Though the first two events (1-meter diving and the 200 free relay) were a bit rough for Virginia, the Cavaliers more than bounced back, going from 5th back to 1st in a hurry, and eventually opening up a 150-point lead with two days to go.
Key to that effort were the five 500 freestylers Virginia placed in the top 8. That included freshman Leah Smith, who turned tonight into her ACC welcoming party with a gigantic new conference record of 4:34.35.
The first scored event of the night was 1-meter diving, where Virginia Tech’s Kalyea Arnett picked up a 20-point win over Miami’s Thea Vock. Arnett scored 355.65 to Vock’s 332.60, and Vock barely nipped FSU senior Katrina Young, who scored 332.15 for third.
FSU placed a pair of divers in the top 8 and added one more in 10th place to wrestle the team lead away from Virginia after the event. In fact, Virginia fell to 5th, with Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Miami all placing divers in the top 8 to boost their point totals.
200 Free Relay
NC State got excellent production out of the back half of their relay to boom their way to a conference title and a new ACC record. The team of Lauren Poli, Ashlyn Koletic, Natalie Labonge and Riki Bonnema went 1:28.71 to break Virginia’s 2011 conference record. Labonge split 22.0 and Bonnema followed that up with a 21.8 for the Wolfpack, which topped FSU by half a second.
Florida State maintained it’s team points lead by taking second, thanks to Tiffany Oliver‘s 22.2 leadoff, the best in the field. Virginia settled for third, getting one of just two sub-22 splits in the event from freshman Ellen Thomas. All three of the top teams hit the A cut.
Men’s 3-meter Diving
Though the men’s meet doesn’t happen for another week, the diving portions are being completed alongside the women’s meet. It’s worth noting here that Duke’s Nick McCrory won his second consecutive ACC title on 3-meter, smashing the conference record with a score of 531.00.
Miami’s Samuel Dornan was second, followed by Ryan Hawkins of Virginia Tech.
Virginia freshman Leah Smith announced her arrival into the ACC in a big way – crushing the ACC record in the 500 free set by Stephanie Peacock in 2012 while topping Peacock by two and a half seconds for the conference title.
Smith went 4:34.35 (the best time in the NCAA this season) with remarkably consistent splitting. She was 52.6/55.4/55.6/55.2/55.3, slowly widening the gap between her and UNC’s Peacock throughout the race. The Tar Heel senior finished second with a 4:36.80.
Florida State’s Madison Jacobi took third in 4:37.77, with the next of Virginia’s quintet of A-finalists, Hannah Borgersen, coming in fourth. Danielle Silverling was fifth with UVA’s Caroline Kennedy, Kelly Offutt and Alison Haulsee rounding out the field. That dominant 500 free showing was enough to put Virginia right back on top by over 50 in the team scores.
Notre Dame made its introduction to the ACC official with a conference title in the 200 IM. Emma Reaney went 1:54.92 to blow away the field – her breaststroke split was 32.6, nearly three seconds faster than anyone else in the field. It’s no coincidence that three seconds was also about Reaney’s margin of victory. Her time smashed the conference and meet record, and should leave the weekend well within the top 10 nationally.
Virginia freshman Kaitlyn Jones took second in 1:57.18, followed by her junior teammate Ellen Williamson. A common theme with the Virginia IMers: they had the two fastest closing splits of anyone in the field.
UNC’s Cari Blalock finished fourth, breaking up the first Virginia duo from another pair of Cavaliers. Shaun Casey was fifth and Haley Durmer sixth and, you guessed it, had two of the next three fastest closing splits of the A final.
FSU’s McKayla Lightbourn took 7th and Virginia Tech grabbed 8th with Holly Harper.
Also notable: Courtney Bartholomew went 1:58.22 to win the B final for Virginia. That time would have been fourth in the championship heat.
The night closed with the splash-and-dash, where Florida State’s Tiffany Oliver emerged the victor, breaking a prelims tie with UNC’s Hannah Lincoln. Oliver went 22.02, just missing the 22-barrier and winning by a tenth over NC State sophomore Riki Bonnema. Duke’s Lauren Weaver snuck in for third before Lincoln finished in 22.35.
FSU’s other sprint stud Kaitlyn Dressel went 22.49 for fifth place, and NC State finished out the heat with Natalie Labonge, Ashlyn Koletic and Lauren Poli.
Ellen Thomas won the B final for Virginia, which swept 3 of the top 4 spots in the heat. Lotta Nevalainen of NC State took 10th, the only non-Cavalier in the top half of the consolation heat.
Despite the early diving hiccup, Virginia is in fantastic shape with two days to go, leading NC State by 150. The battle for second is still well up for grabs, with the Wolfpack, FSU and UNC all within 16 points.