Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, Day Four

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, February 18. "CLOSE" was the buzzword throughout the 2012 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships, with too-close-to-call races for the men's and women's team championships and even closer races decided by hundredths of a second. However, in the final events of the Championships, the Gustavus women and St. Thomas men emerged victorious to cap an incredible weekend at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
All weekend long, the Tommies and defending champion St. Olaf were neck-and-neck for the men's title. The two were tied after one day, still extremely close after two days, and the trophy was up for grabs into the final event. St. Thomas pulled ahead of the Oles in the second half of the men's 400-yard freestyle relay and snatched the title from St. Olaf by just three points, 765 to 762. The title is the Tommies' second in two years.

In the women's team competition, St. Olaf gave the Gusties their best shot, but in the end, Gustavus was just a little too deep and pulled out its third-consecutive championship and fifth title in six years. The Gusties won by a margin of 43, 687 to 643 over the Ole women. Complete team scores are listed below with the top three All-Conference performers in each of Saturday night's events.

Following the meet, the MIAC Swimmer- and Diver-of-the-Year awards were presented. The Men's Swimmer-of-the-Year award went to Saint John's senior Josh Seaburg, who won an event each night: the 500-yard freestyle, the 400-yard individual medley and Saturday's 200-yard butterfly. Men's diving honors went to St. Olaf's Ian Straehley, who won the 3-meter diving title Saturday after finishing second in the 1-meter event Thursday.

The women's honors went to St. Olaf swimmer Meghan Weiss, who also won three individual events, including repeat victories in two events. Weiss won the 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle titles to lead the Oles. Diver-of-the-Year honors were claimed by St. Thomas' Jennifer Easton, who set a meet record Saturday with her score of 457.25 on the 1-meter board Saturday to go along with her 3-meter title.

St. Olaf's Bob and Dave Hauck were honored as the MIAC Women's Co-Coaches-of-the-Year, and shared the men's coaching honor with St. Thomas' Tom Hodgson, as evidence of just how close the two teams were throughout the meet and the season. 2012 MIAC Diving Coach-of-the-Year honors were awarded to Mark Dusabeck of St. Thomas. The members of the MIAC All-Sportsmanship Team were also recognized during the brief awards ceremony at the conclusion of the event.

In addition to Easton's diving meet record, two All-time MIAC records fell in Saturday's finals. Gustavus' Alissa Tinklenberg broke the conference mark in the 200-yard backstroke, winning the event with an 'A' qualifying time of 2:00.99. St. Olaf's Maggie Boling also had a record-setting performance with her 2011 Selection Time of 2:21.32 to capture her second-straight title in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Along with Seaburg and Weiss, St. Olaf freshman Michael Gratz continued his dazzling MIAC debut by also capturing a third individual title, winning the 100-yard freestyle with a 2011 Selection Time of 45.15 to go along with his wins in the 200-yard individual medley and 200-yard freestyle titles. Fellow Ole Colby Kubat also defended his title in the 200-yard breaststroke with an 'A' time of 2:01.74 to add to his second-straight title in the 100-breast and a runner-up finish to Gratz in the 200-IM.

Also highlighting the duel between the Tommie and Ole men were first-place finishes by UST's Justin Mullee in the 200-yard backstroke (1:51.79 – 'B' standard) and St. Olaf's Spencer Scarth in the 1,650-yard freestyle (16:00.28 – 'B' standard). Other women's highlights included the Oles' Lydia Feldman winning her second title of the weekend with a time of 2:08.97 in the 200-yard butterfly and St. Thomas freshman Elise Guenther swimming to victory in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:46.56.

However, the final event was a fitting conclusion to a weekend full of fantastic finishes, record-breaking performances and intense scoreboard watching as Gustavus put the finishing touches on its title by pulling away in the final length to win its third-straight 400-yard freestyle relay title, and St. Thomas erased an early St. Olaf lead in the same event, charging back to claim the win, and ultimately, the team title.

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