The Minnesota Golden Gophers picked up a pair of bruising wins over northern rivals North Dakota Friday night. The women won 215-81, while the men triumphed 207-89.
Most notable for the Gopher women was the production from its freshman class. Brooke Zeiger stayed red-hot with a pair of wins, leaving the backstrokes to dominate the 500 and 1000 frees. The team also got double wins from Danielle Nack, who won the 200 free and 50 free in a very short window early in the meet.
The Minnesota men saw Daryl Turner provide the highlights, cracking 45 in the 100 free, 22 in the 50 fly and putting up two very nice relay splits to earn four total wins.
The meet was sprint-oriented – the 100s of each non-free stroke were replaced with 50s, while the 200s of each turned into 100s.
The Golden Gophers kicked things off with a win in the 200 medley relay. Katelyn Holmquist, Heidi Busack, Tori Simenec and Abigail Raatz combined to go 1:45.30. Holmquist opened almost a full-second lead over North Dakota on the backstroke leg, just about ending the race early on. UND ultimately finished about three seconds back.
Reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Brooke Zeiger continued to spark this week. After winning backstroke events in each of the Gophers’ first two meets, Zeiger showed off the versatility that made her such a marquee prospect for the Gophers. The freshman won the 1000 free, dipping under 10 minutes with a 9:57.87 and winning the race by over twelve seconds.
The Gophers got to put two of their star freshmen together in the 200 free, with distance swimmer Brooke Lorentzen taking an entry and butterflyer Danielle Nack jumping into the freestyle event. It was actually Nack who took the win, going 1:51.41, with Lorentzen running second in 1:52.11. The Gophers made it a 1-2-3 finish with Sam Harding’s 1:53.50.
Sprint backstroke is one of Minnesota’s few real question marks at this point, and the team tried out a number of different option in the 50 back Friday night. Freestyler/butterflyers Tori Simenec and Becca Weiland jumped into the event, but it was sophomore backstroker Katelyn Holmquist who came out on top. Holmquist, who might turn out to be the answer on the medley relays, went 26.81 to win by a tenth.
The freshman reign continued for the Gophers in the 50 back. First-year Minnesota native Rae Bullinger went 29.79 to top senior Blake Zeiger by just over a tenth.
North Dakota came close to stealing a win in the 100 fly. Danica Dutt battled the Gophers in the middle of the pool and seemed to put herself out to a lead off the final wall, but Lauren Votava snuck up from an outside lane to steal the event in 57.41. Dutt took second in 58.49, just beating out Minnesota’s Ellen Bloom.
Danielle Nack put the freshmen back on top, grabbing her second win in the early goings of the meet in the 50 free. Her 23.70 won by a tenth over Tori Simenec. Winning the 200 and 50 frees shows some promising range from Nack, not to mention endurance, given the two were only three events apart.
Lexi Tenenbaum was the breakthrough performer for the divers on 3-meter. The sophomore scored 315.83 to beat out teammate Jessica Ramberg, an event winner from last week.
Star distance swimmer Kiera Janzen blasted her way to the 100 free title, using a tenacious stroke tempo and a big last 25 to go 51.60. Her furious stroke denied Nack a third win, but the freshman still took second in 52.86.
It was a couple of seniors who topped the 100 back for Minnesota, with Jessica Plant going 57.13 and Becca Weiland 58.20. Both were trying out some non-traditional races, as Plant is best-known as a 200 freestyler and Weiland a butterflyer.
Senior Blake Zeiger won the 100 breast, filling in for defending Big Ten champ Kierra Smith, who didn’t compete in either breaststroke Friday night. Zeiger went 1:05.86 to beat North Dakota’s Alexa Weyer and Steph Frey.
Brooke Zeiger, Blake’s younger sister, once again crushed the field in a distance freestyle event, topping the 500 in 4:48.96. In a very talented freshman class, Zeiger has been the clear standout so far for the Gophs, winning multiple events in every dual so far. Showing some big-time versatility, Zeiger has now won 5 different events just three meets into her college career.
It was sophomore Alli Schumacher who won the 50 fly, topping All-American breaststroker Kierra Smith 25.94 to 26.36. Once again, North Dakota’s Danica Dutt put up a solid fight, though she faded a little bit over the last 15 meters to finish in 26.92.
Junior Jessica Ramberg won the 1-meter diving event for the second consecutive week, scoring 310.28 points to beat out her teammate and 3-meter champ Lexi Tenenbaum.
Tori Simenec made the 200 IM a one-horse show, taking the lead early in the butterfly and never letting anyone get close to her down the stretch. Simenec split 27.07 on fly and 30.77 to build a huge early lead, and wound up finishing in 2:03.57, more than 5 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
Finally, Minnesota ended things with a win in the 200 free relay. Danielle Nack’s 23.48 powered the top relay past UND with a time of 1:35.01. North Dakota, though, won a battle with the Minnesota B, taking second place in 1:38.05 thanks to a 24.09 third split from Allie Schwab.
The Gopher women ultimately triumphed 215-81, getting some very encouraging performances from their youngsters.
The Gopher men jumped on things early, eager to come back from a rivalry loss to Wisconsin a week ago. Things started about as well as they could, with Minnesota sweeping the top 3 spots in the 200 medley relay. Daryl Turner, who won three times in the Wisconsin loss, was particularly impressive, splitting 22.56 to put his squad well ahead. Freshman Conner McHugh and sophomores Paul Fair and Ian Gordon closed out the relay for the young Golden Gophers, who won in 1:31.17.
Fair jumping into the butterfly is an interesting development. He was a high school butterflyer who swam mostly freestyle last year for Minnesota, but with no one really jumping out to replace Kyler Van Swol’s medley relay legs, it might be a fair time for a return to the fly, at least for the medley relays.
Sophomore Erick Huft won the 1000 free, leading a 1-2-3-4 charge of Gophers in 9:30.13. Second behind him was senior Garin Marlow at 9:33.08.
The 200 free was one of the tighter races of the night. Jakub Maly, an IMer who competed for Austria at the European Championships over the summer, was the Gophers top entrant, but had to fight off a tough charge from UND’s Noah Lucas, a former high school standout in the state of Minnesota. Maly used his long reach to just sneak in ahead of Lucas, 1:40.97 to 1:41.02.
Senior Chris Johnson won the 50 back for the Gophers, another event in which Minnesota went 1-2-3-4. Johnson was 23.30, with two more seniors (Carl Newenhouse, 23.55, and Jimmy Rafter, 23.72) right behind.
But the team’s youngsters made their own statement in the 50 breast. Freshman Conner McHugh, a former YMCA National Champion, went 26.35, with sophomore Nick Hatanaka matching him stroke for stroke and going 26.51 for second.
North Dakota’s biggest swim came from Martin Pozniak, who battled his way past a throng of Gophers, going 50.85. A great finish powered him past Minnesota’s Bryce Boston and Viktor Bjork.
Big Paul Fair grabbed an individual win in the 50 free for the Gophers. The former high school football player went 21.05, riding a powerful stroke to a narrow win over fellow sophomore Ian Gordon (21.08).
In 1-meter diving, Manny Pollard earned the runaway win, scoring 371.63 points to lead all divers by more than 30.
Sophomore Daryl Turner provided probably the biggest fireworks of the night, and he started things with a 44.75 win in the 100 free. Turner’s exceptionally smooth and efficient for a sprinter, and looked thoroughly in control the entire way. North Dakota’s Noah Lucas was second in 46.41.
It was a senior who popped off a win in the next event, the 100 back. Andrew Hartbarger, normally an IMer and 200 backstroker, went 51.43 to lead yet another 1-2-3-4 punch of Golden Gophers.
North Dakota made another serious run at a win in the 100 breast, but once again, Minnesota had just enough to stay on top. Sophomore Spencer Mattox pulled away in the back half after being challenged by Austin Smith. Mattox finished in 56.87, and Smith was 57.61 for second place.
Alex Cisneros rolled away from the field in the 500 free, going 4:38.47 with UND’s Noah Lucas second, his second runner-up finish of the night.
Then in the 50 fly, Daryl Turner returned to fire up the crowd with a quick 21.97. Again, Turner was a cut above the field, jumping out to a commanding lead and accelerating all the way into the finish. North Dakota’s 100 fly winner Martin Pozniak was second in 22.85.
On the diving boards, Dylan Zoe picked up the 3-meter win, outlasting Australian teammate Matt Barnard 411.30 to 399.68.
The final individual event was the 200 IM, where sophomore Jon Thielen roared to the win. He was pushed early by Pozniak, who used that big butterfly to remain in the hunt. But Thielen took off on backstroke and breaststroke and had the race all but wrapped up by the final 50. His time of 1:54.24 was a little more than two seconds up on Pozniak when all was said and done. Minnesota breaststroker Conner McHugh also ran down Pozniak to take second, though he was exhibitioned.
The Gopher men seemed to really get after the 200 free relay to close the meet in a loud and fast atmosphere. A team of three sophomores and a junior went 1:22.17 to crush the field. That was led by a 20.66 leadoff split from Daryl Turner, who seemed to be everywhere Friday night. Ryan Miksch was also 20.3 on the anchor leg, a nice sign at this point in the season from the junior.
The final score came in at 207-89 in favor of Minnesota, who will host conference rivals Iowa next weekend.