Despite a valiant effort from the No. 5 women, NC State swim and dive couldn’t quite pull a victory over No. 1 Virginia on Saturday, Jan. 21 in Charlottesville, Virginia. On the men’s side, however, the No. 3 Wolfpack knocked down the Cavaliers in an easy victory to maintain its winning streak.
Saturday morning’s events kicked off with men and women’s diving. Junior Helene Synnott and freshman Ashton Zuburg finished second and third, respectively, in the women’s 1-meter diving event, and junior Bayne Bennett followed suit with an impressive first-place finish on the men’s side. His score of 366.08 was nearly fifty points ahead of the second-place finisher.
Four NC State divers made the podium in the 3-meter diving events. Synnott and Zuburg held off the competition to finish second and third yet again, and Bennett and junior Patrick O’Brien finished first and third, respectively, to clinch 12 points for the Wolfpack.
The first swimmers hit the water at 2 p.m. and UVA quickly hit its stride with a first-place finish in the women’s 200-yard medley relay, although the Wolfpack hit some impressive splits to hold off Virginia’s B relay. Junior Katharine Berkoff and seniors Andrea Podmanikova, Kylee Alons and Heather Maccausland finished in 1:37.33. The men’s A and B teams took the top two spots in the men’s 200-yard medley relay, ahead of all three of Virginia’s relays.
NC State’s distance dream team finished well ahead of the competition in the 1000-yard freestyle – junior Ross Dant placed first with a time of 8:58.20, and sophomores Will Gallant and James Plage followed suit with sub-9:15 swims to cement the Wolfpack’s sweep.
Senior breaststroke superstar Sophie Hansson was absent for the second meet in a row. Without her, NC State surely missed a couple of key points in the breaststroke events. The women failed to make the podium in the 200-yard breaststroke, although Maccausland pulled off a third-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.82.
In the 100-yard backstroke and 500-yard freestyle, the men pulled off two more podium sweeps. Juniors Kacper Stokowski, and juniors Hunter Tapp and John Healy all finished sub-48.5 to make the 100-yard backstroke, and Dant, Plage and senior Curtis Wiltsey hit 1-2-3 in the 500-yard freestyle.
Berkoff pulled off an impressive win in the 200-yard backstroke, touching the wall in 1:53.26 for the women’s first individual win of the meet. Graduate student Kate Moore finished nearly two seconds after Berkoff to take third, garnering three points for the Wolfpack. The women also technically completed a sweep in the 200-yard individual medley, although all Virginia swimmers were placed in the exhibition heat.
The men swept the 100-yard butterfly, thanks to an impressive performance from junior Nyls Korstanje. The Dutch native nearly broke 46 seconds, finishing 0.5 ahead of sophomore Luke Miller. Freshman and high school butterfly phenom Aiden Hayes followed suit to finish third in 46.84.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the Wolfpack women pulled off one more win – again, Virginia’s A team competed in the exhibition meet, but a win’s a win. In 1:29.99, NC State finished the meet on a solid note yet couldn’t quite match up to the defending NCAA champions.
It’s easy to look at this meet in a negative light after witnessing Virginia’s dominance in event after event, but let’s not forget that the Cavaliers’ women’s team boasts two Olympic medalists and countless National Team members. NC State’s talent is still immeasurable, even when stacked up against the best team in the nation. Rest assured, a 173-122 loss will not deter the Wolfpack from impressive performances at ACCs and NCAA in the coming months.