As teams salute seniors, Gophers win against two of three opponents

Both the men’s and women’s teams defeated Penn State and Wisconsin but lost to Michigan.

Sophomore Danielle Nack competes in the Women's 100 Yard Backstroke during the 2016 Minnesota Challenge at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.

Niti Gupta, Daily File Photo

Sophomore Danielle Nack competes in the Women’s 100 Yard Backstroke during the 2016 Minnesota Challenge at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.

Erik Nelson

Six Minnesota seniors, four women and two men, walked poolside on Friday night with roses in their hands and family members at their sides. It was Minnesota’s senior night at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, kicking off two days of competition against Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin.

Sophomore Lindsey Kozelsky said she will miss the impact of the seniors on both the men’s team and the women’s team, particularly Conner McHugh, Danielle Nack and Brooke Zeiger.

“We’ve got some big names going. It’ll be hard,” Kozelsky said. “Some people are going to have to step up.” 

The women’s team (4-1, 3-1 Big Ten) defeated Wisconsin (1-6, 1-2 Big Ten) 191.5-161.5 and Penn State (0-6, 0-3 Big Ten) 226-127 but lost to Michigan (5-0, 3-0 Big Ten) 225-128. 

Kozelsky said she felt good about her breaststroke events on both days. Kozelsky’s recorded time on Saturday was 1:00.74. 

“I was really happy with how my races got put together. It was a good learning experience,” Kozelsky said.

Nack tied with Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson for first place in the women’s 100-yard butterfly. Both swimmers finished the race in 53.95 seconds.

Head coach Kelly Kremer said he liked the effort of both the women’s team and the men’s team in its home opener.

“Across the board, I liked [each team’s effort],” Kremer said. We [the coaches] see areas that we need to get better in, but it was fun to have Michigan, Wisconsin [and] Penn State competing against us.”

Men’s team wins two out of three

Junior Bowen Becker won the first event for the men’s team when he took first in the 50-yard freestyle. Becker finished the race in 20 seconds and six milliseconds. 

McHugh finished in first place in the 100-yard breaststroke. McHugh’s recorded time was 54.47. 

The men’s team (2-3, 2-3 Big Ten) defeated Penn State (1-5, 0-3 Big Ten) 239-134 and Wisconsin (2-5, 1-2 Big Ten) 216-137 but lost to Michigan (5-0, 3-0 Big Ten) 246-107. The two victories against Penn State and Wisconsin are the first ones for the men’s team this season.

McHugh said Michigan got off to a fast start on Friday against both the men’s and women’s team because Minnesota is still learning.

“It’s part of the process. We both have young teams,” McHugh said. “We’re improving on every single meet we’ve done. The second day was better than the first, for sure.”

Kremer said the teams started fresh on Saturday, and he wants each swimmer to reflect on this two-day meet.

“In the championship season, you have three-and-a-half straight days where you’ve got to be on for six-and-a-half sessions. That’s a mindset we want to have,” Kremer said. “I want them at this point to all do a little self-evaluation. As each individual takes care of themselves, it takes care of the team.”

Minnesota won’t swim again until after Thanksgiving, when it hosts the Minnesota Invitational Nov. 30-Dec. 2. 

McHugh said both the men’s and women’s teams competed hard against a trio of Big Ten rivals.

“We had some good relay times… some good in-season personal bests,” McHugh said. “Being able to come back and finish strong at our home pool with some of the best Big Ten teams is always a good feeling.”