GREENSBORO, N.C. – Three more school records and a pair of championship finalists highlighted an impressive final day for the Duke men at the 2019 ACC Championships. The Blue Devils improved upon their point total from a year ago, collecting 624 points to finish seventh in the final team standings.
Over the course of four days in Greensboro, the Duke men took down program records in five individual and four relay events, with senior Max St. George and junior Miles Williams both recording record-breaking swims in multiple individual events. Williams and senior Judd Howard each raced to top-five finishes Saturday night, with Howard also turning in a top-five showing Friday in the 100-yard breaststroke.
“It’s been a tremendous weekend of performances from everyone,” said head coach Dan Colella. “To come in and break nine school records is quite an achievement. We had a number of people making ‘A’ finals – last year we just had one individual in an ‘A’ final. The freshmen did a great job for their first ACC competition to step up and for several of them to get in there and score. The divers got it started last weekend with a huge performance which we just capitalized and built on. Our goal was to try to move up this year. We were a little bit short of that but, all in all, it’s been a great weekend of swimming.”
The Blue Devils also received a conference-best 170 points from the men’s divers, including senior Evan Moretti, the Most Valuable Men’s Diver of the Meet. Moretti garnered the first All-ACC accolades of his career with a second place finish in the three-meter springboard competition. He was also a championship finalist on the platform and one-meter board and was joined by teammate Nathaniel Hernandez in both of those finals events.
The last session from Greensboro began with the 1,650 freestyle, which saw sophomore Spencer LaFata move up two spots from his performance in the event a year ago and into scoring position. He took 23rd overall at 15:23.52, with that clocking ranking fifth on the program’s all-time top 10. Sophomore Zach Washart (15:35.23) and senior Riley Hickman (15:44.57) also represented the Blue Devils in the mile.
St. George broke a school record for the third time this week, cruising to victory in the bonus final of the 200 backstroke. He tapped the wall at 1:42.86 Saturday evening to drop nearly three seconds from his preliminaries mark. Sophomore Nathaniel Hartley added a 24th-place finish in the event (1:47.27).
Williams collected the first individual top-five finish of his career, taking fifth in the 100 freestyle championship final (42.68). He surpassed his own program record during preliminaries, dipping under the 43-second mark at 42.41. Senior Yusuke Legard was fourth in the event bonus final and 20th overall at 43.47.
After placing fifth in the 100 breaststroke Friday night, Howard added a second top-five finish Saturday in the 200 breaststroke championship final. He posted two best times on the day, finishing with a strong back half in finals for a 1:54.80 clocking. That mark was good for the second-fastest in school history. Two more Blue Devils qualified for the event bonus final, with sophomore Adam Zimmer finishing sixth in the heat (1:59.06) and freshman Cole Reznick eighth (1:59.48).
“Judd has been very consistent over the last four years,” Colella said. “As a senior, to cap it off with two top-five finishes is incredible. We’re very, very proud of him and the other seniors and what they achieved this weekend.”
One more school record came down in the final event of the meet, the 400 freestyle relay. Legard, Williams, junior Sheldon Boboff and St. George knocked over a second off the previous record with a time of 2:52.97, good for seventh in the field.
Junior Daichi Matsuda led the Blue Devils in the 200 butterfly preliminaries, coming in 28th (1:48.06).
1) NC State 1396.5 2) Louisville 1135.5 3) Virginia 1108 4) Virginia Tech 820.5 5) Florida State 819 6) Notre Dame 687 7) Duke 624 8) Georgia Tech 550 9) Pitt 508 10) North Carolina 388.5 11) Miami 161 12) Boston College 159
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Men’s 1,650-Yard Freestyle: Spencer LaFata (23rd), 15:23.52
Men’s 200-Yard Backstroke: Max St. George (17th), 1:42.86
Men’s 100-Yard Freestyle: Miles Williams (5th), 42.68
Men’s 200-Yard Breaststroke: Judd Howard (5th), 1:54.80
Men’s 200-Yard Butterfly: Daichi Matsuda (28th), 1:48.06