Gophers dominate Minn. Challenge

The men’s and women’s teams used the meet to prepare for the Big Ten meet.

Minnesota’s Andrea Hanson competes in the women’s 500 freestyle event at the Minnesota Challenge on Friday at the University Aquatic Center.

Image by Matt Mead

Minnesota’s Andrea Hanson competes in the women’s 500 freestyle event at the Minnesota Challenge on Friday at the University Aquatic Center.

by Derek Wetmore

The No. 10 Gophers womenâÄôs swimming and diving team won 17 total events, including four out of the first five, to blow away some in-state competition this weekend in the Minnesota Challenge. The Minnesota Challenge is considered the final tuneup before the upcoming Big Ten Challenge which will be held Feb. 17-20 in West Lafayette, Ind. Minnesota kicked the night off by winning the 200-freestyle relay behind a strong performance from Melissa Nelson, Meghan Weiss, Brianna Chu and Natalie Herrild. The quartet finished with a time of 1:36.23. The GophersâÄô B-relay finished fourth in the event with a time of 1:40.73. Nelson also won the individual 50 free by recording a time of 23.67. MinnesotaâÄôs Hannah Whitehead won the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:49.59, just ahead of four of her teammates. The Gophers took the top five spots, as four more of WhiteheadâÄôs teammates also finished under 5:08. Cory Miller placed second in the 200 individual medley at 2:06.70. MillerâÄôs finish led the Gophers in an event in which they had four of the top five swimmers but failed to capture the top spot. Minnesota finished the night Friday by winning the 400-medley relay where Miller, Corina Hopkins-Vacca, Nelson and Weiss combined for a winning time of 3:49.36. âÄúOverall I was really pleased with the results,âÄù Gophers co-head coach Kelly Kremer said. âÄúWe use this meet for lots of different purposes, and I think we got from this meet exactly what we came here to get.âÄù MenâÄôs team controls Minnesota Challenge from onset The No. 10 Gophers menâÄôs swimming and diving team swept all four events in the first session Friday night at the Aquatic Center. Matt Benecki, Alex Wold and Curt Carlson all earned individual victories for Minnesota. Benecki set a season best in the 200 free with a time of 4:29.01. The Gophers started the night off by winning the 200 freestyle. The A-relay team came in with a time of 1:21.31. The B-relay team placed second in the event. Saturday night represented even more dominance for the Gophers as the men captured victories in 13 of 14 events on the final day of the Minnesota Challenge. Senior Ivan Gutesa and redshirt freshman Kristoffer Jorgensen led the way for the Gophers with two individual victories each. Gutesa won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.78 and later placed first in the 200 breaststroke, touching the wall at 2:00.44. Jorgensen won the 3-meter diving title with a score of 336.20 and also took home the 1-meter by scoring a 342.55. Minnesota earned the top five spots in the 1650 freestyle as freshman Michael McBroom set the pace with a time of 15:16.21. âÄúI was really pleased with the way this meet went,âÄù head coach Dennis Dale said. âÄúItâÄôs kind of a tune-up for the Big Ten. The idea was to clean up some of the mistakes weâÄôve been making and clean up our walls. âÄúWeâÄôve been focusing on it but theyâÄôve still got to get better.âÄù The menâÄôs team is gearing up for the Big Ten Championships in three weeks in Columbus, Ohio.