Wisconsin (women) 175, UW-Milwaukee (women) 116
UW-Milwaukee (men) 149, Wisconsin (men) 145
The Wisconsin women, who finished 11th at last year’s NCAA Championships, kicked off the season with an easy dual meet victory over nearby UW-Milwaukee. They were led by National Teamer Ashley Wanland, who seemed to be on a bit more of a rest cycle than her Big Ten breaststroke foe Haley Spencer. The pair become teammates for a few weeks after both left today for the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Spencer posted the nation’s top times of 1:01.72 in the 100 and 2:14.16 in the 200 breaststroke to sweep the events.
Beckie Thompson also had a great individual swim in the 50 free with a win of 23.36.
The Wisconsin medley relays are still among the best in the nation (they placed 2nd and 5th at NCAA’s last year), and return three out of the four legs. The backstroke spot, replacing the graduated Maggie Meyer, seems to be going to senior Amie Osten. She led off the 400 medley relay, which cruised to a victory in 3:45.75. That time is slower than both Michigan and Minnesota posted in their dual meet. Osten’s best 100 time of the night came in the individual race, which she won in 57.06.
The Wisconsin men were not as good as their female counterparts, and they lost to Milwaukee for the first time in program history. The small Badgers roster, made up of 18 swimmers and no divers, had trouble keeping up with UWM’s depth – they were losing 32-0 before swimming even began. Wisconsin won 10 out of the 14 swimming events to fight back into the scoring battle, and took a 5-point lead into the final relay.
A victory in that relay would have given Wisconsin a win in the meet, and a 2-3 finish would have given them a tie. Neither of those scenarios played out, as the Panthers led wire-to-wire to touch first in 1:24.02. They were anchored by a 20.65 from Nathan Welchlin to hold on for the win. Wisconsin touched four-tenths back in 1:24.46. Milwaukee’s B-relay easily touched 3rd, including a race-best anchor from Sam Niesen (20.61) to seal the meet.
Wisconsin’s best swimmer Daniel Lester, for one, did his part for the Badgers’ effort. He won three events in dominant fashion, including a 1:53.94 in the 200 IM.
“We had some good performances and some that needed more work than others,” new Wisconsin coach Whitney Hite said. “But that’s the beauty of our sport. This is who we are, this is where we’re starting and we’re going to be better.”
It’s a tough loss to take after a dominant 146-68 win just one year ago. Partial credit is due to a vastly-improved Milwaukee program, but Hite definitely has some long-term, structural work to do to get the men’s program back to the level that it has been in the past.