The Minnesota Golden Gophers opened their season with a pair of road wins, topping the Arizona State Sun Devils 191-101 on the women’s side and 181-117 for the men.
The Gophers were helped by a big 2:12.66 from Kierra Smith, which is the fastest time in the nation in that event so far. On the men’s side, CJ Smith jumped to the head of the class in his own event, going a nation-leading 9:17.27 to win the 1000 free. Both swimmers now sit atop the national standings, pending, of course, the results of the rest of today’s slate of dual meets.
Full results here
The Golden Gopher women were dominant, taking every event but 1-meter diving en route to a big win to start their season.
Two of those wins came from Kierra Smith, who swept the breaststrokes. She put up a 1:03.11 to win the 100 breast, but saved her big fireworks for the 200. In the longer distance, her signature event, Smith went 2:12.66 to win by over seven seconds. Smith probably has a little more 100 speed in the tank than she showed in the open event, though, as she took out her 200 in 1:03.30, just two tenths slower than her 100 time.
Minnesota also got a pair of wins from junior Lauren Votava. The 200 free might have been the race of the meet, and Votava came out on top in 1:49.22. It didn’t always look like it’d end that way, though – sophomore Maddie Hoch went out fastest, hitting the 100 wall at 53.34, and senior Kiera Janzen was sitting second at 54.19. But Votava charged home to nip Hoch by .07 (Hoch was 1:49.29) and Janzen settled for third at 1:49.50.
Votava also won the 100 free later on, going 50.88. Joining her with dual wins was her classmate Sam Harding. Coming off a big summer season in Canada, Harding won the 1000 (10:03.32) and 500 frees (4:55.60) by large margins.
The Golden Gophers also got some strong showings from their big-name freshmen. Danielle Nack, one of the top 10 prospects in the country last offseason, got off to a hot start with dual wins. She won the 100 fly in 55.32, the race she was known for out of high school, but was perhaps more impressive in the 200, where she went 2:01.48 and won by a full second and a half.
Brooke Zeiger, another blue-chip freshman, won a pair of longer races, going 1:59.52 to crush the 200 back field and doing the same in the 200 IM with a 2:01.86. No one got within four seconds of Zeiger in either of her races.
Arizona State got its lone win on the 1-meter springboard, with Hailey Casper scoring 302.18. Minnesota’s freshman Yu Zhou struck back on 3-meter, though, scoring 337.50 to pick up her first collegiate win.
The medley relay showed an interesting look for the Gophers. With a bit of a sprint backstroke hole, Minnesota moved senior Tori Simenec into that slot on the relay, and she put up a 56.44 to give her team the lead. Simenec is an outstanding IMer in addition to her 200 free/200 fly prowess, so using her on medley relays as a backstroker might be a good way to take advantage of the team’s depth in free and fly to cover its thin backstroking corps. The Gophers went 3:43.40 and went 1-2 over ASU in the event.
The free relay saw Minnesota end the meet on top, with their 3:24.20 coming courtesy of 50-second splits from Lauren Votava (50.38) and Becca Weiland (50.65).
Other individual winners were Weiland in the 50 free (23.12) and Simenec in the 100 back (56.53).
The Gopher distance crew put a big hurt on ASU right off the bat, with Smith hitting his big 9:17.27 in the 1000 and junior Logan Redondo trailing him at 9:34.75.
Smith came back to win the 500 free at 4:33.51, and Redondo was third – teammate Brandon Hatanaka snuck in between them with a 4:38.27.
Also winning two events was backstroker Carl Newenhouse. His 50.76 won the 100 (in another 1-2 for Minnesota) and he added the 200 win with a 1:49.16 later on. That just nipped ASU’s Barkley Perry, who went 1:49.22 for second.
Gopher diver Manny Pollard dominated on the boards, sweeping both events. His 327.08 just outdid teammate Dylan Zoe on 1-meter, and Pollard topped fellow Gopher Matt Barnard 356.55 to 337.13 to win on 3-meter.
The Sun Devils were tough in the sprint events, though – sophomore Tadas Duskinas took advantage of the 50 free hole vacated by graduated Gopher Derek Toomey, winning the race in 20.87. Duskinas returned to win the 100 fly in 49.52.
Arizona State started out well, winning the 400 medley relay. Once again, Duskinas was a major factor, splitting 47.49 to vault his team into the lead heading into the final leg. ASU’s Patrick Park dueled with Minnesota’s Paul Fair over the final 100 yards. Fair outsplit Park 45.36 to 45.60, but Park still did enough to get his hand on the wall first. ASU claimed the event 3:21.22 to 3:21.99.
Park and Fair tangled again in the 100 free, and this time Fair got to the wall first, going 45.72 to Park’s 45.86. Gopher sophomore Daryl Turner, usually a great 100 freestyler and 100 backstroker, didn’t compete against ASU.
The host Sun Devils also won the final relay, going 3:00.96 to Minnesota’s 3:03.63 in the 400 free relay. Park and Duskinas combined for a huge front half, with Park leading off in 45.83 and Duskinas splitting 44.72 to put the Sun Devils ahead early, a lead Minnesota could never overcome.
The teams split the breaststrokes. Gopher freshman Conner McHugh won the 100, going 56.26 to top the 56.34 from ASU’s Thibaut Capitane. But in the 200, the French Capitane struck back, going 2:03.36 with McHugh second (2:03.44).
Other winners for Minnesota: Jakub Maly in the 200 IM (1:51.88), Nick Orf in the 200 fly (1:50.14) and Ben Bravence in the 200 free (1:40.80).
The Gophers return home for next week’s alumni meet, while Arizona State gets a few weeks off before dueling Washington State on the road at the end of October.