Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick
Through the first two full weeks of ACC swimming and diving action, only one team has yet to compete in a meet: the defending conference champion NC State Wolfpack. That changes Friday evening, when NC State hosts conference (and geographic) rival Duke along with Penn State in a home meet in Raleigh.
What’s changed for NC State since last season? Well, a bit. Todd DeSorbo, one of the key figures behind the Wolfpack’s sprint program, has departed for Virginia. Alexia Zevnik and Kayla Brumbaum, the two seniors who led the Wolfpack women to their first ACC title since 1980, have both graduated.
But this team is still very clearly the class of the conference. Head coach Braden Holloway has restructured the program since DeSorbo’s departure, with Bobby Guntoro taking more responsibility for the sprint group.
That sprint group, by the way? Still really good, with Ryan Held now a senior and Justin Ress a junior. The versatile Andreas Vazaios is back, and so are distance swimmer Anton Ipsen and backstroker Hennessey Stuart. It would be an upset if all of these men did not score A-final points at the NCAA championships.
The women, too, bring back a strong core with Hannah Moore going into her senior season set up as well in the distance events as anyone not named Katie Ledecky. Sprinter Elise Haan and backstroker Ky-Lee Perry both made big impacts last season in their first year with NC State.
The NC State women are scheduled to compete each of the next five weekends, and the men all but one of those weekends. The competition will only get tougher each time out: Wisconsin and Texas loom, and the women will head west to face Cal and Stanford.
Virginia & LSU at Pitt, 4 p.m. Friday & 10 a.m. Saturday
In the only other intra-conference matchup of the weekend, Virginia travels to face Pittsburgh, with LSU also in on the action. Virginia swept Penn State in DeSorbo’s debut meet last week, and now the Cavaliers will handle their first road test.
The Cavalier women got the post-Leah Smith era started with sprinter Caitlin Cooper and backstroker/butterflyer Emma Seiberlich each claiming multiple wins against the Nittany Lions. Pitt is strong in the distance events with Amanda Richey, but it’s unlikely either the Panthers or the Tigers can hang with UVA’s women.
In the men’s meet, the Cavaliers’ Brendan Casey and Sam Magnan matching up with Pitt’s Aaron Sett in the distance races should be the highlight of the competition.
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame (12 p.m. Friday) and at Northwestern (10 a.m. CT Saturday)
Two weeks after a pair of home wins against Pitt, the Yellow Jackets will head north for a midwestern swing against Notre Dame and then Northwestern. Georgia Tech was impressive in their start to the season, with Iris Wang sweeping the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles and both Christian Ferraro and Caio Pumputis looking like instant-impact freshmen.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, scored a signature win against Louisville two weeks ago and this past weekend hosted Texas A&M and Michigan State. Sophomore freestyler Abbie Dolan is the Irish swimmer to watch on the women’s side as she goes head-to-head with Wang, and distance swimmer Zach Yeadon and sprinter Justin Plaschka were the two standouts against the Aggies last week.
Michigan at Louisville, 5 p.m. Friday & 10 a.m. Saturday
If this matchup sounds familiar, that’s because the Michigan and Louisville women faced off just this past weekend at the SMU Classic in Dallas, with the Cardinals just edging out the Wolverines for second place. So it figures that Mallory Comerford and Siobhan Haughey will again match up in the freestyle events — without tech suits this time — after Comerford twice edged Haughey at the SMU meet.
The Cardinals finished last season as the superior team at the NCAA championships, but it was Michigan that dominated all three sessions of a unique-format dual meet between the two schools last October in Ann Arbor.
After being swept at the hands of Notre Dame in the season opener and now facing the Wolverines, Tennessee and Virginia await on the November schedule — a busy fall for Arthur Albiero’s Cardinals.
Queens, VMI, Liberty (women) at Virginia Tech, 4 p.m. Friday
The Hokies proved their abilities last weekend in Durham, N.C., sweeping both Duke and Florida State in a three-team competition. This week’s meet will feature two other Virginia-based teams, plus Queens coming up from Charlotte, N.C., in what figures to be a relatively easy win for VT.
Boston College at Loyola Maryland (4 p.m. Friday) and at George Washington (2:30 p.m. Saturday)
The Eagles are back in action with two Mid-Atlantic dual meets after hosting the Northeast Catholic Invite last weekend.