The No. 22 Duke women’s team put on a dominant performance in its season-opening meet against Virginia Tech at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center Saturday, defeating the host team 172-123 as the Blue Devils swept all but two individual events to even the all-time record between the programs at seven wins apiece.
However, Duke failed to complete the dual-meet sweep, as the men’s team fell to the Hokies 178.5-121.5. The men’s and women’s teams from Florida State had been scheduled to participate as well but were unable to make the trip to Blacksburg due to Hurricane Michael.
Junior Alyssa Marsh paced the Blue Devils in the pool against the Hokies, winning two individual events—the 50 and 100-yard freestyle—and helping Duke secure a victory in the 200-yard medley relay. Marsh, who was an NCAA qualifier last year for the Blue Devils, did not match her school-record time of 48.63 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle but still managed to finish a second ahead of her closest competitor.
Senior Maddie Hess also shined, winning both individual backstroke events, and Duke’s heralded freshmen class made a strong debut across the board.
Melissa Pish clocked a 10:05:19 swim to leap into the school’s all-time top five in the 1,000-yard freestyle, while Easop Lee took home wins in both the 200 and 500-yard freestyle. Cabell Ann Whitlow joined her classmates with an individual win of her own in the 200-yard butterfly to round out an impressive day for the Blue Devil women’s rookie swimmers.
The 12th-ranked women’s freshmen class according to SwimSwam.com also impressed in the diving pool. Maddi Pullinger won the one-meter event and finished third on the three-meter, setting top-10 program scores in both events in the process, and fellow rookie Maddy Pfaff rounded out a solid start for the young Duke divers. Senior Mackenzie Willborn took home the three-meter win with a strong performance herself, posting a score of 316.50 after reaching the finals in the same event in last year’s ACC Championships.
Although the men’s team was not able to pull out a win, several Blue Devils turned in impressive performances in their first meet of the season. Junior Miles Williams won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.25 seconds and finished second in the men’s 100-yard butterfly, part of an impressive day across both the men’s and women’s teams in the sprints for Duke.
Senior Max St. George and junior Sheldon Boboff were the men’s only other individual winners, leading the field in the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard freestyle, respectively. Williams and St. George, who each hold multiple school records, are expected to shoulder much of the load this season for the Blue Devils, who entered the season unranked.
On the diving boards, senior Evan Moretti finished with a score of 391.65 to win on three meters and junior Nathaniel Hernandez took second in the one-meter event, followed closely by Moretti in third. The men’s and women’s diving teams won three out of the four events.
Duke will return to Durham to host Triangle rival N.C. State at Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion at 11 a.m. Saturday, as the Blue Devils look to build off a solid start against the Wolfpack.
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