The Gustavus men’s swimming and diving team used a sixth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay, an eighth-place finish in the 1650 freestyle and a tie for ninth place in the 100 freestyle to solidify its position as one of the top programs in the country at the 2006 NCAA Division III Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, which ended Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. The Gusties finished 11th with 118 points, just 1.5 points behind tenth place Tufts University. Kenyon College racked up 498 points to capture its 27th consecutive men’s title, beating North Central Athletic Conference rival by 153 points.
The 400 freestyle relay team of Matt Stewart (Fr., Burnsville, Minn.), Tyler Wakefield (Fr., Hutchinson, Minn.), Brian Amundson (Jr., Blaine, Minn.) and Scott Hagemeyer (Jr,. Willmar, Minn.) posted the top Gustie finish on the day, placing sixth in a time of 3:04.60. The team, which entered the meet seeded third, qualified for the evening final with a sixth-place preliminary time of 3:04.45.
Ben Hanson (So., Minnetonka, Minn.) opened the evening session with an eighth-place finish in the 1650 freestyle. Swimming in the final heat of the timed final, Hanson touched the wall in 15:52.72, breaking his two-week old school record by nearly two seconds. Kenyon freshman Eric Dunn, swimming in the lane adjacent to Hanson, captured the title with a time of 15:22.21. Dunn finished nine seconds ahead of the field and bettered his seed time by 29 seconds.
In the 100 freestyle, Amundson finished in a tie for ninth place with Wheaton (Ill.) senior Sam Gyorfi. Amundson posted a time of 45.78 seconds in the final after swimming a 45.62 qualifying time. Amundson’s qualifying time missed Scott Hagemeyer’s school record by 0.05 seconds. Hagemeyer finished 20th after posting a time of 46.24 in the preliminaries.
Sophomore Connor Ziegler (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) set a school record with a time of 1:52.59 during prelims of the 200 butterfly Saturday morning, but could not repeat the performance during the evening session. Ziegler posted a time of 1:53.73 in the consolation final of the 200 butterfly to place 16th. Will Sutor ’05 had previously held the 200 fly record with a time of 1:53.53 last season. Matt Stewart posted a preliminary time of 1:54.34 in the morning swim to finish 24th.
In his final race as a collegiate swimmer, senior Jeff Pearson (Woodbury, Minn.) placed 20th in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:53.41.
In all, the Gusties broke four school records at the NCAA Championships. In addition to Hanson and Ziegler’s efforts on Saturday, the 200 freestyle relay team (Amundson, Clement Auyeng, Tyler Wakefield, Hagemeyer) posted a school-record time of 1:22.75 during Thursday’s preliminary heats. Matt Stewart posted a time of 1:41.62 in Friday’s preliminary heats of the 200 freestyle to eclipse the mark set by Ben Hanson two weeks ago by a mere 0.02 seconds.
The 118 points accumulated by the Gusties at this year’s NCAA meet is the third most for a Gustavus men’s team behind 2005 (176 pts.) and 2004 (119.5 pts.)