Minnesota Freshman Ava Yablonski Swims Best Time in 100 Fly in Gopher Win Over SMU

Minnesota vs. SMU

  • October 20-21, 2022
  • University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), two-day dual meet
  • Full meet results
  • Final Scores:
    • Minnesota Men def. SMU Men 214-137
    • Minnesota Women def. SMU Women 260-93

The #19 Minnesota men and HM Minnesota women both knocked off SMU in a two-day dual meet last weekend.

The Minnesota women move to 3-0 on the season after a win last week against South Dakota and Big Ten opponents Nebraska in a tri meet.

The Minnesota men are now 2-0 this season, beating South Dakota.

The Gophers won’t face their first real test of the early season until an upcoming rivalry matchup against Wisconsin on November 4 in Madison.

Men’s Meet

  • #19 Minnesota Gophers – 214
  • SMU Mustangs – 137

Minnesota’s two returning All-Americans led the way in a win over SMU.

Breaststroker Max McHugh, who returned this year for a 5th year of eligibility and the chase for a 100 breaststroke three-peat, won the 100 breaststroke (53.07) and the 200 breaststroke (1:56.84) in dominating fashion. He was more than six seconds better than SMU’s NCAA qualifier Colin Feehery in the 200 breaststroke, and was almost four seconds ahead of the field in the 100 yard breaststroke.

Minnesota went 1-2-3 in the 100 breaststroke, with freshman Drew Kistler placing 2nd in 57.01.

McHugh’s times were both a few tenths better than he was on a similar weekend last season. He ranks 8th and 11th in those events respectively in the NCAA so far this year. This was his season debut after he sat out the team’s opener against South Dakota.

Bar Soloveychik also dominated in winning the 500 free in 4:29.51. He finished 13th at NCAAs in that event last season. He also sat out last week’s dual meet.

He also won the 1000 free in 9:25.85, though that race was much more competitive: his teammate Chris Nagy was 2nd in 9:26.21.

While Feehery couldn’t touch McHugh in the 200 breaststroke, he did grab two of the Mustangs’ five wins on the day. He led the way in both the 200 IM (1:49.25) and 400 IM (3:54.16).

Feehery was the 23rd-fastest 400 IMer in the NCAA last season, although he placed 34th at NCAAs. So far this year, he ranks 7th in the event thanks to a 3:46 he did at the SMU Classic.

SMU also got double wins from Sage Sungail, a freshman from Florida. He won the 100 free in 45.14 and the 200 free in 1:38.96. He is off to a hot start to his rookie year of college swimming: he already has new lifetime bests in the 100 free, 200 free, and 500 free this season.

Minnesota won the first three relays of the season, but SMU closed the meet on a high note in the 200 free relay. There, Sungail swam 20.61 on the leadoff leg, and was joined by junior Lance Butler (20.29), senior Charlie Kaye (20.21), and senior Justin Baker (19.90). Baker’s anchor leg was the fastest split of the field. Minnesota was 2nd in 1:21.22.

Women’s Meet

  • HM Minnesota Gophers – 260
  • SMU Mustangs – 93

The Minnesota women were utterly dominant in the meet, winning all but one event.

They were led by Megan van Berkom, the team’s lone swimming scorer at last year’s NCAA Championship meet. She won 3 individual events at the meet, bringing her to five wins in six individual races so far this season.

This weekend, she won the 200 IM in 2:01.33, 400 IM in 4:16.69, and 200 fly in 2:00.68. She won all three events by at least four seconds.

Her only loss came in the 100 fly, where Minnesota freshman Ava Yablonski won in 54.53. She got out to a hot start and held off SMU senior Valentina Becerra by .04 seconds.

Both times are breakthrough swims. Yablonski’s time was a new career-best in just her 2nd career meet. That’s encouraging for the Gophers given that their only scorer in the 100 fly last season (Emma Linscott, 19th) graduated.

Becerra’s time is the fastest she’s ever been in a dual meet.

The one win for the SMU among 19 women’s events on the day came in the kickoff on day 2. There, the SMU women won in 3:47.10 after Minnesota’s “A” relay was disqualified when Yablonski left early. On the winning SMU relay, Becerra split 54.21, outsplitting Yablonski even with a modest .44-second reaction time.

Minnesota’s diving group is entering a new era without Sarah Bacon on deck. Bacon, a five-time NCAA Champion, arrived in Minnesota in the 2016-2017 season, and has competed at the last 5 NCAA Championships, winning 5 career springboard titles.

This year, the lead of that group will be 5th year Joy Zhu. Zhu was a near-miss scorer at NCAAs in all three diving events last year. Last weekend, she won both the 1-meter (305.25) and 3 meter (341.93) diving events.

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Old Swimmer
3 months ago

Looks like a good catch for the Golden Gophers! Keep up the good work!

Pool Noodle
3 months ago

It is for sure because her club coach in Massachusetts was New England COACH OF THE YEAR last year in New England!! He should get some of the credit !!

3 months ago

Ski-U-Mah! Looks like the Gophers might have found a diamond in the rough 〽️

Reply to  B1Guy!
3 months ago

Also a good meet for Canadian Hannah Cornish of the Gophers.

3 months ago


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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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