NC State expects most of its top international students to join the team for the second semester and compete at the NCAA Championships, including former Florida Gators Kacper Stokowski and Erge Gezmis.
With the coronavirus pandemic creating lots of extra wrinkles on international travel, student visas, and on-campus living situations, international student-athletes remain a major question mark for a number of NCAA swimming & diving programs this season. But NC State confirmed that it expects the bulk of its international corps to join the team at the semester break and compete in the spring semester.
Here’s a breakdown of the big names for the Wolfpack and what we know at this point:
Out: Norgaard, Korstanje
NC State confirmed that star freshman Alexander Norgaard has deferred his enrollment and will join the team in the fall of 2021.
Norgaard is a Danish sensation who has been 14:47 in the long course 1500 meter free. That converts to roughly 14:30 in short course yards, a time that would make Norgaard an instant contender for a top-3 finish at NCAAs in the 1650 free.
We’ve also previously reported that Dutch sprinter Nyls Korstanje will miss this NCAA season. He’s remaining in the Netherlands to focus on training for a potential Olympic berth in the summer of 2021. That decision had much to do with the uncertainty of training and competition amid the coronavirus pandemic. Korstanje said he expects to return to NC State at some point in the future.
In: Stokowski, Izzo, Gezmis, Kusto
A number of top international students did not compete in NC State’s season-opening dual meet against UNC. But the program says they should return to campus for the second semester and compete at NCAAs.
Kacper Stokowski was a freshman standout for the Florida Gators back in 2019, winning the NCAA B final of the 100 back. He should join NC State for the spring semester, bringing 44.9/1:41.3 short course yards backstroking speed. The Polish national took a gap year last season to train at home for an Olympic berth.
Giovanni Izzo also took a gap year in 2019-2020 to gear up for the Olympics. The Italian sprinter was a freshman NCAA qualifier for NC State in 2019. He’s a 19.3/42.6 sprinter who should bolster the relays, especially in Korstanje’s absence.
Erge Gezmis transferred away from Florida at the same time as Stokowski did in 2019. He competed for NC State last season, qualifying for NCAAs and holding a 17th-place seed in the 200 IM, just .03 out of scoring range. He should return to NC State for his senior season of eligibility this spring. He’s been 1:41.8 in the 200 fly and 1:43.1 in the 200 IM over his career.
Rafal Kusto competed for NC State as a sophomore last season, scoring at ACCs and serving as the team’s top breaststroker on both medley relays. He’ll have some competition for that role this year from transfer Cameron Karkoska, but his 53.5/1:56.2 breaststroke speed should rejoin the NC State roster in the second semester.