Minnesota swimmers compete against selves in final tuneup before Big Ten Championships in two weeks

The Gophers won all but one event at the Minnesota Challenge this weekend.

David McCoy

Next year, maybe Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team shouldn’t even bother inviting other teams to compete at the Minnesota Challenge.

It probably wouldn’t make any difference to coach Dennis Dale, who preferred to see his eighth-ranked Gophers clock speedy times than speed past their competitors this weekend.

“Dominating the events at this meet doesn’t give us as much confidence as fast times,” Dale said. “The stopwatch doesn’t lie. Maybe they’ll win, but then we look at the stopwatch and say, ‘Are we doing the right time? And could we do even better?’ “

And apparently, it didn’t matter to Dale’s swimmers, either, whether there were other teams there this weekend.

Led by senior Justin Mortimer, Minnesota dominated a field of Division II schools, with a Gophers athlete winning all but the very first event during the course of the weekend.

Individually, Mortimer won back-to-back races in the 500-yard freestyle and the 200 medley Friday, and he came back with wins in the 200 and 1,650 freestyles Saturday.

Adam Mitchell won three races, and Terry Silkaitis, Lucas Peterson, Jason Timmer, David Plummer, Russ Payne, Mario Delac, Nate Bernier and Ales Volcansek all won individual races as well.

The Gophers also won the 400 medley relay and the 800 and 400 freestyle relays.

But Minnesota’s biggest victory over the weekend was not its dominance in the races.

It was its quick times.

“What’s important isn’t really winning the races but having a fast time and competing well against our teammates,” Mortimer said.

For the Gophers – whose next meet is the Big Ten Championships in two weeks – that’s good timing as well as good news.

Women top clock too

With the same goal as the men, Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team breezed past its opponents and tweaked its motor this weekend.

“Here, we’re just doing a little fine-tune work, working on the small things,” coach Kelly Kremer said. “Relay exchanges, turns, starts, and we’re trying to solidify exactly which members will make up each of our five relays.”

Minnesota’s relays took the top four places in the 200 freestyle, the top two in the 400 medley relay and first in the 200 medley relay.

Individually, Abby Ruess, Mary Patrek, Emma Sinkler and Michelle Omdahl won events. Jennifer Warmington, Lindsey St. Martin, Erin O’Neil and Kate Hardt each won two events for the Gophers, who failed to take the top spot in just one event.

Hardt was especially enthused about her victory in the 50 freestyle.

“It’s not my best event or even close to it,” Hardt said. “And I’m not a sprinter. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

The next meet for Minnesota’s women is also the Big Ten Championships.

Kremer said the lineup is already set for Big Tens, so the Minnesota Challenge was an especially notable meet for them.

But for others, like Hardt, who were trying to beat the clock, solid times during the weekend provided confidence heading into the conference meet.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Hardt said. “This has no doubt been the best season of my entire career.”

Men’s tennis goes 1-1

Minnesota’s men’s tennis team earned a big win Saturday when it upset No. 17 Tulane 4-3 at the Great Northwest Shootout in Seattle.

Avery Ticer defeated David Goulet 6-3, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, and Nic Edlefsen beat Dmitriy Koch at No. 2 singles by taking the tiebreakers in the second and third sets.

The Gophers lost to Washington 4-0 on Friday.

Men’s track in Lincoln

Curt Schoenfelder and Aaron Buzard of Minnesota’s men’s track and field team both provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships during the weekend at the Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Neb.

Schoenfelder qualified in the 30-pound weight throw with a mark of 62-8, while Buzard ran a 47.17 in the 400 meters.

Hupp second for women

Mollie Hupp finished second in the 800 meters at the Husker Invitational, clocking in at 2:09.84.

Ladia Albertson-Junkans and Emily Brown finished second and third in the mile run, clocking in at 4:56.94 and 4:57.06, respectively.