Men’s team heads to Big Tens in Indiana

The No. 23 Gophers are ranked the fifth-highest among the Big Ten programs.

Junior Daryl Turner charges ahead, dominating the 100 freestyle at the Aquatic Center on Oct. 24, 2014, against North Dakota. Turner took first place and finished with a time of 44.75.

Daily File Photo

Junior Daryl Turner charges ahead, dominating the 100 freestyle at the Aquatic Center on Oct. 24, 2014, against North Dakota. Turner took first place and finished with a time of 44.75.

Thomas Jaakola

The men’s swimming and diving team defeated its last seven opponents in dual meets but will face its best competition of the season this week.
 
 
The Gophers will compete in the Big Ten Championships starting Wednesday in West Lafayette, Ind., with the meet ending Saturday.
 
 
No. 23 Minnesota is the fifth-ranked Big Ten team, behind Wisconsin and Ohio State tied for No. 15, No. 9 Indiana, and defending conference champion No. 3 Michigan. 
 
 
“I want them to be the same team here in the championship season that they’ve been all year,” head coach Kelly Kremer said. “We’ve been a really balanced team, both [in] swimming and diving. Our relays are much improved. We’ve been consistent all year.”
 
 
The Gophers’ strongest diver, junior Matt Barnard, finished fourth on platform diving at last year’s Big Ten Championships.
 
 
The Brisbane, Australia, native broke the school record in the 3-meter dive at the team’s last event on Feb. 6 and will compete in all three diving events.
 
 
“Personally, I would like to make [the] ‘A’ final in all my events and finish top three in platform,” Barnard said. “I think the team will do well. We are up against tough competition, but I think we will surprise a lot of people.”
 
 
Minnesota will also need experienced divers such as seniors Manny Pollard and Dylan Zoe to score well and improve on its sixth place finish at the meet last year.
 
 
“Diving is going to be critical to our efforts,” Kremer said. “Our diving squad is the strongest in the Big Ten.”
 
 
Junior Daryl Turner will return to this year’s meet after his performance as the Gophers’ leading scorer at the meet last year. Turner competed in seven events for Minnesota at last year’s meet, taking third in the 100 butterfly and fourth as part of a 200 medley relay team.
 
 
Turner also swam in the 50 and 100 free, 200 and 400 free relays, and the 400 medley relay.
 
 
He’s been consistent for the Gophers this season after coming back from a knee injury at the beginning of the year. He swam a season-best 47.69 in the 100 butterfly at the team’s last dual meet, the Big Ten Triple Dual.
 
 
The team also returns junior Jakub Maly, who took third in the 400 individual medley at the Big Ten Championships last year and is Minnesota’s only returning NCAA individual swimmer.
 
 
Sophomore Conner McHugh enters the meet on a winning streak, as he’s finished first in the last four individual events he’s entered.
 
 
He said he hopes to make the ‘A’ final in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the Big Ten Championships.
 
 
“I think the team will be able to accomplish everything we’ve worked toward this season, which is coming together as a team when it matters most while swimming [our] best times and diving well to put up major points,” McHugh said.