free relay, but the Tar Heel men did manage to grab four victories. They were led by senior Valdas Abaliksta, who swept the breaststroke events, touching just ahead of Kusto in both cases. Abaliksta was the only man under 54 in the 100, beating Kusto 53.92 to 54.06. In the 200 breast, Abaliksta powered past Kusto on the final 50 to win 1:58.29 to 1:58.84.

North Carolina Release

RALEIGH, N.C. – The 20th ranked North Carolina men’s swimming & diving team won four events, while the 18th ranked women picked up a victory in the 400 freestyle relay at NC State on Friday night from Casey Aquatic Center. The Tar Heel divers won in convincing fashion with the men running away with a 32-6 win, while the women were nearly identical with a 31-7 victory.

The sixth-ranked NC State men came away with a 173-127 victory, while the fourth-ranked Wolfpack women earned a 188-109 win.

Valdas Abaliksta won both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events with times of 53.92 and 1:58.29, respectively. Tucker Burhans earned Carolina’s first win of the night in the 100 back (48.61), while Boyd Poelke’s time of 47.38 won the 100 butterfly event.

UNC’s 400 free relay squad of Sophie Lindner, Grace Countie, Emma Lowe and Brieanna Romney touched home in 3:22.53.

The second-place finishes on the women’s side included Lindner in the 100 backstroke (53.93) and 200 backstroke (1:55.45), Amy Dragelin in the 200 freestyle (1:50.11), Ellie Vannote in the 200 butterfly (2:01.74) and Countie in the 100 freestyle (48.94).

Poelke was runner-up in the 200 fly (1:46.61). The men also received second-place finishes from Jack Messenger in the 50 freestyle (20.43), Tomas Sungalia in the 100 freestyle (44.62) and Chris Thames in the 200 backstroke (1:47.28).

Carolina dominated the diving portion of the evening. Freshman Aranza Vazquez remains unbeaten since joining Carolina with victories in both the 1- and 3-meter events, while Anton Down-Jenkins score of 418.20 in the one meter is the second best mark in program history. Alex Hart won the 3-meter event with a career best score of 393.75, the eighth best figure by a Tar Heel men’s diver.

Carolina returns to the pool next week to host Virginia on Friday at 4 p.m.

1. Aranza Vazquez, 330.45
2. Emily Grund, 289.65
4. Taylor Hockenberry, 221.03

1. Anton Down-Jenkins, 418.20
2. Alex Hart, 349.28
3. Fabian Stepinski, 340.05
6. Connor Watling, 266.40

1. Aranza Vazquez, 355.20
2. Emily Grund, 293.25
3. Taylor Hockenberry, 250.73
6. Paige Burrell, 189.45

1. Alex Hart, 393.75
2. Anton Down-Jenkins, 364.65
3. Fabian Stepinski, 353.85
6. Connor Watling, 276.53

NC State Release

RALEIGH – The Wolfpack extended its sweep streak over rival North Carolina to seven-straight duals as both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams defeated the Tar Heels on Friday evening.

The No. 4 Wolfpack women defeated the 18th-ranked Tar Heels 188-109, and the No. 6 Pack men rounded out the night with a 173-127 victory over No. 20 UNC.

NC State’s women absolutely dominated the meet as they posted the fastest time in every single swimming event contested on the night. The Pack men dropped just four races on the way to their victory.

In total, the Pack swept the podium in six total races, and four members of the squad picked up multiple top finishes.

Junior Kylee Alons put on a clinic and finished an incredible triple with victories in all three of her individual events. She kicked off the evening with back-to-back wins in the 50-yard freestyle (22.62) and the 100-yard freestyle (48.94) before closing her outing with the 100-yard butterfly win (52.66).

The Pack also dominated the distance free events yet again as it went 1-2-3 on the men’s and women’s sides of both the 500-yard freestyle and the 1,000-yard freestyle. Kate Moore and Ross Dant won gold in both of those respective races.

Abby Arens added a multi-victory night, as the freshman took first place in the 200-yard butterfly (1:59.45) and the 200-yard individual medley (2:01.30).

The Wolfpack women also swept the 200-yard breaststroke with the attack from Andrea Podmanikova(2:12.91), Sophie Hansson (2:12.98) and Julia Poole (2:15.43). The Pack men’s other podium sweep came in the last individual race of the night, as Noah Bowers (1:50.63), Michael Moore (1:50.69) and Erge Gezmis (1:51.05) went 1-2-3.

NC State also saw some familiar faces return to the pool as Hansson, Rafal Kusto, Gezmis and Giovanni Izzo made their season debuts after spending the fall semester back home in Europe. Hansson (100-yard breaststroke, 1:01.07) and Izzo (50-yard freestyle, 20.28) each picked up a top finish on the night.

For the divers, Bayne Bennett posted another NCAA Zones cut on three-meter (337.65), and Clara Tateplaced third on one-meter with a season-best score of 228.53.

NC State kicked off the meet with first-place finishes in both 200-yard medley relay races. Katharine Berkoff (24.88), Hansson (27.73), Sirena Rowe (23.34) and Alons (22.01) combined for a 1:37.96 time, and Izzo (22.08), Kusto (24.01), Luke Sobolewski (21.19) and Hunter Tapp (19.69) went 1:26.97.

Luke Miller (44.16), Tapp (43.19), Izzo (44.15) Noah Henderson (44.81) also won in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 2:56.31.

NC State will round out its double-meet weekend with the quick trip over to Duke on Saturday. The meet, which will be swimming events only, is set for an 11 a.m. start from inside the Taishoff Natatorium.



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