RALEIGH, North Carolina, February 2. THE North Carolina men's and women's swimming and diving teams gutted out a pair of victories against the NC State Wolfpack on the latter's Senior Day at the Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center Saturday afternoon. The UNC women prevailed 157-142 while the Tar Heel men, ranked 16th, used their superior depth to defeat the 22nd-ranked Wolfpack 159.5-140.5, avenging a dual meet loss to NC State last year in Chapel Hill.
“Today's meet at NC State reminded of many classic UNC-NC State dual meets that I've seen in my 30 plus year coaching career, much of it spent in Chapel Hill,” said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm. “Without a doubt NC State is a vastly improving program. They have outstanding coaching. We feel fortunate to come away with two wins. Clearly the parity of the programs is becoming more evident.”
“I was proud of our teams. We spread the responsibility around on both teams to get two wins,” DeSelm continued. “Along the way we exposed ourselves by making some mistakes we need to fix, which we will. We also were blessed with some outstanding individual performances that give us a lot of confidence going into championship season.”
The Tar Heel women were swept in diving and relays but used their superior efforts in individual swimming events, winning nine of 12 to stroke their win to victory. A quartet of Tar Heel women each won two events. Kelsey Cummings won the 1000-yard freestyle (9:57.81) and the 500-yard freestyle (4:53.44), the latter a season best time for the sophomore. Fellow sophomore Danielle Siverling captured both the 200-yard freestyle (1:48.39) and the 100-yard event (50.42).
Junior Cari Blalock and senior Katie Nolan also notched two individual victories each. Blalock triumphed in the 200 butterfly (1:59.78) and also took home top honors in the 400 IM (4:22.12). Nolan was her usual steady self for Carolina as she garnered wins in the 100 back (55.42) and the 100 fly (54.64).
“Kelsey Cummings, Cari Blalock, Katie Nolan and Danielle Siverling all really stepped up for us,” said DeSelm. “Each won two events which were crucial wins leading to our team victory.
“Senior co-captain Katie Nolan is great leader and great competitor. Kelsey Cummings stepped in for Stephanie Peacock and was able to get the job done today along with senior Jackie Rudloph right behind her.”
In the men's meet, the Tar Heels truly used their depth in several events to outscore the Wolfpack by 19 points. In the 16-event format, NC State won nine events to UNC's seven but in a rare happening it was the Tar Heels that prevailed. Key to the victory were 1-2-3 finishes by UNC in the 1000-yard freestyle, the 200-yard backstroke, the 500-yard freestyle and the 400-yard individual medley.
The Tar Heels also started off the meet on the right foot with an exciting win the 400-yard medley relay as freshman Nic Graesser, sophomore David Speese, freshman Sam Lewis and freshman Logan Heck went 3:14.27 to edge the top Wolfpack relay by six one-hundreths of a second.
“As expected the meet started with a high level of energy and a very close race. The men's 400 medley relay lived up to that. They had a very strong anchor leg and Logan Heck did a great job holding off the Wolfpack's Jonathan Boffa. That turned out to be pretty huge for us,” commented DeSelm.
Senior Brett Nagle was a two-event winner for Carolina as he eclipsed his career best in the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:03.47 (previous best 9:09.44). The Portland, Ore., native also notched a season best 4:22.72 in winning the 500 freestyle.
“Brett Nagle had two really big wins for us in the 500 and 1000, going a career best. Then the four races where we got the top three scoring positions, you really can't say enough about that and how it helped us. We hoped our talent and depth would shine through. It was a great afternoon of swimming and diving for two rival teams,” DeSelm said.
Other individual winners for Carolina were Graesser in the 100-yard backstroke (48.23, just .05 off his career best), senior Tom Luchsinger in the 200 fly (1:46.54), sophomore Patrick Myers in the 200 back (1:46.54) and freshman Matt Kwatyra in the 400 IM (3:56.05). It was UNC's sweep in the 400 IM which clinched the meet for the Tar Heels with one event remaining.
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