NC State Invitational: Hubert Kos Knocks Off Leon Marchand in 400 IM, Also Wins 100 Back in Swift Double

Hubert Kos of Hungary shows the gold medal after competing in the 200m Backstroke Men Final during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 28th, 2023.
Hubert Kos -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

NC State Invitational: Hubert Kos Knocks Off Leon Marchand in 400 IM, Also Wins 100 Back in Swift Double

Over the past two years, Leon Marchand has established dominance over the 400 IM, winning two world titles, annihilating the fastest times ever in short course yards to the point where he has been four seconds faster than any other man in history and taking down Michael Phelps’ last individual world record. Marchand is now clearly established as the world’s top swimmer and a favorite to excel in the spotlight of a home Olympic Games next summer in Paris.

But Marchand is not at his best at this weekend’s NC State Invitational in Greensboro, N.C., with illness having ruled him out of his events Thursday. Marchand made a return for the 400 IM Friday, but he did not have enough energy to take the win. But the only other men who could beat him were his fellow Sun Devils.

Leading the way throughout was Hubert Kos, the world champion in the 200 backstroke, who achieved his first sub-1:40 performance in the 200 IM Thursday. Kos swam a best time by a full second to move into a tie for sixth all-time in the event with former American standout Josh Prenot. Kos took control of the event on backstroke and did not let the less-than-100% Marchand or fellow ASU swimmer David Schlicht pull back into contention.

Kos finished in 3:35.82, more than two seconds ahead of Schlicht (3:38.16). Marchand ended up third in 3:38.61, finishing less than one second off his own season-best time (3:37.96) despite his compromised condition.

Later on in the evening, Kos won a second individual event, blasting a mark of 44.37 to win the 100 backstroke by more than one second over teammate Jack Dolan. Kos jumped to No. 16 all-time in the event, and his time would have placed fourth at last year’s NCAA Championships (in his fourth-best event). Dolan took second in 45.47 while Jack Wadsworth made it another 1-2-3 finish as he came in third at 45.90.

In other events, the Arizona State men continued to dominate while the NC State women produced an extremely strong 200 medley relay before Duke had a big night with three individual wins.

Women’s 200 Medley Relay

The NC State women opened the evening with a one-second win in the 200 medley relay, with fifth-year swimmer Katharine Berkoff providing the blitz on the anchor leg. It was a tight battle with Duke through 150 yards after Kaelyn Gridley split 26.72 on breaststroke and Aleyna Ozkan went 22.98 on butterfly, but Berkoff restored order with a 21.08 closing split.

The team of Kennedy NobleAbby ArensTyler Driscoll and Berkoff combined for a time of 1:35.51, about one second ahead of Duke’s Ali Pfaff, Gridley, Ozkan and Tatum Wall, who came in at 1:36.56. Arizona State’s Katrina MartyZoe SummarLindsay Looney and Erin Milligan placed third in 22.08.

Men’s 200 Medley Relay

Arizona State brought out three of the four swimmers responsible for last year’s runnerup finish in this event at the NCAA Championships, with Jack DolanLeon Marchand and Jonny Kulow reprising their roles on backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, respectively, while star freshman Ilya Kharun took over for the graduated Max McCusker on butterfly. Indeed, Kharun provided the biggest difference in this win as he split 19.24, faster than all but one swimmer recorded at last year’s NCAA Championships. Kulow closed in 18.22, and the Sun Devils finished in 18.22.

NC State placed second in 1:22.87 with Quintin McCartySam HooverLuke Miller and Drew Salls, representing a completely new quartet from last year’s Wolfpack team that won the NCAA title. Virginia Tech finished third in 1:24.30 with Youssef RamadanCarles Coll MartiMario Molla Yanes and Tanish George Mathew.

Women’s 400 IM

NC State’s Grace Sheble trailed Duke’s Catherine Purnell by nine tenths halfway through the 400 IM A-finaol, but Purnell dominated the breaststroke leg to open up an advantage of three-and-a-half seconds on the field. Sheble then held on as distance freestyle specialist Deniz Ertan closed on the freestyle leg.

Sheble finished in 4:09.12, with Arizona State’s Ertan placing second in 4:11.32. NC State’s Yara Hierath took third in 4:12.17, with Purnell ending up fourth (4:13.17).

Women’s 100 Butterfly

Duke’s Aleyna Ozkan pulled away from Abby Arens of Triangle Area rival NC State on the second 50 to earn the victory in the 100 fly, clocking 51.82. The versatile Arens, a key cog of the Wolfpack’s impressive sprint relays, took second in 52.21, with Arizona State’s Lindsay Looney, better known for her 200 butterfly abilities, taking third in 52.64.

Men’s 100 Butterfly

Arizona State freshman Ilya Kharun could be one of the country’s most impactful first-year swimmers, and he scored his first college invitational win with a dominant 100-yard performance. Kharun crushed a time of 44.33, making him the 15th-fastest performer in history while achieving a time that would have placed sixth in an extremely competitive field at last year’s NCAA Championships.

Meanwhile, Jonny Kulow branched out from his strong freestyle results to take second in 45.30, with NC State’s Noah Bowers placing third in 46.13.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

Arizona State’s Ieva Maluka went wire-to-wire in the 200 free, leading by seven tenths halfway through before extending that lead slightly on the way home. Maluka clocked a time of 1:44.83 to take the win, with Duke’s Sarah Foley coming in second at 1:45.67. NC State’s Annabel Crush closed well to place third in 1:46.43.

Men’s 200 Freestyle

Even after the departure of Grant House, the third-place finisher in the 200 free at last year’s NCAA Championships, from the college ranks, the Sun Devils still have one of the country’s top contingent of 200 freestylers. They finished second in the 800 free relay at last year’s NCAA Championships, and the other three swimmers off that squad return.

Here, veteran Julian Hill led the way in an ASU 1-2-3-4 finish, clocking 1:32.06 to hold off teammates Owen McDonald and Patrick Sammon down the stretch. McDonald clocked 1:32.41, followed by Sammon’s 1:32.65 and Tiago Behar’s 1:33.27. With McDonald likely to take House’s place alongside Hill, Sammon and Leon Marchand at the end of the season, the Arizona State 800 free relay will be hard to top.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Duke’s Kaelyn Gridley produced a dominant 100 breast performance. She was the only swimmer to break 1:00 in Greensboro, and after going 59.64 in prelims, she dropped down to 58.74 to win by 1.4 seconds in the final. Meanwhile, Army had a rare top-three finish as Aurelie Migault took second in 1:00.12, with Arizona State’s Zoe Summar third in 1:00.37.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Virginia Tech’s Carles Coll Marti opened up a half-second lead over the first half of the 100 breaststroke final, but he faced two Sun Devils breathing down his neck on the way home. Indeed, Arizona State teammates Any Dobrzanski and John Heaphy both clocked sub-28 splits on the way home, and Dobrzanski had enough to touch out Coll Marti by one hundredth, 52.52 to 52.53. Heaphy was one tenth further back in 52.62.

Women’s 100 Backstroke

In five women’s individual events in the session, Duke picked up three wins, and this time, it was a freshman getting the job done as Ali Pfaff pulled away from NC State’s Miriam Sheehan after a tight first 50. Pfaff finished in 52.12, more than three tenths clear of the field, with Virginia Tech’s Caroline Bentz overtaking Sheehan for second, 52.55 to 52.59.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Relay

Ieva Maluka, the winner of the individual 200 free earlier in the session, pulled away from NC State counterpart Kennedy Noble on the second leg of the 800 free relay, providing the Sun Devils a big advantage as they cruised to a relay win. Maluka split 1:43.99, and along with Lindsay LooneyErin Milligan and Molly Batchelor, ASU finished in 7:00.45 to defeat the Wolfpack by three seconds.

Katharine Berkoff, Noble, Keelan Cotter and Annabel Crush placed second in 7:03.44, while Duke’s Sarah Foley, Catherine PurnellYixuan Chang and Tatum Wall were well back in third at 7:15.30.

Men’s 800 Freestyle Relay

Arizona State achieved a 1-2 finish in the men’s 800 free relay to close the night, even with Julian Hill swimming more than two seconds slower than his individual 200 free time from earlier in the night and an ailing Leon Marchand not participating. The team of Hill, Owen McDonaldPatrick Sammon and Jonny Kulow clocked 6:13.66 to take the win, while the B squad of Hubert KosIlya KharunTiaog Behar and David Schlicht took second in 6:17.28.

NC State finished third in 6:18.98 behind a team of Noah BowersLuke MillerJT Ewing and Hunter Tapp.


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