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Christine Wixted and Hunter Knight
Courtesy: Duke Photography
Christine Wixted and Hunter Knight
Strong Individual Performances Highlight Home Opener
Monday 10/27/2012  -  Duke Sports Information
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DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke men's and women's swimming and diving teams opened the home portion of their regular season slate Saturday in a triple dual meet against Florida State, UNC Wilmington and Virginia Tech in front of a large crowd at Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion.

Both the men's and women's squads went 1-2 on the day, recording wins over the Seahawks while falling to Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Florida State and Virginia Tech. However, the Blue Devils claimed wins in six individual events and one relay on the day as a number of swimmers and divers turned in strong performances in the teams' second outing of the 2012-13 season.

The Duke women kicked off the action in the pool on a high note, as sophomore Megan McCarroll, junior Christine Wixted, freshman Chelsea Ye and junior Lauren Weaver teamed up for a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay, notching a time of 1:43.19.

The Blue Devils had a strong showing in both breaststroke events, with Wixted remaining undefeated on the season at the 100 (1:02.82) and 200-yard distance (2:16.73). The Greenwood Village, Colo., native then went on to capture her third title of the meet in the 200 IM with a 2:04.42 performance. Junior Hunter Knight tapped the wall at 56.27 to win the men's 100 breaststroke for the second time in as many meets, followed by senior Jim Zuponeck in second at 57.15. Knight also won the 200-yard competition, posting a time of 2:04.14, while Zuponeck touched at 2:06.88 to take third and rookie Victor Chen finished fifth in 2:08.47.

"For this early in the season, to be improving so much from the meet in Greensboro and dropping a bunch of time from there, I thought the meet went really well," Wixted said. "The training's always going to be there, but focusing on the little things we have to improve on is what's going to drop the most time at the end of the season."

Senior Ben Hwang, who was tied with the Seminoles' Mark Weber for the top 50 freestyle time in the nation at 20.03 heading into the weekend, won the event for the second time this season. Hwang edged Weber and the field Saturday with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 20.13 to come in first, and followed up that performance with a third-place finish in the 100 freestyle at 45.64. On the women's side, Weaver turned in a time of 23.23 in the 50 freestyle to come in second.

The 100 backstroke events featured a pair of second-place finishes by Blue Devil swimmers, as McCarroll went 56.87 and junior Steven Gasparini clocked 50.44. Later in the meet, McCarroll claimed third at the 200-yard distance, touching at 2:03.51, and Gasparini notched a fourth-place finish in the men's 200 IM with a swim of 1:53.82.  

Following an impressive performance in her Duke debut at the season-opening All-North Carolina Invitational earlier this month, Ye turned in several more standout swims Saturday. The rookie from Oklahoma City, Okla., paced the Blue Devils with a third-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:52.49) and was fourth at the 100-yard distance in 51.85. Meanwhile, sophomore Michael Donnalley placed fourth in the men's 200 freestyle with a 1:42.14 showing.  

A couple of Blue Devil divers saw the first action of their careers, including rookie Kendall McClenney, who collected fifth-place finishes in the women's 1-meter (247.90) and 3-meter (248.55) springboard events. Fellow freshman Deon Reid took eighth in the men's 1-meter competition (280.45) and 10th at the 3-meter height (283.35), while senior Jordan Long turned in a second-place performance on the 3-meter board with an NCAA Zone Diving Championships qualifying score of 383.45. Long also took sixth in the 1-meter competition, and sophomore Clay Pinckney came in seventh on the 3-meter board and 10th in the 1-meter event.

"We had some great performances today," said head coach Dan Colella. "Competing against Virginia Tech and Florida State - two of the top teams in the conference - and to be able to do some of the things we did, we were excited. We also realized today that a lot of people experienced things they absolutely need to be working on ... But we're going to be good, we're going to be strong at the end of the season."

Duke returns to Taishoff next Saturday, Nov. 3 to host NC State and the Miami women beginning at 11 a.m.

-d-u-k-e-


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