Men’s swimming wins Big Ten again

Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team won its second-straight Big Ten Championship over the weekend in Bloomington, Ind.

The Gophers have now won conference titles four times in the last seven years.

Minnesota rolled up 711.5 points, four individual conference champions and three winning relays.

“Last year was a cake walk but this year was tougher,” coach Dennis Dale said. “Our strength was our balance, we had two championship finalists in every event except the 1,650-yard freestyle.”

Women’s gymnasts perfect

Senior Courtney Norman and freshman Carolyn Yernberg each posted perfect 10’s in the vault event, pacing Minnesota’s third-place at the UCLA Invitational over the weekend.

Men’s indoor track

Minnesota’s distance medley relay team of Bob Quade, Toby Henkels, Ryan Ford and Andrew McKessock ran an NCAA qualifying standard time at the Alex Wilson Invitational.

The Gophers head to the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 8-9.

Men’s gymnastics peaking

Fred Roethlisberger knew it all along.

Roethlisberger, the Minnesota men’s gymnastics head coach, said all season the Gophers were capable of being one of the country’s best if they put everything together.

On Friday night, three weeks before Minnesota hosts the Big Ten Championships, Roethlisberger’s faith was rewarded as the 10th-ranked Gophers steamrolled No. 12 Nebraska by a score of 214.25-202.925.

“I’m not surprised to see us put up a score like that,” Roethlisberger said. “I knew we were capable of scoring that highly, but we’ve had a lot of injuries, and you can’t expect people to perform flawlessly when injured.”

The score gave Minnesota a new season-high, bettering the 213.675 it posted last weekend in a victory over Illinois-Chicago. The Gophers’ performance in the last two meets could be enough to vault them into the top five when the new national rankings come out Tuesday.

The Gophers’ ability to minimize mistakes fueled their score. Minnesota posted a 34.45 on high bar, scoring more than two points above its season average on the team’s weakest event.

Two-time national champion Clay Strother led Minnesota in winning the all-around, as well as four of the six individual events, despite experiencing some difficulty towards the end of the meet.

“Clay struggled tonight, but even when he struggles, he still manages to score a lot of points,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t know how he managed to hang on (in the high bar). He showed a lot of determination.”

Strother added he has been having trouble with his dismount, which was evident as he narrowly avoided a fall, but he still managed to finish third in the event.

Freshman Guillermo Alvarez finished second in the all-around and took second in three individual events. Sophomore Eric Steele won the still rings and took second in the vault, leading the Gophers to a season-high score of 37.25 in the event.

Roethlisberger looked ahead to the Big Ten Championships with confidence on Friday night, and said his team could surprise at the meet.

“In the Big Ten, there’s so much parity,” he said. “The six teams (that will compete) are so close. We just need to stay healthy, because I know we have the ability to win the meet.”

Minnesota finished second at Oklahoma on Sunday. Strother won the all-around competition.

 

– Ben Goessling, Staff Reporter

 

Baseball gets mixed bag

Saturday at the Metrodome, Minnesota’s mens baseball team walked off the carpet with smiles after its first win of the season. But Sunday, the players had all their positive energy blasted away by Tennessee bats.

The Gophers (1-8) were embarrassed by the Volunteers (6-9) 21-2 in their third and final game of the Hormel Foods Baseball Classic.

“It was fairly evident that we were flat,” coach John Anderson said. “We found out that you can’t just show up. You’ve got to show more respect for the game than that.”

Minnesota gave up at least one run in every inning on Sunday except for the second. Seven pitchers combined to give up 21 hits, including five home runs. Sophomore Josh Krogman was credited with the loss.

The Gophers managed only two hits in the contest, while showing a lack of concentration and effort in committing four errors.

“Right now we have a team that is not connected,” Anderson said. “We won yesterday and I think a lot of people thought everything would be fine. Everything would be O.K. now that we won.

“It shows the immaturity of our team.”

Minnesota’s 5-2 win over 20th-ranked Alabama was its first of the season, and ended the Crimson Tide’s 10 game win streak.

Sophomore Jay Gagner went the distance for the Gophers, giving up two runs on nine hits.

Minnesota lost its first game of the round-robin tournament on Friday 6-5 to Florida Atlantic.

Three Gophers ñ Jason Kennedy, Luke Appert, and Sam Steidl ñ were named to the all-tournament team, with Kennedy earning most valuable player.

Kennedy went 7-for-11 at the plate during the tournament, knocking in four runs and scoring three more. He went 4-for-4 in Minnesota’s win over Alabama, including a two-run homerun in the fourth inning.

– Anthony Maggio, Staff Reporter