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Duke swimming and diving looks to flip script on Seminoles

<p>After an impressive season opener against Pittsburgh earlier this month, Duke will look to take down Florida State and Queens University of Charlotte Friday evening.</p>

After an impressive season opener against Pittsburgh earlier this month, Duke will look to take down Florida State and Queens University of Charlotte Friday evening.

The last time the Blue Devils and the Seminoles met for a dual meet, Florida State blew Duke out of the water. Three years and three recruiting classes later, the Blue Devils will look flip the score in their favor.

Duke will host the Seminoles along with Queens University of Charlotte at Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion Friday at 5 p.m. for its first triple dual meet of the season. To remain undefeated at home, the Blue Devils will have to outscore Florida State in a head-to-head matchup for the first time in program history and defeat the men’s and women’s Division II national champions.

“The whole meet is going to be a really fierce competition,” Duke head coach Dan Colella said. “It’s a great opportunity to swim [against] a team that has traditionally been one of the top teams in the ACC. I think we have a great chance to upset. [Queens has] some spectacular athletes…. They are going to be right there in the hunt.”

The Blue Devils fell to the Seminoles 203-91 on the women’s side and 186-112 on the men’s side in 2012 with a few standout performances from then-juniors Christine Wixted and Hunter Knight in the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes. But Duke has a roster full of athletes poised to top the scoreboard in more than one stroke specialty Friday.

After earning ACC Swimmer of the Week honors following the Blue Devils’ dominant victory against Pittsburgh Oct. 3, freshman Mickayla Hinkle and junior Peter Kropp will look to repeat as double event winners. Hinkle bested the field in the 200-yard backstroke—touching the wall in 2:00.29—and set a new Taishoff record in the 100-yard event, clocking in at 54.55 seconds and claiming the then-fastest time in the nation. Kropp matched her performance with wins in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, stopping the clock at 52.13 seconds and 1:59.01—breaking his own pool record at the shorter distance and putting him at the top of the national rankings in both events.  

Florida State’s Meg Brown will aim to give Hinkle a close race. Brown was named High Point Swimmer of the Meet last weekend at the Southern Methodist University Classic after posting career-best times in the 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley in 1:56.84 and 2:01.37, respectively. The freshman did not compete in the Seminoles' recent dual meet loss to Minnesota Oct. 3—a 212-88 win for the reigning Big Ten champions—but could be a key scorer for the squad Friday.

“Florida State is coming off a weekend at the SMU Classic where they have some really outstanding performances,” Colella said. “The whole atmosphere of that competition has created a lot of great swimming, and they definitely had their share of it.”

On the men’s side, the Seminoles are led by backstroker Connor Kalisz and sprinter Jason McCormick. Kalisz touched the wall first in 50.64 seconds in the 100-yard distance of his signature stroke and in 1:49.31 in the longer event at the Minnesota dual meet. McCormick also picked up two individual wins Oct. 3, clocking in at 20.47 seconds and 45.33 seconds in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, respectively.

But Colella’s squad has more than one meet to win Friday.

Duke last raced the Royals at the 2013 All-North Carolina Invitational, where both teams only competed in the second day of the two-day event. The Blue Devils placed fifth and Queens University eighth on both the men’s and women’s sides of the meet.

The Duke squad did not attend this year’s All-North Carolina Invitational Oct. 2 and 3, but the Royal women amassed 867 points to place fourth and the men 918 points for fifth—again racing in just half the meet. N.C. State and East Carolina claimed the top two team spots with more than 1,300 points, and Queens would have threatened Davidson for third as the Wildcats produced two-day totals of 946 for the women and 977 for the men.  

Junior Deon Deesens provided the highlight performance of the meet in the 200-yard freestyle, touching the wall in 1:36.58—the then-fastest time in the event for any Division I or II athlete this season.

“We have absolutely told the team not to take them for granted,” Colella said. “They definitely aren’t going to back down because they are swimming Division I schools. They are primed and excited to see what they can do against us and Florida State."

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