GOPHERS SET TO COMPETE AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
The University of Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team will compete at the NCAA Championships, March 20-22 in Columbus, Ohio. Preliminary heats begin at 11 a.m., followed by diving at 1:30 p.m., and finals at 7 p.m. All sessions will be held at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on the Ohio State University campus. Minnesota will have 12 swimmers competing at the NCAA Championships, a school record of participants.
ON THE PSYCH SHEETS
Minnesota is seeded in the top 16 in 10 events heading into the NCAA Championships. Freshman Jillian Tyler enters NCAAs with the second-fastest time in the 100 breast (59.80) and the third-fastest time in the 200 breast (2:10.18). Yuen Kobayashi is ranked fifth in the 500 free (4:41.09), while Christine Jennings is ranked ninth in the same event (4:42.29). Kobayashi also holds a ninth-place showing in the 1,650 free with a time of 16:06.36. Jenny Shaughnessy is seeded sixth in the 400 IM (4:09.41), while placing 16th in the 200 IM (1:58.95). Megan Braun holds the No. 15 spot in the 200 fly (1:57.85), while Stacy Busack is 16th in the 100 free (48.89). The Gopher relays are ranked high as well. Minnesota’s 400 medley relay holds the third-fastest time of 3:34.16, while Minnesota’s 800 free relay is at 7:07.43 and 11th overall. Minnesota’s 200 and 400 free relay ranks 12th and 15th entering the NCAA Championships.
Minnesota has a balanced team of veterans and rookies competing at this year’s NCAA Championships. Minnesota returns seven All-Americans to nationals in All-Americans Roxane Akradi, Stacy Busack, Erin Holtmeyer, Yuen Kobayashi, Christine Jennings, Meredith McCarthy and Jenny Shaughnessy. Kobayashi enters the NCAAs as a six-time All-American, while Akradi is a five-time All-American (three with SMU). Shaughnessy and Busack are each four-time All-Americans. Along with the veteran leadership, Minnesota has five first-time NCAA qualifiers in Molly Belk, Megan Braun, Kait Strickland, Jillian Tyler and Castina Wabeke.
MINNESOTA'S SECOND HOME
Minnesota has competed well at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in the past year. The NCAA Championships marks Minnesota’s third visit to the facility this season. The Golden Gophers competed in the OSU Invitational, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 and won the meet by a dominating score of 1296, while Ohio State finished second with 691.5 points. During that meet, the Gophers broke seven school records and had10 automatic qualifying times. The Gophers captured the 2008 Big Ten Championship title Feb. 21-23 in Columbus when Minnesota had 660.5 points, while Michigan finished second with 609 points. Minnesota broke 14 school records at the championships and won five events. In fact, the Gophers also finished second at the Big Ten Championships in 2006, which was also held at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
2007 NCAA RECAP
Minnesota had its highest finish since the 1996-97 season when the Golden Gophers placed 13th at the 2007 NCAA Championships, held at the University Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus. The Gophers improved eight spots in the national standings when they placed 21st in 2006. In the duration of the championships, the Gophers set eight school records, including four individual events by sophomore Jenny Shaughnessy. The Gophers finished the championships with 59 points, 11 more then the previous season. Auburn won the event with 535 points, while Arizona finished second with 477 points and California had 372.5 points for third place. Minnesota finished the championships with seven All-Americans in the 200, 400 and 800 free relays, the 500 free (Kobayashi), the 200 IM (Shaughnessy) and the 100 back (Akradi).
Minnesota freshman Jillian Tyler is arguably the best Gopher breaststroker in over decade. Winning the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the Big Ten Championships, Tyler was also named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. She enters the NCAA Championships with the second and third-fastest times in the breaststroke. Tyler also broke former Gopher and NCAA champion Gretchen Hegener’s records in the 100 and 200 breast events. Tyler, a native of Calgary, Alberta, will also compete for an Olympic spot at the Canadian Trials, April 1-6 in Montreal.