ATLANTA – Duke featured three top-eight individual performances and broke program records in four events Thursday to wrap up the 2017 ACC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships in strong fashion. The Blue Devils concluded the four-day conference championship in eighth place with a team score of 607 points.
Over the course of the meet, the squad rewrote the program record book, establishing new benchmarks in seven individual and two relay events. Senior Peter Kropp captured All-ACC recognition with a second-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke Wednesday while also punching his ticket to the 2017 NCAA Championships.
“We talked at the end of the meet tonight about how resilient they were after that first morning,” said head coach Dan Colella. “To come back and perform the way they have the last two days for a total of nine school records during the course of the meet was a great accomplishment. We are always striving to be a little bit higher within the ACC, but this conference has just gone to another level and is incredibly competitive. Our seniors, we’re going to miss them. They’ve been a big part of this for the last four years and instrumental in helping us accomplish what we’ve done.”
Junior Matt Johnson and freshman Roger Kriegl put together back-to-back record-breaking performances in the 1,650 freestyle early Thursday evening. Kriegl swam first in heat two, tapping the wall at 15:08.78 to break Johnson’s previous school benchmark of 15:08.84, set at last year’s ACC Championships. Johnson then took to the water in heat three, going 15:07.72 to reclaim his program record. He would go on to finish seventh overall in the event, followed by Kriegl in eighth.
Both Johnson and Kriegl came in under the NCAA provisional standard in the event. In addition, Kriegl’s 1,000-yard split of 9:11.49 moved him up to third on the all-time performance list at that distance, while Johnson was just off his school record in the 1,000 at 9:08.70.
Duke kept the momentum rolling in the 200 backstroke, with three Blue Devils making it back for second swims. After placing ninth in the 100 backstroke Wednesday, sophomore Max St. George led the squad at the 200-yard distance Thursday, winning the bonus final in 1:43.76. That clocking lowered his own program record in the event from a season ago. Junior Alex Peña was fourth to the wall and 20th overall, dropping time from his preliminaries showing to go 1:45.29 and senior Bradley Cline took 24th overall at 1:46.80.
Sophomore Yusuke Legard took down one of the Blue Devils’ longest-standing school records in the bonus final of the 100 freestyle, besting Spencer Booth’s mark of 43.45 from 2011. Legard stopped the clock at 43.44 for second in the heat and 18th overall. Sophomore Sean Tate joined Legard in the bonus final and also registered a best time, touching at 44.20 for 24th place. The performance moved Tate up to sixth on Duke’s all-time performance list.
A night after earning a podium finish in the 100 breaststroke, Kropp advanced to the 200 breaststroke championship final for the second time in his career, finishing sixth overall in 1:55.19. The morning session saw Kropp surpass his own school record in the event with a time of 1:54.54.
Sophomore Judd Howard added points for the Blue Devils in the 200 breaststroke with a fourth-place finish in the consolation final (1:57.05). Howard also had an impressive morning, moving up to third on the all-time top 10 with a swift 1:56.88 showing. Senior Michael Seaberg went 2:00.44 in the bonus final for 24th overall.
Duke’s final individual swim of the evening went to senior Michael Miller in the consolation final of the 200 butterfly. Miller neared his own school record-range during preliminaries at 1:44.61 and turned in a mark of 1:46.78 in finals for 16th place.
“We broke records in four of the five individual events today,” Colella said. “Roger in the first heat of the mile was incredible and then right after him to have Matt Johnson do what he did was a great way to get the evening started. I had a feeling Max was going to come back after this morning and have a great performance, which he did. And that carried into the 100 free with Yusuke breaking the record. The breaststrokers were great again tonight. We saw a lot of great effort in this final session.”
In the last event of the meet, Legard, Tate freshman Miles Williams and senior Dylan Payne combined to go 2:54.47 in winning the first heat of the 400 freestyle relay. That mark was just six tenths of a second off the school record in the event and placed the Blue Devil quartet seventh in the conference.
Thursday’s scoring also included results from men’s platform diving, contested two weeks ago at the women’s conference meet. The Blue Devils picked up 23 points from the event as all three Duke divers placed inside the top 20. Freshman Nathaniel Hernandez was 15th (266.15), sophomore Josh Owsiany 19th (256.55) and sophomore Evan Moretti 20th (250.15). Hernandez also represented Duke in the finals of the one-meter and three-meter springboard competitions in his first ACC Championships appearance.
Hernandez, Moretti , Owsiany and the program’s women’s divers will look to add to the Blue Devils’ NCAA rosters next week at the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships, hosted by Auburn. The meet begins Monday and continues through Wednesday in Auburn, Ala.
NC State claimed its third consecutive ACC title with 1297 points, followed by Louisville in second (1134) and Notre Dame in third (923.5). Virginia Tech, Florida State, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke rounded out the top eight.
Final Team Scores:
1) NC State 1297 2) Louisville 1134 3) Notre Dame 923.5 4) Virginia Tech 883.5 5) Florida State 730 6) Virginia 709.5 7) North Carolina 700 8) Duke 607 9) Georgia Tech 576 10) Pitt 513 11) Boston College 167 12) Miami 108
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
1,650-Yard Freestyle: Matt Johnson (7th), 15:07.72
200-Yard Backstroke: Max St. George (17th), 1:43.76
100-Yard Freestyle: Yusuke Legard (18th), 43.44
200-Yard Breaststroke: Peter Kropp (6th), 1:55.19
200-Yard Butterfly: Michael Miller (16th), 1:46.78
400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Yusuke Legard, Sean Tate, Miles Williams, Dylan Payne (7th), 2:54.47