Irish look to capture first ACC title
Katie Heit | Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The No. 24 Irish hope to prove their mettle this week at the four-day ACC Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Competition begins tonight at 6 p.m. with relay finals, while individual preliminaries and diving starts Thursday.
Though Notre Dame (7-5) does not have a lot of experience against its ACC opponents, junior Emma Reaney said the Irish could be competitive with every one of them.
“We can hang with pretty much anyone at this point,” Reaney said. “We are getting at a level of confidence that is necessary to compete and hold our own at higher levels.”
The top competition will likely come from Virginia, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Florida State, all of which are either in the national rankings or receiving votes.
Despite the four-day meet, Reaney said the Irish aren’t concerned about getting worn out or losing momentum.
“It’s a lot easier to do at a championship-style meet than a long dual meet,” Reaney said. “We have worked our whole season for this meet and the momentum of fast swims keeps everyone going.”
Several Notre Dame athletes have already clocked impressive times as they enter the meet. Reaney has earned NCAA B-cut qualifying times in four events, while senior Kelly Ryan, junior Bridget Casey and freshman Katie Miller also posted qualifying times.
Some of the Irish are also ranked nationally in their events. Reaney is ranked sixth nationally in the 100-yard breaststroke — good for first in the ACC — and holds the top spot nationally in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:05.85.
Ryan is ranked 34th nationally and sixth in the ACC in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:55.75. Casey enters this week ranked fifth in the ACC in the 200-yard butterfly.
Reaney said the ACC Championships is the perfect venue for some of the younger competitors to get a chance to shine.
“I’m excited to see some people have extreme breakouts,” Reaney said. “I’ve never seen a team here work as hard as this one did this year. I can’t wait for all of that hard work to pay off.”
The most recent breakout for the Irish is junior Courtney Whyte, who is ranked 43rd nationally in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 53.44. This time also places her third in the ACC.
Relay competition in the ACC Championships begins for the Irish tonight, with individual preliminaries starting Thursday morning at 11 a.m. at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C.
Contact Katie Heit at firstname.lastname@example.org