Swimmers of Different Divisions Tune Up at Minnesota Challenge


  • Results
  • Friday, February 3rd – Saturday, February 4th
  • Hosted by the University of Minnesota
  • 25 yards
  • Unscored invitational

This weekend, the University of Minnesota invited 20 local, Midwestern college teams from NCAA Division III, NCAA Division I, the NAIA, and the NJCAA to its annual Minnesota Challenge at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. The meet saw swimmers in all stages of shave, rest, and taper. Some teams treat it as a final tune-up before their conference meets, while others use it as a last-chance meet for swimmers to make the traveling conference teams, and some swimmers even use it as their final meet of the season.

Regardless, the three-session (Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night) all-finals meet remained unscored. Though the swimmers of the University of Minnesota only swam the Saturday morning session, they absolutely dominated that portion, sweeping all the Saturday morning events.

South Dakota State University’s Chase Petersen came very close to toppling Minnesota’s Saturday morning sweep, coming in second in the men’s 100 backstroke with 51.86, just .01 off Golden Gopher Erik Hunter’s season-best 51.85.

The largest margin of victory for the weekend came from Morningside College’s Susanna Gonzalez, who took the 1650 freestyle in 17:55.59, nearly 27 seconds ahead of the next finisher. Other big individual victories came from Danielle Bergeson of Minnesota with a win by a seven-second margin in the 400 IM (4:30.48), Nick Saulnier of Minnesota with a six-second win in the 400 IM with 4:01.99, Zoe Avestruz of Minnesota with a two-second win in the 100 back (55.88), and Maria Wetzel of Carleton College with a seven-second win in the 200 back with 2:02.68.


MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota closed out the final regular season meet at home. The Gophers hosted multiple schools from around Minnesota: Augsburg, Carleton, Saint Benedict, Concordia, Gustavus, Hamline, Saint Mary’s, St. John’s, St. Olaf and St. Thomas. Iowa Central, Morningside, the College of Saint Mary, South Dakota State, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin-Stevens Point also competed. Wisconsin-Eau Claire brought divers only.

Minnesota “A” (Noah Busch, Eric Sande, Daryl Turner, James Tidd) started the meet with a 1:31.14 in the 200-yard medley relay, which earned first place.

Nick Saulnier and Nick Hatanaka grabbed the top-two spots in the 400-yard individual medley. In the 100-yard butterfly, Nick Orf (50.26) and Garner Kohrell (51.20) earned the first two spots.

Minnesota earned the top four spots at the meet in the 200-yard freestyle, Tuomas Pokkinen (1:39.28), Bowe Becker (1:40.70), Noah Busch (1:41.29), and Parker Lemke (1:42.62), finishing respectively. Pokkinen’s 1:39.28 was a season best, topping an exhibition time in the dual against North Dakota.

Eric Sande finished first in the 100-yard breaststroke, earning a 56.01. During the 100-yard backstroke, Erik Hunter claimed a 51.85, which was first place and his season-best time.

Minnesota earned the top four spots in men’s 3-meter diving, Barnard taking first place (434.65). Alan LeBlang (394.90), Lucas Cooperman (323.65), and Jeremy Moser (321.85) followed him, respectively.

On the platform, Minnesota claimed the top four places, Barnard finished first (453.85). LeBlang followed him in second place (308.65), while Cooperman (298.70) and Moser (217.85) finished afterward. 

Minnesota opened its meet with a first-place finish in the women’s 200-yard medley relay, where “B,” consisting of Kaia Grobe, Nicki Ciavarella, Tevyn Waddell, and Allison Schumacher, claimed a 1:45.04.

During the 400-yard individual medley, Dani Bergeson earned a first-place 4:30.48. Olivia Johnston followed her in second place with a 4:37.61. In the 100-yard butterfly, Madison Preiss claimed a first-place 58.38.

Danielle Nack (1:50.02) and Tevyn Waddell (1:50.40) earned the top-two spots in the 200-yard freestyle. Waddell’s 1:50.40 was a season best.

In the 100-yard breaststroke, Rachel Munson (1:02.97) and Nicki Ciavarella (1:04.16) claimed the top-two spots. With that time, Munson earned a season best. Following the 100-yard breaststroke, Zoe Avestruz finished first place in the 100-yard backstroke with a 55.88.

Sarah Bacon finished first overall in the women’s 1-meter diving finals, with a 299.60. Yu Zhou grabbed the top spot on the platform (313.05), while Lexi Tenenbaum finished second (289.80).

In the 3-meter diving event, the Gophers swept the top six spots. Zhou finished first (393.95), followed by Tenenbaum (376.45), Bacon (337.05), Elizabeth Etterman (330.70), Marian Khamis (329.70), and Morgan Justus (308.20).


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About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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