Women’s ACC Championships: Leah Smith, Alexia Zevnik Post Impressive Night Two

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The first full night of finals at the women’s ACC championships at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta featured a dominant effort from Virginia’s Leah Smith in the 500 free and a come-from-behind victory and conference record from Alexia Zevnik in the 200 IM.

North Carolina State is on top of the team standings after Tuesday night with 452.5 points, well ahead of nine-time defending ACC champion Virginia, which sits second with 385.5. Just behind are North Carolina (384) and Louisville (383), while Duke rounds out the top five at 315.

Check out full race-by-race recaps below.

500 free

Virginia’s Leah Smith won her fourth consecutive NCAA title in the 500 free to open the meet’s slate of individual events. Ahead by more than a bodylength after 100 yards, Smith extended her lead to almost 15 yards to touch in 4:30.81. The time breaks her own pool record of 4:31.33 set on her way to winning last year’s NCAA championship in the event. Smith ranks second all-time in the event at 4:30.37.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford swam behind the pack for much of the race but pulled into second place over the last quarter of the race and finished in 4:37.47. NC State’s Hannah Moore finished just behind in 4:38.07, and Virginia Tech’s Jessica Hespeler also broke 4:40, finishing at 4:39.40.

Also competing in the A-final were North Carolina’s Macey Arnold (4:42.07), NC State’s Rachel Muller (4:42.57), Pitt’s Amanda Richey (4:43.69) and UVA’s Cecelia Williams (4:48.80).

200 IM

NC State’s Alexia Zevnik held the lead for much of the first half of the race, but she lost that advantage on breaststroke as Virginia’s Kaitlyn Jones took over the top spot. But Zevnik had something left for the freestyle leg, splitting 26.55 on the way home, compared to Jones’ 27.80. Zevnik finished in 1:54.44, taking down Emma Reaney’s ACC record of 1:54.92 from 2014.

Jones ended up finishing second in 1:54.93, just off Reaney’s previous conference record, and teammate Jen Marrkand finished third in 1:56.69. Marrkand pulled away from Virginia Tech’s Reka Gyorgy on the freestyle leg, and Gyorgy had to settle for fourth, finishing in 1:57.22.

Louisville’s Alina Kendzior grabbed fifth in 1:58.27, just ahead of Virginia Tech’s Fiona Donnelly (1:58.46). Two more Louisville Cardinals, Rachel Bradford-Feldman (1:59.15) and Andrea Cottrell (1:59.18), also made the A-final.

50 free

NC State’s Ky-Lee Perry got her hand onto the wall ahead of UNC’s Caroline Baldwin to win the women’s 50 free final. Perry touched in 21.88, ahead of Baldwin’s 21.93. Both swam faster in the morning prelims, when Baldwin set a new ACC meet record at 21.79, and Perry qualified second in 21.80.

It was a huge event for the NC State Wolfpack as they swept three of the top four places. Courtney Caldwell and Natalie Labonge, both of NC State, tied for third in 22.00. UNC’s Sarah Hitchens finished just behind in 22.06, followed by UVA’s Caitlin Cooper (22.12), Louisville’s Casey Fanz (22.19) and UVA’s Ellen Thomas (22.22).

1-meter diving

Florida State’s Ayla Bonniwell came from behind to win the women’s 1-meter competition on the last dive. She ended up with a score of 320.85 to pull ahead of Miami’s Wally Layland, who led after five rounds but ended up finishing with a score of 308.50.

FSU’s Molly Carlson scored 307.65 to finish third, and the Seminoles also picked up sixth-place points after Blair Mulka scored 281.00. Miami’s Marcela Maric was fourth with 287.85, and Clemson’s Danielle Reitsma finished fifth in 286.50.

UVA’s Kylie Tobin (255.00) and UNC’s Elissa Dawson (176.10) also qualified for the A-final.

200 free relay

North Carolina led for almost the entire length of the relay, but the Tar Heels’ rival from a half hour east in Raleigh, the NC State Wolfpack, pulled out the win on the anchor leg. Caroline Baldwin (21.88) and Sarah Hitchens (21.73) gave UNC the lead over Natalie Labonge (22.18) and Ky-Lee Perry (21.73), but the race changed at the halfway point.

NC State third leg Krista Duffield out-split UNC’s Brooke Bauer, 21.69 to 22.26, and Courtney Caldwell split 21.71 to hold off a charging Hellen Moffitt, whose split of 21.49 was tops in the field. NC State finished in 1:27.31, five one-hundredths ahead of UNC’s 1:27.36.

Virginia finished third in 1:28.27 with Caitlin CooperEllen ThomasEryn Eddy and Morgan Hill. Louisville was next in 1:28.48 as a trio of freshman joined Mallory Comerford, who split 21.59.

Duke picked up an A-qualifying cut in finishing fifth in 1:28.51, followed by Florida State (1:29.28), Notre Dame (1:29.47) and Georgia Tech (1:30.73).

Full results

2 Comments

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Bill Bell

    As modest as I am, far be it from me to toot my own horn but a couple of weeks I noted that before her career was finished North Carolina State rookie Ky- Lee Perry could become an NCAA champion.

    And lo and behold, today she wins the 50 title and comes within .03 of breaking Carolyn Bakdwin’s 21.78’ACC record from prelims.

    Yes, Abbey Weitzeil’s also inky a freshman and Simone Manuel a soph but Perry’s gonna be tough real soon.

  2. avatar

    nothing personal but its an acc championship title leah earned she has to beat the queen this year in the ncaas

Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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