GREENSBORO, N.C. – Senior diver Evan Moretti earned an ACC podium finish for the first time in his career and the Blue Devil women qualified multiple swimmers to each of the event finals to highlight an action-packed second day at the ACC Championships.
Moretti took second in men’s three-meter diving to take home all-conference accolades and Duke rounded out the evening with a fourth-place showing in the 200-yard freestyle relay to wrap up the day fifth in the team standings with 300.5 points.
“This morning we had some swims that were looking like first full day-type swims,” said head coach Dan Colella. “A little timid, some nerves. But then they came back tonight and really turned it around … We’re just looking forward to tomorrow’s events. We have a lot of great swims in front of us, a lot of opportunities to do some heavy damage in the scoring department. They should be pretty fired up after tonight’s events.”
After advancing to his third career ACC championship final on the three-meter springboard, Moretti concluded the evening in style. He topped the 70-point mark three times on his finals list, including in the third round, when he earned an award of 81.60 points from the judges on a forward 2.5 somersault with two twists. An honorable mention All-American in the event, Moretti held strong to finish second with 403.55 points.
“That’s been the goal for my four years here,” Moretti said. “Really feel validated to know that all my work’s paying off. I’m looking to continue this success into the end of the season, to NCAAs, with my coach, Nunzio [Esposto], who’s just been doing a phenomenal job … This is a really respectable field and I’m so proud I could do well amongst them.”
Moretti became just the second men’s diver in Duke history to capture All-ACC honors, joining former Blue Devil and 10-time ACC champion Nick McCrory in the program record books.
“It felt great for him, being a senior, to compete really well tonight and represent Duke the way he did,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto.
A pair of Blue Devil freshmen impressed in their first full day at the conference championship, giving Duke a strong start in the 500 freestyle. Easop Lee was the lone rookie to qualify for the event championship final, where she took seventh overall. Her mark of 4:43.76 was good for the third-fastest in school history. Melissa Pish chimed in for fourth on the program’s all-time performance list in winning the event bonus final (4:43.92).
“For Melissa Pish to make a four-and-a-half second drop, that showed her – which was great – what she’s truly capable of,” Colella said. “She took it from wire-to-wire and never backed down and had a great, great swim. Two heats later, Easop, the same thing. Two awesome swims to open up the evening.”
Junior Kylie Jordan and freshman Cabell Ann Whitlow both secured spots in the 200 individual medley consolation final, with Jordan tapping the wall in a best time of 1:59.21 during preliminaries. Whitlow placed 14th overall (1:59.39) and Jordan 15th (1:59.63) in finals, with both coming in under the NCAA provisional standard in the event. With her finals performance, Whitlow joined Jordan in the top five on the Blue Devils’ all-time top 10.
Duke featured a strong showing by its veteran sprinters in the 50 freestyle. Junior Alyssa Marsh broke her own school record with a 22.07 clocking in preliminaries before tying for fourth in the championship final (22.15) for a career-best finish in the event. Senior Maddie Hess turned in a career-best mark of 22.22 to claim the consolation final.
Marsh and Hess returned to the pool a short while later, joining freshman Shayna Hollander and senior Hunter Aitchison on the Blue Devils’ 200 freestyle relay. The group added a historic milestone to the evening with a fourth-place finish and came in at second on Duke’s all-time top 10 list at 1:28.93.
“For Maddie to break through that barrier and go 22.2 tonight, you could see in her face, that might be the most excited I’ve seen her after a swim ever,” Colella said. “That was huge and then of course, Alyssa Marsh, capping off the individual swimming events tonight … The relay, 1:28.9, finishing fourth – I believe that’s our highest finish as a team, at least in the 14 years that I’ve been here, so great way to close the night.”
The ACC Championships continue Friday in Greensboro, with swimming preliminaries beginning at 10 a.m. and women’s platform diving preliminaries at 12 p.m. Evening finals are set for a 6 p.m. start on ACC Network Extra.
1) NC State 454 2) Louisville 409 3) Virginia 379 4) Notre Dame 320.5 5) Duke 300.5 6) North Carolina 277.5 7) Florida State 265 8) Virginia Tech 181 9) Georgia Tech 147 10) Miami 146.5 11) Pittsburgh 126 12) Boston College 92
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Women’s 500-Yard Freestyle: Easop Lee (7th), 4:43.76
Women’s 200-Yard Individual Medley: Cabell Ann Whitlow (14th), 1:59.39
Women’s 50-Yard Freestyle: Alyssa Marsh (T4th), 22.15
Men’s Three-Meter Diving: Evan Moretti (2nd), 403.55