KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Blue Devil women rounded out the Tennessee Invitational in second place and the men in fourth following the final day of action in Knoxville Saturday.
Senior Isabella Paez earned a first-place finish in the women’s 200-yard butterfly and sophomore Alyssa Marsh broke the program record in the women’s 100 freestyle to highlight individual performances in the pool, while Mackenzie Willborn and Nathaniel Hernandez both registered top-two finishes in platform diving.
“A lot of times at these big, multi-day events you have some ups and downs,” said head coach Dan Colella. "We wanted to really work on being consistent. I think it’s probably the most consistent three-day invitational, championship meet that we’ve had in quite some time. Every session we just seemed to build on the previous. Very proud of these young men and women and how they finished it off tonight.”
Senior Verity Abel began the day with a second-place showing in the women’s 1,650 freestyle, nearly matching her career best in the event with a time of 16:18.96. Sophomore Brittany Kampfer was 11th (16:55.14), while senior Matt Johnson headlined the Duke men with an eighth-place finish in the mile (15:29.49). Spencer LaFata came in 10th, Zach Washart in 13th and Riley Hickman in 15th.
The Blue Devils’ success continued in the 200 backstroke, as junior Maddie Hess led a quartet of swimmers in finals, placing third overall (1:55.46). Marsh was also third in the 100 freestyle, taking down the school record with a swift 48.63 clocking, while senior Leah Goldman followed suit in seventh. On the men’s side, junior Max St. George took sixth in the 200 backstroke, as did sophomore Miles Williams in the 100 freestyle.
Junior Judd Howard raced to a third-place finish in the men’s 200 breaststroke championship final, dropping time from his morning swim to go 1:57.73 Saturday evening. Paez then bested the field in the women’s 200 butterfly, tapping the wall at 1:56.73. Sophomore Kylie Jordan joined Paez in the championship final, taking seventh.
“Isa came in and went a lifetime best in the 500 free,” Colella said. “Each day she got a little bit better and stronger, and finished it off by winning the 200 fly tonight. Great swim by her.”
Duke’s divers turned in another strong day, with Willborn and Hernandez leading the way on the platform. Willborn was second with an award of 224.25, followed by senior MaryEllen Targonski, junior Lizzie Fitzpatrick, and freshman Ellie Winslow. Hernandez totaled 355.70 points, with freshman Teddy Zeng coming in third (309.45).
“The divers were incredibly consistent,” Colella said. “Pretty much finishing in the same spots – two, three, four, five, six. In talking with [head diving coach] Nunzio [Esposto], he was very pleased with their performances.”
The Blue Devils wrapped up the three-day meet with the 400 freestyle relays. Marsh, Hess, junior Hunter Aitchison and Goldman placed third, with their mark of 3:16.63 ranking third on the program’s all-time performance list. Williams, sophomore Sheldon Boboff, junior Sean Tate and St. George were fifth in the men’s field (2:56.61).
“Everybody is in really good spirits and really proud of their teammates and how they performed,” Colella said. “People are excited about the second half of the season and seeing what we can do at conference and NCAAs.”
Duke returns to action Jan. 12, 2018 in a dual meet at Queens University of Charlotte.
Duke Women: 2nd/9 (827)
Duke Men: 4th/6 (592)