The No. 6 NC State men’s swim team wrapped up NCAAs on Saturday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center after a weekend of solid swims and two podium finishes.
Although the team’s eighth-place finish was a little lower than recent years, the Wolfpack saw multiple impressive swims over the course of the meet and ultimately ended up with 164 points, only 16 behind No. 12 Ohio State.
On Wednesday evening, the Pack was off to a solid start thanks to a fifth-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Freshman Luke Miller led off in a blazing 1:32.55 to set the tone for the race, and seniors Eric Knowles and Erge Gezmis followed up with sub-1:34 splits for the second and third legs of the relay. Sophomore Hunter Tapp rounded out the event with the fastest split out of the four, touching the wall in 1:32.44 to solidify NC State’s top-eight finish with a time of 6:12.34.
Thursday morning prelims saw a handful of NC State swimmers across all three events. The session was highlighted by sophomore Ross Dant’s seventh-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:12.34, which secured him a spot in the A final heading into Thursday evening. In the 200-yard individual medley, freshman Mikey Moore dropped about half a second off to place 30th in his first NCAA appearance. Finally, after shaving off a couple hundredths in the 50-yard freestyle, junior Giovanni Izzo nabbed a spot in the consolation final to join Dant as the only other NC State swimmer to make it back for a second swim on Thursday night.
NC State earned another top-eight relay finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay, as Tapp, Izzo and sophomores Noah Henderson and Kacper Stokowski touched the wall in 1:16.24, 0.09 under their season best. Dant added a mere 0.03 from prelims to finish eighth in the 500-yard freestyle finals, nevertheless picking up 11 points for the Wolfpack. Izzo shaved off yet another hundredth of a second in the 50-yard freestyle to finish 13th overall, and NC State clocked in at 3:04.47 in the 400-yard medley relay for another top-eight finish heading into day three of competition.
On Friday morning, Stokowski claimed NC State’s first top-three preliminary swim of the meet after posting a 44.70 in prelims, a personal best for the ACC champion. Among other highlights, both Moore and Henderson placed 18th in the 400-yard individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly, respectively, and Miller made the consolation final in the 200-yard freestyle. Before Friday night finals, the Wolfpack was in sixth overall and only one point behind Texas A&M.
In the 100-yard backstroke finals on Friday evening, Stokowski claimed NC State’s first podium finish of the meet, clocking in at 44.37 for a second-place finish to secure 17 more points for the Pack. His swim marked NC State’s third-straight top-two finish in the 100-yard backstroke at NCAAs, following in the footsteps of alumnus Coleman Stewart.
In the 200-yard medley relay, Stokowski, junior Rafal Kusto, senior Luke Sobolewski and Izzo won their heat to place 10th overall in 1:23.57. Additionally, Miller finished 15th in the 200-yard freestyle finals for his first-ever NCAA individual final, posting a 1:33.31 to pick up two more points for NC State.
The final day of competition was a tad more subdued for the Wolfpack —no swimmers made it back for a second swim at finals. The highest finish of the prelims session was in Tapp’s 100-yard freestyle, in which he placed 21st with a time of 42.66. However, Dant swam a phenomenal mile after the morning’s events, finishing third overall in 14:31.17 to give NC State a much-needed boost going into the final session of the meet.
Since there were no individual finalists swimming on Saturday night, NC State’s last event of the meet was the 400-yard freestyle relay. Izzo, Stokowski, Miller and Tapp clocked in at 2:48.47 to secure the Wolfpack’s eighth-place finish with a total of 164 points.