Last weekend, Minnesota and Iowa showed off for the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy, which is handed to the winner of the two teams’ annual football game. Though these two programs don’t reside in the same state, they consider each other to be primary rivals. Despite being underdogs in each of the last two seasons, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have won two football showdowns in a row, both of which were at home in their brand-new TCF Bank Stadium.
On Friday, the teams lined up for the first time in the spectacular new Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center pool, with the home-team Hawkeyes standing as underdogs against last year’s #15-team in the country, having not won the meet head-to-head since 1997.
You can see where this story is going. The Iowa men took a final score of 160.5-139.5 to move to 3-0 on the season.
The Hawkeyes won this meet on some dominant performances from their veteran freestyle group, which is an area that used to be the strength of the Gophers. That kicked off with Iowa senior Paul Gordon winning his specialty, the 200 free, in 1:37.74, which is the 5th-best time in the country. His junior teammate, Jordan Huff, took 2nd in 1:39.31, which gives Iowa the start of a solid 800 free relay.
Gordon would go on to take a victory in the 100 free in 44.07, which sits behind on the stud-like trio of Jimmy Feigen, Marcelo Chierighini, and Vlad Morozov (the likely top 3 at NCAA’s) this season. He out-battled Minnesota senior Zach Bolin (45.09), who is the lone holdover from the Gophers’ top-8 freestyle relays. Gordon would complete a trifecta with a win in the 100 fly in 48.30.
The 50 free was won by a new Pool Record from another Iowa senior, Ryan Phelan in 19.90, which is 3rd-best in the country. Phelan is the definition of a “pure sprinter” as his 45.5 in the 100 free later would demonstrate (though his 44.5 relay split was much better).
Phelan, Gordon, Huff, and Duncan Partridge (who tied Bolin for 2nd in the 100 free) combined for a dominant win in the 400 free in 2:58.17. That missed the time put up by Michigan over the weekend by just .01 as the fastest time in the country.
With this freestyle group, Iowa might be this year’s version of Minnesota and ride their relays to a top-20 finish.
Iowa’s got some good young swimmers too, though. Tyler Lentz swam a 3:56.95. That just out-touched impressive Minnesota freshman Brandon Hatanaka in 3:57.81, which is a career-best time.
This Minnesota program is in a bit of transition that we see from a lot of teams that try to move from that top-15 range to a top-11 or 12 team. They graduated a huge freshman class from a team that put a ton of focus on relays. They do have a few good young sprinters still (Sophomore Derek Toomey, for example, though he didn’t have a great meet here – 20.88/46.00), but they’re really expanding into some individual points.
Take sophomore Kyler van Swol. He had a very good meet with a runner-up finish in the 100 fly (48.30) and a victory in the 200 fly in 1:48.20, which is a good early-November time for him.
In men’s swimming, this transition is tough, because top freshmen aren’t as “NCAA ready” in men’s swimming as they are in women’s. In the short-term, this leads to a bit of a back-slide, but if done properly, the program should emerge even stronger.
As for Iowa, this team could be a big surprise and take a top-20 finish at NCAA’s. The reports out of Iowa City were that the Hawkeyes were running through 10,000 yards most of the week, two days of weights, and only a slight drop in yardage (around 8,500) on Thursday. With that context, and the absence of their best diver (Minneosta dominated the diving) this win is pretty impressive.
The women’s meet was hugely lopsided in favor of Minnesota, with a final score of 209-95.
The women’s meet was dominated by superstar performances from young performers. Versatile freshman Tori Siminec took wins in the 200 fly (2:02.85) and 100 free (50.52). That 100 time is less than a second away from her career-best and also set a new Pool Record.
Tess Behrens is having a fantastic start to her sophomore season, especially in the 100 back. She broke off a 53.69 to take a huge, three-second victory, a Pool Record, and a new career-best time. Assuming that the time isn’t peaked, she has a great shot at expanding her NCAA schedule beyond just the 200 medley relay she entered last year. If she continues to develop in that race, then that would allow her to take over the backstroke leg on the Gophers’ top-8 medley relays and help cushion the blow from three-legs of graduation. This would also allow for senior Hannah Whitehead to shift her focus more to the freestyles. Behrens is also approaching Whitehead’s School Record of 53.50.
The best race of the night, however, was by far the women’s 1000 free. There, Iowa freshman Becky Stoughton faced off with Minnesota senior Ashley Steenvoorden. Stoughton got out to a big lead in the race (5-seconds at the halfway mark). Then Steenvoorden, the National Teamer, started reeling her back in, 50-by-50. As the pair entered the final 100 yards, it looked as though the infinitely-more experienced Steenvoorden was going to have enough to eke out the victory. But Stoughton hung tough for a final closing 50 of 27.25 (to Steenvoorden’s 27.42) to win the race in 9:39.44. Steenvoorden was the runner-up in 9:39.94.
Those times stand as the top-two in the country this year.
Stoughton was really impressive throughout this meet. She again edged Steenvoorden in the 500 free with a 4:47.18 (Steenvoorden in 4:49.45) and the 400 IM in 4:17.60. Stoughton is now the owner of three Pool Records and three times that stand in the top-10 in the country this year. Stoughton could be a program changer for the Hawkeyes.
Minnesota was without senior Haley Spencer, defending 200 breast National Champ, at this meet.