Women swimmers looking to move up one spot at a time

Bob Wothe

Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team has gotten off to a strong 2-0 start, and coach Kelly Kremer said the Gophers are planning on more success the rest of the season.

“We’re looking for a lot of leadership from our upperclassmen,” Kremer said. “We just want to take another step forward this year – moving up from fifth to fourth in the Big Ten would be a victory for us.”

Kremer said staying healthy through the winter will be crucial to the team’s success and added that he wanted to see more of the athletes be able to compete at the elite level.

The team’s next meet is the Minnesota Invitational this weekend, beginning at noon Friday and running through Sunday at the University Aquatic Center.

Men’s swimming

Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team lost its first meet but has rolled ever since.

Junior Sean Kelly and senior Justin Mortimer have won back-to-back Big Ten swimmer of the week accolades for a team that’s now 2-1 and was ranked No. 7 in the last College Swim Coaches Association poll. After opening the season with a loss to Florida, Minnesota came back strong with victories over Virginia Tech and No. 11 North Carolina in a triple dual Nov. 5-6.

Coach Dennis Dale has said the key to the team’s season lies in the ability of the divers to match up against some of the top teams in the nation.

The squad’s next event is the Minnesota Invitational this weekend at the University Aquatic Center.

Women’s gymnastics

Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics coaches Meg Stephenson and Jim Stephenson said they just hope to stay healthy in hopes of improving on what they called a “great year” last season.

“We were disappointed with how we finished the season, because it didn’t represent how we really performed,” Jim Stephenson said of the Gophers’ sixth-place performance at the 2004 North Central Regional Championships. “The aura is really positive around here, and our biggest goal is to finish stronger.”

The Gophers have an intrasquad meet Jan. 2 and begin intercollegiate competition Jan. 8 at home against Arkansas.

Men’s gymnastics

Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team will begin its season in January ranked ninth in the nation by the NCAA preseason coaches’ poll.

The Gophers graduated just three seniors – Gabriel Suarez, Mitch Griffin and Jeffrey Cohen – and return Guillermo Alvarez, who earned three All-American honors at the NCAA Championships last year.

The men lost their 38th-straight Alumni Meet on Nov. 13. They begin intercollegiate competition Jan. 8 at the Windy City Invite in Chicago on.

Women’s track

Minnesota’s women’s track and field team comes into the 2005 indoor season hoping to improve on last year’s ninth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships.

Fortunately for the Gophers, Jacenta Spandl and Liz Alabi return.

Spandl was the only Gophers athlete awarded All-Big Ten honors, as she earned second-team recognition for her performance in the pentathlon. Alabi was one of just two athletes who represented the Gophers at the NCAA Championships last year.

The women open the season Jan. 8, taking part in the Minnesota Open.

Men’s track

Minnesota’s men’s track and field team doesn’t begin indoor competition for nearly two months, but hopes are already high.

The team finished second at the Big Ten Championships to Wisconsin last year but lost a major piece of the puzzle when Mitch Potter, who was a first-team All-Big Ten runner in three different events, graduated.

The Gophers will, however, return first team All-Big Ten high jumper John Albert. He and Robb Merritt, who was on the 4×400 relay team that garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors, will be counted on to keep the Gophers competitive.

The men begin competition at home Jan. 8 in the Northwest Open.