For many college programs, when the NCAA Championships wrap up, school rivalries and team scores take a backseat to individual performances and summer championship meets.
But for two Big Ten schools, the team rivalry lives on, as Minnesota and Wisconsin elected to save their last official dual meet of college season for May 2nd and 3rd, as a kickoff to summer season.
The two teams competed in a two-day, long course dual meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, complete with running team scores, an event Minnesota coach Kelly Kremer says will likely become a running tradition for the two programs as a way to open up long course competition season.
On Saturday night it was the home team that emerged triumphant in both genders, with the Gopher women wining 206-123 and the Gopher men taking the meet 185-153.
The event lineup featured 50s, 100s and 200s of all strokes, along with the 200 and 400 IM, 400 and 800 frees and 400 medley and free relays.
For the women, the meet was dominated by Minnesota’s Kierra Smith and Wisconsin’s Ivy Martin. Smith took home 5 event wins, staying red-hot after her solid performance at Canadian Trials last month.
The current sophomore swept the breaststroke and IM races with ease. Her toughest test was in the 100 breast, where she outlasted Wisconsin’s Anna Meinholz 1:11.62 to 1:12.78. In the 200 she crushed the field in 2:30.70, a full 12 seconds better than her nearest competition, and she won the 50 of the stroke at 33.62 as well.
In the IMs, Smith beat teammate Tori Siminec for the 200 title 2:19.05 to 2:20.28, and in the 400 she bested another Gopher, Sam Harding, 4:59.70 to 5:01.15.
Wisconsin countered that impressive resume with their own stud, sprinter Ivy Martin. Martin took advantage of the added sprint events to claim four wins over the two days. The junior was impressive as always in the freestyle races, going 25.83 to win the 50 and 56.83 to run away with the 100.
Maybe more impressive was Martin’s improving butterfly. She bested Minnesota’s former Big Ten Champion butterflyer Becca Weiland in both sprint distances: Martin was 27.20 to Weiland’s 27.82 in the 50 and 1:00.84 to Weiland’s 1:01.56 in the 100.
Tori Simenec actually snuck in for second in that race with a 1:01.13, and had a nice meet in showing off her versatility. Typically an IMer, Simenec won both sprint backstrokes on the weekend, going 1:04.00 in the 100 and 30.24 in the 50.
The distance events belonged to rising star Kiera Janzen, last summer’s U.S. Open champ in the 200 free. Janzen went 8:52.55 to win the 800 free, then added a 4:20.36 for the 400 win. She also finished second in the 200 to fellow Gopher Jess Plant. Plant picked right up where she left off after a strong postseason run with a 2:02.55 for that win.
The final Minnesota winner was freshman Katelyn Holmquist in the 200 back. She went 2:21.43 to beat Wisconsin’s Aja Van Hout.
Outside of Ivy Martin, Wisconsin was only able to pick up one more individual win. Dana Grindall went 2:16.78 to win the 200 fly handily.
Minnesota took both the relays as well. Tess Behrens, Smith, Weiland and Lauren Votava combined to go 4:12.80 for the 400 medley relay win, and Votava, Weiland, Blake Zeiger and Simenec won the 400 free relay with a 3:50.40.
The men’s meet was a much closer affair. Wisconsin got three big wins from Nick Caldwell, two of them coming in the first day. His 8:20.68 win in the 800 free, the very first individual race of the meet, led a 1-2-3 finish for the Badgers. He repeated the same feat in the 400 free, going 4:01.89 to lead another 1-2-3 punch.
Caldwell also went 2:05.49 in winning the 200 fly on Friday night.
The only Gopher to beat Caldwell in an individual race was freshman Jakub Maly. The Austrian sensation swept the IM races after putting up a pair of top-3 finishes at the Mesa Grand Prix a week ago. Maly went 4:32.32 to top Caldwell in the 400 IM and also touched out teammate Andrew Hartbarger for the 200 IM win 2:07.12 to 2:07.53.
Minnesota’s biggest point contributor was fellow freshman Daryl Turner, who put up three wins and a narrow second. Turner opened up his meet by topping senior teammate Kyler Van Swol for the 50 butterfly in 24.65 (Van Swol was 24.86). Turner then came back to take the 100 fly as well, going 56.18.
Turner also won the 50 back, narrowly beating out former NCAA 200 back champ Drew Teduits 26.27 to 26.51.
Teduits took two events of his own, the 100 back (56.48) and 200 back (2:03.08), winning both easily.
Wisconsin also got three wins from Australian breaststroker Nick Schafer. The junior swept the breaststroke races, going 29.67 in the 50, 1:04.68 in the 100 and 2:16.99 in the 200. He beat Minnesota’s stud Maly in both of the longer distances.
Graduating senior Derek Toomey won both sprint free races for the Gophers. The All-American sprinter blasted a 22.68 to win the 50 (with Turner second), then returned to go 51.26 to narrowly beat out teammate Van Swol for the 100 win.
Van Swol was 51.52, and a close third in that race was Wisconsin freshman Cannon Clifton in 51.58. Clifton had a solid meet, putting up a tough fight in that race and the 50 (where he was also third) after winning the 200 free in 1:53.63 on Friday.
As with the women, Minnesota swept the relays. Turner, Maly, Van Swol and Toomey paced the 400 medley at 3:48.30 (notable was Van Swol splitting 53.4 on the butterfly leg), while Turner, Toomey, Paul Fair and Van Swol went 3:27.76 for the 400 free relay win.
It’s also worth noting that a couple of well-known post-grads put up some solid times swimming exhibition. World Champs silver medalist David Plummer, a Minnesota alum who trains with the University’s professional group, went 25.39 in a 50 backstroke, and followed that up with a 54.93 in the 100 back.
Wisconsin grad Michael Weiss exhibitioned a 200 free, going 1:54.48. He also added a 200 breast in 2:27.10.