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Hunter Knight
Courtesy: Tim Binning, theswimpictures.com
Hunter Knight
Relays Shine Against Nationally-Ranked Virginia
Wednesday 01/24/2014  -  Duke Sports Information
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DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams broke two Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion records, won two relay events and clocked a number of season-best times but succumbed to a pair of nationally-ranked Virginia squads Friday evening in ACC dual meet action.

The Blue Devil men held a narrow 65-63 lead over the 20th-ranked Cavaliers at the first diving break but eventually fell by a 178-119 margin to move to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the ACC. On the women’s side, Duke suffered a 187.5-98.5 setback to ninth-ranked Virginia, dropping to 3-3 overall and 1-2 against conference competition.

“We did a really great job of not backing down,” said head coach Dan Colella. “For us to come up against a team that is ranked and has the kind of athletes that they have, and perform the way we did tonight, I thought was really great.”

The meet got off to an thrilling start, as the men’s 400-yard medley relay of freshman Kaz Takabayashi, senior Hunter Knight, freshman Bradley Cline and freshman James Peek just out-touched the Cavaliers’ ‘A’ relay at the wall with a season-best mark of 3:21.08. That time was also good for the sixth-fastest clocking in program history. In the women’s race, junior Megan McCarroll, senior Christine Wixted, freshman Maddie Rusch and senior Lauren Weaver took third behind two Virginia squads with a time of 3:48.39.

In the men’s 1,000 freestyle, freshman Sam Sherman was just off of a season-best at 9:50.79 in a second-place showing. Cline led the way for Duke in the men’s 200 freestyle, also finishing second in 1:41.27.

The 100 backstroke events featured strong performances by two Blue Devil underclassmen as sophomore Chelsea Ye took second at 57.26 and freshman Joey Maginnis notched a season-best time of 51.35 in a third-place effort. Knight then collected Duke’s first individual win of the evening, claiming the men's 100 breaststroke at 55.56. Freshman Peter Kropp took second in a season-best 55.60 to rank seventh all-time in program history. Graduate student Emily Barber paced the Blue Devil women in the same event, tapping the wall at 1:04.16 to come in second.

“For Hunter to perform the way he is, I know he’s incredibly excited, as are we,” Colella said. “He’s fired up and he has big goals going into ACCs and beyond.”

Takabayashi was second (1:50.99) and sophomore Kenny Ng third (1:53.21) in the men’s 200 butterfly before Duke earned a sweep in the 50 freestyle events. Weaver won the women’s race in 23.41 while Peek held off the Cavalier men to grab a win at 21.06.

The Blue Devil divers had an impressive outing to add to the teams’ point total. Senior Nick McCrory remained undefeated on the season, breaking his own facility record on the 3-meter board with a score of 480.08, his highest of the season and nearly 30 points higher than his previous pool record. The Chapel Hill, N.C., native also took first on the low board, totaling 397.35 points. Sophomore Deon Reid was third in both events, garnering a personal-best award of 375.60 in the 3-meter competition to surpass the NCAA Zone Championships qualifying standard and place him fourth on the all-time school list.

Sophomore Kendall McClenney (267.75) and freshman Kirby Quinn (264.60) finished one-two in the women’s 1-meter competition, with McClenney also taking third at the 3-meter height.

“Nick has been diving really well this semester,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “Deon did a phenomenal job today. We added a couple of new dives on 1-meter and he competed those well. And I was very impressed with the women on 1-meter.”

After the break, Rusch turned in a second-place performance in the women’s 100 freestyle (51.59) and went on to win the 100 butterfly at 56.24. Barber (2:19.05) and Knight (2:02.03) posted fast times in the 200 breaststroke for a pair of second-place finishes, while Cline (50.55) and Ng (50.75) finished second and third, respectively, in the men’s 100 butterfly.

Duke also ended the night on a high note, as Weaver, Ye, graduate student Francesca Tocci and Rusch combined to edge Virginia in the women’s 200 freestyle relay and establish a new pool record in the event at 1:33.37. That time is also a season-best and ranks ninth overall in program history.

“I’m very proud of the sprinters,” Colella said. “To beat a top-10 program in a sprint relay like that at the end was significant.”

Following Friday night’s ACC action, the Blue Devil women will go out of conference as they turn around to host the Richmond women Saturday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. in Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion. Live results will be available for that meet. Fans planning to attend should also be advised of a parking and traffic alert that will be in effect due to other athletic events on campus.

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