CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina, November 23. STEPHANIE Peacock made a big statement on the final day of the Dowd Nike Cup in the 1650 freestyle, alerting her competitors that they have plenty of work to do in order to stop her from regaining her NCAA title in the 1650 freestyle.
The North Carolina senior posted a jaw-dropping 15:49.11 in the event today, a time that would have placed third in the 2013 NCAAs. Peacock did not compete in last March’s met due to an undisclosed illness, but today’s in-season time shows that she is on the right path to an NCAA title. Notably, it’s 12 seconds off her NCAA record of 15:37.06 that she set last December.
Placing a distant second behind Peacock in today’s race was teammate Emma Nunn, who is having a breakout meet for the Tar Heels. Nunn’s time of 16:24.91 is a 12-second drop for the North Carolina sophomore. Yesim Giresunlu of Old Dominion placed third with a 16:45.31.
Duke’s Christine Wixted was the only female swimmer to win three events at the Nike Cup, taking the 200 breast today in 2:10.10 to go along with her victories in the 200 IM and 100 breast. It beats her lifetime best by .09, which also stood as the Duke school record. Even with other invitationals seeing fast swims this weekend, it’s likely Wixted’s time will hold in the top five of the collegiate rankings. Well back in second place today was UNC’s Katherine Rechs with a 2:13.00, while Tar Heel Abby Fisher was third in 2:13.50.
Meredith Hoover of North Carolina got within a second of the NCAA automatic qualifying time in winning the women’s 200 fly, posting a 1:55.44 to vault her into second place in the collegiate rankings and put her within a second of her lifetime best, swum at last spring’s NCAA championships. Hoover led a 1-2-3 Tar Heel sweep, with Sarah Kouchecki placing second with a 1:56.82 and Nunn returning from her 1650 to place third with a 1:58.04.
The Tar Heels won the remaining three women’s events to close out the meet. UNC finished 1-2-3-4 in the 200 back, as Annie Harrison led the way with a 1:54.44, Carly Smith placed second in 1:56.95, Helen Moffit finished third with a 1:58.93 and Sarah Hitchens was fourth with a 1:59.39. For Harrison, that time currently stands third in the collegiate rankings, and chops three tenths off her lifetime best.
Lauren Earp captured her second event of the meet with a 48.98 in the 100 free. It’s also currently a top-three time in the national collegiate standings, and puts her less than a tenth away from breaking Richelle Fox’s 15-year-old school record of 48.89. It was also another 1-2-3-4 finish for UNC, as Allyn Hardesty (49.23), Danielle Silvering (49.71) and Hannah Lincoln (50.19) scored big points for the Tar Heels.
Those four returned for a dominating win in the 400 free relay, posting a 3:17.48. NC State was second with a 3:20.82 while UNC’s B team was third with a 3:23.35.
The fireworks were not as explosive in the men’s meet, though a few swimmers got into the top five of the collegiate rankings. Sidni Hoxa of Old Dominion was one of them, following up his 50 free win with a victory in the 100 free, posting a 43.15 that could stand up through this weekend as the fastest 100 free in the collegiate season. Derek Toomey held that honor for a week with a 43.56 from the Arena Grand Prix. It’s a lifetime best for the senior from Albania, and breaks his school record of 43.43. The top four all broke 44 seconds, with NC State’s Jonathan Boffa posting a 43.70 for second, UNC’s Logan Heck third with a 43.72 and NC State’s Andreas Schiellerup fourth with a 43.97.
Thomas Duvall of Navy also got into the top three national standings, posting a 15:19.15 to win the 1650 freestyle for third in the nation — though the mile is not often swum outside of championship-format meets. Josh Beals and William DeForest placed second and third for UNC, with Beals posting a 15:27.57 and DeForest swimming a 15:31.74.
A 1-2-3-4 UNC sweep in the men’s 200 back was highlighted by the top three times on the scoreboard. Brad Dillon led the way with a 1:45.17 by Brad Dillion to put him in the top three nationally. After leading for 150 yards, Nic Graesser settled for second with a 1:45.24, while Patrick Myers got third with a 1:45.55. Matt Kwatyra was third with a 1:48.57.
East Carolina’s Rokas Cepulis won the 200 breast with a 1:57.66, also just inside the top three nationally. North Carolina’s David Speese used a strong final 50 yards to creep closer to Cepulis and place second with a 1:58.80. Hunter Knight of Duke was third with a 1:58.87.
UNC’s Dominick Glavich was one of the few winners this weekend at the Nike Cup to not improve on his season-best time. He won the 200 fly with a 1:46.07, which is still a strong swim but not as fast as the 1:45.41 he posted in the dual meet against Texas. After cruising through the first 100 yards, he powered home in a 56.03 to pull away from teammate Patrick Myers, who was third with a 1:47.42. UNC completed the sweep with a third-place time of 1:48.16 from Ben Colley.
Rounding out the men’s meet was a win for NC State in the 400 free relay, as they posted a 2:54.42 to just miss the NCAA automatic qualifying time, as well as the 10-year-old meet record of 2:54.37 posted by Tennessee in 2013.
North Carolina dominated the team scoring, winning the men’s meet by 1,066 points over NC State. On the women’s side, the Tar Heels beat NC State by 1312.5 points.