Minnesota finishes sixth at Big Tens

Underclassmen scored 227.5 of the team’s 359 total points at the meet.

Minnesota swimmer CJ Smith swims at the University Aquatic Center against Wisconsin on Oct. 17, 2014.

Daily File Photo, Alex Tuthill-Preus

Minnesota swimmer CJ Smith swims at the University Aquatic Center against Wisconsin on Oct. 17, 2014.

by Danny Chen

Minnesota’s 26-year streak of finishing in the Big Ten’s top four is over.

The Gophers finished sixth in the Big Ten championships on Sunday with 359 total team points.

Head coach Kelly Kremer said the Big Ten has become more competitive over time.

“It’s a deep conference, and every single team is really good and really balanced,” he said. “I thought, at large, our team competed well, but we need to be better, no question about it.”

This year, Michigan finished with 760 total team points to win its fifth consecutive Big Ten title, while Ohio State took second with 623 points.

Despite the team’s sixth place finish, the underclassmen combined for 227.5 of the team’s 359 points.

Sophomores Daryl Turner and Jakub Maly tallied 27 points and 32 points respectively.

“We only had a few swimmers and a few divers that really stepped up like CJ [Smith], Daryl and some younger guys,” Maly said. “We have guys who just really need to get on the boards, and step up and score points.”

Maly, who competed in five events throughout the four-day competition, took third in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 3:42.54.

The time broke the Minnesota program record, which Alex Wold previously held at 3:42.61.

Maly said Kremer encourages his swimmers to do their best.

“I got to [the event], and I knew I was going to have a great race,” Maly said. “I didn’t care about anything. I just cared about myself and swim my race. It ended up being really great, and I was really happy with that.”

Kremer said Maly’s commitment is commendable, especially considering he’s the fastest 400-IMer in Minnesota’s history.

“He had a phenomenal meet, and he continues to swim great for the Gophers,” he said.

Smith, a senior, was also a big contributor to the team’s total points.

Smith scored 27 individual points, finishing third in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 14:52.34. 

“I was happy with the way I placed and the way that I swam,” Smith said. “But talking with coach Kremer and other coaches, there is definitely areas to improve on, which is promising looking towards NCAAs.”

Kremer said this year’s NCAA team won’t have as many swimmers and divers as in the past.

“Right now, I feel like we have Jakub and C.J. in [the NCAAs] with the times that they’ve done, and we are hoping to add a couple divers,” Kremer said. “We are also trying to get a relay to the meet.”

Maly said he really liked how the team prepared before the NCAAs last year, and it will most likely replicate the training this year.

“We swam in groups, maybe three or four guys in our group,” Maly said. “We are going to stick together and get ready. It’s a group of guys that likes to hang out with each other. [But] we are just going to work on details and put up stronger performances than in the [Big Ten].”