The Gustavus Adolphus men’s swimming and diving team captured its fifth consecutive Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship Saturday evening, outdistancing league rival St. Olaf 867-802. Saint John’s finished a distant third with 501 points, while Carleton racked up 425 points to finish fourth. On the day, the Gusties broke three meet records, three school records, had seven swimmers eclipse the “B” qualification mark for nationals and had their 400 freestyle relay qualify for nationals by eclipsing the “A” qualification mark.
Leading St. Olaf by 19 points entering the final day of competition, the Gusties got a big boost out of the gate as sophomore Ben Hanson (Minnetonka, Minn.) picked up a commanding win in the 1650 freestyle, setting a new Gustavus school record and a new MIAC meet record with his time of 15:54.62. Hanson, who broke his own school record, missed the “A” qualification mark for nationals by a little over a second but was well under the “B” qualification mark. Fellow sophomore Greg Pokorski (Rochester, Minn.) was fifth in a time of 16:41.84.
Senior Jeff Pearson (Woodbury, Minn.) gave the Gusties their second win of the evening with a victory in the 200 backstroke. Pearson touched the wall in a school-record time of 1:52.51, winning by 3.56 seconds and eclipsing the “B” qualification mark of 1:54.69. Pearson broke the Gustavus record of 1:53.53 set by Seth Weidmann in 2004. Junior Josh Waylander (Montevideo, Minn.) finished third with a 1:56.53 clocking, while sophomore Dan Mikkelson (Plymouth, Minn.) won the B final to finish ninth.
The Gusties were unable to pick wins in either the 100 freestyle or 200 breaststroke, but came through with a number of high finishes. After qualifying 1-2 in the 100 freestyle, juniors Scott Hagemeyer (Willmar, Minn.) and Brian Amundson (Blaine, Minn.) were relegated to second and third, respectively, as St. Olaf’s Jacob Koch outtouched both at the wall. Koch finished with a 45.76 clocking, while Hagemeyer clocked a 45.88 and Amundson a 45.90. All three times fell below the “B” qualifying standard of 46.78 seconds. Freshman Tyler Wakefield (Hutchinson, Minn.) made it three in the top eight for Gustavus with a seventh-place time of 47.50 seconds. In the 200 breastroke, Dave Pearson (Fr., Woodbury, Minn.) out-touched St. Olaf’s David Manley at the wall to capture third place and avoid an Ole 1-2-3 sweep.
The Gusties showed their strength in the 200 butterfly by capturing three of the top four positions in the A Final, with all three swimmers eclipsing the “B” qualifying mark of 1:55.39. Sophomore Connor Ziegler (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) took the conference title with a time of 1:53.73, finishing just ahead of Hamline’s Jonathan Tapia (1:54.22), and teammates Matt Stewart (Fr., Burnsville, Minn.) (1:54.45) and Billy Cuevas (Fr., Woodbury, Minn.) (1:55.08). Ziegler missed Will Sutor’s school-record time of 1:53.56 by only 0.17 seconds. Freshman Kevin Horn (Omaha, Neb.) captured tenth with a time of 2:04.25.
In the men’s 3-meter diving competition, freshman David Hawkinson (Prior Lake, Minn.) was the highest Gustie finisher, placing fourth with 191.75 points. Sophomores Chris Hedberg (Plymouth, Minn.) and Steve Howard (White Bear Lake, Minn.) each made the final finishing seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Gusties closed out the MIAC Championships with a bang, capping their title run with a record-setting win in the 400 freestyle relay. The team of Stewart, Wakefield, Amundson and Hagemeyer led at every split, taking the win in a time of 3:03.72, over four seconds ahead of second place Saint John’s. The relay eclipsed the “A” qualifying mark of 3:03.99 and set a new Gustavus record, a new MIAC Championship record and a new MIAC record to boot.
The Gusties will now train for the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships which will take place March 16-18 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Carleton is the host institution.