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Friday Recap – Cardinals win four, NC State holds onto team lead
An exciting day of swimming wrapped up Friday night at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, and NC State is sitting at the top of the standings heading into the final day of the 2015 ACC Men’s Swimming & Diving Championship.
The Wolfpack men, who have a league-leading 24 conference titles, will take the lead into Saturday looking for the first championship for the program since 1992.
“[There are] still a lot of events on the board,” said NC State coach Braden Holloway. “The teams we’re going against have some big events tomorrow. You add in the platform diving and it’s going to be a fun meet for a lot of these teams trying to get that trophy.
“We just have to get to bed tonight, recover, and then get these guys going in the morning. Keep the pedal to the medal.”
Including the platform diving results from last week, NC State has 896 points and holds a 46 point lead over second place Virginia Tech, which has 850. North Carolina sits in third (821.5), followed by Louisville (771.5) in fourth.
“We’re going to need to come out with the best effort in the history of our program, starting with the 200 back and set up the 100 free,” said Virginia Tech coach Ned Skinner. “We need to try and contend with their strength in the freestyle. It’s anyone’s game still. We’re just going to have to come out with our best.”
Friday saw a huge performance from Louisville. Swimming in their first ACC Championship, the Cardinals won their first ACC men’s gold earlier in the night. By the end of the evening, four of the six events had gone Louisville’s way.
“It’s an honor [to be part of the ACC] and it’s a credit to our staff and institution how we put everything together,” said Louisville coach Arthur Albiero. “These guys swam their tails off and I’m really proud of my team. We battled today after leaving a few things on the table yesterday. We came back roaring with a great morning and even improved off that, putting together some great swims this evening.
“We’re honored to be a part of the conference and the competition level is just fantastic.”
The final day of the meet will get underway Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with the preliminaries of the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, and 200 butterfly. The finals of those four events, plus the final heat of 1650 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay final will get started at 6 p.m.
Fans are encouraged to follow @ACCSwimDive and #ACCMSD for updates throughout the championship.
8:20 | 400 medley relay makes it a four of a kind for the Cards
The momentum continued for Louisville in the 400 medley relay, Friday night’s finale. Cardinals Grigory Tarasevich (46.21), Thomas Dahlia (51.77), Pedro Coutinho (45.70), and Trevor Carroll (42.38) combined for a time of 3:06.06 and the fourth gold medal for Louisville on the day.
The Cardinals led through all three transitions, but Carroll had to hold off a hard-charging Simonas Bilis. Bilis, who started the anchor 1.61 seconds back, almost chased down Carroll with a 41.30 split but came up short.
NC State (3:06.59) and North Carolina (3:08.80) finished in second and third, respectively, and all three teams finished with NCAA A cuts.
7:30 | The deck is full of Cards
For the third time on Friday night, a Louisville Cardinal took home a gold medal.
This time it was sophomore Grigory Tarasevich who was victorious in the 100 backstroke, posting a winning time of 46.21 to out-touch the field.
The Cardinals, who are competing in their first ACC Championship, currently sit in fourth and are 21 points back of second place.
“I’m really proud to be a part of team that’s in such an important year entering the ACC and ready to make an impact,” said Tarasevich. “It’s a huge part of history for our program and we’ll try to do our best moving forward.”
NC State took the other two spots on the podium with sophomore Andreas Schiellerup (46.37) in second and freshman Hennessey Stuart (46.42) in third.
7:15 | Dahlia victorious in 100 breastroke
Thomas Dahlia made it two Louisville gold medals on Friday night. The senior earned 32 points for the Cardinals and the top spot on the podium in the 100 breaststroke in 52.36.
NC State’s Derek Hren (53.10) grabbed silver, while senior Addison Bray made gave Louisville two of the top three finishers.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Dahlia about putting two Cardinals on the podium. “I’m so happy for Addison Bray because he’s a senior too. I’m just grateful to be here.”
Duke’s Peter Kropp, who posted a meet record in the morning prelims to enter the finals as the top qualifier, touched the wall in second place but was disqualified for a downward butterfly kick.
7:00 | Three Man Wolfpack
The NC State trio of Simonas Bilis, Ryan Held, and David Williams made noise by sweeping the podium in the 200 freestyle. Bilis touched in in 1:33.62, an NCAA A cut, to win his fourth gold medal of the championship.
“It feels amazing,” said Bilis about the sweep. “I love those boys. I’m a senior so it’s great to end on a good note. I’m happy.”
Held claimed second in 1:34.15, followed by Williams in third in 1:34.18 as the Wolfpack earned 87 points in the championship final.
The performance nearly doubled NC State’s lead in the team race from 63.5 points over North Carolina following the 100 butterfly to 121 points over second place Virginia Tech after the 200 freestyle.
6:45 | Outside smoke from Coutinho
Louisville’s Pedro Coutinho was seeded eighth and found himself in Lane 9 for the championship final of the 100 butterfly.
45.92 seconds later, the junior became the first Cardinal male swimmer to win ACC gold. Coutinho sat in third at the 50-yard mark, and overtook Florida State’s Connor Knight and Georgia Tech’s Andrew Kosic down the stretch to win the title.
“This morning I stumbled a little in the blocks,” explained Coutinho. “I was really nervous this morning and I knew that if I get off to a good start tonight, I’d be good. I got it [the start] right and gained the motivation to get going.
“Towards the 50 mark I turned around and I saw everyone with me so I said ‘I’m with them, I got this’. Outside smoke, man. They didn’t see me! I got them!”
Knight finished in second in 46.07, followed by North Carolina’s Sam Lewis in third in 46.14.
6:30 | McCurdy and Owen open Friday’s finals with a bang
NC State and Virginia Tech stood atop the standings entering Thursday night’s action. It didn’t take long for the two teams to go head-to-head.
Hokie sophomore Robert Owen and Wolfpack junior Christian McCurdy battled the entire 400 individual medley, with Owen (3:41.79) touching first for the gold. McCurdy (3:41.92), the defending champion in the event, claimed silver. Both swimmers finished in NCAA A cut times.
“I just wanted to have a fast race and I knew he [McCurdy] would give me one for my money,” said Owen.
With the victory, Owen became the first Virginia Tech swimmer to win the 400 individual medley in program history.
“We’re in a battle right now, and I just want to score as many points as I could for this team,” added Owen.
Louisville junior Nolan Tesone earned the bronze and All-ACC honors in 3:43.61.
11:00 | Prelims
The third day of the 2015 ACC Men’s Swimming & Diving Championship has opened with a full slate of preliminaries.
Robert Owen (3:43.80) of Virginia Tech posted the fastest time in the 400 individual medley, topping last year’s champion, Christian McCurdy (3:44.59) of NC State.
North Carolina’s Sam Lewis (45.93) was the fastest qualifier in the 100 butterfly, ahead of Florida State’s Connor Knight (46.11) and Georgia Tech’s Andrew Kosic (46.36).
Wolfpack swimmers took the top two spots in the 200 freestyle, with Ryan Held (1:33.75) and Simonas Bilis (1:33.98) leading the way. Both NC State and Louisville have three swimmers in the championship final, while Virginia Tech had two qualify.
Peter Kropp, who set the current league record (52.02) in the 100 breaststroke in November, touched in an NCAA A cut time of 52.17 to claim the top seed and set an ACC Championship record. Louisville’s Thomas Dahlia (52.33) also came in under the old meet mark.
Friday night’s 100 backstroke will play a huge part in the team race. North Carolina, led by Nic Graesser (46.19), grabbed the top three spots. NC State swimmers will be seeded fourth and fifth, and three Louisville swimmers round out the championship final.
The finals of the five events above, plus the 400 medley relay, will get underway Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.