GREENSBORO, N.C. - Duke collected first-place finishes in three individual events and two relays to open the 2012-12 season on a high note Friday evening at the All-North Carolina Invitational, held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The Blue Devil men totaled 416.5 points on the first day of competition to trail only NC State, while the women sit in third behind NC State and East Carolina with 336 points.
"We were excited to see a number of people step up tonight and do the things that they did," said head coach Dan Colella. "The freshmen in particular had some great swims. The big thing was getting down here to Greensboro to experience the facility and race hard, and I think the group did a really good job of racing hard tonight."
The Duke women opened the meet with a third-place showing in the 200-yard freestyle relay, as junior Lauren Weaver, freshmen Chelsea Ye and Kathryn Eckhart, and junior Christine Wixted combined for a time of 1:35.46 in the fifth and final heat. After a one-two finish by the 'B' and 'C' squads in heat one of the men's 200 freestyle relay, senior Ben Hwang powered the 'A' relay to a first-place finish in the final heat. Hwang teamed with freshman Romain Decrop, senior Adam Flur and freshman Sam Skinner for a 1:21.96 clocking to win the event.
Wixted paced the field in the women's 500 freestyle, turning in the best time of four heats at 4:57.86 despite swimming the event for the first time in her collegiate career. On the men's side, senior Alex Harmon posted the Blue Devils' best time at 4:41.44 to place seventh, followed by fellow senior Matt Carder in ninth (4:42.95) and freshman Kevin Butz in 18th (4:50.78).
Junior Hunter Knight turned in the second-best time overall in the men's 200 IM, touching at 1:54.52 to win his heat. Classmate Tyler Fleming also scored for the Blue Devils, placing eighth at 1:56.19. Sophomore Katherine Plevka led Duke in the same event on the women's side, finishing ninth overall with a mark of 2:10.52, while fellow sophomore Ali Horn came in 13th at 2:11.01.
Duke swept the 50 freestyle events, with Weaver winning the women's event in 23.72. Hwang cruised to a first-place finish on the men's side, notching a time of 20.03. Fellow senior Flur clocked 21.13 to tie for fifth and sophomore Stefan Knight took eighth at 21.19.
In the final event of the evening, the 400 medley relay, sophomore Megan McCarroll, Wixted, Ye and Weaver won the women's competition in 3:49.25. The team of senior Ted Minturn, senior Jim Zuponeck, Skinner and Hwang then wrapped up the night by finishing second behind only NC State in the men's fastest heat, recording a time of 3:23.86.
Action continues at the All-North Carolina Invitational on Saturday beginning with the morning session at 10 a.m. Fans can follow the Blue Devils on Twitter (@Duke_SWIM_DIVE) for updates throughout the day.
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