ATLANTA – Juniors Verity Abel and MaryEllen Targonski both earned top-eight individual finishes to lead Duke on the final day of the 2017 ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships at Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center. The Blue Devils wrapped up the four days of action in sixth place out of 13 teams with a total of 725.5 points – up more than 80 points from a year ago.
The team concluded the conference championship with program records in three individual and three relay events. Junior Leah Goldman claimed All-ACC honors with a second-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly Wednesday, earning the second podium finish of her career in that event. Duke also qualified two relays to the NCAA Championships – its 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays.
“This was certainly one of our best ACC Championship performances in the last 12 years,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We’re very, very proud of what the swimmers and divers accomplished this weekend. MaryEllen Targonski finaling on the platform was a highlight, but it was just a great team effort. We fell slightly short of our goal of fifth place in the team standings, finishing just 13 and a half points behind Virginia Tech, but it will just keep us hungry and motivated for the coming year. We’re looking forward to taking our group to NCAAs and doing even bigger and better things there.”
Abel collected the second top-eight finish of her career in the 1,650-yard freestyle Thursday evening, coming in under the NCAA provisional standard at 16:25.91. She headlined a trio of Blue Devils in the event, as senior Lindsay Schlichte clocked a career-best 16:46.24 for 16th and freshman Brittany Kampfer went 17:27.50 for 28th. Schlichte’s mark moved her up to seventh on the program’s all-time performance list.
Targonski advanced to the platform diving final for the third consecutive season, adding more than 14 points to her preliminaries score at 243.50. Her point total included a pair of 60-plus point efforts in the first and second rounds on an inward 2 ½ somersault and a forward 3 ½ somersault.
Three other Blue Devils contributed scoring in the women’s platform preliminaries in a strong showing by the diving group. Sophomore Lizzie Fitzpatrick placed 11th with a career-best award of 220.95, followed by Mackenzie Willborn in 12th (220.65) and senior Kirby Quinn in 15th (211.35).
Back in the pool, the sophomore tandem of Mickayla Hinkle (1:57.94) and Maddie Hess (1:55.20) represented the squad in the 200 backstroke finals, placing 16th and 17th, respectively. Hess was just off her own program record in winning the bonus final.
In the 100 freestyle, freshman Alyssa Marsh notched the third-fastest time in program history during preliminaries with a 49.44 swim. She returned Thursday evening to take 20th in the event (49.58), while junior Leah Goldman was 21st (49.64). Senior Ashleigh Shanley went a career-best time for the second straight day, tapping the wall at 2:16.23 for 28th in the 200 breaststroke preliminaries. That mark ranked her sixth in program history.
Duke advanced three swimmers to the 200 butterfly finals, led by junior Isabella Paez in 11th place overall (1:57.51). Senior Brittany Friese was just behind her in 12th (1:57.81), rounding out a strong showing at the conference championship that included a new school record in the 200 freestyle. Freshman Kylie Jordan was 21st in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:59.76, good for seventh on the all-time performance list.
In the final event of the women’s conference championship, Marsh, Goldman, Hess and sophomore Hunter Aitchison teamed up for a sixth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. The group posted the second-fastest mark in school history at 3:16.60.
Thursday’s events in Atlanta also included the men’s platform diving finals. All three Blue Devils were top-20 in preliminaries, with freshman Nathaniel Hernandez placing 15th (266.15), sophomore Josh Owsiany 19th (256.55) and sophomore Evan Moretti 20th (250.15). Hernandez also represented the Duke men in the finals of the one and three-meter springboard competitions this week.
The performances of Hernandez, Moretti and Owsiany give the Blue Devil men 113 points heading into the ACC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, which begin Feb. 27 back at Georgia Tech.
The NC State women captured their first conference title since 1980, while Virginia was second and Louisville third. North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Duke rounded out the top six.
Final Team Scores:
1) NC State 1183.5 2) Virginia 1100.5 3) Louisville 1027 4) North Carolina 980 5) Virginia Tech 739 6) Duke 725.5 7) Notre Dame 654.5 8) Florida State 625.5 9) Pittsburgh 428 10) Georgia Tech 391 11) Miami 361.5 12) Boston College 152 13) Clemson 144
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Women’s 1,650-Yard Freestyle: Verity Abel (8th), 16:25.91
Women’s Platform Diving: MaryEllen Targonski (6th), 243.50
Women’s 200-Yard Backstroke: Mickayla Hinkle (16th), 1:57.94
Women’s 100-Yard Freestyle: Alyssa Marsh (20th), 49.58
Women’s 200-Yard Breaststroke: Ashleigh Shanley (28th), 2:16.23
Women’s 200-Yard Butterfly: Isabella Paez (11th), 1:57.51
Men’s Platform Diving: Nathaniel Hernandez (15th), 266.15