DURHAM, N.C. – Dual meet season came to a close on a high note Saturday in Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion, as the Duke men and women defeated rival North Carolina for the second consecutive season. The Blue Devil women took down the 20th-ranked Tar Heel women by a 151-149 margin after a back-and-forth battle and the Duke men emerged with a 157.5-142.5 victory.
Saturday’s action marked the final meet in Taishoff for Duke’s 11 seniors – Verity Abel, Nick Bigot, Lizzie Devitt, Leah Goldman, Matt Johnson, Catie Miller, Isabella Paez, Alex Peña, Anna Quinn, Maria Sheridan and MaryEllen Targonski.
“What a way to send the seniors out today,” said head coach Dan Colella. “As we prepped for the meet, as coaches, you run all kinds of scenarios and scores. No matter what we did in terms of our lineup, we always came up with it was going to probably be a two to five-point swing … [North Carolina head] coach [Rich] DeSelm does a really terrific job and it’s fun to compete against a team like UNC. Always really nice to come away with a win.”
After celebrating the program’s senior class, the Blue Devils fed off the energy on the pool deck, coming away with a pair of victories in the 200-yard medley relays. Junior Maddie Hess, freshman Connie Dean, sophomore Alyssa Marsh and Goldman were first to the wall in the women’s race (1:40.68) and junior Max St. George, junior Sean Tate, sophomore Miles Williams and junior Yusuke Legard followed by out touching the Tar Heels as well (1:28.21).
Duke’s distance lane kept the momentum rolling, as Abel (9:59.56) claimed the women’s 1,000 freestyle and freshman Zach Washart (9:25.12) and Johnson (9:25.91) finished one-two in the same event on the men’s side. Williams, Hess and Paez all added individual victories in the men’s 200 freestyle, women’s 100 backstroke and women’s 200 butterfly, respectively, before Legard closed out the first portion of the meet by taking first in the men’s 50 freestyle (20.03).
“Coming in this year, seeing the team’s atmosphere and everything, it got me really hyped up and excited to be here and do that for my team,” Washart said of his victory in the 1,000 freestyle. “Towards the end of the meet, when we were watching every single swim and every single dive so intently, it was awesome.”
Sophomore Nathaniel Hernandez turned in a career-best performance to win the men’s one-meter diving competition earlier in the morning. He totaled an award of 358.80 to move up to sixth on the Blue Devils’ all-time performance list. Freshman Teddy Zeng headlined a one-two-three-four performance by Duke in men’s three-meter diving, while sophomore Mackenzie Willborn and Targonski led two-three-four-five finishes for the women on the one and three-meter boards, respectively.
Legard later completed his sweep of the men’s sprint freestyle events, clocking 44.53 to win the 100-yard race. Hess also collected her second individual win of the meet, taking first in the women’s 200 backstroke (1:58.68) with Devitt coming in second (1:59.98). Abel joined Legard and Hess as double individual event winners, returning to the water to place first in the 500 freestyle (4:52.94).
A one-two showing by sophomore Kylie Jordan (54.49) and Paez (54.71) in the women’s 100 butterfly and a first-place finish by Goldman in the women’s 200 individual medley (2:00.40) helped push the Blue Devil women in front of North Carolina.
“We knew the 200 IM was going to be a big last individual event before the relays to know what we would need to do to secure the win,” Goldman said. “We just needed to win the event and have as many girls touch their hand first before UNC. I knew if I got that win it would amp the relays up … It wasn’t just me – the two other girls [Devitt and Dean] coming in third and fourth, too.”
The women’s 400 freestyle relay then took second to secure a two-point dual meet victory over the Tar Heels before Legard, Williams, Peña and Tate added a final win for the Duke men in the same relay event, clocking 2:59.55.
“We’re really proud of our men and how they performed all year,” Colella said. “We just have come up a little bit short in a lot of meets, so to finish up the dual meet season with a victory over UNC is a great way to close it out, and especially for our senior men. On the women’s side, this is the first meet where we’ve had everybody here. It seems like all season long we’ve been short a few bodies for one reason or another, so it was nice to have everybody on deck today.”
Duke and North Carolina will split hosting duties for next weekend’s Janis Hape Dowd Nike Invitational, with preliminaries and finals Friday, Feb. 2 and Sunday, Feb. 4 to take place in the Tar Heels’ Koury Natatorium. The Blue Devils will host both sessions Saturday, Feb. 3 in Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion.
Duke Women 151, North Carolina Women 149
Duke Men 157.5, North Carolina Men 142.5
Women’s Three-Meter Diving: MaryEllen Targonski (2nd), 310.95
Men’s Three-Meter Diving: Teddy Zeng (1st), 411.08
Women’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Maddie Hess, Verity Abel, Isabella Paez, Alyssa Marsh (2nd), 3:24.01
Men’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Yusuke Legard, Miles Williams, Alex Peña, Sean Tate (1st), 2:59.55