2016 ACC MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
- When: Wednesday, Feb. 24 – Saturday, Feb. 27; Prelims 10AM/Finals 6PM (Eastern Time)
- Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, NC
- Defending Champion: NC State (results)
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- Streaming: watchESPN
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At this point of the ACC Championship meet two years ago, in 2014, then-sophomore Joe Bonk was anchoring the Virginia Tech 200 medley relay with a 19.06 split as they finished 3rd en route to the program’s first-ever ACC Team Championship.
Fast forward to 2016, after sitting out last year, and on this Wednesday night, Bonk’s services were not needed early by his new team, North Carolina State. They filled that spot with an 18.16 anchor split from sophomore Ryan Held at their disposal), but he still had a big swim to open the latest edition.
As the only recorded time trial swimmer from the intra-relay dead-spot during the meet’s first night, Bonk swam a 42.53 in the 100 yard freestyle. That’s a new lifetime-best for the former YMCA National Champion, marking the second time this season he’s eclipsed his personal record (for a total of .80 seconds of improvement). While it’s not an automatic-qualifying time, it is the 6th-best time in the country and well within the time that earned an invite for last year’s
Bonk will still have a scoring role to play for the Wolfpack at this meets, possibly in the 200 and 400 free relays and certainly individually in the sprint freestyle events. While North Carolina State has the deepest sprint freestyle group in the country, it will take more than just their top 4 for them to continue to claw back points after not entering any divers in that portion of the meet held last week.
This strategy, which worked for the team last year when they won the ACC title, puts the pressure on their depth chart to score in A-finals or high in B-finals beyond just the group that are swimming on 3-or-4 relays. Bonk’s early mark indicates that he’s on track to carry some of that burden later in the week.