U swim teams beat up Kansas

Ryan Schuster

One word pretty well summed up the women’s swimming and diving team’s weekend meets — confidence.
Only three events into Friday night’s home dual meet against No. 19 Kansas, most of the swimmers on No. 10 Minnesota’s sideline were cracking jokes instead of watching the inevitable unfold. The Gophers won in convincing fashion, cruising to an easy 197-103 victory in front of about 130 fans at the University Aquatic Center.
Ho-hum. Another meet, another win. Minnesota, now 6-0 in dual meets and 8-0 overall, raced out to a 124-64 lead after 10 events and was never really challenged by the Jayhawks.
“(The team) really believes in themselves,” Gophers coach Jean Freeman said. “They know that they have put in the work, and I think they are pretty confident.”
It appeared that Minnesota knew even before the weekend began that they would be able to handle Kansas.
“Everyone was pretty positive about the meet,” junior Gretchen Hegener said. “We knew we were going to come out with a win.”
Hegener and freshman Jenny Hennen were instrumental in Minnesota’s victory, combining to win five individual events and competing on a winning relay squad. Hegener swam on the victorious 200-yard medley relay team in addition to winning the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. She set a new school record in the 200 breaststroke by almost a second, eclipsing her old mark with a time of 2:15.49. Hennen took first in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle.
After dismantling the Jayhawks by 94 points Friday night, Minnesota went out and beat Kansas and the rest of its competition soundly on Saturday at the Aquatic Center.
The Gophers continued their winning ways by taking first in their own Gold Country Invitational with a 102-point margin of victory over the second-place Jayhawks. Northern Michigan, St. Cloud State, Mankato State, St. Olaf and Carleton, the other five teams at the meet, combined to score more than 130 points below Minnesota’s winning total of 1,037.
“Obviously it’s a nice start to a pretty tough quarter,” Freeman said. “Almost all the teams that we’re competing against each weekend are ranked teams. None of them are ranked higher than us, but I’ve been in this sport long enough to know that rankings are just an opinion, they are not fact.”
Minnesota will travel to Evanston, Ill., on Saturday to take on No. 14 Northwestern. Then it will go to South Bend, Ind., to face unranked Notre Dame on Sunday. Minnesota has already beaten No. 12 North Carolina, No. 16 Nebraska, No. 24 Penn State, and now No. 19 Kansas this season.
Men’s Swimming
An electric atmosphere filled the University Aquatic Center for the beginning of the Gophers men’s swimming and diving team’s meet against Kansas on Friday night.
Music blared from the speakers in front of the north side of the arena, reverberating off the rafters and exciting the fans in attendance.
The meet, however, fell far short of its advance billing as No. 9 Minnesota routed No. 22 Kansas 163-80. Minnesota used a combination of strength and depth to overpower the Jayhawks, who were forced to try to come from behind the entire meet.
Kansas won the 1- and 3-meter diving events midway through the dual meet, bringing the KU bench to its toes with hopes of an improbable comeback. Minnesota responded by going 1-2-3 in the 200-yard butterfly and 1-2 in the 100 freestyle to take an unsurmountable 99-51 lead that effectively put the meet out of reach.
Coming into the meet, the Gophers were expecting to get a close, hard-fought competition. What they got, however, was much different.
“From everything we had heard, they were getting ready and psyched for us,” sophomore Jonathan McLeod said. “We thought they were going to give us a really good meet. I think we really surprised them and surprised ourselves.”
McLeod and senior Matt Schlessman led the Gophers charge Friday. McLeod won the 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley and Schlessman took first place in the 50 and 100 freestyle events. Schlessman’s time of 44.90 in the 100 freestyle is the fastest unshaved time in the history of the program. Swimmers usually don’t shave their body until big meets like the Big Ten championships or NCAAs.
The Gophers followed up their strong showing on Friday night with an equally impressive performance Saturday in their home pool at the Gold Country Invitational.
Minnesota outdid Kansas again the next day, winning their own invitational by 177 points. The Gophers won 14 of 17 events on their way to winning their 18th consecutive meet (excluding last year’s NCAA Championships where they placed 12th out of 39 teams). Three months into the season, the team is 6-0 overall and 4-0 in dual meets, with all their dual meet victories coming against ranked teams.
On Saturday, divers Isaac Bjorklund and Matthew Ninneman swept the top two places in the 1- and 3-meter diving events. Both benefitted from doing 11 dives instead of the six they did on Saturday when neither won an event. Schlessman and Martin Zielinski were both double event winners for the Gophers.