After a two-week layoff, it was back to business for the men’s swim team over the weekend.
Friday night, the Gophers met and mauled Northwestern by a final score of 148-78. The carnage continued into Saturday, when the Gophers easily won the Gold Country Invitational with a score of 1,189.5. St. Olaf was a distant second with 405.5 points.
The dual meet with Northwestern went according to plan for coach Dennis Dale and his team. The Gophers won 12 of 13 contested events.
The divers put up the most impressive numbers of the weekend, with Dan Croaston winning all his diving events and senior Matt Ninneman chipping in, too. Both divers scored well enough to qualify for NCAA Zone diving in March.
Saturday’s meet served up a smorgasbord of swimmers for Minnesota, as Dale mixed up the lineup. Distance swimmer Bill Bishop was moved to the 200-yard backstroke, which he won in a time of 1:55:68. Bishop also won the mile swim for the men.
One of the most interesting rivalries on Saturday was an intrasquad battle between the sprinters and distance racers. In the 500 freestyle, distance regular Brian Stroshane was pitted against teammate and sprinter John Cahoy. A good-natured crowd of sprinters and distance swimmers gathered by the two during their race.
Stroshane used his stamina and experience in the 500 to steadily pull away over the last four laps, defeating Cahoy by three seconds with a time of 4:41:79.
“I really enjoy beating the guys from the other team,” Stroshane said. “I don’t like having to compete against my teammates.”
Attending the Invitational were schools such as St. Olaf, Carleton and Gustavus. Minnesota was the only Division I team in attendance. The depth of the Gophers was obvious from the start, as preliminary times gave Minnesota an average of more than 50 percent of the swimmers in every “fast” heat. The fast heats are those which contain the top eight swimmers by preliminary times.
St. Johns’ Matt Zelen made a name for himself in the meet on Saturday. Zelen, whom the Gophers recruited out of high school, won the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard free. However, the Johnnies had nowhere near the depth of Minnesota and finished sixth with 154 points.
Minnesota had balance throughout the day on Saturday. Other individual winners included Alex Massura, Tim Sheely, Martin Zielinski, Jeff Rodriguez and John Cahoy. The Gophers’ relay teams were never threatened, as they easily won both the 200 individual medley and 200 free.
The 15th-ranked Gophers seemed tired but always competitive on Saturday. Among Big Ten schools, Minnesota trails only Michigan in the NCAA polls, but team members are confident about their ability to beat the Wolverines at the Big Ten Championships in February.
“Michigan’s always tough,” said senior captain Ty Bathurst. “They’re always surprising.”
The Gold Country Invitational was the first home meet for the Gophers in a month and a half, and their last for a month. In two weeks, the Gophers will be on the road for an important meet against Nebraska and Texas A&M.