ChampThe No. 23 University of Minnesota women's swimming and diving team completed the 2005 Big Ten Championships today in Bloomington, Ind. With 314 points, the Golden Gophers finished the Big Ten Championship in sixth place. Penn State dominated the league championship with 693 points, becoming the Big Ten champions. Host Indiana finished second with a score of 497.
Jessica Livingston added the highest finish for the Golden Gophers in the championship, placing second in the platform event. Livingston, a freshman, had a preliminary score of 495.25, followed by a finals score of 516.15 to place second overall. With her second-place finish, she was named to the All- Big Ten second team. The last time the Gophers have had an All-Big Ten platform diver dates back to the 1992-93 season when Laurie Nelson earned Big Ten champion honors.
"It was probably one of the best comebacks I have ever seen," diving coach Mike Martens said. "She had a great first dive, but on her second dive, she got scores of three. She came back in the following dives and just blew everyone away by scoring nines, nine and a half and even some 10s. It was pretty amazing to see."
Valerie Tukey led the Gophers in the 1,650 free event, placing 10th overall in 16:55.03. Amy Killpatrick added a time of 17:24.63 and a 19th-place showing overall.
Katie Wind made her second appearance in the A Finals in two nights, placing seventh overall in the conference. She clocked a provisional qualifying time of 1:59.72, earning 12 points for the Maroon and Gold. Heather Harris placed 22nd overall (2:04.60), while Jackie Gazvoda finished 26th overall (2:05.92).
Sarah Perrott led the Gophers in the 100 free event, finishing 13th overall. Perrott chipped in a career-best time of 50.72, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Katy Coombe followed Perrott, placing 15th overall with a time of 50.86. Kate Hardt added a time of 51.29 (24th), while Jennifer Chang touched the wall in 52.30 (44th).
Minnesota's strongest event of the night came in the 200 breaststroke event. Julia Quinn had the highest finish for the Gopher swimmers in the championships, placing fourth overall in the 200 breaststroke. Quinn chipped in a provisional qualifying time of 2:16.41 and earned 15 points for the Golden Gophers.
"Julia talked about her goal of finishing in 2:15," co-head coach Kelly Kremer said. "It was a great swim for her." Minnesota had three swimmers Bridget McCoy added a time of 2:18.73, placing 13th overall. Abby Ruess followed with a time of 2:20.17 and and a 14th-place finish, while Mary Patrek added a 15th-place finish in 2:21.48. It was the first time Patrek scored at the Big Ten meet.
"We talked about being the highest point team in the breaststroke events this year," Kremer said. "We had some great swims in that event. We don't graduate anyone and it is sure nice to see them all going in the right direction."
Senior co-captain Sarah Solfelt placed 15th in the 200 fly, finishing in a career-best time of 2:04.74. Michelle Omdahl added a 20th-place finish (2:05.47), while Lindsey St. Martin was 23rd (2:06.44).
The Gophers concluded the championship with an eighth-place finish in the 400 free relay. The relay of Coombe, Perrott, Hardt and Krista Kezbers added a provisional qualifying time of 3:22.99, earning 22 points.
"We feel really good about where we are right now," co-head coach Terry Nieszner said. "We're right in the middle of the pack, which was where we expected to be coming into the championships."
"We got better as the Big Ten Championships continued," Kremer said. "We finished the last day with some great swims and maximized the best we could. We thought that sixth place was exactly where we were going to be. Purdue swam very well and so did Northwestern. It was a great meet for our first time as co-head coaches."