Never in program history had the Blue Devils beaten Florida State in head-to-head competition—until they made it look easy Friday.
From the opening relay, Duke controlled the three-way contest against the Seminoles and NCAA Division II reigning champion Queens University of Charlotte, claiming 22 event wins and knocking down six pool records at Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion. The Blue Devils outscored Florida State 184-110 on the women’s side and 164-129 on the men’s. The Duke women dispatched the Royals 206-81 and the men 175-114.
“I expected that we would definitely be in a position to win tonight,” Duke head coach Dan Colella said. “I didn’t know that it would turn out the way that it did. For them to stand up and perform the way that they did was a real testament to how much they wanted it this evening. And that’s what we need as a program. If we’re going to begin to be really competitive at a high end, both ACC and nationally, that’s the kind of athletes we need.”
The Blue Devils opened the meet with a pair of pool records in the 200-yard medley relays. On the women’s side, freshman Mickayla Hinkle, junior Ashleigh Shanley, sophomore Leah Goldman and junior Maddie Rusch—the same quartet to bring down the Taishoff top time in the event in Duke’s dual with Pittsburgh Oct. 3—bested their previous record by over a half-second, coming into the wall in a combined time of 1:40.62.
Two heats later, the men’s squad of juniors Kaz Takabayashi and Peter Kropp and senior David Armstrong built up a lead of more than two and a half seconds to send James Peek into the water for the anchor leg. The junior produced a blistering 19.47-second split in the final 50 yards of freestyle and stopped the clock at 1:27.47—good for the Taishoff record and the nation’s second-fastest time to date.
After setting a new pool record in the 200-yard individual medley against Pittsburgh, Goldman put her name up on the wall again with her 53.77-second performance in the 100-yard butterfly. The Burlingame, Calif., native and classmate Isa Paez finished in under 54.72 seconds—the 37-year-old Taishoff record held by Diane Johannigman of Houston. Paez tapped the wall in 54.31 seconds.
Takabayashi, the backstroker on the top men’s medley relay, claimed his first individual pool record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 48.54 seconds. Freshman Maddie Hess did the same at the 200-yard distance, clocking in at 1:59.08.
The Blue Devils wrapped up the meet with another pool relay record on the men’s side. Armstrong, freshman Yusuke Legard, Takabayashi and Peek produced a combined time of 3:00.70 in the 400-yard freestyle relay, coming into the wall two-hundredths of a second faster the mark set by Virginia Tech last season. Peek again turned in the fastest split of the heat with an anchor leg of 44.10 seconds.
Duke put on a show Friday night, but both Florida State and Queens University will leave a name on the wall. Royal Dion Dreesens posted the second-fastest time in Division I and top time in Division II so far this season in the 200-yard freestyle, finishing in 1:36.19—nearly two and a half seconds faster than the previous pool record. Connor Kalisz provided the highlight swim for the Seminoles, winning the 200-yard backstroke by almost five seconds with a final time of 1:46.71.
New facility bests have been the theme of the Blue Devils’ season so far, but Duke has more in mind than rewriting the Taishoff record board.
“They are talking about how much harder we are working this year, quite honestly,” Colella said. “And they are seeing the fruits of their labor. So much of it is to stand up at this time of year and race the way they are is desire. They are hungry and believe they can be a real factor this year at both the conference and national level.”
Months of tough practices and a summer on campus working on stroke technique have certainly paid off for Shanley, Friday’s top finisher of the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes. The junior won the shorter distance in a career-best time of 1:03.12 and the longer event in 2:19.17.
“We worked hard on lots of specific parts of our races, especially our underwaters. Focusing on the details has really helped us understand what we are doing in practice and what our ultimate goal is,” Shanley said. “I’ve never won two individual events at a dual meet. It felt really good to be able to contribute that much to the team.”
The Blue Devils also produced career-best performances in the diving well where freshmen Mackenzie Willborn and Evan Moretti provided the highlights. Willborn swept both the one- and three-meter springboards and Moretti claimed the top spot on the three-meter.
“The three-meter was a personal best for me. I started great and just wanted to keep up the consistency,” Moretti said. “I felt so great and confident coming in here. Nunzio [Esposto] is a great coach and the guys [Lee Christensen and Josh Owsiany] are my best friends. I’ve just improved so much with the Duke program.”