GREENSBORO, North Carolina, October 5. THE All-North Carolina Invitational got underway last night at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, with host North Carolina State battling East Carolina and nearly a dozen other schools for state bragging rights. After one night of competition, NC State leads the women’s team standings with 533 points, while East Carolina is in second with 502.5 points. On the men’s side, East Carolina holds a slim 15-point lead over the Wolfpack, 489-474. The meet concludes this afternoon.
The NC State women put their stamp on the meet early, going 1-2 in the opening 200 freestyle relay with times of 1:33.72 and 1:34.49 to garner 120 team points. East Carolina’s A relay actually turned in the fastest time at 1:33.40, but was later disqualified. The NC State men followed suit, posting the quickest three times in the men’s 200 free relay in the next event.
The women’s 500 free featured a tight race between NC State’s Kristen Connors, Rachel Muller and Kendall Pena, and East Carolina’s Lauren Chew. Connors built a solid lead through the first half of the race and pulled away to win in 4:58.50. Meanwhile, Chew, Muller and Pena battled for second through fourth. In the end, Muller gave the Wolfpack its second 1-2 finish with a 5:01.20, just ahead of Chew’s 5:01.72. Pena grabbed fourth in 5:02.04.
The men’s 500 free finale featured a much different story, as NC State was shut out of the top four places. East Carolina’s Michael Dugan held off a hard-charging Marko Blazevski of Wingate for the victory, 4:35.80 to 4:36.32. Blazevski made up more than two seconds on Dugan over the final 150 yards but couldn’t close the gap. Pfieffer’s Dima Kozlov rounded out the top three in 4:37.04.
Ties are common in shorter races, but are rarely seen in longer distances. NC State’s Ashlyn Koletic and East Carolina’s Bailie Monahan gave the crowd a thrill in the women’s 200 IM, finishing in a dead-heat. The two swimmers touched in matching 2:06.91s to crush the previous meet record of 2:08.61, set by NC State’s Nicole Giamber last year. NC State’s Payton Schrum also cleared the meet record with a 2:08.12 for third.
A second meet record fell in the men’s individual medley, as East Carolina’s Rokas Cepulis barely held off NC State’s Christian McCurdy, 1:52.41 to 1:52.85. Both swimmers, along with third-place finisher Attila Kiraly of East Carolina, cleared the meet record of 1:53.27, held by Davidson’s Drew Onken.
The meet record onslaught continued in the women’s 50 free, as NC State’s Lauren Poli (23.34) and teammate Natalie Labonge (23.69) both cleared the meet record of 23.72, set by Duke’s Lauren Weaver last year. Notably, SwimMAC Carolina’s Madison Kennedy swam the event as exhibition, posting a 23.08. Simonas Bilis won the men’s sprint 50 by a sizeable margin, posting a 20.50 to easily defeat East Carolina’s Nikola Simic Simic (21.12).
East Carolina’s foursome of Anna Gibas, Megan Sellers, Bailie Monahan and Tori Angermeier combined forces to win the women’s 400 medley relay in 3:48.68, a new meet record. NC State’s Stephen Coetzer, Ian Bishop, Christian McCurdy and Jonathan Boffa topped the men’s medley in 3:21.78 to close out the session.