National champion Jillian Tyler was honored as the Minnesota women’s swimming & diving team’s most valuable athlete as the Golden Gophers celebrated a historic season at their annual team banquet. Minnesota finished the 2010-11 season with a best-ever ninth-place team finish at the NCAA Championships.
Tyler finished her Gopher career as the most highly decorated swimmer in Minnesota history. She captured the 2011 NCAA title in the 100 breaststroke, one of four All-America honors Tyler collected in the Championships. Overall, she compiled 13 All-America citations in her Minnesota career, a school-best seven coming in individual events. Tyler was a finalist for the prestigious Honda Award and was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships after winning titles in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events.
Honoring the legacy of the late Jean Freeman, a new award was established to recognize a Golden Gopher with the team-first attitude and love for the sport that was so evident in Freeman’s coaching. Senior Molly Belk was the recipient of the inaugural Jean Freeman Award.
Another Gopher legend is remembered every year when the Dorothy L. Sheppard Award is announced. This year’s winner is Haley Spencer, the 2011 NCAA champion in the 200 breaststroke.
NCAA 1-meter diving champion Kelci Bryant was honored as the Gophers’ Diver of the Year for the second consecutive season. Bryant was previously honored as the Big Ten Diver of the Year, Big Ten Diver of the Championships and the CSCAA Diver of the NCAA Championships.
A pair of All-Americans, Kaylee Jamison and Ashley Steenvorden, were honored with the Hardest Worker Award, while Tess Behrens and Lissa Timmerdahl were recognized with the Most Improved Award.
An impressive list of 17 Golden Gophers received the Outstanding Student-Athlete Award given to team members who maintain over a 3.5 cumulative grade point average: Loren Brandon, Megan Braun, Erin Caflisch, Marissa Davies, Natalie Herrild, Jenna Howenstein, Kaylee Jamison, Maggie Keefer, Amelia Marsh, Avery Michienzi, Eleanor Prewitt-Thomas, Kelsey Ridder, Stephanie Solfeit, Hailey Szews, Lissa Tommerdahl, Kristina Walsh and Elizabeth Weitz.
Seven Golden Gophers received their fourth varsity letter: Belk, Jamison, Ridder, Braun, Meagan Radecke, Tyler and Alison Eggers. Ten Gophers earned their first varsity letter: Kaela Anderson, Behrens, Caflisch, Lisa Clementi, Lauren Greenberg, Keefer, Marsh, Sarah McCrady, Michienzi and Szews.