CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina, January 25. NORTH Carolina and Virginia, two teams that should figure prominently in next month's ACC championship, met today in a very close dual meet.
Courtesy of: North Carolina Athletics
Courtesy of: North Carolina Athletics
Both meets came down to the final event, the 400 free relay. By that time, the Virginia women had a 146-135 lead, and needed to either win the relay or place second (or both). On the men's side, the score was tied at 141 going into the relay.
Before that final event, the lead changed hands multiple times as depth played a factor in numerous events to keep the meet close. The Virginia women and the North Carolina men led 13-4 after the 200 medley relay, and it turned out to be a very contentious battle after that.
In the women's 1000 free, UNC's Stephanie Peacock began to distance herself from Virginia's Leah Smith at the 400-yard mark and won by six seconds with a 9:38.14 to Smith's 9:44.39. On the men's side, Virginia took the lead with a 1-2-3 sweep of the 1000, led by Brad Phillips' 9:09.39. Jan Daniec (9:16.19) and Rodney Fentress (9:19.72) followed for second and third for the Cavaliers.
Danielle Siverling and Ally Hardesty went 1-2 in the women's 200 free to take a sizable lead for UNC with times of 1:46.52 and 1:46.91, respectively. Virginia's men responded with a win in the 200 free as Parker Camp held off North Carolina's John Stilley in the final 50 yards, 1:38.02 to 1:38.08.
Virginia's Courtney Bartholomew had no trouble in the women's 100 back, cruising to a nearly two-second victory in a time of 52.91. Bartholomew stands at the top of the collegiate standings with her 50.72 from November, and today's swim marks her third-fastest time of the season.
Virginia's good fortune continued in the men's 100 backstroke, as the Cavaliers put up a 1-2-3 sweep. Luke Papendick won with a 48.07, followed by Kyle Dudzinski in 48.45 and Jack Murfee with a 48.49.
The women's 100 breast was almost a stalemate in terms of points, as Virginia garnered one more point than UNC. Laura Simon won for Virginia with a 1:01.42, with three North Carolina swimmers -- Katherine Rechsteiner (1:03.62), Danielle Jansen (1:04.00) and Madison Burns (1:04.39) -- taking second through fourth. Audrey Gould was the eighth-fastest in the field with a 1:05.16, but rules stipulate that only three swimmers per team can score points, so the North Carolina swimmers who placed fifth through seventh could not contribute points in this race.
North Carolina got a big boost in the men's 100 breast, outscoring Virginia 13-6. Kurt Wolhrab won for the Tar Heels with a 55.61, just ahead of the 55.80 posted by Virginia's Yannick Kaeser.
North Carolina took the top two spots in the women's 200 fly with Meredith Hoover notching a 1:57.85 and Cari Blalock posting a 1:59.45 for second place. In the men's 200 fly, Dominick Glavich and teammate Ben Colley fought for the win, and Glavich got to the finish first with a 1:46.36 to Colley's 1:46.89.
Hardesty picked up a win in the women's 50 free in 23.11 ahead of teammate Hannah Lincoln, who posted a 23.48 for second. Logan Heck led a UNC 1-2 in the men's 50 free, touching in 20.47 to Sam Lewis' 20.50.
After the 1-meter diving competition (won by Virginia's Rebecca Corbett and JB Kolod), the Virginia women led by seven points, while the Virginia men enjoyed a 10-point lead.
Hardesty and Heck returned to each win the 100 free, though neither led a 1-2 sweep as they did in the 50 free. Hardesty won with a 49.64, while Heck posted a 44.95. Notably, Virginia designated only one swimmer, Matthew Lockman, as a scoring athlete in the 100 free, and he picked up second with a 45.57. It's likely the Virginia coaching staff will look back on this race as the major reason for the men's meet loss.
Bartholomew picked up a second win in the backstrokes, taking the 200 in 1:55.46. Papendick and Dudzinski posted another 1-2 finish, this time in the 200 backstroke. Papendick took the win with a 1:44.04, while Dudzinski claimed second with a 1:45.93. Papendick's time is his second-fastest of the season, while Dudzinski posted a two-second improvement from his best of the season, a 1:47.73 from November.
The women's 200 breast was a mirror image of the 100, as Virginia's Simon captured the win in 2:13.15 over a trio of Tar Heels. The Cavaliers went 1-2 in the men's 200 breast, led by Taylor Grey's 2:00.96 and Kaeser's 2:01.05 for second.
Peacock won the 500 free with a 4:43.14, pulling away from Smith at the 250 to win by 2.5 seconds. Smith posted a 4:45.64. The Cavaliers took another 1-2-3 sweep in the men's 500 free with Phillips winning in 4:26.50 ahead of Daniec (4:27.01) and Fentress (4:31.66).
Ellen Williamson posted a 54.09 to win the women's 100 fly for Virginia, while Sam Lewis posted a 47.79 to give UNC the win in the men's event that saw the Tar Heels take the top three spots. Colley was second in 48.52 while Glavich took third with a 48.71.
With two events remaining, the women's meet featured a 131-131 tie, while Virginia held a one-point lead in the men's meet. Williamson won the women's 200 IM with a 1:59.88, bringing teammate Kaitlyn Jones along for second with a 2:00.57 to give Virginia a nine-point lead. In the men's IM, North Carolina's Alex Gianino posted the win with a 1:48.72, using a strong back half to catch Papendick and take the win. With UNC collecting 10 points to Virginia's nine, the men's meet now was tied at 141 going into the free relay.
A win by North Carolina in the women's 400 free relay wasn't enough to get the overall victory, as the Tar Heels posted a 3:20.94 as Virginia placed second and third to get the needed points to take the meet. On the men's side, UNC had a slight lead after Brad Dillon's 45.59 leadoff, but Virginia came back on the second leg by Dudzinski to give Virginia a lead of .12. After the third leg, UNC led by .22. A 44.13 by Logan Heck was enough to give UNC the win in the 400 free relay in a time of 2:59.58 to Virginia's 3:00.61. Third place went to UNC with a 3:02.76, but third place didn't matter. Whichever team won the men's relay would win the meet, and that was cause for celebration by the home team.
It's likely this intense day of competition will repeat itself over four days at next month's ACC championships.