Gophers Gear Up for Big Ten Championships The No. 10 women's swimming and diving team will compete for the Big Ten Championship, Feb. 17-20 in West Lafayette, Ind.
GOPHERS COMPETE FOR BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP The No. 10 University of Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team will compete for the Big Ten Championship, Feb. 17-20 in West Lafayette, Ind. at Purdue. Two relays will kick off the first night at 6:30 p.m., while the next three days will have prelims at 11 a.m., diving at 1 p.m. and finals at 6:30 p.m.
ON THE PSYCH SHEETS Minnesota enters the Big Ten Championships with some of the fastest times in the conference. Minnesota enters the championship with the second fastest time in the 200 medley relay (1:40.23), first in the 800 free relay (7:15.88) and third in the 200 free relay (1:31.98). Jillian Tyler is seeded No. 1 in the 100 breast (1:00.37) and the 200 breast (2:10.54) as well as third in the 200 individual medley (2:01.48). Ashley and Kristen Steenvoorden may not have the fastest seeded time in the 500 free, but the twin sisters rank second and third respectively. Ashley is second overall in 4:44.75, while Kristen is third overall in 4:44.78. Loren Brandon and Marissa Davies also round out the top eight in the event with a fifth and seventh seed. Kristen is the fourth overall seed in the 400 IM, while Ashley will look to defend her 1,650 free title, is seeded second in the event.
DID YOU KNOW? Minnesota didn’t travel a diver to last year’s championships. This year, led by diving coach Wenbo Chen, Minnesota will have two divers compete in the diving events. U.S. Olympian and recent Winter Nationals title champion Kelci Bryant will compete for the Gophers as well as freshman Katie Grunawalt.
LAST YEAR AT BIG TENS Minnesota won a school-record 10 events and set 16 varsity records, but it wasn’t enough to upend Indiana to finish second overall at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Gophers collected 665 points in the championship, but the Hoosiers had a 823 points to win the conference title. Jenny Shaughnessy was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Championship when she won the 200 and 400 individual medley and was a member of the winning 400 and 800 free relay wins. The Gophers also won titles in the 200 free relay and the 100 breast (Tyler), the 1,650 free (Ashley Steenvoorden), 200 fly (Braun), the 100 free (Busack) and the 200 free (McCarthy). Along with the event titles, Minnesota broke nearly every school record. In all, the Gophers placed 10 swimmers on the first-team All-Big Ten, while Hannah Whitehead was on the second team.
RETURNING POINT GETTERS Minnesota returns 13 point-getters from last year’s second-place Big Ten team. However, the Gophers lost their top three point getters when Stacy Busack, Jenny Shaughnessy and Meredith McCarthy graduated. Last year, the trio combined for 242.5 of the team’s 665 points. Jillian Tyler, who won the 100 breast and is the two-time NCAA runner-up, established 62.5 points at last year’s Big Ten Championship. Megan Braun followed with 43.5 points, while Ashley Steenvoorden had 37 points.
IN THE RANKINGS Minnesota is ranked the No. 10 team in the nation by the College Swimming Coaches’ Association of America poll. Minnesota leads the Big Ten Conference in the rankings. Georgia and Stanford hold the top spot, followed by Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, Texas A & M, Auburn and Southern Cal. Indiana follows closely, ranked 12th, while Wisconsin is ranked 17th.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN Minnesota will have seven freshmen compete at the Big Ten Championships this year in Paige Bradley, Loren Brandon, Annalise Colton, Katie Grunawalt, Abbey Staats, Haley Spencer and Lauren Weis. Competing in their second Big Ten Championship is Marissa Davies, Ashley Steenvoorden, Kristen Steenvoorden and Hannah Whitehead. The Gophers dynamic junior class includes the likes of Megan Braun and Kaylee Jamison.
BRYANT’S HONORS Kelci Bryant has definitely made her impact known on the Big Ten scene, earning three Big Ten Diver of the Week honors this season. In her first meet as a Golden Gopher, Bryant won both the one-meter and the three-meter competitions in the dual win against Wisconsin (10/30). Bryant claimed top honors in the one-meter with a score of 323.33, besting the runner-up mark by more than 65 points. She followed that performance with her second win of the night when she took the three-meter event with a score of 374.10, almost a full 70 points ahead of the second-place finisher. Bryant earns her second weekly laurel after dominating Iowa. She captured top honors on both platforms, winning the one-meter event with a score of 314.85 – 50 points better than the second-place finisher. She then followed that performance by besting the three-meter completion by over 88 points for the event title. Bryant garnered her third weekly diving laurel of the season after posting a pair of top finishes to help Minnesota capture the team title at the Swimming World College Conference Championships in East Brunswick, N.J. Bryant swept the springboard events, tallying 18 points for the Gophers overall. The Chatham, Ill., native registered a 344.50 score in the one-meter competition before adding a 394.45 mark off the three-meter board. Both winning efforts were good enough to meet NCAA qualification standards. Following the SWCCC, Bryant competed at the 2010 USA Diving Winter National Championships and World Cup Trials, held in Columbus, Ohio, February 4-8. Bryant walked away with two national titles out of three events. Her first title came in the 3-meter synchronized event when she paired with Olympian Christina Loukas. Her second came on an individual effort on the 1-meter on Feb. 8. With the two wins, Bryant has now won seven national titles.