GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Blue Devils received impressive swims from veterans and newcomers alike as the men's and women's squads wrapped up their season opener at the All-North Carolina Invitational, held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center - the site of the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships.
The Duke men closed out the two-day meet in second place overall, totaling 1,197.7 points to finish behind only NC State (1,556), while the women took third behind NC State (1,563) and East Carolina (1,383) with a team score of 956.
Individually, junior Christine Wixted paced the Blue Devil women by winning three events over the course of the weekend, and senior Ben Hwang collected wins in both sprint freestyle events on the men's side. Duke also opened the year with success in multiple relay competitions, posting first-place finishes in the men's 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay as well as the women's 200 freestyle relay.
"This was a really great kickoff to the season," said head coach Dan Colella. "We are definitely very excited about the things we saw this weekend. We feel really good heading back to Durham about a great weekend and the future of the season."
After a strong showing in Friday's first session, the Blue Devils carried that momentum back into the pool Saturday, with the evening capped by a pair of second-place finishes in the men's and women's 400 freestyle relays. The final session was also highlighted by Hwang's first-place performance in the men's 100 freestyle (45.09) and a win by Wixted in the women's 200 breaststroke (2:20.17).
In addition to anchoring Duke's second-place 400 freestyle relay, freshman Chelsea Ye took second overall in the women's 100 freestyle, recording a time of 52.37. Fellow rookie Kathryn Eckhart placed ninth in the field of 58 swimmers with a 53.73 clocking, and junior Lauren Weaver came in 10th at 53.94.
Senior Jim Zuponeck was the top Blue Devil performer in the men's 200 breaststroke, placing fourth with a mark of 2:06.88, while freshman Victor Chen touched at 2:09.44 to come in eighth and junior Tyler Fleming took 11th at 2:11.13. In the men's 200 butterfly, junior Hunter Knight broke into the top 10 with a time of 1:57.51 and sophomore Ali Horn also placed 10th in the same event on the women's side (2:09.89). Classmate Megan McCarroll posted a time of 2:05.47 to finish fourth in the women's 200 backstroke, while senior Ted Minturn led the way for the Duke men in that event with an eighth-place showing (1:54.52).
The morning session saw the men's 200 medley relay of Minturn, Zuponeck, freshman Sam Skinner and Hwang clock a time of 1:32.97 to edge NC State for a first-place finish. McCarroll, Wixted, Ye and Weaver also teamed up for a strong showing in the women's competition, taking second at 1:45.47.
In the women's 400 IM, Horn came in ninth overall with a mark of 4:42.25. Senior Alex Harmon, the men's school record holder in the event, notched a time of 4:12.30 to take eighth, followed by Fleming in 11th (4:14.87).
A pair of Duke rookies turned in strong swims in the 100 butterfly events, with Linsay Cooper placing third on the women's side in 57.76 and Skinner also coming in third at 51.97. Fellow freshman Ye paced the women with a sixth-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:54.94) and sophomore Michael Donnalley led the men with a 1:43.70 clocking to take fifth at the 200-yard distance.
Wixted earned another individual win in the 100 breaststroke, registering the top time in the field at 1:05.21. Meanwhile, Hunter Knight guided the Blue Devils to a sweep in the same event on the men's side, tapping the wall at 56.92 to finish first, with Hwang coming in second (57.04) and Zuponeck third (57.09).
Both McCarroll and Eckhart placed in the top 10 in the women's 100 backstroke, finishing second and ninth, respectively, and Minturn scored for the Duke men with a sixth-place, 52.31 performance. The Blue Devils also excelled in the distance events, as Harmon swam 16:32.28 to take fourth in the 1,650 freestyle and freshman Meghan Price posted a time of 17:52.37 to place sixth in the mile on the women's side.
Up next, the Blue Devils will host ACC opponents Virginia Tech and Florida State, as well as UNC Wilmington, in their home opener in Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.
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