When ESPN commentator Ed Cunningham said the Gophers were the favorite out of the Big Ten West following Minnesota’s victory over Michigan, I smirked. My initial thought was that Cunningham’s praise was simply an example of a well-known media pundit using superfluous language to make a victory seem bigger than it actually was. But after the Gophers grinded out a victory against a gritty Northwestern opponent over the weekend, it seems as though Cunningham’s words might hold water after all.
Some swimmers and coaches didn’t have anything specific to say when it came to what the women’s diving team will look like this season. The women’s diving team opened its year on Saturday afternoon after graduating two of the most decorated divers in Minnesota history last season. Wondering how the season will shape up for the divers, who lost former Big Ten Diver of the Year Maggie Keefer and Big Ten platform diving champion Sarah McCrady seems natural.
The image of Matt Koalska leaping over the boards of the Gophers’ bench after scoring the game-tying goal in the 2002 national championship game still remains firmly ingrained in the minds of many Minnesota hockey fans. The Gophers went on to take home the title in an overtime victory and won the championship again in 2003. But those moments and memories took place more than a decade ago.
The University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team is under new leadership following the resignation of former head coach Meg Stephenson, who left Aug. 28 after federal and school investigations into her behavior with team members. On Tuesday, athletics director Norwood Teague officially named Jenny Hansen the interim head coach for the 2014-15 season. She has served as a coach for the team since 2007, and she has helped lead the program following Stephenson’s resignation.
Blame it on the outdoor air or the adrenaline from their first swim meet, but something seemed to ignite the freshmen on the Gophers men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. In their first — and the team’s first — competition of the season, Minnesota outpaced Arizona State on both the men’s and women’s sides in Tempe, Ariz. The men’s team took first by a final of 181-117, while the women won their meet 191-101 over the Sun Devils.
Based on how the athletes spoke Wednesday afternoon at the University Aquatic Center, the Minnesota swimming and diving teams are ready for a big year. The men’s and women’s teams will kick off their 2014-15 season this weekend when they hit the road to take on Arizona State. Despite the loss of talent on both teams after last year’s seniors graduated, the Gophers don’t seem to have lost their swagger.
Five underclassmen trotted onto the Sports Pavilion floor Saturday night to start against an opponent that has dominated college volleyball for the past decade. Reigning national champion Penn State players walked out onto the court looking as confident as they did when they left 10 months ago after defeating Minnesota in three sets. And while Minnesota’s loss in the match might have been predictable, the youthful Gophers found a way to stand toe-to-toe with Penn State in the match’s first set, winning 29-27.
The Monday blues hit the Gophers tennis team hard as senior duo Jack Hamburg and Mathieu Froment both dropped matches in the first round of qualifying play at the Saint Francis Health Systems ITA Men’s All-American Championships. Hamburg lost his match to North Carolina State’s Robbie Mudge, while Froment lost to Dartmouth product Dovydas Sakinis. Hamburg and Froment will get their shot at redemption on Thursday when the two compete in the main doubles draw.
After producing some of the NCAA’s most dominant football teams season after season, the Big Ten isn’t the intimidating power it once was. Gophers fans witnessed this firsthand Saturday as they watched Minnesota manhandle a Michigan team that normally puts a wallop on the Gophers. It’s difficult to determine whether the Gophers improved their play on Saturday or whether their point total was simply a reflection of just how decrepit the Wolverines are this season. Michigan has defeated Minnesota by an average of 33 points in their last five contests.
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