Duke Divers Post NCAA Zone Marks To Lead Blue Devils Past UNC-Wilmington

Photo Credit: Duke Athletics

DURHAM – Duke divers Cole Plambeck, Kirby Quinn and MaryEllen Targonski posted NCAA zone qualifying standards in their respective diving events Saturday to lead the Blue Devils past UNC-Wilmington in the team’s first home meet of the season.

Duke Press Release

Duke’s divers claimed the top spot in all four springboard competitions and the swimmers followed suit with strong performances in the pool to send the men’s and women’s teams to a pair of wins over UNC Wilmington in the home opener at Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion Saturday. The Blue Devil women (2-0, 1-0 ACC) prevailed over the Seahawks by a 187-108 score while the men (1-1, 0-1 ACC) defeated UNC Wilmington 165-128.

“There were definitely some great performances,” said head coach Dan Colella. “One of the things that I was the most proud of wasn’t necessarily the times, but the way people raced today. We challenged them to swim some of their races a little bit differently than they have in the past and I think they did a really great job of that. It’s something that’s only going to help them continue to improve as we go forward.”

Sophomore diver Cole Plambeck won both the men’s 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events, surpassing the NCAA Zones qualifying standard on the 1-meter board with an award of 300.23. Classmate Kirby Quinn and freshman MaryEllen Targonski also posted Zones qualifying marks for the Duke women, with Quinn taking first on the 3-meter board (310.05) and Targonski collecting the top score in the 1-meter competition (290.18).

“The girls did really well,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “On 3-meter, we went one-two-three-four, so that was really exciting. MaryEllen, our freshman, won 1-meter so that was really exciting too. And then on the men’s side Cole was first on both boards. It was a good home opener and we’re looking forward to our competition Sunday.”

After teaming with classmates Kaz Takabayashi and James Peek and freshman Ryan Nicholson to win the men’s 200-yard medley relay (1:29.56) at the beginning of the meet, sophomore Peter Kropp led a Duke sweep of the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. He earned his second NCAA ‘B’ cut of the season in the 100 (54.52), followed by classmate Dylan Payne (56.87) and junior Victor Chen (59.03). The trio also claimed the top three spots in the 200, with Kropp leading the way at 2:02.98.

Nicholson and junior David Armstrong swam to a tie in the 50 freestyle, with both tapping the wall at 21.25. Armstrong came back later to win the 100 butterfly (49.80) and senior Stefan Knight (50.28) was just behind in second. Sophomore Michael Miller displayed strong closing speed in a first-place showing in the 200 freestyle (1:42.94).

“Stefan really stood up today, had a great 100 butterfly and led off the relay with a great swim going 20.7,” Colella said. “David Armstrong in combination with Stefan, going one-two in the 100 fly, going 49 today was a nice little breakthrough this early in the season for him. I know he was excited for that performance.”

Other individual event winners for the Blue Devil men included Takabayashi in the 100 backstroke (50.65), junior Kenny Ng in the 200 butterfly (1:52.71), freshman Alex Peña in the 500 freestyle (4:42.02) and freshman Matt Johnson in the 400 IM (4:14.44).

Knight, freshman Nick Bigot, Ng and Peek out-touched the Seahawks for a first-place performance in the 200 freestyle relay (1:23.61) to close out the meet. Duke also won the same event on the women’s side, with junior Chelsea Ye, freshman Lizzie Devitt and sophomores Colleen Wixted and Jessie Sutherland going 1:36.81. The women put forth a strong statement in the opening 200 medley relay as well, as Ye, freshman Leah Goldman, Sutherland and sophomore Maddie Rusch clocked 1:44.27.

Individually, rookie Verity Abel led the Duke women with a pair of wins in the 200 butterfly (2:05.95) and the 400 IM (4:28.41). Fellow freshman Lizzie Devitt was first in the 1,000 freestyle (10:32.70), as was Goldman in the 100 butterfly (55.61). Sophomore Brittany Friese led a one-two-three finish for the Blue Devils in the 200 freestyle as classmate Colleen Wixted touched second and freshman Isabella Paez third. Paez also claimed a victory in the 500 freestyle (5:06.86) while Ye paced the field in the 100 backstroke (57.57) and sophomore Liza Bragg did the same in the 200 backstroke (2:02.41).

Duke also shined in the women’s sprint freestyle events, as Rusch was the first to the wall in the 50 (23.52) and junior Kathryn Eckhart won the 100 (53.20).

“We had a number of season bests and I think the energy was really great,” Colella said. “We had a lot of really solid performances. The key thing now is them recovering and staying loose and getting ready for a very strong Virginia Tech team tomorrow.”

The Blue Devils face a short turnaround, welcoming ACC opponent Virginia Tech to Taishoff Sunday, Oct. 26 for an 11 a.m. dual meet. Live results will be available for the day. Fans in attendance are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness.

Results: UNC-Wilmington vs. Duke

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Author: Emily Sampl

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Emily Sampl, an editorial assistant for Swimming World Magazine, is a freelance writer for USA Swimming and an assistant coach at Boulder High School and Boulder Elks Swim Team in Colorado. Emily graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and master's degree in sport administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

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