St. Peter, Minn. - A return to the podium is the goal of the Gustavus men’s swimming and diving team as it heads into the 2014 MIAC Championships being held Feb. 13-15 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. The Gusties missed out on a top three standing last season by just two points, finishing fourth behind Carleton (528 pts.) with 526 points.
“Our goal is to try to get into the top three,” said Head Coach Jon Carlson. “We are hoping that we can find some inspired swimming and can swim for each other as a team. The guys are geared up and are ready to turn this thing around. This team wants to be remembered as the team that turned the corner and got the program heading back in the direction it needs to challenge for an MIAC Championship.”
Coach Carlson says that the turnaround starts with the divers and then moves down the line to the swimmers. “Both Bennet and Sam are diving great right now and I’m excited to see them put up big scores this weekend. In the pool, Zac is one of the top distance swimmers in the conference and will challenge in all his events. As a whole, I expect some surprise performances from guys who have worked hard all season to get to this point.”
Heading into the weekend, Bennet Woltjer (So., Kandiyohi, Minn.) – who placed third on the one-meter board last year – is the top-ranked diver in both the one and three-meter competitions. Fellow diver Sam Hanson (Sr., Minnetonka, Minn.) will also challenge in both diving events as he enters the weekend ranked inside the top three as well.
In the pool, Zac Solis (Jr., Centennial, Colo.) is poised to make a run at his first individual conference title in several events. Solis was an all-conference performer in the 200 and 500 freestyle races last year and looks to strike gold in the distance races once again this season. He is ranked second in the 500 free and sixth in the 1,650 free.
Other individuals to watch out for include Ross Larson (Jr., Brookings, S.D.), Jeff Nelson (So., Maple Grove, Minn.), and Jacob Stern (So., Rosemount, Minn.). Larson will look to score in the backstroke, Nelson in the freestyle, and Stern in the breaststroke.
“There is room for us to move up and we’re going to have to take advantage of that,” Carlson concluded. “We have a lot of individuals seeded just outside the top eight and top 16 and if we can get them to move and take points, we can certainly chip away at the gap and challenge Carleton for third.”
The 2014 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships will take place at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Feb. 13-15) with two sessions each day. The morning sessions will feature preliminary races and will begin at 10:30 a.m., and the evening finals session will start at 6:30 p.m. each day. The doors open each morning at 9 a.m., and again at 5:30 p.m. for the evening session on Thursday and Friday. The doors will open at 3 p.m. for Saturday’s final session.
Spectators are welcome at all six sessions, and there are two different options for purchasing tickets. Single-session tickets will be sold, costing $8 for adults and $4 for students. Fans will also have the option to buy an All-Session Pass for $40 (adults) or $20 (students). Heat sheets are included in the price of admission and will be available at the ticket window. Children 5 and under will be admitted free, and MIAC passes will be honored. No other passes or discounts will be accepted.
If fans can’t make it to Minneapolis, there are several ways they can track the action from afar. The MIAC has again teamed up with Webcast America to offer a live video/audio webcast of all six sessions. Webcast America will also offer archives of the sessions on its website for on-demand viewing, or purchase on DVD. There will also be “live” results available online with times and scores updated shortly following each event.
Complete information and coverage of the 2014 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships can be found on the MIAC’s event home page. Throughout the championships, the page will include the event schedules, venue information, ticket information, psych sheets, heat sheets, results, recaps, photo galleries, highlight videos, helpful links and more. Fans can connect throughout the meet via social media, using the official hashtag #MIACSD on Twitter.
Gustavus and Hamline are serving as the host institutions for the 2014 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships. Twin Cities Orthopedics will again provide athletic training and medical services. The Commons Hotel is the official hotel partner of the MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships, and Pure Blue Swim provided medals for All-MIAC performers.