GREENSBORO, N.C. - Junior Hunter Knight earned a spot on the podium for the second straight evening as the Duke men closed out the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming & Diving Championships Saturday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The Blue Devils finished seventh in the final team standings while turning in All-ACC performances in five events and setting four program records over the course of the four-day championship meet.
"We finished up a very successful weekend here on the last day of competition," said head coach Dan Colella. "The group did a great job this morning, getting a number of people back tonight. We're just really excited about what we did here and the fact that it gives us some really great things to build on in the coming year."
Hunter garnered All-ACC honors for the second time in as many days, eclipsing 2012 graduate Piotr Safronczyk's program record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a 1:56.78 clocking to come in second in the championship final. Knight closed out the meet with a pair of ACC medals - the first of his career - after taking third in the 100 breaststroke, and also posted four NCAA 'B' cuts in the breaststroke events.
"Hunter is a young man who is steadily improving each year," Colella said. "He's one of the hardest workers on the team and it's great to see someone who's worked that hard reap the benefits of it. Breaking the 200 breast record was really big. We're extremely proud of everything he's done all season-long."
Junior Nick McCrory joined Hunter in collecting All-ACC honors during the meet, sweeping the men's diving titles with first-place finishes last week in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform disciplines. McCrory also broke his own conference record on the 3-meter board with a score of 498.60, in addition to recording NCAA Zone Diving qualifying marks in all three events and scoring 60 points for the Blue Devil men. The Chapel Hill, N.C., native was tabbed the Most Valuable Diver for the third time in as many appearances at the championship meet and now owns seven ACC diving crowns for his career, making him the most decorated diver in the history of the conference.
In the first event of Friday evening's finals session in Greensboro, freshman Kevin Butz went a personal-best 15:56.29 to place 17th in the 1,650 freestyle, while senior Matt Carder finished right behind him in 18th with a season-best 16:08.23 swim.
Senior Ted Minturn advanced to the consolation final of the 200 backstroke, taking 16th in the conference with a 1:45.54 showing, good for an NCAA 'B' cut. Sophomore Tyler Toren also competed in the 200 backstroke, coming in 21st at 1:50.42. In addition, both Minturn (1:44.88) and Toren (1:49.92) registered new personal bests in the event during preliminaries.
Duke swimmers notched a number of personal bests in the 100 freestyle, highlighted by sophomore Stefan Knight and senior Ben Hwang's performances to reach the event consolation final. Stefan tapped the wall at 44.04 during the morning session to earn an NCAA 'B' cut and a personal best, and returned to the pool Friday evening to come in 14th overall at 44.45. Hwang also grabbed an NCAA 'B' cut in the preliminaries with a personal-best 44.30 clocking, and later finished 16th in the finals at 44.63.
Freshman Sam Skinner (45.15), senior Adam Flur (45.61) and junior Steven Gasparini (45.86) each swam in the 100 freestyle bonus final, placing 21st, 23rd and 24th, respectively. All three also set new personal bests in the event preliminaries, as did sophomore Michael Donnalley at 45.61.
Hunter Knight's second-place finish in the 200 breaststroke headlined another strong outing by the Blue Devil breaststroke lane, as seniors Jim Zuponeck (2:00.30) and Evan Schwartz (2:00.56) closed out the last ACC Championships of their careers with lifetime bests. Zuponeck also finished fifth and Schwartz 19th at the 100-yard distance Thursday evening, recording best times in that event as well.
Sophomore Clay Sanders rounded out the individual swimming events with a 21st-place finish in the 200 butterfly. Sanders dropped time from his preliminary swim to earn a personal-best in the evening session at 1:49.92.
The final event of the ACC Championships - the 400 freestyle relay - saw the team of Stefan Knight, Skinner, Flur and Hwang go 2:58.52 to place sixth.
Virginia captured its sixth consecutive ACC title and 26th overall, finishing first in the final team standings with 759.5 points. Virginia Tech took second for the second consecutive year with 597 points, while North Carolina came in third with a total of 549.
The Duke men finished seventh for the second-straight year and set new school records in 200 breaststroke, twice in the 200 IM and in the 3-meter diving event. Gasparini also equaled Spencer Booth's program record of 48.17 in the 100 backstroke earlier in the week. Hunter Knight came away with the first All-ACC honors of his career in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and McCrory headlined a strong showing by the Blue Devil divers with ACC titles in all three disciplines.
Final Team Standings
|2. Virginia Tech||597|
|3. North Carolina||549|
|4. Florida State||534|
|5. NC State||481|
|6. Georgia Tech||269.5|
|8. Boston College||120|