AUSTIN, Texas – Divers Nathaniel Hernandez and Evan Moretti both claimed All-America honors on a strong opening day of action for the Blue Devils at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, hosted by Texas at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Behind the pair of All-America performances, the Duke men sit tied for 22nd in the team standings with 17 points.
Hernandez qualified for an NCAA championship final for the first time in his career, advancing with a top-eight showing in the one-meter springboard preliminaries (320.90). An honorable mention All-American last spring on the platform, the Southlake, Texas native joined former Blue Devil national champion Nick McCrory (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) and John C. Connor (1949, 1950) as the program’s first team All-Americans in men’s diving.
Thursday evening’s championship final saw Hernandez lead off the round with 53.65 points on a back 1 ½ somersault with 2 ½ twists before scoring 67.50 points on a reverse 2 ½ somersault in the fifth round. The Duke junior wrapped up the final with a total score of 333.00 for eighth overall, collecting 11 points for the Blue Devils.
“Nathaniel was very, very consistent and put in a couple really good dives during the prelim,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “He was very excited to make his first top-eight and I was too, happy for all of his hard work. Tonight in the finals, he was consistent. He scored about 13 points more than his prelim. Again, just a great performance.”
Moretti was back in an NCAA final for the third time in his career and second time on the one-meter board. The senior from Scarsdale, N.Y., closed his preliminaries list in impressive fashion, twice topping the 60-point mark. In the consolation final, Moretti was over the 60-point mark two more times, including in the fifth round when he was awarded 69.75 points on an inward 2 ½ somersault. He concluded his list with a total score of 340.25 for a career-best finish in the event in 11th.
“Evan’s last two dives in preliminaries, he turned it on pretty well and climbed up – I think he was in 21st – on those last two dives and clinched that consol on his last dive, a front 2 ½ with a twist,” Esposto said. “Scored 7 ½s and 8s on it. That was what got him into the consol, so overall, really good prelim and happy that he was 11th in the consol.”
The Blue Devils started off the morning with two swimmers in the 50-yard freestyle preliminaries. Junior Miles Williams was just off school record pace, coming in at 19.59 for a best time and the second-fastest clocking in school history. Senior Max St. George tapped the wall at 20.32.
Friday’s events in Austin include the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, three-meter diving and the 200 medley relay. Preliminaries begin at 11 a.m. ET, followed by finals at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3.