U women ease past weekend foes, prep for Big Tens

David La

On the road to the Big Ten championships, the Minnesota Challenge is a final rest stop.
The No. 14 Gophers women’s swimming and diving team took the opportunity to relax and prepare for the stretch run.
But that’s not to say they took the weekend off. Swimming against Moorhead State, Gustavus Adolphus and the Twin Cities club team, Minnesota took first in 14 out of 18 events.
But the Challenge was about more than times and placings. Minnesota is preparing for the Big Ten championships, which it will host at the Aquatic Center on Feb. 18-20.
“At a meet like this,” coach Jean Freeman said, “you get a chance for the Big Ten team to get out and just race. It’s a less-pressure situation.”
Sophomore Lital Kashriel was especially dominant at the meet. The Israeli National Team member won the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke, and swam the first leg of the winning 200 medley relay team.
Sophomore Katy Christoferson swam to wins in the 200 and 400 individual medleys, and also swam on the 200 medley relay team.
Junior Terry Jashinsky turned in a win in the 50 freestyle, an event in which she doesn’t even specialize.
“She beat one of the top sprinting recruits in the country,” Freeman said. “So those things are very fun.”
Making a surprise appearance in the 100 breaststroke was former Gopher Gretchen Hegener. Hegener was the 1997 NCAA Division I champion in the 100 breast, and blew away the field Saturday afternoon.
“She was helping us coach, and thought, ‘I miss this so much,'” Freeman said. “She’s very good, and wants to swim in the Senior Nationals in August.”
Freeman said she was very satisfied with what she saw at the Minnesota Challenge.
“This is the best group that we tapered for Minnesota Challenge ever,” Freeman said, “which says a lot for our depth for our Big Ten squad and our team as a whole. It’s made us more excited for Big Tens.”