March 17, 2012
Minnesota's Haley Spencer and Ashley Steenvoorden each earned First Team All-America accolades Saturday night to close out the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in Auburn, Ala. Spencer claimed runner-up honors in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:07.24, while Steenvoorden finished fourth in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a Big Ten-record time of 15:44.56.
"That 1,650 free time for Ashley was a Big Ten record and broke our school record by a lot, so it was a perfect way for her to end her collegiate career, for sure," men's and women's head coach Kelly Kremer said of Steenvoorden.
The Golden Gophers finished in 11th place with 131 team points, while also securing 24 total All-America accolades during the course of the event. California claimed the team title with 412.5 points, followed by Georgia in second with 366 points and USC in third with 325.5 points.
"I think that our team had a really great year," Kremer said. "This meet really put the exclamation point on it. I think that the team got exactly what they deserved this weekend in terms of performances and I am just really proud of them."
With her fourth-place finish, Steenvoorden concluded her career as a Gopher with nine All-America honors, including three first-team accolades this season, while Spencer wrapped up her junior campaign with seven career All-America honors, three of which came over the weekend.
"Haley had a pretty good meet up until that point, but I think after not scoring in the 100 breast, she sure showed a lot of toughness coming back and getting into the battle tonight in the 200 breast," Kremer said of Spencer's performance. "She did an outstanding job of out-touching almost everybody to pick up second place. It was just typical Haley Spencer. She loves to compete and did everything she could to get her hands on the wall first. It was a good way to cap off her junior year."
Also in the 1,650-yard freestyle, junior Loren Brandon finished with a time of 16:13.75 to place 14th overall and earn her second-career All-America honor in the event.
Sophomore Tess Behrens posted a time of 1:55.51 in the B final of the 200-yard backstroke to secure a 14th-place finish and tally her third All-America certificate of the Championships, and Maggie Keefer won her third All-American honor of the 2012 NCAA Championships with a 15th-place showing in platform diving. Her score of 245.75 in the consolations finals gave her All-America awards in each event she competed in this season and brought her career total to four.
With a time of 3:15.88 in the B final, the 400-freestyle relay team of Jessica Plant, Tori Simenec, Erin Caflisch and Behrens placed 10th overall for each swimmer to claim All-America Honorable Mention accolades.
In all, Behrens has totaled five-career All-America awards, four of which came this season, Caflisch has three career accolades and Plant and Simenec each have two all-time honors.
"The future of this team is really exciting," Kremer said. "We only had two seniors at the meet, so we are a very young team. We've got a whole group of swimmers and divers back home that I know are aspiring to be here and we have a great group of freshmen coming in next fall. So, we are only going to get better from here. This was a nice way to finish this year, but it is certainly nice way to look forward and realize that we are a program that is just going to continue to get better."
Earlier in the day, Spencer advanced to Saturday's 200-yard breaststroke Championship Final after placing fifth in the preliminaries with a time of 2:08.75. Behrens advanced to the consolation final in the 200-yard backstroke by placing 14th in the preliminaries with a time of 1:54.36, while the 400-yard freestyle relay team placed 10th in the prelims with a time of 3:15.86.
In platform diving, Keefer earned a spot in the B Final after posting a score of 252.90, which was good for 15th place.
Gophers Close 2016 Minnesota Challenge
The Golden Gophers tallied 35 personal records over the three-session meet.
Gophers Open Minnesota Challenge
Minnesota swimming and diving turned in six men's personal bests and four women's personal bests on the first night of the Minnesota Challenge.
Gophers to Host Minnesota Challenge
The Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center will host the 2016 Minnesota Challenge this Friday and Saturday.