Gophers ready for Ohio State Invitational

Both the men’s and women’s teams will face tough competition from various conferences.

by Mark Mowery

The Minnesota menâÄôs and womenâÄôs swimming and diving teams will compete in the fifth annual Ohio State Invitational this weekend in Columbus, Ohio. The three-day event will be the final competition of 2009 for both teams . The long break gives both squads a chance to prepare for final exams and enjoy the holidays. Several Big Ten and Big East schools will participate in swimming events including Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Along with those schools, several more from across the country will compete in diving including Alabama, Arizona State, Duke, Iowa, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), North Carolina State, Purdue and South Carolina. Several of the above-mentioned squads are ranked in the top 25 by College Swimming Coaches Association of America and should provide a competitive and challenging weekend for both Minnesota teams. On the menâÄôs side, the Gophers hope to continue the momentum from the beginning of the season. No. 11 Minnesota has won two Big Ten dual meets and is coming off a strong showing at the Minnesota Grand Prix. The team will look for strong performances from junior Ivan Gutesa , who looks to continue his impressive start in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke, senior Alex Wold , aiming to improve on his individual medley and junior Curt Carlson competing in several freestyle events. Meanwhile, the No. 12 womenâÄôs team has also posted a 2-0 dual meet record and garnered two relay victories at the Minnesota Grand Prix, including the 800-freestyle relay and the 400-medley relay. âÄúThis definitely gives us a feel for what it is to race for six sessions in a row,âÄù co-head coach Terry Nieszner said about the three-day preliminary-final format. âÄúYou got to be up and ready to go every single session, and every single race is important.âÄù The weekend provides the perfect stage for sophomore diver Kelci Bryant . The competition includes two ranked Big Ten squads in No. 22 Purdue and No. 24 Penn State, along with BryantâÄôs former team, Miami (Fla.). By posting a score of 374.10 in the 3-meter springboard against Wisconsin , Bryant has already qualified for the NCAA Zone Diving meet, one step away from the National Championships hosted by Purdue in March. The Invitational will take place in the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion . The building, finished in 2005, is widely considered to be one of the finest aquatic facilities in the country and hosted the Big Ten WomenâÄôs Swimming and Diving Championships and NCAA Regional Diving Championships in 2006. It also hosted the Big Ten MenâÄôs Swimming and Diving Championships in 2007 and the NCAA WomenâÄôs Swimming and Diving Championships in 2008. It will also host the MenâÄôs Big Ten and NCAA National Championships in 2010. âÄúItâÄôs a great facility âĦ With ten lanes and eight swimmers, the waves do not affect the swimmers as much,âÄù said Nieszner, explaining why many consider the facility a âÄúfastâÄù one.