The Minnesota and Florida women, two teams consistently having big seasons on the national scale, ended up in an extremely rare tie, both scoring 150 points at the end of the meet. The Florida men took care of business on all levels but breaststroke, where their lack of depth seriously showed. They ended up on top anyways, 174.5 to 125.5.
The Gophers flexed their muscles in their stronger events, winning the 100 breaststroke and distance free events, among others.
They kicked off the meet with three straight victories, first with a 200 medley relay win (by over a second and a half), then with 1st place finishes in the 1000 and 200 free. Freestyle veterans Sam Harding and Lauren Votava took the 1000 (9:53.79) and 200 (1:49.62). Votava had to fight off Gator Ashlee Linn, who touched directly after her at 1:49.93. Harding came back to win the 500 in 4:52.00 to complete her pair of distance victories.
Natalie Hinds provided key wins for the Gators, however, capitalizing on the lack of sprint dexterity in Minnesota’s lineup. Hinds owned both sprint freestyles– she was the only one under 23 and 50 in the 50 and 100, respectively. Her time of 22.85 took the 50 by over a full second, and she dropped a 49.54 to win the 100, also by a margin of more than a full second.
The Gators were also dominant in the 200s of stroke. In the 200 back, Georgia Mae-Hohmann won in a 1:58.17, leading a Florida 1-2-3-4 sweep. Similarly, the Gators swept the 200 IM four-deep, led by Linn (2:02.34). Freshman Hannah Burns eked out a win over teammate Paige Scheringer in the 200 breast, 2:17.55 to 2:17.70. Minnesota frosh Rachel Munson grabbed 3rd in 2:19.29 after winning the 100 breast earlier in a very strong 1:02.81. The Gophers really missed defending NCAA Champion Kierra Smith, who is taking an Olympic gap year, in this event in particular today.
Florida didn’t get all of the 200s of stroke, as sophomore Danielle Nack took home the 200 fly win in 1:59.01, winning by almost three seconds in an easy victory. Nack, however, was unable to compete the double-win, as Hinds roared back in the 2nd 50 after trailing to win the 100 fly, 54.01 to 54.06. While Nack took the loss, both women showed impressive speed this early in the season.
With the meet on the line going into the 400 relay, Minnesota needed to win to at least earn the tie. With Hinds out of the Gators’ relay after swimming in four events prior, the Gophers shut down the last event with a triumphant 3:23.83 over Florida’s 3:25.45. Votava led off in 50.72, followed by Nack (50.76) and freshmen Zoe Avestruz (50.70) and Kaia Grobe (51.65). Florida’s only sub-51 split came from Mollie Pulte (50.71). The final score sat at 150 for both teams.
While the women’s meet was as close as it could possibly get, the Florida men handled Minnesota with relative ease.
Florida was unstoppable in the freestyles, winning every event from the 50 through the 1000. Pawel Werner was responsible for two of those victories, taking the 200 (1:39.26) over Mitch D’Arrigo (1:39.42) and the 500 (4:28.84). Werner beat out Arthur Frayler in that race, the latter having already won the 1000 (9:12.94). Justin Kaisrlik‘s 45.36 was enough to knock off Gopher Paul Fair (45.67) in the 100 free, while Corey Main‘s 20.17 easily took the 50 free.
Main returned to dominate the 200 back, posting a 1:46.84 to win the event by over four seconds. In the 100 back, it was Jack Blyzinskyj who took the W in 47.50, just ahead of Caeleb Dressel (47.83), who didn’t swim any of his marquee sprint free events. Dressel later owned the 100 fly in 48.22.
The Gators are known for their IM group– and they rolled with Mark Szaranek. The sophomore earned the win in the 200 IM with a 1:48.73, the only swimmer under 1:50. 2nd place went to Minnesota’s Jakub Maly (1:50.28).
Florida did stumble, however, in the breaststroke events. In fact, they got slaughtered. The Gophers dropped a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 and a 1-2-3-4 finish in the 200. Eric Sande took the 100 in 56.60, while John Bushman earned the win in the 200 (2:02.08) as the Gophers picked up major points in just two events. Dressel is the team’s best breaststroker right now, and without him in those events, a formidable Gator squad showed big-time vulnerability.
The breaststroke wasn’t the only strong point for Minnesota, whose Nick Orf came out on top over Florida’s Austin Manganiello 1:49.77 to 1:49.92 in the 200 butterfly. Daryl Turner also notched a 3rd place finish in the 100 back and a 2nd place finish in the 100 fly, while Maly touched 3rd in the 200 free in addition to his runner-up finish in the 200 IM.
Florida’s top 400 free relay swam in exhibition, getting a 43.98 split from Dressel and 44 lows from Werner and Main, while Minnesota got a 44.43 from Turner, though the Gators ended up getting DQd. The Gators won the meet 174.5 to 125.5, with both teams having plenty of good swims to go around. The main concern for Florida is their breaststroke hole, which can no longer be shoved under the rug as NCAA season gets into full swing and the Gators start losing a bunch of points in those events. Dressel may have to pull breaststroke duty now more than ever as Florida scrambles to replace the likes of Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez and Matt Elliott who have since graduated.
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