Virginia v. NC State
- January 23, 2021
- Casey Aquatic Center, Raleigh, NC
- Dual Meet Format
- Full Results
- Scores: NC State 190.5, Virginia 107.5
While perhaps lacking quite the same level of star power we saw in the women’s competition today, the men’s battle between #9 NC State and #13 Virginia (Men’s Power Rankings) had plenty of great showdowns, even if the score wasn’t nearly as tight as it was on the women’s side. The Wolfpack, now pretty much at full-strength after missing a lot of their internationals in the fall semester, won their 7th-straight dual meet over the Cavaliers, 190.5 to 107.5.
The Wolfpack’s depth was on display, as each of their eight individual swimming wins came from a different team member and they won both relays. NC State came out strong in the 200 medley relay as Kacper Stokowski, a Florida transfer who made his Wolfpack debut today after returning from his native Poland, got the Wolfpack out to an early lead thanks to a 21.73 leadoff leg. Rafal Kusto (24.05) and Luke Sobolewski (20.86) gave NC State exactly a one second lead, and anchor Giovanni Izzo (19.76) held off UVA’s Matt Brownstead (19.49), giving NC State the win 1:26.40 to 1:27.13.
NC State wholly dominated UVA in the next two events. Ross Dant won the 1000 free by nearly 8 seconds, touching in 8:58.89 and leading a Wolfpack sweep of the top three spots, with UVA’s highest finisher touching over 23 seconds behind Dant and nearly 8 seconds behind 3rd. It was a similar story in the 200 free, where freshman Luke Miller led a 1-3 sweep for the Wolfpack, winning in 1:36.11.
Next, Stokowski earned his first individual event win as a member of the Wolfpack, taking the 100 back in 47.69, with UVA taking 2nd and 3rd. NC State kept the win streak going in the 100 breast, where NC State’s Rafal Kusto and UVA’s Keefer Barnum dueled it out stroke for stroke, with Kusto just getting to the wall first, 54.35 to 54.45. That’s a promising sign for Kusto, who wasn’t too far off from the 54.04 he put up in the B-final of last year’s ACCs.
UVA finally got its first win in the final event before the first break, the 50 free. Freshman Matt Brownstead, who already set school records in the 50 free and the 100 free last fall, got to the wall first with a time of 20.04
NC State extended the lead during the first break, as they got a win from Bayne Bennett on the 1m board. The Wolfpack would sweep the men’s diving later in the day as Patrick O’Brien took the 3m event.
After the break, we got a great race in the form of the 100 freestyle. Izzo, Hunter Tapp, Miller, and Brownstead were all within 0.14s of each other after the first 50. Miller pulled ahead on the second lap and touched first, but he was disqualified (no reason given), and Tapp officially took 1st in 44.20, followed by Brownstead at 44.43.
UVA’s Justin Grender, coming off of a 2nd place finish to Stokowski in the 100 back, jumped out to an early lead in the 200 back and never relinquished it. He had or equaled the fastest split in the field on each of the four laps, and ended up wining by well over two seconds with a 1:44.64.
The Cavaliers had their best showing of the day in the 200 breast, thanks to all three of their 2020 ACC A-finalists in the event. Matt Otto and Keefer Barnum touched within a whisker of each other, with Otto getting his hands on the wall first, 1:59.09 to 2:00.03. UVA nearly made it a clean sweep of the top three spots, but Kusto managed to tie Casey Storch for 3rd, with both men touching in 2:00.89.
The Wolfpack distance crew then earned yet another 1-3 sweep, this time led by Eric Knowles with a 4:22.91 in the 500 free. Noah Henderson then picked up NC State’s final individual win of the day with a 47.47 win in the 100 fly, earning chants of “47! 47!” from teammates and the handful of Wolfpack fans in attendance.
The final individual event of the day was the 200 IM, where UVA’s Storch had or tied the fastest split in the field for each of the first three legs. Knowles, who focuses more on the 400 IM since the 200 IM falls on the same day as the 500 free at championship meets, came home like a freight train, splitting 24.75 on the free leg, and if the pool had been just a few feet longer, he might have won. But Storch hung on, touching first in 1:48.40 to Knowles’ 1:48.64.
With NC State having an insurmountable lead, the 400 free relay didn’t carry quite as much importance in terms of the overall outcome as it did on the women’s side, but that didn’t mean it was slow. Stokowski led off in 44.74, followed by Tapp (43.25) and Izzo (44.00), then Miller anchored in 43.31 as NC State won with a 2:55.30. UVA’s only relay took 2nd in 2:58.23, with Grender’s 43.77 split the fastest among the Cavalier men.
One final note: fans who have the ACCNX package were able to tune in to some great dual meet coverage. NC State play-by-play broadcaster Andrew Sanders teamed with South African Olympian Christopher Reid, who’s training with Wolfpack Elite, for excellent commentary and analysis, and the production crew used a couple camera angles well so fans so could keep track of what was happening over the entire pool, unfortunately not something that’s always done well in swimming broadcasts.