Virginia v. NC State
- January 23, 2021
- Casey Aquatic Center, Raleigh, NC
- Dual Meet Format
- Full Results
- Scores: Virginia 153, NC State 144
When two of top teams in the nation face each other, even in a mid-season dual meet, it’s fair to expect a bunch of fast, tight races, and today’s contest between the #1 Virginia Cavaliers and the #5 NC State Wolfpack (December Power Rankings) did not disappoint, full of fast swims and tight races from the very first event of the day until the last.
The fun began in the opening event, the 200 medley relay. Katharine Berkoff staked the Wolfpack to an early lead with a 24.28 leadoff, with UVA almost half a second behind after Caroline Gmelich’s 24.70. The Cavaliers took a narrow lead after Alexis Wenger outsplit Sophie Hansson, 26.79 to 27.34. NC State then got a massive 22.89 fly split from Sirena Rowe, while UVA fell behind after a 23.34 leg from Kate Douglass. The two anchors swam nearly the exact same times, with Kylee Alons going 21.93 for NC State and Alex Walsh giving UVA a 21.91. as the Wolfpack won 1:36.44 to 1:36.74, setting a new pool record.
Those are some smoking fast times for this event, as only four teams have been under 1:36.85 this season. UVA currently holds the fastest time in the nation with a 1:34.35, with NC State 2nd in 1:34.86.
In the first individual event of the day, the 1000 free, UVA’s Paige Madden got out early and hung on to touch first, with teammate Maddie Donohoe right behind her. However, as official results rolled into Meet Mobile, they showed that both women had DQ’d, something you rarely see in a distance free event, and that NC State had secured a 1-3 sweep, led by Kate Moore’s 9:52.79. The broadcast team revealed later in the meet the the two Cavaliers had each been disqualified for having swum in the wrong lanes. That resulted in a massive point swing, as NC State gained 10 points and UVA lost 13 points, a net change of 23.
We’re not sure if Madden found out about that DQ in the next ten minutes, but if she did, it would explain how she swam like a woman on a mission in the very next event, the 200 free, where she opened up a body-length lead early on, and ended up winning by nearly two seconds with a time of 1:45.75. Madden has the fastest time in the NCAA this season with a 1:42.39 from November.
NC State quickly back into the win column, as Berkoff outdeuled Walsh in the 100 back. Berkoff touched in 52.26, setting a new pool record, while Walsh took 2nd in 52.83. Berkoff went 50.40 in December, the fastest time in the nation this season, while Walsh sits at #9 with her 51.83.
Both squads are deep in the breaststroke, and as expected the 100 breast resulted in another close race. This time, it was a UVA swimmer who got her hand on the wall first, as Wenger touched just ahead of Hansson, 59.92 to 1:00.26.
The close races continued into the break. UVA’s Abby Harter led the 200 fly for about 197 yards, but NC State’s Abby Arens surged past Harter on just the final few strokes to take the win, 1:58.33 to 1:58.38. NC State made it two in a row as Alons won the 50 free just ahead of Douglass, 22.47 to 22.58. Douglass holds the top time in the nation with a 21.41, while Alons sits at #4 with a 21.90.
During the break, Virginia got a points boost, thanks to a 1-3 sweep on the 1m diving event, led by Jenn Bell‘s 249.83. But it was still either team’s meet heading into the second half. After the break, NC State kept rolling as Alons competed the sprint sweep, winning the 100 free 48.85 to 49.63 over Douglass.
Next up was the 200 back, featuring a rematch between Berkoff and Walsh. This time, it was Walsh who came out on top, as the Cavalier freshman won with a 1:53.26, setting a pool record and putting up the 10th-fastest time in the nation this season. Berkoff, who’s currently #3 in the nation with a 1:50.20, finished exactly two seconds behind Walsh at 1:55.26.
Unsurprisingly, the 200 breast turned into another great race. UVA’s Wenger looked to be in control for almost the whole race, but Hansson fired up the afterburner on the last 25 and surged ahead with the final few strokes to win 2:11.98 to 2:12.16.
The Cavaliers roared back with a 1-2 finish in the 500 free. This time, Madden touched first, with a 4:45.78, while Donohoe touched 2nd in 4:49.71, while NC State’s Moore took 3rd in 4:52.22. Heading into the final break, Alons won her 3rd event over the night, taking the 100 fly over Douglass, 53.04 to 53.17. That marked the third individual matchup of the day for the two sprint stars, with Alons coming out on top in all three races.
With another diving win by Bell factored in, NC State led 131-130 with two events to go, the 200 IM and the 400 free relay. Walsh again came up big, using a strong freestyle leg to hold off NC State’s Julia Poole, taking the win in 1:58.71 and setting another pool record.
With the individual racing complete, UVA held a 4-point lead, essentially meaning that whoever won the final relay would take the meet. At this point, most of each team’s top sprint stars had already swum four events, meaning that neither team was trotting out its optimal 400 free relay lineup.
NC State got off to an early lead, thanks to Berkoff’s 50.14 leadoff leg and Heather MacCausland following with a 49.19, giving the Wolfpack over a one second lead at the halfway point. UVA had led off with Reilly Tiltmann (50.57) and Cuomo swam the 2nd leg in 49.72, then Kyla Valls narrowed the gap with a 49.31 against Rowe’s 49.95. With the race, and the meet outcome, coming down to the anchor leg, distance stars Madden and Moore would square off for the third and final race of the day. Madden outsplit Moore by over a second, 49.07 to 50.12, as the Cavaliers won with a 3:18.67 to NC State’s 3:19.40.
Full results and team releases will be added when available.