Returning Conference Points: NC State Poised for 7th-Straight ACC Men’s Title

The 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled in the coronavirus pandemic – but the virus can’t stop our pre-season coverage for the 2021 campaign. We’re running through a comprehensive preview of each of the Power-5 conferences in Division I, compiling returning conference points and tracking transfers and incoming recruits.

2020 Lookback

Despite losing a lot of star power, NC State cruised to its 6th-straight conference title, powered by sophomore Nyls Korstanje, who won the 50 and 100 freestyles, and senior Coleman Stewart, who took both backstrokes and came within in a tenth of a second of winning the 100 fly. Those two also powered both of the Wolfpack’s winning relays, the 200 medley and the 400 free. Meanwhile, senior James Brady topped off his final ACCs with a win in the 3m diving event.

NC State led essentially wire-to-wire, but it was a much closer battle for 2nd, where Louisville and UVA dueled it out. Ultimately, Louisville’s DQ in the very first event, the 200 medley, proved to make the difference, as the Cavaliers topped the Cardinals by 22.5 points. Louisville took more events, winning the 800 free relay and the 400 medley relay, junior Nick Albiero won both butterfly events, junior Evgenii Somov swept the breaststrokes, and sophomore Colton Paulson took the 200 free. Freshman Abdelrah Sameh of Egypt didn’t win any events, but bolstered the Cardinals’ sprint crew with a 2nd place finish in the 50 free and an A-final appearance in the 100 free.

Virginia’s didn’t win as many events as did Louisville, but their depth came through, as they had multiple events where they had three A-finalists. The Cavaliers’ two victories came from an IM sweep by senior Ted Schubert. Their freestyle-deep freshman class put up 256 points, highlighted by Jack Walker‘s 2nd placed in the 500 free and walk-on August Lamb‘s pair of 19.0 relay splits.

Virginia Tech earned a 4th place finish, powered largely by the butterfly duo of Antani Ivanov and Blake Manoff. Florida State didn’t win as many events as they did in 2018, but they did touch first in the 200 free relay for the second year in a row, ultimately finishing nine points ahead of Notre Dame for 5th. Notre Dame’s distance crew propelled them to a 6th-place finish. Junior Zach Yeadon swept the 500 free and the 1650 free, while freshman Jack Hoagland added three top-3 finishes across the 500 free, 400 IM, and 1650.

Returning Points for 2021

Team Returning Individual Points % Returning Individual Points
Returning Relay Legs
Louisville 706 85% 15/20
NC State 642 67% 11/20
Virginia Tech 634 98% 19/20
Virginia 577 69% 14/20
Notre Dame 387.5 66% 13/20
UNC 351.5 90% 19/20
Florida State 328.5 62% 15/20
Georgia Tech 256 85% 20/20
Pitt 173 59% 12/20
Miami 165 84%
Duke 83 38% 12/20
Boston College 4 100% 17/20

 

Scorers By Team

Teams are listed in their 2020 conference finish order. Athletes are listed with their year as of the current 2019-2020 season, not their year for the 2020-2021 season.

NC State (642)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Korstanje, Nyls SO 91
Dant, Ross FR 75
Knowles, Eric JR 75
Gezmis, Erge JR 72
Brown, Zachary SO 57
Henderson, Noah FR 45
Sobolewski, Luk JR 40
Bowers, Noah FR 31
Wiltsey, Curtis SO 30
Bennett, Bayne FR 28
Tapp, Hunter FR 24
Johnson, Jacob JR 23
Kusto, Rafal SO 22
Kiesler, Gil JR 16
O’Brien, Patric FR 13

Virginia (577)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Storch, Casey SO 75
Walker, John FR 57
Schilling, Samu JR 55
Conway, Sean FR 55
Barnum, Keefer JR 54
Greenberg, Jake SO 39
Grender, Justin SO 39
Wright, Jack FR 37
Lamb, Augustus FR 35
Otto, Matthew JR 31
Creedon, Walker SO 28
Klinksiek, Konn FR 26
Edwards, Maxwel FR 23
Fong, Joshua FR 11
Gyenis, Daniel FR 9
Schutte, Henry FR 3

Louisville (706)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Albiero, Nicola JR 91
Somov, Evgenii JR 90
Whyte, Mitchell SO 69
Paulson, Colton SO 65
Sameh, Abdelrah FR 65
Sos, Daniel JR 56
Pinto, Daniel JR 52
Sofianidis, Nik JR 42
Curley, Hayden SO 35
Gur, Kivanc SO 30
Deliyiannis, Mi JR 28
Eastman, Michae SO 27
Smith, Theodore JR 16
Sneden, Adam FR 13
Cummings, Tanne SO 11
Geovanni, Sky FR 9
Sibirtsev, Ilia FR 7

Virginia Tech (634)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Ivanov, Antani SO 73
Tornqvist, Samu JR 67
Stone, Lane JR 64
Zawadzki, Noah SO 60
Dal Maso, Filip SO 56
Manoff, Philip SO 54
Pouch, Ananias FR 53
Hallock, Thomas JR 48
Myburgh, Keith SO 37
Webb, Forest FR 35
Eichberg, Dylan SO 27
Doss, Brennen SO 24
Perreault, Jose FR 18
Koeppen, Willia FR 8
Cole, Taj FR 7
Lopez Miro, Cob FR 3

Florida State (328.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Varjasi, Peter FR 75
Davidson, Joshu JR 57
Bastian, Izaak SO 40
McCusker, Max SO 33
Ksiazek, Jakub SO 29
Wood, Nevada FR 18
Pekarske, Scott FR 17
Cooper, Ian FR 14
Lucas, Jackson SO 13
Ingenrieth, Mau FR 13
Ghaffari, Moham FR 9
Vance, Nicholas FR 8
Berecz, Balazs FR 2.5

Notre Dame (387.5)

Hoagland, Jack FR 83
McKeen, Sadler JR 57
Bottelberghe, J SO 51.5
Miranda, Maxwel SO 42
Cumberland, Wil JR 40
Barta, Marton SO 20
Barao, William FR 16
Limbacher, Matt SO 16
Flaute, Austin SO 15
DeBacker, Dave FR 12
Fitzpatrick, Jo FR 12
Petrison, David SO 11
Winton, Andrew SO 7
Smith, Zachary SO 5

UNC (351.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Abaliksta, Vald JR 51
Hart, Alexander FR 48
Dimitriou, Dimi JR 39
Stepinski, Fabi FR 38
Rauch, Jacob SO 36
Messenger, Will JR 35.5
Thames, Christo JR 32
Sungaila, Tomas SO 29
Hill, Tyler JR 28
Mays, Alexander FR 8
Burhans, Tucker SO 7

Pitt (173)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Vera, Blaise JR 68
Van Der Laan, C SO 40
Reed, Dylan FR 23
Remenyi, Armin JR 18
Chen, Jerry FR 14
Dutkowiak, Wojc FR 5
Ahadzhanian, Se SO 2
Schonbachler, R JR 2
Ahart, Wesley SO 1

Georgia Tech (256)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Pumputis, Caio JR 71
Lechuga, Ruben FR 46
Barone, Kyle SO 42
Ferraro, Christ JR 41
Scott, Dylan FR 14
Russell, Cale SO 14
Kertesz, Daniel FR 14
Miles, Corben JR 7
Yang, Jonathan JR 3
Lim, Darren SO 3
Jacobs, Daniel SO 1

Duke (83)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Cagley, Jonah FR 24
Reznick, Cole SO 22
Zucker, Colson SO 11
Hartley, Nathan JR 7
Anolick, Harel SO 6
Wu, Henry SO 5
Zimmer, Adam JR 5
Werner, Everett SO 2
Gingrich, Charl FR 1

Miami (165)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Scapens, Brodie FR 76
Flory, Max FR 61
Dinsmore, David SR 32
Cooper, Zachary JR 28

Boston College (4)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Roche, Samuel SO 4

New Additions

There are plenty of impact recruits coming in, as the ACC nabbed three of the top eleven spots in our annual recruiting class rankings, as well as another three honorable mentions.

NC State leads the way, largely on the strength of one international recruit and one transfer. Denmark’s Alexander Norgaard is a distance ace who’s been 14:47 in the 1500 LCM, indicating that he should immediately challenge for ACC titles as a freshman. Transfers Kacper Stowkowski (44.9/1:41.3 backstroke and 45.7 fly) from Florida and Cameron Karkoska (53.45/1:55.85) will pull in and points and should help solidify NC State’s relays. The Wolfpack also brings back Giovanni Izzo, who scored 55.5 points in 2019 but redshirted last season. Luke Miller, #11 in our final ranking of class of 2020 recruits, arrives in Raleigh with a 1:33.4 200 free that should immediately put him on the Wolfpack’s 800 free relay and is faster than the winning time in the individual’s 200 free last season.

Virginia should continue to turn sprint free from a liability to a strength, as #6 Matt Brownstead set a national high school record in the 50 free, along with a sub-19 split. Will Cole should immediately replace outgoing senior Joe Clark on the backstrokes, and Poland’s Jan Karolczak should help on the free relays, especially the 800. The UVA staff has recruited a ton of sprint talent in the last two classes, and this might be the year where their 200 free relay finishes ahead of their 800 free relay.

Notre Dame brings in a strong IM group, led by honorable mentions Sean Faikish and Tyler Christianson, but they’re also taking a big hit as leading scorer Yeadon appears to be transferring away from the school.

Georgia Tech’s, UNC’s, and Florida State’s recruiting classes made our honorable mention list. Georgia Tech should get some freestyle help from Turkey’s Batur Unlu, who goes 50.6/1:48.7 in the long course freestyles. UNC has a big class (at least 10), but the biggest get may be transfer Anton Down Jenkins, who scored in the 3m diving event at the 2019 NCAAs for South Carolina. Florida State will have a large freshman class, with Bulgarian freestyler Yordan Yanchev, a 1:49.5/3:50.2 long course freestyler, probably the most likely to make an immediate impact.

None of Louisville’s new recruits project to make a huge immediate impact, but the Cardinals should get a boost if Bartosz Piszczorowicz returns. The Polish national, who won the 200 free as a freshman in 2019, sat out the spring semester this year to focus on the run-up to the Olympics.

Duke brings in a pair of freshmen, Zach McIntyre and Luke Johnson, that could help the sprint free relays. Virginia Tech has a small class as far as we know, but Spain’s Carles Coll Marti could earn some points in both freestyle and breaststroke.

2021 Outlook

NC State won by 160 points last season, and with the strongest incoming class, they have to be considered the early favorites to win their 7th-straight title. Stowkowski and Izzo should blunt the loss of Stewart, at least on relays, and Norgaad could bring a bit point haul in the distance events. Additionally, watch for a big step forward from their rising sophomore class, which didn’t make a huge splash this past season, but is stacked with free and fly talent.

Just like last year, Louisville, UVA, and Virginia Tech should duel it out for the next three places. Of those three, Louisville has the highest “floor,” especially if Piszczorowicz does swim. The Cardinals bring back roughly 60 more returning points than any other team and should be able to absorb the five relay legs they lost.  Virginia, meanwhile, may have the highest ceiling of these three teams, as the Cavaliers are filled to the brim with young freestyle talent that has the potential to rack up the points if they’re firing on all cylinders.  Virginia Tech returns a whopping 98% of their individual points, and 19/20 relay legs, meaning that they should be able to keep it close.

Notre Dame, Florida State and North Carolina comprise the next tier. Right now, we’ll leave Florida State at #5, where they’ve finished three of the last four years, but Notre Dame brings in a strong class, and UNC seems to be on the rise, meaning this could very well be a three-way battle for 5th.

Georgia Tech finished 14 points behind Pitt last year, but the Yellow Jackets don’t lose a single relay leg. Duke returns only 83 individual points, meaning they’ll likely have to rely on relays to keep them ahead of the diving-only Miami, while Boston College needs to make sure they don’t DQ any relays this year if they’re going to get out of the conference basement.

Way-Too-Early Conference Picks

  1. NC State
  2. Louisville
  3. Virginia
  4. Virginia Tech
  5. Florida State
  6. Notre Dame
  7. UNC
  8. Georgia Tech
  9. Pitt
  10. Duke
  11. Boston College
  12. Miami

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FSU Strength

Why didn’t the FSU recruiting class get any acknowledgement at all?

GA Boy

Don’t sleep on VA Tech! They’ll be top 3 for sure

Alum14

Hope so! They’ve got the talent, but will need to develop that talent at the level of other ACC programs to keep up

DravenOP

Should be a good battle for second. Love to see competition at the top.

Ladyvoldisser

Absolutely to have two or more teams slamming it out down to the wire is exciting for athletes, parents, officials and coaches. Best wishes to the ACC men….some GREAT COACHES in this league!

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