KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Blue Devils continued to rewrite the program record book on the final day of competition at the 2018 Tennessee Invitational, hosted by the Volunteers at Allan Jones Aquatic Center. The 16th-ranked Duke women took down school records in two more events to round out the three-day meet behind only ninth-ranked Tennessee, and the Blue Devil men took third overall.
“The third day is a big day and it’s a tough day,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We always talk about, you have to fight to get back at night. A lot of folks got a second opportunity to race tonight and we saw a number of them improve upon their performances. I think the overall weekend has been beneficial. We had several school records. Today we had two more school records broken – Alyssa Marsh in the 100 free and then to finish up on the women’s side, the 400 freestyle relay. To have a performance like that at this meet, at this time in the season, I think is a great indicator of things to come.”
The Duke divers wrapped up a solid weekend on the platform Saturday afternoon, with all eight athletes finishing inside the top six spots. Junior Nathaniel Hernandez was second in the men’s competition with a career-best award of 380.45, followed by senior Evan Moretti in third (328.50).
“Platform is a really fun event,” Hernandez said. “We were good about getting behind each other and cheering really loud … I’m really happy with how we performed as a squad. Even looking yesterday at the women’s one-meter final, going second through seventh place, that shows our dominance as a program. I was excited to see all our hard work this season paying off.”
On the women’s side, senior Mackenzie Willborn took second (253.85) and freshman Maddi Pullinger third (253.40) to lead Duke in a sweep of spots two through five. Junior Jaina Gaudette secured NCAA Zone Diving qualification in fourth with her award of 227.40.
“We were all really consistent today which was good to see,” Willborn said. “That’s been one of our goals for the whole meet and I think we really carried it through three-meter, one-meter and on to tower so it was nice to finish up that way.”
Finals in the pool began with the 1,650-yard freestyle, which featured a top-five finish by freshman Lucy Callard. The Cincinnati, Ohio native dropped over 30 seconds off of her previous mile swim this season, coming in at 16:37.44 for fifth on the program’s all-time performance list. Junior Brittany Kampfer was just behind in sixth (16:39.55), while junior Spencer LaFata paced the men in a 10th-place showing (15:30.43).
“We had some really great miles,” Colella said. “In the first heat, Brittany Kampfer going a lifetime best … That inspires everybody, when people are swimming that way to get things going. We saw a lot of folks be able to come back tonight and regroup and swim even faster than they did this morning.”
A loaded championship final in the women’s 200 backstroke saw senior Maddie Hess lead the way in second (1:54.67), giving her a top-two finish in both backstroke events this weekend. Sophomore Quinn Scannell was fifth and senior Mickayla Hinkle sixth, and senior Max St. George was also sixth in the men’s ‘A’ final (1:44.96).
Junior Alyssa Marsh broke a school record for the third time in three days, surpassing her own 100 freestyle mark twice Saturday. She went 48.57 in preliminaries before touching at 48.29 Saturday evening for second overall. Freshman Melissa Pish (49.51) and senior Hunter Aitchison (50.09) also earned spots in the championship final, as did junior Miles Williams (43.40), who took fourth on the men’s side.
Sophomore Connie Dean was fifth (2:15.16) and senior Judd Howard sixth (1:59.11) to lead the Blue Devils in the 200 breaststroke before freshman Cabell Ann Whitlow (1:58.47) and junior Kylie Jordan (1:58.54) both came in under the NCAA provisional standard for top-five finishes in the women’s 200 butterfly. Junior Daichi Matsuda headlined a quartet of Duke men in the same event, coming in sixth (1:49.12).
A second school record went down in the women’s 400 freestyle relay, as Pish, Hess, Aitchison and Marsh teamed up for second and an NCAA ‘B’ cut at 3:15.32. The men’s top relay of senior Sean Tate, Williams, junior Sheldon Boboff and senior Yusuke Legard closed out strong for second in the field and on the Blue Devils’ all-time performance list (2:54.13).
The Blue Devil women secured second place in each of the five relays on the weekend while the men finished second in three of the five relay events.
“This season, we’re only halfway,” Colella said. “We have another 11 weeks to women’s and 12 weeks to men’s ACCs and then NCAAs afterwards. That’s the great thing, to be able to come to this meet and see results from work that you put in this fall is only going to motivate and inspire them to continue to push to new levels in the second half of the season.”
Following the program’s annual training trip in late December, the Blue Devils resume competition Jan. 12 in the regular season home finale against Queens University of Charlotte and William & Mary.
Women: 1) Tennessee 1341.5 2) Duke 1018 3) Penn State 557.5 4) Denver 537 5) Penn 288 6) Carson-Newman 128
Men: 1) Tennessee 1227 2) Penn 728 3) Duke 632 4) Denver 590 5) Penn State 563 6) Carson-Newman 164
Women’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Melissa Pish, Maddie Hess, Hunter Aitchison, Alyssa Marsh (2nd), 3:15.32
Men’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Sean Tate, Miles Williams, Sheldon Boboff, Yusuke Legard (2nd), 2:54.13