GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Duke women’s swimming and diving team featured four individual top-eight finishes Saturday to wrap up action at the 2018 ACC Women’s Championships. The Blue Devils closed out the four-day conference championship sixth in the final team standings with a total of 756.5 points – up more than 30 points from a year ago.
Over the course of the four days in Greensboro, the Duke women turned in eight program record-breaking performances and three podium finishes. Senior Leah Goldman captured the first individual ACC title for the women’s program since 2012, bringing home the hardware with a first-place finish Thursday in the 200-yard individual medley. The captain from Burlingame, Calif., was back on the podium again Friday night after taking second in the 100 butterfly. Senior MaryEllen Targonski claimed All-ACC honors for the second time in her career Saturday, placing second in the platform diving championship final.
“In four days of competition we saw more finals swims than we’ve ever had, which is very exciting,” said head coach Dan Colella. “Closing out the individual events with the 200 butterfly, it was great to have two of our young ladies in the championship final and Anna Quinn scoring to finish up her senior year. We’re also thrilled for MaryEllen and what she accomplished tonight, finishing second. The divers were all really fantastic this weekend. We’re very proud of how everyone represented Duke over the course of the week.”
Targonski recorded a career-best finish in the ACC platform competition, moving up one spot from her preliminaries score with an award of 250.05 in finals – good for NCAA Zones qualification. She topped the 50-point mark on each of her first three dives, earning 58.50 points in the second round on a forward 3.5 somersault for a 3.0 degree of difficulty. Targonski’s medalist performance placed her in elite company at Duke, as she joined Abby Johnston as the program’s only divers to take home All-ACC accolades multiple times.
“I was really excited for MaryEllen to be able to repeat a podium performance,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “She dove really consistently tonight. Second place is her best finish as a Duke diver so I was really happy for her.”
On the men’s side, sophomore Nathaniel Hernandez advanced to his second diving final of the meet. He improved upon his preliminaries score on the platform with 310.60 points during the evening session to come in sixth overall. Junior Evan Moretti (291.15), freshman Teddy Zeng (278.90) and junior Josh Owsiany (266.60) all contributed points as well, finishing ninth, 11th and 16th, respectively, in preliminaries.
Through four days of diving, the Blue Devil men and women totaled 366 points across the three disciplines. The Duke men enter next week’s ACC Championships in first place behind the efforts of Hernandez, Moretti, Owsiany and Zeng, who combined for 212 points.
Back in the pool, the Blue Devil women received a pair of strong showings from the distance lane. Senior Verity Abel notched a career-best time of 16:17.08 to take 10th in the 1,650 freestyle and sophomore Brittany Kampfer was 19th in the same event at 16:39.07. Both swimmers also lowered their career bests at the 1,000-yard mark.
The 200 backstroke saw junior Maddie Hess secure her second individual top-eight finish of the meet. After resetting her own program record with a 1:54.24 swim in preliminaries, Hess tapped the wall at 1:54.38 during the evening session for seventh overall.
Sophomore Alyssa Marsh followed in the consolation final of the 100 freestyle, where she placed 16th (49.40). Freshman Connie Dean then represented Duke in the 200 breaststroke finals, dropping time from her morning performance with a 2:12.92 clocking that put her 18th.
The Blue Devils had three swimmers qualify for finals in the 200 butterfly, with senior Isabella Paez leading the way in fourth at 1:55.45. Sophomore Kylie Jordan joined Paez in the championship final, touching at 1:58.35 for eighth. Jordan moved up to second behind Paez on the program’s all-time top 10 during preliminaries with a mark of 1:57.50.
In the final event of the meet, Marsh, Goldman, Hess and Jordan combined for a sixth-place showing in the 400 freestyle relay. The group’s time of 3:16.50 was good for the second-fastest in school history.
“The seniors were instrumental in so many different ways this year,” Colella said. “They were great leaders in terms of our team culture and molding it into a championship culture. As a result, we saw them really step up and perform this week. They have a lot of experience under the belts, but at the same time, I feel this is a special class.”
The men’s swimmers will look to build on the strong start made by the divers when they head to Greensboro for the ACC Championships next week. Action begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Women: 1) Virginia 1382.5 2) Louisville 1149.5 3) NC State 1037 4) North Carolina 786.5 5) Notre Dame 775 6) Duke 756.5 7) Virginia Tech 736 8) Florida State 578.5 9) Pitt 494 10) Georgia Tech 370.5 11) Miami 315 12) Boston College 120
1) Duke 212 2) Florida State 195 3) Virginia Tech 179 4) North Carolina 119 5) Notre Dame 95 6) Miami 94 7) NC State 65 8) Georgia Tech 56 9) Louisville 38 10) Virginia 19 11) Pitt 14
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Women’s Platform Diving: MaryEllen Targonski (2nd), 250.05
Women’s 1,650-Yard Freestyle: Verity Abel (10th), 16:17.08
Women’s 200-Yard Backstroke: Maddie Hess (7th), 1:54.38
Women’s 100-Yard Freestyle: Alyssa Marsh (16th), 49.40
Women’s 200-Yard Breaststroke: Connie Dean (18th), 2:12.92
Women’s 200-Yard Butterfly: Isabella Paez (4th), 1:55.45
Men’s Platform Diving: Nathaniel Hernandez (6th), 310.60