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Duke swimming and diving men and women combine to go 5-1 at Virginia Tech quad meet

<p>Senior Ashleigh Shanley won the 100-yard breaststroke this weekend, one of several standout for the Blue Devil women as they compiled a 3-0 record.&nbsp;</p>

Senior Ashleigh Shanley won the 100-yard breaststroke this weekend, one of several standout for the Blue Devil women as they compiled a 3-0 record. 

The Blue Devils were forced to wait two extra weeks to kick off their season after a trip to Florida State was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew.

But Duke showed little signs of rust in its first swim of the season this weekend.

The Blue Devils finished a two-day quad meet with Virginia Tech, West Virginia and William and Mary at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center in Christianburg, Va., with a perfect 3-0 record on the women's side and a 2-1 mark on the men's side.

“It’s exciting to finally get the first meet done," Duke head coach Dan Colella told GoDuke.com. "We’re incredibly proud of how the freshmen stood up and raced this weekend. It was a great way to get things started and we look forward to continuing competition."

The women's team began the meet with a series of strong individual performances that allowed them to build a big lead against the Tribe and Mountaineers. But a close competition between the Blue Devils and Hokies began from the very first event of the weekend as Duke finished just .18 seconds behind Virginia Tech’s winning time of 1:33.40 in the 200-yard freestyle relay. 

The Blue Devils picked up their fair share of individual victories Friday with junior Leah Goldman winning the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:01.39 and senior Ashleigh Shanley winning the 100-yard breastroke with a time of 1:03.05. Senior Maddie Rusch also notched a first-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.36. 

Duke also finished with the second, third and fourth place finishers in the 200-yard backstroke behind sophomores Mickayla Hinkle and Maddie Hess and senior Liza Bragg. Junior Isabella Paez led the way for the Blue Devil contingent in the 200-yard butterfly by finishing second, with Duke claiming four of the top five finishes in the event. 

But despite the strong performances across the board, the Blue Devils found themselves trailing Virginia Tech 86-81 heading into the final day of the meet.

Duke started off on the right foot Saturday, besting the Hokies by 1.89 seconds in the 200-yard medley relay. The Blue Devils then showed the versatility on their roster with second and third place finishes in the longer 1,650-yard freestyle from junior Verity Abel and freshmen Brittany Kampfer, as well as the top three finishes in the 50-yard freestyle sprint, led by Rusch's NCAA B qualifier time of 22.87. 

Bolstered by a strong performance in the diving well, which included senior Kirby Quinn's first win in the 1-meter diving competition and four of the top five finishes in the 3-meter, the Blue Devils were able to rally and finished with wins of 189-163 against Virginia Tech, 282-64 against William and Mary and 281-71 against West Virginia. 

"They did a really solid job coming off the road and competing hard," Colella said. "They absolutely did a great job of breaking up some of their top swimmers and won some events that maybe Virginia Tech thought they would win. It was just a really great overall team effort and probably one of the better meets we’ve had in some time, just from top to bottom. 

On the men's side, the Blue Devils got off to a rocky start after a disqualification for their A team in the 200-yard freestyle relay. But Duke rebounded with a victory from senior Peter Kropp in the 100-yard breastroke. Kropp also joined classmate Dylan Payne, sophomore Max St. George and sophomore Yusuke Legard for the top finish in the 400-yard medley relay later in the meet. 

The Blue Devils got second-place finishes from St. George and Legard in the 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle, respectively. St. George notched a first-place later in the meet in the 100-yard backstroke by a slim .01-second margin ahead of Virginia Tech's Robert Owen. 

Duke finished the meet with a 251.5-94.5 victory against William & Mary and a 288-64 win against West Virginia. The Blue Devils could not overcome a stout Hokies team that entered the meet ranked in the top 50 and bested Duke 210.5-141.5. 

"We had a lot of great swims both sessions," Colella said. "To win that 400 medley relay last night and open up winning the 200 medley relay, kind of picking up where we left off last year with those events. One of the things that was really exciting for a lot of the athletes was the fact that they had faster times this early in the season than they did at any point in-season last year.”

In this first meet of the season, Duke showcased its depth on both the men's and women's sides and emerging talent with many strong individual swims. 

The Blue Devils will have a chance to continue improving their times when they host N.C. State and Northwestern Saturday at the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion.

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