Kate Douglass Surpasses Huske’s 200 IM, Virginia and Alabama Dual in Relays at Tennessee Invitational

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Kate Douglass -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Kate Douglass Surpasses Huske’s 200 IM, Virginia and Alabama Dual in Relays at Tennessee Invitational

Shortly after Stanford freshman Torri Huske exploded with a 1:52.82 200 IM at the NC State Invitational, Virginia’s Kate Douglass did even better at the Tennessee Invitational, just a few hours’ drive west on I-40 in Knoxville. Douglass, the Olympic bronze medalist in the long course 200 IM, swam a 1:52.21 in the event to take the lead in the national rankings.

Douglass actually ranks third all-time in the event behind Ella Eastin and Beata Nelson with her 1:50.92 from a late November meet in Knoxville last season, but Douglass skipped the 200 IM at the NCAA Championships. Instead, UVA teammate Alex Walsh won the event easily while Douglass took down Maggie MacNeil in the 50 free in that same session. But even though Douglass is elite in sprint free and fly, the 200 IM is her best event, and she showed that Thursday.

Douglass also led off UVA’s 200 free relay in 21.27, the country’s fastest time this year, but Alabama ended up beating out Virginia in that one, 1:26.38 to 1:26.61. Kalia Antoniou (21.79), Morgan Scott (21.26), Kailyn Winter (21.92) and Cora Dupre (21.41) swam for the Crimson Tide. Tennessee placed third in 1:28.19. A few events later, Scott out-dueled Antoniou to win the 50 free, 21.80 to 21.84, and Tennessee’s AJ Kutsch was just behind in 21.89.

UVA did get the win in the 400 medley relay with Reilly Tiltman (51.85), Alexis Wenger (57.75), Douglass (50.19) and Walsh (47.33) combining for a 3:27.12, but the Cavaliers needed a near-perfect effort to hold off Alabama. U.S. Olympian Rhyan White led off in 50.15, just off Regan Smith’s 50.06 from earlier in the night as the country’s top time, and she was followed by Avery Wiseman (58.66), Scott (51.60) and a blistering anchor leg from Antoniou (46.77). Tennessee, led by Mona McSharry’s 57.21 breaststroke leg, placed third in 3:28.91.

Notably, Virginia is missing Gretchen Walsh, younger sister of Alex, at this week’s meet.

The only other women’s event of the day also went to Alabama as Kensey McMahon won in 4:38.76. McMahon barely led Virginia’s Emma Weyant with 50 meters to go, and Tennessee freshman Julie Mrozinski was more than a second behind, but Mrozinski closed in 26.21 to place second in 4:38.82, just six hundredths behind McMahon. Weyant, the Virginia freshman who was the Olympic silver medalist in the 400-meter IM, was just another eight hundredths back in third (4:38.90).

On the men’s side, Virginia’s Jack Aikins (20.04), August Lamb (19.07), Justin Grender (19.54) and Matt King (19.02) won the 200 free relay in 1:17.67, narrowly edging out Tennessee (1:17.80) and Alabama (1:18.04). Jonathan Berneburg put up an 18.98 split on the end for Bama.

Tennessee’s Rafael Ponce de Leon won the 500 free in 4:17.10, followed by Alabama’s Charlie Hawke (4:18.03) and UNLV’s Chris Mykkanen (4:19.62). Alabama then went 1-2 in the men’s 200 IM with Derek Maas (1:43.49) and Matthew Menke (1:44.42), while Virginia’s Sean Conway took third (1:45.39). Tennessee then picked up another win in the 50 free. Freshman Jordan Crooks won in 19.39, and senior teammate Nolan Briggs placed third in 19.58, with Virginia’s King splitting the difference with his 19.47.

Finally, Alabama closed the night with a signature performance in the 400 medley relay. Menke (45.59), Maas (50.79), Bernardo Bondra (45.69) and Berneburg (42.30) combined for a final time of 3:04.36.

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