Team Orange Leads Virginia Tech Hokie Belt Challenge After First Intrasquad Meets

2022 Virginia Tech Hokie Belt Challenge

  • Friday, September 23th – Saturday, September 24th, 2022
  • Christiansburg Aquatic Center, Christiansburg, VA
  • Friday Long Course Meters / Saturday Short Course Yards
  • Friday Results

Women’s Team Scores

  • Orange – 208
  • Maroon – 92

Men’s Team Scores

  • Orange – 189
  • Maroon – 111

Combined Team Scores

  • Orange – 397
  • Maroon – 193

The Virginia Tech Hokies kicked off their annual Belt Challenge Friday and Saturday with two intrasquad meets between Team Orange and Team Maroon.

Orange has taken the lead on both the men’s and women’s sides after this first meets, but that was just one component of the Hokie Belt Challenge, a season-long competition designed by staff in 2019 to help build team culture. “What it’s all about is teaching them what it means to be a Hokie,” assistant coach Payton Brooks said in Virginia Tech’s press release. “They get scored on being on time, making sure they’re wearing the right gear, making sure they don’t miss any academic meetings,  and if they’re late to something, they lose points for their team. It’s a way to keep them accountable and teach our culture through a fun atmosphere.”

There will be a series of Orange vs Maroon intrasquad meets throughout the season for the teams to earn more points (although the dates of the other meets have not been made public yet.)  At the end of the season, points will be calculated while factoring in GPA, intrasquad meet results, attendance, physical challenges, discipline, and the Hokie Spirit Award. The winning team will earn their name etched onto a plaque on the Hokie Belt.

Hokie Belt, courtesy of head coach Sergio Lopez-Miro

Friday’s intrasquad races were contested in long course while the team competed in short course on Saturday. Team Orange’s Fanni Gyurinovics, a freshman, highlighted the women’s side by winning the 100 meter free (56.20), 50 meter breast (32.63), and 50 meter free (25.83). She came within 1.3 seconds of the 100 free time she posted at the 2022 World Championships while representing Hungary. Gyurinovics tied junior Caroline Bentzalso on Team Orange, as the highest point scorer of the meet after Bentz dominated the 100 meter back (1:01.87) and won with nearly a four-second lead over the pack. This was a strong swim for Bentz who came within .72 of her lifetime best time from 2020. Junior Chase Travis defended her distance and freestyle crown by winning the 400 meter free (4:21.16) with a ten-second lead over the field and taking first place in the 200 meter free (2:06.83). These swims were a ways off her best times but displayed the Hokies’ distance strength early in the season.

On the men’s side, the highest point scorer was freshman diver Jacob Fisher who earned 27 points. Senior AJ Pouch claimed first in the 100 meter breast (1:02.78) and 50 breast (29.03) for Orange. He was about two seconds off his fastest 100 breast time, but still had a great race with Icelandic Olympian Anton McKeean Alabama alumnus. McKee had a slightly faster back half, but Pouch’s starting speed made him untouchable and McKee touched the wall in second place. Junior Youssef Ramadan of Team Orange took second place in the 100 meter fly (54.17) behind sophomore Mario Molla Yanes (53.96) from Team Maroon. Both swimmers didn’t match their best times, but pushed each other similar back-half speeds (29.05 for Yanes and 29.07 for Ramadan.) This was an especially impressive feat from Ramadan who raced the 400 free in a 4:05 and then was back on the blocks for the 100 fly less than 15 minutes later. Sophomore Luis Dominguez tied his Orange teammates Pouch and Ramadan for the second-highest point scorer of the meet after he won the 400 free (3:58.86) and 200 free (1:52.41). He came within about six seconds of the 400 free time and within about four seconds of the 200 free time he swam at the 2022 European Championships while representing Portugal.

The Hokies also welcomed back alumni Antani Ivanov, who placed 2nd in the 400 free behind Dominguez, and Ian Ho who won the 50 free. Notably, Team Maroon was missing two key members due to sickness: Carles Coll and Emma Atkinson.

The results from the second intrasquad on Saturday are not published, but head coach Sergio Lopez-Miro told SwimSwam some of the highlights from the short course races over email. Orange men’s 200 yard medley relay of Forest Webb (22.14), Pouch (24.55), Ramadan (20.30), and Dominguez (19.70) won with a time of 1:26.69. Webb, Pouch, and Dominguez each won their respective 100’s of stroke in individual events as well, Webb taking home first in the 100 yard back (47.81), Pouch crushing the 100 yard breast (54.75), and Ramadan the 100 yard fly (45.38) and 100 yard free (42.36).

Hokie women also raced well on Saturday. Bentz won the 100 yard back (53.75) and 200 yard IM (2:02.03) for Orange, while Maroon snagged a few first-place finishes in the 200 yard fly, where Morgan Miller posted a 1:59.96 to win, and the 100 yard fly where Karisa Franz swam a 54.22 to win. Gyurinovics lead off Orange’s 400 yard free relay in a blistering 49.19 after a tough event lineup of swimming breaststroke on a medley relay, then racing the 100 and 200 yard breast. Orange’s Carmen Weiler Sastre had a strong start to her first time competing in yards by winning the 100 yard free (50.01).

“Overall we had a very good Hokie Belt Challenge,” Lopez-Miro told SwimSwam. “These first four weeks have been very intense with conditioning with dry-land and weights plus the water training. Very exciting first month.”

Next up for the Hokies is their dual meet against George Washington and the University of Ohio on October 1st at home. “I can’t wait to see the team together fighting as a team,” Lopez-Miro said.

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About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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