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For the 25th time in league history, NC State is ACC Men’s Swimming & Diving champion.
The Wolfpack has won 22 outright championships and held a share of the team title three more times. The championship is the first for NC State since 1992
The Wolfpack finished the meet by winning 10 of the 21 events, including four of the five relays. In total, Wolfpack swimmers combined to win 22 medals.
“These guys worked so hard for this and we saw all this support from our alumni, our families and friends this week,” said NC State coach Braden Holloway. “They were out here since Wednesday knowing we had a chance to bring it back [to Raleigh].
“We knew it would be a tough fight with a lot of great teams here and we battled through a bit of an uphill battle out of the gates. It’s a good group of guys and hats off to our staff for putting it together.”
NC State did its biggest damage in the freestyle, winning all five individual events and the three freestyle relays. With the eight golds, they became the first team to sweep freestyle since Virginia in 2002.
NC State finished on top with 1331 points, ahead of Louisville in second with 1178 and Virginia Tech in third (1123). North Carolina placed fourth (1062), followed by Notre Dame (675), Georgia Tech (663), Florida State (619), Virginia (618), Duke (435), Pitt (369.5), Boston College (179), and Miami (105).
League-newcomer Louisville finishes second
The 2015 ACC Swimming & Diving Championships were the first for the Louisville Cardinals, who joined the league in the 2014-15 academic year.
It didn’t take long for the Cardinal men to announce their arrival to the conference, finishing in second place with 1178 points.
“We’re so honored to be a part of this conference,” said Louisville coach Arthur Albiero. “What a great meet though, so competitive. We’re just really thrilled to be a part of it.
“I just said to my team that it brought the best out of us and we hope to continue to add to the conference. Our goal is to continue to raise the profile of the ACC on the national scene and anything we can do to continue to help that will be our priority.”
Louisville won gold in five events – 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, and 400 medley relay – and finished with 16 medals, the second most of any team.
Bilis named Most Valuable Swimmer
NC State’s Simonas Bilis was voted as the 2015 ACC Championship Most Valuable Men’s Swimmer by the league’s coaches. A junior from Panevezys, Lithuania, he was nearly perfect on the week in leading the Wolfpack to the conference championship.
Bilis competed in seven events during the meet, winning six golds and one silver en route to becoming the first Wolfpack male swimmer to win the award since Cullen Jones in 2006. He set two individual ACC marks and helped break three relay records in the process.
“Last two years I was really jealous and now finally I can take it,” said Bilis about being named MVP. “I know what it means for my team and I’m happy to have three good events. It’s hard to find words. I’m waiting for this trophy because then the feelings are going to come.”
He became the first ACC swimmer to sweep the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle events since Virginia’s Scot Robinson accomplished the feat in 2010.
50 Freestyle (19.07)
100 Freestyle (41.94) – ACC Record
200 Freestyle (1:33.62)
200 Freestyle Relay (1:15.62, 18.98) – ACC Records for Relay and 50 Free Leadoff
400 Freestyle Relay (2:48.92, 41.38) – ACC Relay Record
800 Freestyle Relay (6:13.14, 1:32.05) – ACC Relay Record
400 Medley Relay (3:06.59)
Rewrite the record book
The ACC record book will need major revisions after this meet.
Eight new marks were set, including six by team champion NC State. The Wolfpack relays set new ACC standards in the 200 (1:15.62), 400 (2:48.92), and 800 (6:13.14) freestyle relays. Three student-athletes – Simonas Bilis, Ryan Held, and David Williams – swam on all three squads, while Andreas Schiellerup (200 FR) and Soeren Dahl (400 & 800 FR) made up the fourth spots.
Bilis bettered his own record in the 100 freestyle, winning in 41.94 on Saturday night. He also broke the ACC mark in the 50 freestyle (18.98) on his leadoff leg of the 200 freestyle after coming up just short in the 50 free earlier in the evening on Thursday.
NC State’s Hennessey Stuart, a freshman, posted 1:39.73 in the 200 backstroke during Saturday morning’s prelims to put his name in the record book for the first time. He didn’t wait long to lower that mark, however, finishing in 1:39.37 during the finals to win the gold medal.
Florida State senior Connor Knight closed out his career at the ACC Championship with a new mark (1:41.66) in the 200 butterfly.
Duke’s Peter Kropp touched in 52.17 in the prelims of the 100 breast, besting the meet mark set last year.
8:20 pm | Wolfpack closes it out in style
NC State took home the 400 freestyle relay for the third straight year and set yet another record in the process.
The Wolfpack squad of Ryan Held (42.79), Simonas Bilis (41.38), Soren Dahl (42.69), and David Williams (42.06) led through every transition and combined to finish in 2:48.92, breaking their own league record set last year.
North Carolina (2:52.32) and Georgia Tech (2:52.47) finished in second and third, respectively, and all three teams posted NCAA A cuts.
7:30 pm | Knight’s time
NC State’s Christian McCurdy held the league record, was the defending champion in the 200 butterfly, and entered Saturday night as the top qualifier.
Florida State’s Connor Knight decided to crash the party.
Knight, a senior swimming in his final ACC Championship, touched in 1:41.66 to break McCurdy’s league record set last year and win the gold medal. Knight, along with McCurdy (1:42.00) and North Carolina junior Ben Colley (1:42.92) battled back and forth throughout the 200 yards, before Knight edged ahead down the stretch.
“Twenty-one years in the making and just being with a great coach these past two years,” said Knight on the keys to the win. “I couldn’t ask for a better coach to put me in this spot and I’m just excited to go even faster at the NCAAs.”
Both Knight and McCurdy’s times stand as NCAA A cuts.
7:10 pm | Cards sweep 200 breaststroke podium
Louisville took two of the podium spots in the 100 breastroke on Friday night.
On Saturday, the Cardinals did one better, sweeping the podium in the 200 breastroke.
Thomas Dahlia (1:53.51) led the trio with an NCAA A cut to win his fifth medal this week and third gold. Addison Bray (1:54.60) and Carlos Claverie (1:54.80) grabbed silver and bronze, respectively.
In addition to the three at the top, freshman Todd Owen finished in seventh to give the Cardinals 110 points in the event, solidifying their position in second in the team race.
“It’s the first time for us in the ACCs so a gold medal here is just awesome for us,” said Dahlia. “This 200 breast is even more special because we just went 1-2-3. We’re family and it’s just great.”
7:00 pm | Bilis completes freestyle triple crown
Simonas Bilis, the defending champion in the 100 freestyle, led wire-to-wire and finished in 41.94, breaking his own ACC record in the event that he set last year. The gold medal is his fifth on the week and fourth ACC record.
“I’m mostly happy that I went under 42,” said BIlis. “It’s a great achievement for anyone who swims freestyle.”
Bilis is the first ACC swimmer to sweep the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle events since Virginia’s Scot Robinson accomplished the feat in 2010.
Georgia Tech senior Andrew Kosic also came in under the NCAA A standard in 42.45 to win silver, and NC State’s David Williams was third in 42.77.
The victory is the third straight for NC State to start the night.
6:40 pm | Stuart breaks 200 backstroke record – again
For the second time on Saturday, NC State’s Hennessey Stuart broke the ACC record in the 200 backstroke.
During the morning prelims, Stuart posted the fastest qualifying time in 1:39.73, the first ACC swimmer to break the 1:40 mark.
Saturday evening, the freshman topped himself, finishing in 1:39.37 to win comfortably.
“I like going hard in the morning and giving it my all because you never know when you’re going to get the time you want,” said Stuart. “I take every swim for what it is and so to go faster tonight was really big.
“I think being top seed made me a little nervous but I just kept telling myself the finish line was right in front of me.”
Louisville’s Grigory Tarasevich also posted an NCAA A cut by touching in 1:40.86 to earn silver. Teammate Aaron Greene (1:41.38) came in third.
Like the first event of the night, the victory by Stuart broke a long winless streak in the event for NC State, as he was the first Wolfpack swimmer to win the event since 1978 (Dan Harrigan).
6:30 pm | Ipsen runs away in the mile
NC State’s Anton Ipsen won the event’s opening event comfortably to get the leading Wolfpack off to a strong start on Saturday night.
Swimming in the fifth and final heat, Ipsen finished the 1650 freestyle in 14:48.52, ahead of Virginia Tech’s Jakes Ores (14:57.58) and Louisville’s Marcelo Acosta (15:03.17).
“It’s a big momentum sender,” said Ipsen. “It was really important to get our guys going because we have a lot of events. Hopefully we can continue to be strong and finish this off.”
A freshman, Ipsen is the first NC State swimmer to win the event since 1985 when Rich Shinnick took home the title.
10:50 am | Final Day Underway
NC State holds a 46 point lead over Virginia Tech entering the last day of the 2015 ACC Men’s Swimming & Diving Championship at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.
Including last week’s platform results, NC State sits in first with 896 points, followed by Virginia Tech (850), North Carolina (821.5), and Louisville (771.5).
Saturday morning’s swimming got off to an exciting start in the 200 backstroke. NC State freshman Hennessey Stuart dropped nearly four seconds over his previous season best (1:43.56) to finish in 1:39.73, an ACC record and an NCAA A cut.
The Wolfpack continued to have success in the freestyle events, this time placing four swimmers in the championship final of the 100 freestyle and seven in the top 24. Georgia Tech senior Andrew Kosic claimed the top qualifying spot in 42.30, followed by NC State junior Simonas Bilis (42.45). Bilis holds the conference (42.19) and meet (42.25) records.
Louisville took center stage in the 200 breaststroke. Led by the top two qualifiers in Thomas Dahlia (1:54.74) and Addison Bray (1:55.29), the Cardinals will make up half of the championship final tonight.
NC State junior Christian McCurdy, the defending champion and league record holder, swam the fastest time of 1:42.51 in the 200 butterfly to close out the morning prelims.
Final events scheduled for this evening include the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 1650 freestyle, and 400 freestyle relay. Action will get underway at 3:45 p.m. with the early heats of the 1650, with the final session starting at 6 p.m.