Torri Huske, Taylor Ruck, Claire Curzan Record Nation-Leading Times at NC State Invitational

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Torri Huske -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Torri Huske, Taylor Ruck, Claire Curzan Record Nation-Leading Times at NC State Invitational

The Stanford women and NC State men are continuing to flash intimidating times at the Wolfpack-hosted invitational in Greensboro, N.C., and for the second consecutive night, Stanford sophomore Torri Huske and freshman Claire Curzan each swam the top time in the nation in an event, with Taylor Ruck also getting in the mix for top times. On the men’s side, Leon Marchand swam the third-fastest performance in history in the 400-yard IM while his Sun Devil teammates Grant House and Jack Dolan each secured individual victories.

Women’s 200 Medley Relay

A huge breaststroke advantage over Stanford propelled NC State to a dominant win in the 200 medley relay. The team of Katharine BerkoffHeather MacCauslandKylee Alons and Abby Arens finished in 1:34.37, one-and-a-half seconds quicker than the 1:35.94 recorded by the Stanford team of Torri HuskeSam Tadder, Claire Curzan and Taylor Ruck. Third went to the NC State B-squad of Kennedy NobleAndrea PodmanikovaSarah Watson and Meghan Donald in 1:38.17, just ahead of Duke (1:38.24).

Curzan’s butterfly split of 22.30 was quick but not enough to make up the deficit from Berkoff leading off in 23.70 and MacCausland splitting 26.12 on breaststroke. For some perspective, former Wolfpack star Sophie Hansson split 26.05 on the team’s second place medley relay at last year’s NCAA Championships, so MacCausland is more than doing her job if she can nearly replicate the speed of a former NCAA champion.

Men’s 200 Medley Relay

Arizona State trailed NC State slightly at the halfway point, but butterfly swimmer Max McCusker came through with a 19.81 leg to give Grant House three tenths of a second to work with on the anchor split, and he slightly surpassed NC State anchor David Curtiss. The Sun Devils’ team of Jack DolanJohn Heaphy, McCusker and House came in at 1:22.97, while NC State’s Aidan HayesHunter MasonNyls Korstanje and Curtiss finished in 1:23.34. The times here were just behind the nation-leading 1:22.82 that Florida recorded at the Georgia Invite. Stanford’s Leon MacAlisterEthan DangJonny Affeld and Luke Maurer placed third in 1:24.76.

Women’s 400 IM

Stanford freshman Lucy Bell and Arizona State sophomore Charli Brown led the race through 200 yards, but a brilliant breaststroke split (1:09.03) put NC State sophomore Grace Sheble into the lead, and she would pull away on the freestyle. Sheble, who finished 22nd at last year’s NCAA Championships, finished in 4:06.73, which would have been a B-final-worthy time on the national level last year. Bell grabbed second in 4:08.37, and Brown was third in 4:09.78.

Women’s 100 Butterfly

The two top 100 butterfly swimmers in the United States for the past several years are now teammates, and the duo of Torri Huske and Claire Curzan put on a show Friday night as they crushed everyone else in the A-final. Huske was out in 22.76, a tenth faster than Kate Douglass’ American-record pace, and although she faded slightly down the stretch, she had enough to finish in 49.25. Huske was a mere eight hundredths shy of her career-best time (49.17), and only Maggie Mac Neil (48.89), Douglass (49.04) and Curzan (49.24) have ever recorded faster times.

Curzan finished second in 49.93, and NC State’s Kylee Alons touched third in 51.83. With all the main contenders in the 100 fly having competed in their midseason meets, Huske is the quickest in the country with her 49.25, just ahead of LSU’s Mac Neil (49.40), with Douglass (49.76), Gretchen Walsh (49.89) and Curzan (49.93) all within striking distance.

Men’s 100 Butterfly

In an extraordinarily tight finish, NC State’s Luke Miller got the better of ASU’s Max McCusker. McCusker was out in 20.65 with Miller trailing in 21.00, but Miller closed the gab over the final two lengths of the pool to win by two hundredths, 44.99 to 45.01. Those two swimmers rank third and fourth in the country, respectively, behind Tennessee’s Jordan Crooks (44.79) and Miller’s NC State teammate Nyls Korstanje (44.95). Alexander Colson, also of the Sun Devils, took third in 45.77.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

Last year’s NCAA champion in the 200 free set the time to beat this year as Taylor Ruck came in at 1:43.11, still two seconds off her winning time from last March (1:41.12) but quicker than all but three swimmers in the NCAA final. The Canadian veteran of two Olympic Games led a Stanford surge in the event as swimmers representing the Cardinal captured the top five spots. Kayla Wilson was second in 1:44.35, good for fifth in the country, while Lillie Nordmann was third in 1:44.83. Morgan Tankersley (1:45.64) and Natalie Mannion (1:46.12) completed the one-through-five sweep.

Men’s 200 Freestyle

Grant House has 1:30 pedigree in the 200 free, so this was not the best time of his career, but he still went wire-to-wire in taking the midseason win in 1:31.96. The time made him the second-fastest swimmer in the country behind Alabama’s Charlie Hawke (1:31.92). And more significantly for Arizona State, the Sun Devils swept the top four spots as behind House came Julian Hill (1:32.26), Patrick Sammon (1:32.79) and Andrew Gray (1:33.55). With Leon Marchand in the mix as well, the Sun Devils undoubtedly possess one of the top 800 free relay squads in the nation.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Sophie Hansson might be gone from college swimming, but the NC State Wolfpack still have a pair of breaststrokers who could be A-finalists on the national level in March. Heather MacCausland was the winner here in 58.16 while teammate Andrea Podmanikova placed second in 58.56. The top time in the country belongs to USC’s Kaitlyn Dobler (56.94) while Virginia’s Alex Walsh has also broken 58. Duke’s Sarah Foley was the only other sub-1:00 performer in the final with her mark of 59.39.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

NC State’s Hunter Mason fended off Penn State freshman Mariano Lazzerini for the win here. Mason clocked 52.57, with Lazzerini just behind at 52.76. Stanford’s Zhier Fan placed third in 52.96.

Women’s 100 Backstroke

The last time Claire Curzan and Katharine Berkoff faced off in a 100 backstroke in Greensboro, Curzan beat Berkoff by two tenths in the long course version of the event to claim a World Championships spot. In this short course yards matchup, Curzan crushed the two-time defending NCAA champion and fastest swimmer in history by more than a second. The Stanford freshman returned from her second-place finish in the 100 fly to top the 100 back in 50.12. That narrowly beat Gretchen Walsh’s 50.13 in Knoxville as the top time in the country so far.

Berkoff finished second in 51.21, her season-best mark but nowhere close to the 48.74 swim she blasted in March, while her NC State teammate Kylee Alons placed third in 51.83.

Men’s 100 Backstroke

NC State’s Jack Dolan asserted himself over the second half of the men’s 100 back final to secure a win. NC State’s Aidan Hayes was not far away on the first 50, but he ended up fading back as Dolan held off a slight challenge from Stanford’s Leon MacAlister to win in 45.43. His prelims time of 45.25 is the fastest time so far this season, just ahead of Auburn’s Aidan Stoffle (45.27). Hayes took third in 46.06.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Relay

As expected after a sweep in the individual 200 free, no one could touch the Cardinal in the 800 free relay, and Stanford actually went 1-2 after deploying sprint stars Torri Huske and Claire Curzan in their second swims of the night. Huske led off in 1:44.25, then Curzan split 1:43.74 before Taylor Ruck, fresh off a nation-leading mark of 1:43.11 in the individual 200 free, split 1:43.08. Kayla Wilson anchored in 1:45.38, and the Cardinal combined for an overall time of 6:56.45. Huske’s time ranks as No. 4 nationally in the 200 free.

The Stanford B-team placed second with Natalie MannionAurora RoghairMorgan Tankersley and Lillie Nordmann. Nordmann split 1:44.99 on the way home on the way to a time of 7:03.39. NC State’s Abbey WebbAnnabel CrushKatherine Helms and Katharine Berkoff placed third in 7:05.83. Berkoff made a rare appearance in a 200-yard event as she split 1:44.81 coming home.

Men’s 800 Freestyle Relay

In another expected result, Arizona State cruised to a first-place finish in the 800 free relay. Grant House led off in 1:32.04, just off his 1:31.96 from the individual event earlier in the night, and he was joined by Julian HillPatrick Sammon and Leon Marchand in swimming a time of 6:08.97, the best recorded so far this season. Sammon had the fastest split of the race at 1:31.96.

NC State’s team of Luke Miller, Michael CotterBartosz Pisczcorowicz and Noah Bowers took second in 6:15.80. Miller, the winner of the 100 fly earlier in the night, led off in 1:32.15. Stanford took third in 6:17.35 with Ron PolonskyLeon MacAlisterRafael Gu and Luke Maurer.

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