Gophers men hope to continue strong NCAA finishes

Minnesota finished in 11th in the 2009 national meet.

Derek Wetmore

For the Gophers swimming and diving team, a season of training that began in early September culminates this weekend with the arrival of the NCAA championships . Minnesota is sending eight swimmers and two divers to the three-day event, which begins Thursday at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio. Minnesota placed 11th last year and has finished in the top 15 each of the last 18 years. Freshman Hrvoje Capan is an alternate for the GophersâÄô relay teams. Among the swimmers is senior Alex Wold , who will make his second NCAA appearance after earning two All-American honors last year. He will compete in the 400-yard individual medley, the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly . Senior Ray Bertuzzi, who has earned three career All-American honors, will also swim the 200 free and 500 free. Juniors Mike Richards and Curt Carlson will appear in their third championships, with five and six career All-American honors, respectively. Both swimmers will compete in the 50 and the 100 free this weekend. Richards won both events at the Big Ten championships in February. Richards and Carlson hold the school records in the 50 free and 100 free, respectively. Junior Kevin Baseheart , an All-American in the 400 free relay last year, will make his second NCAA championships appearance. He will swim in the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly events this weekend. Junior Ivan Gutesa , sophomore Zach Bolin and freshman Michael McBroom will all make their first NCAA appearances. Gutesa qualified in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke. Bolin will compete in the 100 freestyle. McBroom will swim the 1,650 free, 500 free and the 400 individual medley. The Gophers will send three freestyle relay teams. By sending divers Drew Brown and Kristoffer Jorgensen to the championships, Minnesota will have multiple divers competing at the championships for the first time since 1991. In a statement after the NCAA qualifiers were announced, head coach Dennis Dale credited that feat to first-year diving coach Wenbo Chen, who works with divers from both the menâÄôs and womenâÄôs teams. âÄúThis is an amazing accomplishment for our diving program,âÄù Dale said in the statement. âÄúIt will be great for our entire team.âÄù