MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Senior Emma Skelley
and sophomore Merwane El Merini
posted top-five finishes and earned NCAA B qualifying times as the West Virginia University swimming and diving team opened competition at the NC State GAC Invite in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday.
To open the three-day invitational at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, three Mountaineers earned NCAA B qualifying times while numerous swimmers posted career-best and season-best times. WVU had five swimmers punch their tickets to Thursday evening’s A, B and C finals in their respective events, with two A finalists, one B finalist and two in the C final. Additionally, three divers advanced to the finals and earned top-11 finishes.
“We had a very strong day for both the men’s and women’s teams today,” said coach Vic Riggs. “We had a very good prelim session to get us started. Emma (Skelley), Trayton (Saladin), Chris (McMahon), Morgan (Bullock), Drew (Damich) and Merwane (El Merini) all earned second swims. In the finals, Emma again went a lifetime-best time for a fourth-place finish. Trayton and Chris had solid swims followed by another strong 200 individual medley for Morgan. Merwane had a great 50 freestyle with a 19.99 for fifth. To have Emma and Merwane make the A final with this caliber of competition and then swim faster at night in the finals is a big step for them, and they both made NCAA B cuts.
“Our women's A 400 medley relay team was the highlight of our relays tonight. Amelie led off with a lifetime-best time in the 100 backstroke and another NCAA B cut. Emma (Harris), Morgan and Julia Miranda
all had great splits to have our relays finish at a time very near what we went at Big 12’s last year.”
The West Virginia men’s and women’s teams both tallied 191 points on the first day. For the men, NC State leads with 616, followed by Notre Dame (493), Duke (398), UNC (365), Tennessee (301) and Air Force (290). For the women, UNC leads with 582.5 points, followed by NC State (563), Duke (483), Notre Dame (355), Tennessee (268.5), WVU (191), Marshall (180) and Miami (125).
In the A final of the women’s 500 freestyle, Skelley swam a career-best and NCAA B-qualifying time of 4:47.54 to place fourth. It marked the fifth-best time in WVU history as Skelly shed .22 seconds off of her prelim time of 4:47.76.
In the A final of the men’s 50 freestyle, El Merini touched the wall in fifth place with a season-best and NCAA B cut time of 19.99.
Bullock placed 16th overall in the women’s 200 individual medley with a 2:03.37 after posting a season-best time of 2:03.00 in the prelims. Bullock’s time of 2:03.00 is the fourth-best time in program history and earned the freshman a spot in the B final.
Saladin swam a season-best time of 4:32.30 in the prelims, to advance to the C finals of the men’s 500 freestyle where he placed 23rd overall. He was joined in the final by McMahon, who touched the wall in 24th with a time of 4:37.01. In the prelims, the junior swam a season-best time of 4:33.51.
In relay competition, the WVU men and women claimed two top-10 finishes, in the women’s 400 medley relay and in the men’s 200 freestyle relay.
The WVU women’s 400 medley relay team of junior Amelie Currat
, sophomore Emma Harris
, Bullock and freshman Julia Miranda
placed 10th with a time of 3:42.78. Currat led off the medley relay, swimming a career best 53.95 in the 100 backstroke to earn an NCAA B qualifying time.
Sophomore Julia Calcut
and freshman Madelyn Woods
advanced to the finals for the women on 3-meter. Calcut placed fifth overall with a score of 266.60 after a prelim score of 266.00. Woods placed ninth overall with a score of 249.40.
On springboard for the men, junior Alex Obendorf
led the men on 1-meter while placing 11th in the finals with a score of 269.80.
“I'm really pleased with the ladies and Alex tonight,” said diving coach Mike Grapner. “All three were very consistent through prelims and finals. We practiced a lot of the prelim and final prep this week and their consistency proved successful tonight. Tomorrow is yet another challenging day, the men are on 3-meter and the women on 1-meter.”
NC State serves as the host to nine teams at the NC State Invite. Friday’s second day of competition begins with prelims at 9:30 a.m. and commences with finals at 5:30 p.m. The invite concludes on Saturday.
Looking ahead after this weekend, West Virginia will have six weeks off before traveling to compete against Pitt on Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. ET.
200 Medley Relay
Women's 1-Meter Dive
Men's 3-Meter Dive
800 Freestyle Relay
400 Freestyle Relay