GOPHERS LOOK TO DEFEND BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
The No. 10 University of Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team will look to defend its Big Ten Championship, Feb. 18-21 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Golden Gophers won the championship last year with 660.5 points. Wednesday’s action begins at 6:30 p.m. (ET). For the following three days, prelims begin at 11 p.m., followed by 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. The Gophers show their depth in the middle distance and distance free events. In the 500 free, Minnesota has six swimmers ranked in the top 11. Yuen Kobayashi is ranked second, followed by Christine Jennings (3), Ashley Steenvoorden (4), Marissa Davies (8), Megan Braun (9) and Kristen Steenvoorden (11). Stacy Busack and Meredith McCarthy rank high in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles. Busack ranks second in the 50 free (22.37), second in the 200 free (1:46.18) and first in the 100 free (48.32). McCarthy holds the top time in the 200 free (1:46.01) and second behind Busack in the 100 free (49.00). Ashley Steenvoorden has the best time in the 1,650 free (16:03.04), while Jennings is fourth (16:16.69) and Kobayashi in sixth (16:18.86). Jillian Tyler enters the Big Ten championships with the fastest times in the 200 individual medley (1:58.67), the 100 breast (58.80) and the 200 breast (2:08.52). In the relays, the Gophers rank second in the 200 medley relay (1:39.13), first in the 800 free relay (7:06.37), second in the 200 free relay (1:29.49), first in the 400 medley relay (3:35.25) and first in the 400 free relay (3:17.86).
The Gophers held an impressive 8-0 mark in dual meets this season. Minnesota opened the season with duals against Big Ten opponents Michigan and Michigan State, Oct. 10-11. The Gophers recorded their first win (169-130) over the Wolverines on Oct. 10 and followed with a 164-132 victory over the Spartans. The Gophers then started their non-conference season with a 217-151 win over North Carolina (11/1). Minnesota defeated Iowa (11/7) to close out the first half. Now in the second half of the season, the Maroon and Gold posted a win over Washington, 164.5-97.5. Hosting the Quad Duals Jan. 30-31, Minnesota added three wins over Wisconsin (191-160), Purdue (222-121) and Illinois (232-110).
TYLER AUTOMATICALLY QUALIFIES FOR NCAA MEET
Jillian Tyler has already qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Her times of 58.80 and 2:08.52 were school records when she chipped in those times at the Ohio State Invitational, Dec. 5-7 in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, Tyler’s 100 breast time ranks first in the nation, while her 200 breast time is second overall, trailing only U.S. Olympian Rebecca Soni (2:07.69). Tyler is only one of 10 breaststrokers in the nation to clock A times.
27 GOPHERS PROVISIONALLY QUALIFIED FOR NCAA MEET
Minnesota had 14 other swimmers become provisional qualifiers for the NCAA Meet. The full list is below:
Swimmer Event Time Date Meet
Molly Belk 200 Fly 1:57.83 12/5 OSU Invite
Stacy Busack 50 Free 22.37 12/5 OSU Invite
100 Free 48.32 12/5 OSU Invite
200 Free 1:46.18 12/5 OSU Invite
Megan Braun 100 Fly 53.79 12/5 OSU Invite
Kaylee Jamison 100 Fly 53.80 12/5 OSU Invite
Christine Jennings 200 Free 1:47.60 12/5 OSU Invite
1,650 Free 16:16.69 12/5 OSU Invite
Yuen Kobayashi 200 Free 1:47.31 12/5 OSU Invite
1,650 Free 16:18.86 12/5 OSU Invite
Meredith McCarthy 100 Free 49.00 12/5 OSU Invite
200 Free 1:46.01 12/5 OSU Invite
Jenny Shaughnessy 200 Free 1:46.87 12/5 OSU Invite
200 IM 1:59.68 12/5 OSU Invite
400 IM 4:13.75 12/5 OSU Invite
Ashley Steenvoorden 1,650 Free 16:03.04 12/5 OSU Invite
Jillian Tyler 200 IM 1:58.67 12/5 OSU Invite
Castina Wabeke 100 Back 54.34 12/5 OSU Invite
200 Back 1:56.95 12/5 OSU Invite
GOPHERS WIN 2008 BIG TEN TITLE
Minnesota broke 14 school records and won five events to win the 2008 Big Ten Championship. The Gophers beat out Michigan, who had 609 points, followed by Indiana in third with 513 points. The Golden Gophers took the lead over the Wolverines in the second day and cruised to the win in the final session for the win. The title became the Gophers’ third in school history after winning back-to-back championships in 1999 and 2000 under former head coach Jean Freeman. It was the first crown for co-head coaches Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner, who took over the helm of the program in the 2004-05 season. Jillian Tyler was also named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was the Gophers’ high point scorer of the meet. Earning first-team All-Big Ten was Roxane Akradi, Megan Braun, Stacy Busack, Christine Jennings, Yuen Kobayashi, Meredith McCarthy, Jenny Shaughnessy and Tyler. The Gophers won the 400 medley relay, the 400 IM (Jenny Shaughnessy), the 100 and 200 breaststroke (Jillian Tyler) and the 800 free relay during the course of the championship.
LOOKING FOR FOUR STRAIGHT
The Golden Gophers will be looking for their fourth-straight event win in the 800 free relay. In 2005-06, Christine Jennings, Yuen Kobayashi, Jenny Shaughnessy and former Gopher Kate Hardt won the 800 free relay. After Hardt graduated in 2006, Meredith McCarthy took her place in the 800 free relay and the foursome of Jennings, Kobayashi, McCarthy and Shaughnessy have won the event the last two years. Prior to the Gophers’ 800 free relay win in 2006, Minnesota had not won an event championship since 2001 and hadn’t won a relay since the 1997 Big Ten Championships. Since that 800 free relay win, Minnesota has now won 11 event titles in three years, four of which were relay wins.
POINT GETTERS AT LAST YEAR'S BIG TENS
Minnesota returns 15 point-getters from last year’s Big Ten championship squad. Stacy Busack brought in the most points during the conference championship with 81 points, followed by Jillian Tyler with 70.5, Jenny Shaughnessy with 66.5 and Meredith McCarthy with 64.5 points. Minnesota lost graduating senior Roxane Akradi, who had 70 points last year and from non-returners this year, lost 121 points.
RECORDS WERE MADE TO BE BROKEN
During the course of the season, Minnesota has broken 11 records this season. Stacy Busack broke her own record in the 50 free. Her previous best came last year when she clocked a time of 22.47. At the Ohio State Invite, Busack shaved her personal-best to 22.37. She also added a school-record time in the 100 free with a time of 48.32. Meredith McCarthy also record a school record in the 200 free with a time of 1:46.01, while Yuen Kobayashi had a school-best 4:40.42 and freshman Ashley Steenvoorden held a school-best 1,650 free time of 16:03.04. Castina Wabeke, who set a 200 back rexcord at last year’s Big Tens, improved her 200 back time of 1:56.95. Jillian Tyler continues to shave off time of her career-best in both the 100 and 200 breast. Tyle held a time of 58.80 and 2:08.52 at the OSU Invite, breaking her own records and also broke the 200 individual medley in 1:58.67. Along with individual events, the Gophers set a school-best time in the 200 free relay at 1:29.49.
GOPHER FALL GRADE POINT AVERAGE
Last semester, the University of Minnesota held a team grade point average of 3.39. The Gophers tied for 15th overall in the nation and first in the Big Ten Conference. Following the Gophers was Purdue (20), Ohio State (24) and Northwestern (31). Within the University of Minnesota athletics department, the women’s swimming and diving team holds the school’s fourth-best GPA.
IN THE RANKINGS
Minnesota has held a steady No. 10 ranking in the CSCAA poll this year. The Gophers hold the Big Ten’s top rank in the poll, followed by Indiana (13), Penn State (14), Wisconsin (16) and Northwestern (22). Not in the poll, but receiving votes is Michigan. Georgia holds the top spot in the nation, followed by Stanford, Texas, Arizona and Florida.
MINNESOTA EARNS FOUR BIG TEN SWIMMER OF THE WEEK HONORS
The University of Minnesota was awarded the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week four times this year. Stacy Busack won the first for the Gophers in duals against Michigan and Michigan State. Versus the Wolverines, Busack earned two individual firsts in the 50- and the 100-yard freestyles. The senior also swam a leg of the winning 400 medley relay which clocked a time of 3:45.03. In East Lansing against MSU, Busack and three of her Gopher teammates set a new pool record in the 200 medley relay, posting a winning time of 1:43.03.
Jillian Tyler took the Gophers’ next two awards following the dual against North Carolina and after the OSU Invite. Tyler went a perfect 5-for-5 in event wins in a 217-151 dual meet victory against then-No. 16 North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. The sophomore won the 100- and 200-yard breastroke and the 200 individual medley. She also swam a leg on the winning 200 and 400 medley relay squads, which were also meet records against the Tar Heels.At the OSU Invite, Tyler shattered two Big Ten records in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events, touching the wall first at 58.80 and 2:08.52, respectively. Both times also broke school records which she previous held and automatically qualified her for the NCAA Championships in March. Tyler broke two more Minnesota records when she placed first in the 200 individual medley (1:58.67) and the 200 medley relay (1:39.13), both of which are NCAA B’ cut times. Tyler also took part on the winning 400 medley relay in a time of 3:35.69.
Ashley Steenvoorden earned her first conference award when she picked up two first-place finishes during the Quad Duals against Illinois Purdue and Wisconsin. The freshman’s time of 4:48.86 in the 500-yard freestyle provisionally qualifies her for the NCAA Championships. She also took home top honors in the 1,000 freestyle. During her tapered time at the beginning of December, Steenvoorden held her best time of her career at 4:45.97 in the 500 free and a team-best 9:46.74 at the Minnesota Grand Prix.