Gophers go West, top ASU in Tempe

Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team extended its perfect record Saturday against Arizona State.

The eighth-ranked Gophers concluded their western winter training trip with a 176-124 win over the Sun Devils at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe, Ariz., pushing their record to 8-0 on the year.

The Gophers continued their success by sweeping both relay events, placing first and second in both the 200-yard medley relay to start the dual and the 400 freestyle relay to close it out.

But coach Dennis Dale wasn’t overly impressed by his team’s performance.

“Our team did not perform great against Arizona State,” Dale said. “We were clearly the better team and we won, but we did not have a good meet. But our relays were great again.”

Opening up the dual with first and second place points in the 200 medley relay gave the Gophers a 15-2 lead after one event.

It was a lead they refused to surrender.

Arizona State attempted a quick comeback with first-and second-place finishes in the 1,000 free, cutting the Gophers’ lead to 20-16.

But Tyler Schmidt and Michael Woodson started shutting the door soon after with first- and second-place finishes in the 200 free, respectively.

David Plummer followed with a first-place time of 49.57 in the 100 backstroke, with Dan Berve finishing a close second and Russ Payne coming in third.

Arizona State carded wins in both the 1 and 3-meter diving events, with the Gophers’ Shaun Kennedy leading the team with a third-place finish in the 1-meter.

But the day belonged to the Gophers’ relay teams, and that’s just the way they like it.

The Gophers B-team ” Berve, Colin Lee-To, Neil Osten and Igor Cerensek ” took first in the 200 medley with a time of 1:29.99, beating the A-team’s time of 1:31.91.

Osten and Cerensek teamed up with Woodson and Mario Delac to form the Gophers A-team in the 400 free relay, and they continued their winning ways with a time of 3:00.34. The Gophers B-team was seconds behind in second place.

That intrasquad relay competition has given an extra boost to a Minnesota team that’s only getting better.

“I think our depth is one of the strongest parts of our team,” Berve said. “You can see that in our relays, we’re always pushing each other to get better.”

Minnesota can rest a bit before hosting Purdue and Wisconsin in a Big Ten triple-dual at the University Aquatic Center on Jan. 27 and 28.

And the Gophers hope the dual season finale serves as a prelude for the Big Ten Championship competition next month.

“The next three weeks are crucial,” Dale said. “Our team has to reorient themselves from a training team to a team that’s ready to race. Our team needs to demonstrate they can race at a higher level.”