KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Virginia Tech H2Okie swim teams concluded their fall season with second and fourth-place finishes in the three-day Volunteer Invitational held at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center on Saturday. The No. 17 Lady H2Okies held their ground for a second-place finish with 799 points, while the No. 23 men took fourth with 598 points. Kentucky took first for the women with 837.5 points, with Tennessee placing third behind Tech and Alabama fourth. Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama finished first, second and third, respectively, on the men’s side, as the Vols finished with 872.5 points.
Erika Hajnal added to her already-impressive resume throughout the three-day meet, earning two titles and two additional NCAA “B” cuts in the 1650 freestyle and 200 butterfly events, supplementing a first-place finish in the 500 freestyle and second-place finish in the 400 IM earlier in the meet. Hajnal broke the pool record in the 1650 free with a top-finish in 16:09.92, 25 seconds quicker than the next finisher. The Budapest, Hungary, native was also dominant in the 200 fly, finishing in 1:59.18. Both times were season-best marks for the sophomore.
“This weekend marked a great team effort from our Lady H2Okies,” said Virginia Tech’s head swimming and diving coach Ned Skinner. “Everyone contributed against some great schools. Erika [Hajnal] and Kelly [deMarrais] were fantastic and really helped us clinch some great performances. Erika’s 1650 time has a great shot at making the NCAA Championships.”
Lauren Ritter took third in the mile freestyle behind Hajnal with a time of 16:46.45, while Laura Simon added a fifth-place finish. Alabama took the top-two spots in the men’s 1650 free, while Blake Trabuchi-Downey guided the men’s anchor with a seventh-place spot in 15:46.80, a season-best mark. Philip LaRosa, Caglar Gokbulut and Griffin Lutterbein rounded out the top-10.
“I was real pleased with the way our men raced,” added Skinner. “Our opponents were very prepared for the meet and we posted many great swims on very little rest.”
Kelly deMarrais added a top-three performance in the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.24, just missing the NCAA “B” cut, while Emily Ferguson added a sixth-place finish in 51.00, both marking season-best times. deMarrais also led the H2Okies in the 200 back with a fifth-place mark in 2:00.94. Gregory Morgan and Richard Ulatowski added season top-times in the men’s 100 free with finishes in 46.04 and 46.37, respectively.
Blake Trabuchi-Downey topped the H2Okie men with a fifth-place finish in the 200 butterfly event, touching in at 1:50.80, just ahead of teammate Matt Baumler who took sixth in 1:51.68. Addtionally, Tom Sheranek and Gregory Mahon posted top-10 finishes in the men’s 200 back.
Keri Sink captured the sixth-place position in the 200 breaststroke event with a personal-best time of 2:19.96, while Sarah Losinger closed in on a top-10 spot with a 2:20.24 finish. Scott Harkins clinched a season-best time for the men’s 200 breaststroke event, finishing in 2:06.41.
The divers competed in the platform event for the first time this season in a separate UT Diving Invitational, where freshmen Sara Mokhtari and Logan Shinholser shined and posted NCAA Zone B qualifying marks. Shinholser took the runner-up spot to Alabama’s Aaron Fleshner with a final score of 334.20, while Mokhtari placed fourth with 252.90 points.
The Tech women's divers finished second to Alabama by one point, with 144 points, in the Diving Invitational, while the men took first with 125 points. Alabama led the women with 145 points, while Tennessee and Kentucky finished third and fourth, respectively, with 130 and 26 points. The Tennessee men took second with 121 points behind Tech, while Alabama took third with 109 points and Kentucky fourth with 12 points.
"I was very proud of the way the diving teams trained and performed while at this competition," said head diving coach Ron Piemonte. "It was a good test for us to be in a championship format meet at this time of the year, and it was also very good to finally compete in the platform event. I am looking forward to using the experience gained from this competition in preparing for our next series of meets. The diving competition featured many of the top divers in the SEC from some of the strongest diving programs in history, and I am very pleased with the overall outcome of both squads."
The women and men closed the Invitational with fifth and sixth-place finishes in the 400 freestyle relay, respectively, as the women went out in 3:25.97, while the men posted their quickest time this season in 3:04.16.
Hajnal (500 free, 400 IM, 1650 free, 200 fly) earned four qualifying “B” marks throughout the three-day meet, while deMarrais (500 free, 200 free) earned two qualifying “B” marks. The two teamed with Ritter and Jace Howanitz for an additional qualifying mark in the 800 freestyle relay. Ritter also earned a qualifying mark in the 500 freestyle.
The H2Okies will return to War Memorial Pool on Saturday, Jan. 16, to race against Davidson on Senior and Parent’s Day at 1 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech swimming & diving, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_SwimDive).