Men’s swimming comes in eighth at NCAA meet

With Jeff Hackler earning his 11th-career All-America honor, Minnesota placed eighth with 216 points at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships held at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on the campus of the University of Georgia.

Texas won its third consecutive team title with 512 points, followed by Stanford with 501 points. The Gophers fell just 26 points shy of seventh-place Arizona.

This season marks the third consecutive year the Gophers have placed in the nation’s top 10 and 11th straight campaign among the top 15. It is the first time since 1961-63 the Gophers have had three straight top 10 finishes. Minnesota was the top Big Ten program, as Michigan placed 10th.

Following his third place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke Friday evening, Hackler, a junior from Alpharetta, Ga., tied Gary Marshall of Virginia for fourth in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Sophomore Justin Mortimer earned his sixth career All-America honor by placing third in the 1,650-yard freestyle, after finishing fourth a year ago. Mortimer also swam to a sixth place finish in the 500-yard freestyle.

Chris Forrest placed seventh in the 200-yard breaststroke consolation final.

Minnesota freshman Terry Silkaitis, who anchored the Gopher 200- and 400-yard third place medley relay teams, placed 14th in the 100-yard freestyle. Silkaitis’ swam a personal-best 43.57 in the preliminaries, the second fastest time in school history, which broke his own freshman school mark.

The Gopher 400-yard freestyle relay team of Silkaitis, Matt Taylor, Allen Ong and Todd Smolinski placed second in the consolation final.

It was Silkaitis’ sixth All-America honor, as Minnesota set six school records during the Championships. Smolinski added a fifth-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke.

Men’s track

After claiming four top-10 finishes on day one of the Raleigh Relays, Minnesota’s men’s track team followed that up with three more on the final day of competition.

Minnesota’s highest placing athlete on day two was sophomore Neil Hanson who took third in the 1,500 meters. Freshman Jason Swenson took sixth in the javelin and freshman Josh Paulson ninth in the high jump to round out the Gophers top-ten finishers.

Sophomore Luke Mullranin just missed cracking the top-ten as he finished eleventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Next up for the team is a trip to the Texas Relays in Austin, Tex. The meet runs from April 3-6.

Women’s golf

Rookie Tai Kinney shot a 2-under par 70 in the final round of the Duck Invitational to lead the Minnesota women’s golf team to a fifth-place finish at the Mallard Creek Golf Course in Lebanon, Ore. On Friday, Kinney jumped from 15th place after the first day’s action to a tie for fourth place in the final standings, with rounds of 77, 74 and 70 for a 5-over par total of 221.

Minnesota posted a team total of 303 on Friday, with rounds of 311 and 300 in the first two rounds, to tally 914.

Karyn Stordahl tied for 25th.

Baseball

Minnesota’s baseball team opened its conference season this weekend, earning a split in four games against Michigan State in East Lansing.

With the split, the Gophers move to 10-14 on the season and 2-2 in the Big Ten.

The first game, scheduled for Friday, was suspended due to rain after the third inning. Minnesota was ahead 1-0 when the game was called.

The team’s picked up at that point on Saturday morning, with C.J. Woodrow starting in place of Craig Molldrem, who started the game on Friday. Woodrow picked up the win as Minnesota edged the Spartans 4-3.

The Gophers and Michigan State played two more games Saturday, both of which were only seven innings. The Spartans won the contests 5-3 and 14-4 respectively.

The Spartans hit five round-trippers in the final game of the triple-header.

Minnesota topped Michigan State on Sunday 10-6 thanks in part to 21 Gophers hits to earn the split.

Jason Kennedy hit two home runs to lead Minnesota’s offense. Jay Gagner and Molldrem combined for the victory and the save.

The Gophers return home next weekend to face Michigan in their first Big Ten home series of the season. The four game set begins Friday at the Metrodome.