BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech swimming and diving teams combined for 19 first-place finishes, helping the H2Okies to a sweep of Kentucky at War Memorial Pool on Friday afternoon. The H2Okie men defeated the Wildcats, 161.5-136.5, while the Tech women earned a 176-122 victory. Both squads improved to 3-2 on the season.
“Coming off a real good weekend of training, I thought the team really rallied well for a Friday afternoon competition,” said head coach Ned Skinner. “Our senior leadership continues to be impressive on both the swimming and diving levels. Knowing it’s a back-to-back weekend with a big meet against a top-20 program like Kentucky, and coming back tomorrow to swim against Duke and Miami, I thought we could have come out flat today, but instead we took care of business.”
The H2Okies continued their dominance in the men’s 200 medley relay to open the meet, earning their fourth title of the season as Charlie Higgins, Jonathan Huss, Gregory Mahon and Stephen Hawkins teamed to take first with their second-fastest finish of the year in 1:31.26.
Virginia Tech then swept both 1000 freestyle events, with Erika Hajnal and Blake Trabuchi-Downey earning victories. Hajnal’s victory in 10:18.87 marked her third of the season, as the women took the top four spots. Trabuchi-Downey’s first-place finish in 9:32.11 marked his first title of the season, as he would later take first in the 500 free. Laura Simon and Becky Flora rounded out the top three, respectively, for the women, while Caglar Gokbulut took second for the men, followed by Griffin Lutterbein in third.
Kelly deMarrais led the women in the 200 free, touching in at 1:50.85, for the third time this season, with Lauren Ritter finishing in a close second in 1:51.92. Charlie Higgins and Gregory Morgan finished second and third, respectively, on the men’s side. Ritter would later earn a title of her own in the 500 free, taking first by more than six seconds with a time of 4:56.92.
Tech then took control in the 100 breaststroke events as Jessica Earl and Jonathan Huss sprinted their way to victory. Earl’s top finish marked her first victory this season with a time of 1:05.49. Huss supplemented Earl’s title with the fastest finish for the men in 57.75 seconds, extending his unbeaten streak with four first-place finishes in four attempts this season. Huss later conquered another victory in the 200 breaststroke (2:08.01), while Sarah Losinger earned her first top finish of the season in the women’s 200 breast (2:23.44).
“Lauren [Ritter] and Jonathan [Huss] should both be commended for their dominance today,” Skinner added. “Lauren looked great in the 500 free, and Jon continues to control the breaststroke events.”
Higgins added a victory in the men’s 100 backstroke in 50.43, after the Wildcats’ took first in the 200 free. Tech would then sweep both 200 butterfly events, as Hajnal set a season-best time of 2:01.10 with her top finish, and Matt Baumler took first on the men’s side in 1:51.91.
Kentucky earned titles in both the men’s and women’s 50 freestyle events. Emily Ferguson placed second in the 50 free in 23.86, just behind the Wildcats’ Jenna Newsome who finished in 23.81. Steffi Drechsel took third for the women. Ferguson and Drechsel would finish back-to-back again in the 100 free, as Ferguson took first in 51.85, followed by Drechsel in 52.02.
Mikey McDonald once again led the Tech men on the diving board, taking first in the one-meter event with 363.98 points and first in the three-meter with 378.45 points. Logan Shinholser added a second-place performance in the one-meter and a third-place finish in the three-meter.
The women took the 2-3-4 spots in the both diving events. Carissa Santora led the way placing second in the one-meter with 258.90, while Natalie West secured second in the three-meter with 298.35 points. Sarah Milton and Sara Mokhtari took third and fourth, respectively, in both events.
“We had some very solid performances on the boards today against Kentucky, who has always been a perennial powerhouse in diving,” said Tech’s head diving coach Ron Piemonte. “I think that we rose to the challenge and did a solid job. Now, we’ll look forward to Duke and Miami tomorrow.”
The H2Okies continued to impress, adding first-place finishes in the men’s 200 backstroke and 500 freestyle events before concluding the day. Ryne Francis finished first in the 200 back with a time of 1:50.61, while Tom Sheranek secured a third-place finish. Trabuchi-Downey then broadened the H2Okies lead with a tight first-place finish in the 500 free, in a race that went down to the final stroke. Trabuchi-Downey collected the season-best, event-winning time in 4:35.56, just ahead of Kentucky’s Tyler Reed, who took second with a 4:35.71 finish.
Jace Howanitz then added a victory in the women’s 200 IM with a season-best time of 2:06.67, while Gregory Mahon paced the men with a second-place finish in 1:55.43. The women concluded the meet with a victory in the 400 free relay as deMarrais, Ferguson, Ritter and Drechsel took first in 3:27.67.
Tech will be back in action tomorrow, as both teams will swim against Duke, while the women will also host Miami at War Memorial Pool. The meet will begin at noon. Results will be available at www.hokiesports.com.
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