MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, February 9. DAY two of the Minnesota Challenge in Minneapolis wrapped up last night as the host Golden Gophers finished off the meet with 21 wins out of 40 events. Minnesota’s Kyler Van Swol was the big winner on the day yesterday, picking up a trio of individual wins in the 100 fly (47.70), 100 back (48.95) and 100 free (44.41).
Minnesota Press Release
The Golden Gophers would first like to thank this year’s Minnesota Challenge participants: the University of North Dakota, St. Cloud State University, University of South Dakota, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Saint Mary, South Dakota State, and Morningside College.
“This is a really close team. They genuinely care about each other and want to see each other succeed, it shows when they want to see their teammates do well—which they did here” Head Coach Kremer stated about the Gophers. This is Kremer’s 17th Minnesota Challenge, and he mentioned the Minnesota coaching staff was pleased with the races these past few days.
The Minnesota Challenge was utilized for those swimmers and divers going to the B1G Championships to fine-tune their races and gain confidence. It was also the final meet of the season for the swimmers and divers not moving into Championship Season. Minnesota rallied together to cheer for Senior Jenna Howenstein’s last collegiate event: the women’s 200-yard butterfly. Kremer mentioned, “Jenna had memories tonight she will never forget, and you don’t have to be at the NCAA Championships to get those memories – it was a great meet for all involved.”
Session II of the Minnesota Challenge included the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, and 800 free relay.
At 9:00am the first diving events of the Minnesota Challenge were contested; Nick Rodriguez was the only Gopher diver of the morning. He took second place with a score of 322.80 in the men’s three-meter diving.
The Gopher women rocked the final heat of the 200 medley relay taking first, second, and third place. The winning relay team of Blake Zeiger, Ellen Bloom, Heidi Busack, and Tess Behrens had a time of 1:48.78. The Minnesota men had two relay teams in for the 200 medley, finishing second and third.
Tori Simenec and Jessica Plant led the 400 IM taking first and second place with times of 4:23.91 and 4:29.56 respectively for the women’s team. The Gopher Men had eight swimmers race in the 400-yard IM. DJ Friesch led the pack with a 4:00.84 for first, followed by Garrett Larson.
The 100-yard butterfly was taken over by the Gopher women when they took first, second, third, and fourth place. Lauren Votava led the group with a time of 55.85. She was followed by teammates Jenna Howenstein, Maddie Hoch and Hailey Szews and Kierra Smith who tied for fourth. Kyler Van Swol took first in the 100 fly with a time of 47.70, followed by freshman Daryl Turner with a 48.68. The Gophers went 1-2-3 in the event.
Hailey Szews finished first in the women’s 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:50.85. Gopher Kierra Smith followed allowing Minnesota to go 1-2 in the event.
Senior Danny Brebrick took first place in the men’s 200 free finishing with a time of 1:37.84. He was followed by teammates Erick Huft, Noah Busch and Brandon Hatanaka for first through fourth places for the team.
The women’s 100-yard breaststroke showcased a gold finish by Blake Zeiger, who had a time of 1:02.55, nearly six seconds faster than her competitors. For the men, Freshman Eric Sande swam a 55.09 for first in the 100 breaststroke.
Freshman Maddie Hoch swam a 57.88 in the women’s 100-yard backstroke for first place. Jessica Plant and Becca Weiland followed, resulting in a Minnesota 1-2-3. Kyler Van Swol took first in 100-yard backstroke with a time of 48.95.
The men’s team finished Session II of the Minnesota Challenge with a second place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The relay team of Alex Cisneros, Erick Huft, Eric Sande, and CJ Smith finished with a time of 6:46.52.
Between swimming sessions, men’s one-meter diving and women’s three-meter diving was contested. Manny Pollard had a first place finish with a top score of 350.90 on the one-meter board. Pollard was followed by teammates Nick Rodriguez, Dylan Zoe, Matt Barnard, and Erik Larsen allowing Minnesota to sweep the event. For the women’s three-meter, Jessica Ramberg led the group with a score of 334.95. Maggie Keefer finished second, followed by Sarah McCrady, and Lexi Tenenbaum.
Session III of the Minnesota Challenge included the 1650-yard freestyle, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, and 400 free relay.
Session III, once again, was composed of mainly male swimmers. Jenna Howenstein was the only Gopher from the women’s swim team to compete in this evening’s events.
Erick Huft was the only Gopher to swim the mile this afternoon; he took first place with a time of 15:45:05.
For the men’s 200-yard backstroke, Minnesota’s Jimmy Rafter finished with a time of 1:51.42 for second place. Chris Johnson followed for third.
The final heat of the men’s 100-yard freestyle featured Kyler Van Swol touching out Derek Toomey by a one hundredth of a second for first. Van Swol swam a 44.41. Danny Brebrick and Daryl Turner tied for third.
The Gophers went 1-2-3 in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke. Spencer Mattox led the team with a top time of 2:01.31. Eric Sande and DJ Friesch followed.
“Let’s go, Jenna!” was echoed through the University Aquatic Center during the final heat of the women’s 200-yard butterfly. Senior Jenna Howenstein claimed first place with a time of 2:04.28. Viktor Bjork swam a top time of 1:48.52 for the men’s side. He was followed by teammate Ben Bravence.
Next up for the Gophers is the Big Ten Conference Championships. The Women’s B1G Championships will be hosted by the Gophers at the University Aquatic Center February 19 – February 22. The women are looking for their third straight B1G Championship title, and have an undefeated season record of 9-0.
The following week, the Gopher men will head to Ann Arbor, Michigan February 26 – March 1 for the Men’s B1G Championship. The men’s team has a record of 8-1, their only loss to No. 2 ranked Florida.
The University Aquatic Center is also hosting this year’s Women’s NCAA Championship March 20 – March 22. Make sure to purchase your women’s B1G and NCAA Championships tickets.