NC State Wolfpack Swim Teams Dominates Auburn and Kentucky; Tigers Beat Wildcats

katharine-berkoff, nc state wolfpack
NC State's Katharine Berkoff -- Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

NC State Wolfpack Swim Teams Dominates Auburn and Kentucky; Tigers Beat Wildcats

The NC State Wolfpack swim teams made a statement Friday with their women and men’s teams each taking two dual meet wins each in a high-profile three-way showdown against Auburn and Kentucky. The Wolfpack women, the NCAA runner-up behind conference rival Virginia at last year’s NCAA championships, beat reigning SEC champion Kentucky 180-118 and won over Auburn 187-111 as veterans Katharine Berkoff, Sophie Hansson and Kylie Alons impressed with two individual victories each.

The NC State men won 194-101 over Kentucky and 184-111 over Auburn. Such was NC State’s dominance in the men’s meet that Wolfpack swimmers won every swimming event except one. In the 12 individual events, NC State finished 1-2 in an amazing 10 events, 1-2-3 in six of those and even 1-2-3-4 on two different occasions.

The best team showdown of the day was Auburn vs. Kentucky on the women’s side, and the Tigers emerged with a hard-fought 157-143 triumph, and Auburn’s men also won, 200-100.

The meet will continue Saturday with relays, the 400 IM and several unique events including 75s, 150s and the 2000 free.


Women’s Events

NC State began the meet with a two-second triumph in the 200 medley relay. Last year’s national champions in the event, the team including returners backstroker Berkoff and breaststroker Hansson combined with new additions Abby Arens (butterfly) and Heather MacCausland (freestyle) to win in 1:37.34.

Individually, the Wolfpack got on a roll before the first diving break. Berkoff blasted a 51.85 in the 100 back, and Hansson went 59.11 to win the 100 breast by more than two seconds. Arens was three seconds ahead of the field in the 200 fly (1:56.39). Alons won the last event before the diving break with a 22.61 in the 50 free. Berkoff dominated again in the 200 back (1:53.73), and Kentucky’s Gillian Davey could not keep pace with Hansson in the 200 breast as the Swedish Olympian won, 2:10.25 to 2:11.69. Alons and Arens finished 1-2 in the 100 fly with times of 52.75 and 52.97, respectively.

To conclude the meet, NC State’s Kate Moore took first in a tight 200 IM (2:00.72), and the 400 free relay went to the Wolfpack team of Berkoff, Alons, Elle Giesler and Abbey Webb in 3:18.76, more than two seconds ahead of the field.

Auburn’s Emily Hetzer won the 1000 free in 9:52.42, about two seconds ahead of NC State’s Brooke Travis, and she later won the 500 free in 4:50.40. Kentucky’s Riley Gaines won the 200 free (1:47.35), and she laterouched out Alons to win the 100 free, 49.28 to 49.40. Kentucky’s Morgan Southall was the winner in 1-meter (278.00) and 3-meter diving (304.80).

Men’s Events

The NC State men also opened up with a 200 medley relay victory, with freshmen bookending two seniors. 2021 Swimming World High School Swimmer of the Year Aiden HayesRafal KustoNyls Korstanje and David Curtiss swam a 1:25.93. James Plague led an NC State sweep in the 1000 free as he won in 9:00.34 and teammates Will Gallant and Ross Dant placed second and third, respectively. Then, NC State finished 1-2-3-4 in the 200 free behind winner Luke Miller (1:34.95) and teammates Bartos PiszczorowiczSam Hoover and Eric Knowles.

Giovanni Izzo (47.52) and Hunter Tapp (47.67) went 1-2 for NC State in the 100 back before Reid Mikuta finally broke the NC State streak as he got a win for Auburn in the 100 breast, finishing in 53.11. But the next event saw more Wolfpack domination, with Noah Henderson winning the 200 fly (1:45.05) followed by teammates Noah Bowers and Zach Brown. Korstanje (19.72) and Curtiss (19.86) placed 1-2 in the 50 free.

Tapp won the 200 back in 1:44.97 over fellow Wolfpack swimmer Mikey Moore (1:45.33), and Kusto edged out Mikuta, 1:58.31 to 1:58.72, to win the 200 breast. Another 1-2-3-4 sweep in the 500 free saw Dant win in 4:22.23 ahead of Plage, Gallant and Knowles. The 100 fly sweep saw NC State’s Korstanje (46.24) beat out Henderson and Hayes for the top three spots.

The final individual event of the meet saw Moore win the 200 IM in 1:47.63 ahead of Bowers and Hoover. NC State then finished with a 1-2 performance in the 400 free relay. The A-team of Miller, Tapp, Piszczorowicz and Korstanje won in 2:52.79, followed by the group of Henderson, Curtiss, Izzo and Knowles (2:57.28).

Meanwhile, in addition to Mikuta’s 100 breast victory, Auburn’s Connor Pruitt won 1-meter (367.20) and 3-meter diving (401.65).