Division I Meet of the Week: Virginia Hosts NC State in New Era of Dominance

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Paige Madden is leading a Virginia team against NC State in one of the duel meets of the year. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

NCAA Division I Meet of the Week: (#7/3) NC State vs. (#17/6) Virginia in battle of ACC supremacy.

This week’s NCAA Division I meet of the week focuses on the battle between ACC heavyweights NC State and Virginia as both women’s teams are in the top ten and could be vying for national titles within the next four years.

The meet will be in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday at 4 p.m. The meet will be streamed here.

Division I Meet of the Week

braden holloway, todd desorbo, nc state, virginia, acc swimming

Braden Holloway (left) and Todd DeSorbo (right) used to coach alongside each other in Raleigh. Now they are head coaches of two of the best women’s teams in Division I.

With the recent success in the recruiting game within the last year, the power dynamic in NCAA Division I women’s swimming and diving is starting to shift from the west coast (Stanford & Cal) to the east coast (NC State & Virginia). Within the next two years, both the Wolfpack and the Cavaliers could be vying for a national title. NC State head coach Braden Holloway and Virginia head coach Todd DeSorbo actually coached alongside each other in Raleigh for a long time before DeSorbo took over as head man in Charlottesville in the fall of 2017.

Focusing on the now, both of these ranked in the top ten in the latest CSCAA Division I women’s poll, with NC State 3rd and Virginia 6th. It should be a hotly-contested matchup between two budding programs as they look to gain some momentum ahead of ACCs and NCAAs, where both teams are aiming for historic finishes at the national level. Even though we are discussing potential national titles between the two schools down the line, neither program has finished in the top four on the women’s side, which seems hard to believe for Virginia’s sake since they had produced many great swimmers as of late including Olympians Lauren Perdue and Leah Smith as well as multi-All-American Courtney Bartholomew. But neither program has been higher than fifth.

There should be some fast times thrown down at the meet and the relays should be particularly exciting. Virginia has the top time in the country in the 400 medley relay while NC State is fifth. The back end duo of freshman Kate Douglass and senior Morgan Hill will be particularly tough to contain, but NC State has an equally strong front half with freshman Katherine Berkoff and sophomore Sophie Hansson. Berkoff has not been as strong as predicted but the Wolfpack have usually saved their best for the end of the year so they should not be counted out because of a less-than-stellar showing at their invite.

Douglass has been particularly strong for Virginia this year as she has seemed to have her hand in every single event and has been strong across the board. Right now her championship event lineup looks to be the 200 IM, 100 fly and 200 breast; a wide range of events but another reason why Virginia is going to be nationally relevant for the next few years. Couple in senior sprinter Hill, breaststroker Alexis Wenger, rising star backstroker Caroline Gmelich and junior distance swimmer Paige Madden, this is a very dangerous team.

The main matchup to watch should be in the backstroke and breaststroke events. If NC State’s Hansson can take down either Wenger or Douglass, then that could swing momentum in the favor of NC State. If Virginia wins either of those events, then that could swing momentum in their favor. If NC State’s Berkoff can get the better of Gmelich, then that would be huge point swing.

In the sprint free events, NC State’s Ky-Lee Perry and Kylee Alons will match up alongside Morgan Hill, making for another can’t-miss race with Hill sitting sixth in Division I in the 100 free and Perry sitting 13th.

Paige Madden is the top swimmer in the country in the 500 while NC State’s Kate Moore and Makayla Sargent should be in hot pursuit.

These are the two of the best teams in Division I and that is why it is our NCAA Division I meet of the week.

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Nyls Korstanje has been the top sprinter for the NC State men. Photo Courtesy: NC State Athletics

The #7 NC State – #17 Virginia men’s matchup is not as competitively-matched on paper as the women’s meet, but it will still pit two of the best ACC teams against each other. Sophomore Nyls Korstanje seems to be the headliner here as one of the top sprinters in the nation. The Dutch sprinter has had some recent long course success, winning the 50 free at the Knoxville Pro Series this month with a best time of 22.15. He is currently third in Division I in the 50 free as it looks to be a wide open race for that event. He has taken the reigns as the top sprinter for a historically strong sprinting school that has produced Olympians Cullen JonesRyan Held and Simonas Bilis.

Virginia does not have a strong sprinting core like that of NC State, with their strengths lying in their longer events with freshman Jack Walker (500 free), Keefer Barnum (200 breast) and Casey Storch (400 IM). The Cavaliers just came off a devastating loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech and now they have the difficult task of going up against the best team in the conference in NC State. But they will be at home and will be celebrating their senior class the next day on Saturday against unranked North Carolina.

One cannot talk about NC State without mentioning Coleman Stewart, who was the top men’s swimmer in the country in the pre-season. Stewart is ranked second in the country in the 100 back and is third in the 200. He hasn’t been known to be a great in-season swimmer but he has been doing his job for the Pack, and he will be looking to lead them to a top four NCAA finish for the fifth straight year.