CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina, November 21. STEPHANIE Peacock put herself in position to challenge for the NCAA title in the 500-yard freestyle with a stunning time tonight at the Dowd Nike Cup at her home pool.
The North Carolina senior led a Tar Heel sweep of the top five places with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 4:36.40, putting her far ahead of the rest of the pack not just at the meet, but in the national collegiate rankings. She puts herself two seconds ahead of Indiana’s Lindsay Vrooman nationally and is her fifth-fastest performance ever. She posted a lifetime best of 4:34.42 at last year’s Ohio State Invitational before needing to sit out the 2013 NCAA championships to treat an undisclosed illness.
Rounding out the top five in the UNC sweep were: Emma Nunn (4:43.00), Danielle Silverling (4:47.59), Meredith Hoover (4:48.01) and Annie Harrison (4:48.52). Nunn’s runner-up time marked a five-second drop in her lifetime best for the sophomore. Silverling is looking to return to the NCAA final after placing seventh last year with a 4:37.57.
North Carolina’s success in the women’s 500 free came after the evening’s first events, the 200 freestyle relays. The North Carolina women won with a 1:30.52 ahead of North Carolina State’s 1:31.05, while the men of N.C. State took the men’s race with a 1:18.97 over UNC’s 1:19.34.
Thomas Duvall gave the Naval Academy reason to cheer tonight with a big win in the men’s 500 free. His time of 4:22.51. It’s six tenths of a second off his lifetime best, a 4:21.94 he swam to place second at the 2013 Patriot League championships, and four seconds faster than he swam at this meet last year. John Stilley of North Carolina had the lead for the first half of the race but settled for second with a 4:23.45. Michael Dugan of Eastern Carolina was third with a 4:26.00.
Christine Wixted put Duke in the win column with a 1:58.60 in the women’s 200 IM to be the only swimmer under two minutes at the meet. Hannah Runyon-Hass of UNC nearly broke the barrier with a runner-up time of 2:00.56, while Madison Burns of North Carolina was third with a 2:01.69.
Dominick Glavich, who has been having an impressive season so far with strong times in the butterfly events, showed some range with a 1:48.20 to win the 200 IM. Though not his best event, it shows promise for the rest of the meet, as the time is just nine tenths off his lifetime best of 1:47.36 from the 2012 ACC championships. Glavich had a tight race with Eastern Carolina’s Rokas Cepulis and UNC teammate Eugene Tee. Cepulis finished second with a 1:48.26 after holding a lead of nine tenths after breaststroke. Tee was about a second behind Glavich and Cepulis after breaststroke and put in a 24.49 freestyle split to finish third with a 1:48.48.
Just 13 hundredths of a second separated first through fifth in the women’s 50 freestyle final. Hannah Lincoln of North Carolina got the win with a 22.86 ahead of Lauren Poll of NC State (22.90), Lauren Weaver of Duke (22.91), Maddie Rusch of Duke (22.92) and Riki Bonnema of NC State (22.99).
Two swimmers broke the 20-second barrier in the men’s 50 free, with Old Dominion’s Sidni Hoxha taking the win with a 19.44. The time is a personal best for the senior from Albania, breaking his school record of 19.60 he swam last season and just 12 hundredths away from gaining an NCAA automatic qualifying time. Andreas Schiellerup of NC State was second with a 19.74, the first time under 20 seconds for the freshman from Denmark. Jonathan Boffa of NC State rounded out the top three with a 20.21.
North Carolina nearly swept the 400 medley relay events to conclude the meet, but NC State spoiled the party with a 3:11.47 to beat the Tar Heels by five tenths in the men’s race. East Carolina University rounded out the top three with a 3:18.50. The UNC women took their race with a 3:38.06, while the UNC B team followed up with a second-place finish with a 3:40.44. Duke University took third place with a 3:42.78.