The Minnesota women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams started the season off on the right foot Friday night, both defeating rival Wisconsin in Madison in decisive fashion.
The women’s team, a 179-121 winner, beat the Badgers for the second straight year and received strong support from a wave of young Gophers including sophomores Kelci Bryant and sisters Ashley and Kristen Steenvoorden.
Bryant, a former fourth place Olympic finisher in the 3-meter springboard , won both the 1-meter diving event (323.22) and the 3-meter diving event (374.10). A transfer from the University of Miami, Bryant posted an NCAA-qualifying 3-meter score, punctuating an impressive start to her career as a Gopher.
“Being a double winner, she certainly was huge for us,” co-head coach Terry Nieszner said.
Fellow sophomores Kristen and Ashley Steenvoorden also gave Minnesota strong showings, both winning two events. Kristen Steenvoorden won the 500 freestyle in 4:53.32, the 200 individual medley in 2:06.52 and placed second behind her sister Ashley Steenvoorden in the 200 freestyle. Ashley Steenvoorden also won the 1000 freestlye in 9:56.55 and placed second behind her sister in the 500 freestyle.
“All three of those are sophomores, so that definitely makes a statement for us now and for the future,” said Nieszner of the meet’s standouts.
Minnesota headed into the season returning 11 swimmers who participated in the NCAA Championships last March. However, a graduating senior class may have left a void of leadership.
“We graduated a large class of seniors last year and because of that it definitely puts pressure on our younger kids to step up, and I think that’s exactly what happened with those sophomores,” Nieszner said.
Meanwhile, on the men’s side, the Gophers routed Wisconsin 198-101. After last year’s 11th place finish at the NCAA Championships, Minnesota hoped to make a statement in its pursuit of a sixth Big Ten Championship in the past 10 years by winning all but one event in the dual meet.
Leading the way for the Gophers was senior Alex Wold, winning the 200 and 500 freestyle in 1:41.05 and 4:36.35, respectively, and the 200 individual medley in 1:53.53.
Other multiple event winners included junior Kevin Baseheart , who was a part of the 4x100 freestyle relay which placed first with a time of 3:03.23. He also won the 100 and 200 butterfly in 49.82 and 1:50.21, respectively. Another member of the 400 freestyle team, junior Curt Carlson, also won the 50 and 100 freestyle, with times of 20.48 and 45.51. Junior Ivan Gutesa won both breaststroke events, finishing in 57.32 in the 100 and 2:03.89 in the 200.
Both squads head to Iowa City this Friday to take on the Hawkeyes at 5 p.m.
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