The Blue Devils entered Saturday’s quad meet undefeated but were unable to defend their perfect record against a pair of ranked Big Ten opponents.
The No. 22 Duke men were outscored by No. 6 Michigan 212-86, No. 11 Indiana 198-102 and Georgia Tech 165-135 in Saturday’s quad meet at McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta. The Blue Devil women remain unbeaten in conference duals with a 198-101 win against the Yellow Jackets but fell to the No. 8 Wolverines 195-105 and the No. 16 Hoosiers 190-110.
The men’s squad had hoped to avenge last season’s 200-88 loss to Georgia Tech but could not outlast the home team.
“We knew the men would be close,” Duke head coach Dan Colella said. “We knew that we had to swim really well to beat them, but when you look at the performances, we had a few individuals that had some good swims today—not that we were terrible—but we were a little bit flat. We lost some races in the back 10 yards that we normally don’t.”
With a second-place overall finish in the 200-yard medley relay, Duke seemed to be off to a promising start. Kaz Takabayashi, Peter Kropp, David Armstrong and James Peek kept pace with Michigan and Indiana, finishing just a touch behind the top Wolverine squad in 1:27.96. The top Yellow Jacket relay finished in 1:30.42 for sixth.
But the Blue Devils could not keep up the momentum for the rest of the meet. Of the 12 individual races, Michigan and Indiana took the top four spots in half the events as the two Big Ten teams battled for the win. Georgia Tech beat Duke to the wall in nine individual events, effectively putting the meet out of reach for the Blue Devils with 91 first-place points in the dual between the ACC squads.
“They raced and wanted to compete,” Colella said. “Their energy was high throughout the whole meet, but I think they were fatigued physically. They fought today.”
The Duke relays put up a fight to close out the meet but their competitive enthusiasm got the better of them as two Blue Devils false-started in the 400-yard freestyle relay. On the “A” squad, sophomore Alex Pena left the block before freshman Yusuke Legard touched the wall, but Duke still would have finished four and a half seconds behind the Yellow Jackets even if the time had not been disqualified.
On the women’s side, the Blue Devils also came out flat, losing the 200-yard medley relay for the first time this season. Their top-scoring relay of Jessie Sutherland, Alyssa Arwood, Isa Paez and Chelsea Ye touched in 1:44.60, nearly a second behind Georgia Tech, and good for only seventh place.
Duke fought back in the remaining events, beating Georgia Tech to the wall in all but two of the remaining events—Yellow Jacket Iris Wang claimed second and seventh in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles, respectively. Leah Goldman provided the Blue Devils’ only overall win in the lap pool with a dominant performance in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing in 54.07 seconds.
In the diving well, Duke’s freshmen posted the top score in two events. Mackenzie Willborn won the 3-meter competition with a total score of 292.30 and Evan Moretti took the win on the 1-meter board with 313.40 points.
"It was really exciting to see the two freshmen win,” Duke head diving coach Nunzio Esposto told GoDuke.com. “[Mackenzie] had a really good list and that was great to see. There were a lot of competitors just because it was a quad meet. She dove very well. Evan was a good surprise on 1-meter. I knew that he could dive well like he did, but he put together a good list on 1-meter. It was more men than a usual dual meet so it was good to see him compete like that."
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The meet was not without highlight performances for a few Blue Devils. Junior Ashleigh Shanley broke 1:03 in the 100-yard breaststroke for the first time in a dual meet, touching the wall in 1:02.74 for fourth. The Ann Arbor, Mich., native entered the season with a personal best of 1:03.87 and had posted a time of 1:02.55 when rested for the Nike Cup Invitational. Shanley also finished fourth at the 200-yard distance in 2:18.55.
“Ashleigh swam absolutely terrific today,” Colella said. “Those were really great performances for her and we are really proud of the way she stood up and raced today.”
Sophomore Lizzie Devitt recorded a lifetime best in the 200-yard individual medley, jumping up to fifth on Duke’s all-time list with a second-place finish in 2:01.73.
“[Lizzie] had a great 200 free earlier in the meet, and it was great to see her turn around and swim that 200 IM,” Colella said. “Again, we’re very proud of that performance.”