ATLANTA, Ga. – The Virginia Tech H2Okies returned to ACC competition for their final meet against conference opponents until the ACC Championships, and combined for a memorable day at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center on Saturday. The 20th-ranked women swept both Georgia Tech and 25th-ranked Florida State with respective scores of 220-78 and 154.50-145.50. The women’s victory over Florida State marked the first dual-meet win over the Seminoles in program history. The 25th-ranked men finished the day even, defeating the Yellow Jackets 187-111, but falling to the 15th-ranked Seminoles 183-117.
“Today was one of our best wins of the season, if not ever,” said Virginia Tech head coach Ned Skinner, referring to the women’s victory over Florida State. “We were tied [with FSU] leading to the final relay of the day, and to see our girls go behind the blocks and find a way to win was just awesome.
“Once again, our seniors showed why they’re so important to this team, not just in the final score but in being calm under fire,” Skinner added. “I was also very happy with the men’s performance. We went up against a top-15 program and took it all the way down to the wire. Our guys should be commended for finding a way to stay in the meet, and we almost pulled it off.”
The women were led by star performances from Sarah Losinger and Katarina Filova, who each posted two titles. Filova added a runner-up performance and helped the H2Okies clinch the deciding victory in the final 400 free relay as well.
Both the H2Okies’ 400 medley relay teams opened with victories, as the women set the pace with a finish in 3:50.20, while the men’s top finish marked a season-best time of 3:19.98.
The women’s team then garnered the top-two spots in three of the next four events. Erika Hajnal kept the momentum going with a first-place finish in the 1000 freestyle in 10:03.40, followed by Lauren Ritter in second. Filova and Kelly deMarrais finished first and second, respectively, in the 200 freestyle with times of 1:49.65 and 1:50.58, and Losinger and Keri Sink took respective first and second-place finishes in the 100 breaststroke. Losinger’s winning time of 1:04.92 marks a season-best finish and the second-consecutive week she’s won the event. She later complemented that victory with another title in the 200 breaststroke in 2:19.95, a season-best finish.
Filova also had a great day in the pool in just her second meet as a H2Okie, adding a top finish in the 100 freestyle in 50.48, the second-fastest finish by a H2Okie this season, and placing second in the 50 freestyle in 23.53, missing Florida State’s Brittany Selts by .06 seconds. Emily Ferguson and Steffi Drechsel took second and third, respectively, in the women’s 100 freestyle, helping the Tech women sweep the top-three spots.
Charlie Higgins anchored the H2Okies in the men’s 100 backstroke event, narrowly beating out Stephen Hawkins for the top spot in 50.22. Hawkins took a close second in 50.43. The men also dominated in the 100 butterfly, as Gregory Mahon earned the top spot in 49.76 and Karl Botha finished second in 49.89. Abby Barney headed the women in the 100 fly, checking in at 55.90, the fastest time for the women this season.
Ryne Francis led the men in the 200 backstroke, earning the runner-up spot in 1:51.66, while Blake Trabuchi-Downey battled for a third-place spot in the men’s 1000 free. Gregory Morgan and Bryan Uncur posted respective second- and third-place finishes in the men’s 200 freestyle with times of 1:41.13 and 1:41.40. Morgan also claimed third in the 100 freestyle.
Steffi Drechsel added a runner-up performance in the women’s 100 backstroke in 57.45 and deMarrais took third in the 200 backstroke, checking in at 2:03.25.
The H2Okies were unable to collect titles in the 500 freestyle and 200 butterfly events, but garnered top-three finishes. Hajnal took second in both events for the women, while Philip LaRosa took third in the 500 free and Matt Baumler placed second in the 200 fly, tying a season-best mark of 1:50.60.
Mikey McDonald paced the H2Okies with third-place performances in both diving events, scoring 349.25 points in the one-meter and 373.35 points in the three-meter. Sarah Milton finished fourth in the three-meter with a final score of 311.10.
Jace Howanitz added a final individual title in the 200 IM with a time of 2:04.29, helping the women stay on pace with Florida State leading into the final 400 freestyle relay event. The team of deMarrais, Filova, Drechsel and Ferguson beat out a tough Florida State team in the relay with a NCAA “B” qualifying time of 3:23.98, which helped the Virginia Tech women clinch an overall victory. The finish was a season-best for the H2Okies. The Tech men’s 400 free relay squad finished second with a season-best time of 3:04.03.
“The team rose up to a pretty good challenge today,” said associate head coach Braden Holloway. “They executed races well. We have really improved on some of the small aspects of racing and put the races together. Today, we fought hard and rose to the challenge.”
The H2Okies will be on the road next Saturday, Jan. 30, for non-conference action against West Virginia and Duquesne, marking the final competition for the teams until the ACC Championships begin on Feb 17. The meet will begin at noon.
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