INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Junior MaryEllen Targonski punctuated the final day of competition at the 2017 NCAA Championships with an All-American performance in platform diving.
A first-time NCAA qualifier, Targonski picked up right where she left off at last month’s ACC Championships. The Gastonia, N.C., native advanced to the NCAA consolation final after placing 10th out of 45 divers in the event preliminaries with a score of 264.05 points. She started off her preliminaries list with a pair of dives that topped the 60-point mark, earning 60.20 points on an inward 2 ½ somersault and 60.00 on a forward 3 ½ somersault.
In the platform finals, Targonski totaled 203.10 points for eighth in the consolation heat and 16th in the country, securing her honorable mention All-America laurels.
With her top-16 performance, Targonski became only the third female diver in Duke history to garner All-America recognition, and only the second to do so on the platform.
“It was a great end to the meet to have MaryEllen score in the platfrom event,” said head coach Dan Colella. “It was very exciting to watch. We’re very proud of her accomplishments here and at ACCs.”
Sophomore Mackenzie Willborn was in action for the second straight day in Indianapolis, taking 30th in the platform preliminaries with an award of 222.90. Willborn placed 23rd Friday in the three-meter springboard preliminaries.
Freshman Alyssa Marsh rounded out her first NCAA Championships by competing in the 100 freestyle preliminaries. She stopped the clock at 50.24 for 53rd overall.
Senior Maddie Rusch, sophomore Maddie Hess, sophomore Hunter Aitchison and junior Leah Goldman represented Duke in the 400 freestyle preliminaries, placing 23rd in the field with a time of 3:16.93. Rusch’s final swim of her collegiate career saw her break the program record in the 100 freestyle with a 49.18 leadoff split.
With Targonski’s finish in platform diving, the Blue Devils scored one point at the four-day meet to finish in a tie for 47th place. The Duke women qualified athletes to the NCAA Championships for the fifth consecutive season and 10th time overall.
Two Blue Devil relays – Hess, Marsh, Rusch and Goldman on the 200 freestyle relay and Hess, senior Ashleigh Shanley, Marsh and Rusch on the 200 medley relay – raced to top-20 showings this week at NCAAs. Goldman also collected a top-20 finish Friday in the 100 butterfly preliminaries.
“We’re always looking to progress and move forward as a program,” Colella said. “To have three relays qualify this year was great. It was bittersweet from the standpoint that we were 18th, 19th and 23rd – very close to making it back at night. But these are big improvements on the previous years ... For Maddie Rusch, the 400 free relay came up a little bit short of making it back – but she has been really instrumental in helping the program get to where it is today. In her final swim as a Blue Devil, it was exciting to see her break the program record in the 100 free.”
The men’s team takes its turn at NCAAs next Wednesday through Saturday at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils feature four qualifiers for this year’s meet, including senior Peter Kropp (100 and 200 breaststroke), senior Dylan Payne (100 breaststroke), sophomore Evan Moretti (one-meter and three-meter diving) and freshman Nathaniel Hernandez (platform diving).
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
100-Yard Freestyle: Alyssa Marsh (53rd), 50.24
Platform Diving: MaryEllen Targonski (16th), 203.10
400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Maddie Rusch, Maddie Hess, Hunter Aitchison, Leah Goldman (23rd), 3:16.93