Individual meet could shake things up for Minnesota

Nick Gerhardt

Minnesota men’s and women’s diving teams head to Indiana this weekend looking to gain much-needed experience that will benefit them in the coming weeks.

Of the eight Gophers divers, only one is an upperclassman and the teams have had to learn how to adjust to collegiate meets.

“This meet is a good stepping stone because this is the first invitational meet,” freshman Drew Brown said.

The invitational meet differs from dual meets because there are more divers and the time in between dives increases, forcing athletes to maintain their focus longer.

“Sometimes I’ll get too focused because I think about a dive too much, but you have to make it feel like a dual meet,” Brown said.

Not only will the youthful divers have to adjust to the style of the meet, they will have to familiarize themselves with a new pool.

Junior Cole Young has helped the underclassmen with the acclimation process by informing teammates about the nuisances of different sites.

“Sometimes the biggest thing is finding the boards and getting used to the pool,” Young said.

Young found himself as the new leader of the team after his sophomore season when other divers graduated or transferred and admitted the new role has fit perfectly.

“It’s a big shift for me to go from being a sophomore and one of the youngest on the team to the oldest on the team in a year,” Young said. “It’s been tough, but I try to lead by example.”

The Indiana meet will serve as an example for the youth to learn what a conference championship meet feels like because the invitational format follows that of a championship meet.

“This week there are 25 men divers and 42 women divers and there are some good divers out there,” coach Jason Baumann said. “We wanted to get the championship three-day format experience. That is how the Big Ten championship works.”

One of the biggest or tallest adjustments Brown had to make was diving from a 10-meter (32.8 feet) platform last weekend in the Toyota Minnesota Grand Prix meet.

Brown won the event as he dove six times and his point total ranked as the second highest in school history for a six-dive event.

“Drew’s arrival in Minnesota has been amazing,” Baumann said.

Sophomore Jacqueline Schroeder also excelled at the Grand Prix meet and earned Big Ten diver of the week honors this week.

She won the platform event and came up just one-tenth of a point shy of setting a new school record.

Baumann said a meet like the Indiana Invitational can take its toll on a diver and that is something his team will have to learn.

“We’re trying to make sure the divers get the whole experience,” he said.

The experience of this meet comes at an important time as Minnesota readies itself for a showdown with Ohio State in two weeks.

“This is a really good warm up competition,” Brown said. “We get a pretty good sense of what the Big Ten meets are like.”