Gophers claim second place at Big Ten meet

Indiana dominated the four-day meet to claim the conference crown.

Alexandra Pluym

After earning 572.5 points at the Big Ten Championship, the No. 10 Gophers womenâÄôs swimming and diving team earned second place , an equal finish to the 2009 meet. Pulling off the win was No. 14 Indiana, finishing with 758 points. Behind Minnesota was No. 16 Michigan, and No. 22 Purdue claimed fourth place, ending the Championship with a score of 460 points. The Gophers earned seven titles in the meet which ran Wednesday through Saturday, with the first two wins coming on the second day. Sophomore Kelci Bryant won the 1-meter diving event. Bryant scored 348.20, setting a Big Ten Championship meet record. Bryant felt a little pressure in her first conference meet as a member of the Gophers. âÄúI was a little nervous since I was trying to score points for the team,âÄù Bryant said. Along with BryantâÄôs title Thursday night, sophomore Ashley Steenvoorden had her second career Big Ten title and first in the 500 free, clocking a time of 4:39.47, which was also a provisional qualifying time. The other events the Gophers participated in on Thursday were the 200 free relay, 200 individual medley and the 50 free. Minnesota started Friday night with its third event win of the championship, gaining 40 points in the 400 medley relay. Sophomore Hannah Whitehead , juniors Jillian Tyler , Kaylee Jamison and Alison Eggers combined for a provisional qualifying time and a season-best time of 3:35.12. Tyler had her third-straight 100 breaststroke win when she won the event in an automatic qualifying time of 59.35 on Friday night, setting a new facility record previously held by Caroline Bruce of Stanford in 2005. Bryant also won the 3-meter, posting a score of 386.60, and also ended the meet earning Diver of the Championships. Bryant is also Big Ten Diver of the Year. Other events the Gophers competed in on Friday night were the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 free relay and 100 backstroke. Saturday, the last day of the championship, Minnesota added two more event titles to its meet. Steenvoorden won the 1,650 free, starting the Gophers in the right direction with a season-best time of 16:01.02. Freshman Haley Spencer earned an automatic qualifying time and a facility record when she clocked a 2:08.48 in the 200 breaststroke. Tyler followed Spencer in second when she finished with a time of 2:08.85. Freshman Paige Bradley also competed, finishing seventh overall with a time of 2:15.96. SaturdayâÄôs other events were the 200 backstroke, 100 free relay, 200 butterfly, platform diving and the 400 free relay. Coming in second for the second-straight year shows that the Gophers are a solid team, but Minnesota co-head coach Terry Nieszner said that they still arenâÄôt champions. âÄúWe had great performances. We havenâÄôt accomplished everything,âÄù Nieszner said. Nieszner also said she believes that this championship has prepared the team for the NCAA Championship, which begins March 17 . The Gophers next meet is the Gopher-It Invite at 12 p.m. February 28th at the University Aquatic Center.