The Gustavus men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will defend their conference titles this weekend at the MIAC Championships which are being held at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. The Gustie men have won six of the last seven league titles, while the women have the past two titles. The meet, which Thursday through Saturday, features preliminary events in the morning sessions and finals during the evening sessions each day.
The Gustavus men’s swimming team is looking forward to the opportunity to compete for another MIAC Championship this weekend at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. The Gusties will be hoping to win their second straight title and seventh in the last eight years. It appears that once again the Gusties and Oles are the primary contenders for the title, however Gustie Head Coach Jon Carlson feels that this meet will be different than in recent years because of the depth of talent on teams throughout the conference.
Depth in the swimming events has been the strength of the Gustavus teams in its recent success at the conference meet and this year will be no different. The Gusties look to be particularly strong in the distance swims as they hold three of the top four times of the season in both the 500 free and 1650 free. Leading the way for Gustavus will be junior Skylar Davis (Palatine, Ill.), sophomore Whitaker Davis (Palatine, Ill.), and sophomore John Rice (Madison, Wis./Middleton). Skylar Davis, the two-time defending champion in the 1650, who set the MIAC meet record last season, currently holds the top time this season at 16:09.73. Whitaker ranks second with a time of 16:39.76, and John Rice ranks fourth with a time of 17:18.98. In the 500 free, Skylar ranks second with a time of 4:40.15, while two-time defending conference champ Matt Stewart (Burnsville, Minn.) ranks third with a time of 4:41.28, and Whitaker Davis ranks fourth with a time of 4:47.81.
In addition to currently ranking third in he 500 free, Stewart also ranks second in the 200 free (1:42.64), third in the 100 free (47.40), first in the 100 butterfly (51.17), and first in the 200 butterfly (1:54.84). Stewart, one of the most prolific swimmers in the history of the Gustavus swim program, will also play a critical role in several of the Gustavus relay teams at the meet.
Other key contributors in the meet for Gustavus expect to be senior Tyler Wakefield (Hutchinson, Minn.) in the 50 and 100 free, senior Dave Pearson (Woodbury, Minn./Stillwater) in the 200 and 400 individual medley, sophomore Paul Kirihara (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) in the 100 and 200 backstroke, first year Billy Schultze (Mankato, Minn./East), and first year Josh Seaburg (Moorhead, Minn.) in the 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley.
The Gusties also expect to be very competitive in the relays as they enter the meet with the second fastest times this season in the 200 free relay (1:25.65), the 400 free relay (3:10.5), and the 800 free relay (7:08.95), as well as the second fastest time in the 400 medley relay.
The Gustavus swimming and diving team will head into the 2009 MIAC Championships with a little different expectations after losing a talented senior class from the 2008 squad that won the MIAC title. Head Coach Jon Carlson feels the team will be competitive, but hopes to contend for another title are not realistic. The Gusties will be led by junior Carrie Gundersen (Minnetonka, Minn.) the two-time defending champion in the 500 freestyle, Anika Erickson (Jr., Milaca, Minn.) who finished second in both the 100 and 200 breastroke last year, and the talented diving duo of Brit Matzke (Jr., Buffalo, Minn.) and Maria Freund (Jr., Buffalo, Minn.).
Gundersen will lead the Gustavus contingent at the meet as the two-time defending 500 free champion currently holds the conference’s fastest times in both the 500 free (5:19.90) and the 1650 free (17:51.04). In the sprints, the Gusties will be led by first year Dajana Vidovic (Coleraine, Minn./Greenway) who has the fifth fastest time this season in the 50 free (25.31) and the sixth fastest time in the 100 free (54.93).
Anika Erickson (Jr., Milaca, MInn.) will once again battle for the top spot in the 100 and 200 breastroke. She has posted the fourth fastest time this season in the 100 breast (1:09.70) and the second fastest time in the 200 breast (2:29.38).
Coach Carlson feels this team has good balance across all of the events and he will look to his seniors to keep the team focused throughout the meet. That group includes Emma Espel (Fargo, N.D./North) in the 100 butterfly, Krista Koenen (Willmar, Minn.) in the 100 backstroke, and Emily Amundsen (Plymouth, Minn./Armstrong) in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
The team also expects to have a major impact in the one and three meter diving events thanks to the duo of Brit Matzke (Jr., Buffalo, Minn.) and Maria Freund (Jr., Buffalo, Minn.). Entering the conference meet, Matzke ranks first on the one-meter board (361.35) and second on the three-meter board (319.15), while Freund ranks first on the three-meter board (355.70) and third on the one-meter board (316.35). In addition, first year Alicia Alvarado ranks second on the one-meter board (329.65).
The Gusties also expect to be very competitive in the relays as they have posted the top time this season in the 200 free relay (1:40.93), as well as the third fastest time in the 800 free relay (8:23.49).