The Gustavus men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams turned in some solid swims in the opening day of the Falcon Invite hosted UW-River Falls at the Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota Friday, Dec. 2nd. The Gusties went up against a slew of Division I, II, and III schools that included St. Cloud State, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State, Minnesota State-Mankato, Minnesota State-Moorhead, Northern State, UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, UW-Oshkosh, Carleton College, St. Olaf, Saint John’s, Saint Benedict, and Luther. No team scores are kept at the meet.
“The Falcon Invite is a great opportunity for us to get into a big-time venue like the Aquatic Center and compete against Division I, II, and III teams that usually we wouldn’t get the chance at compete against,” said Head Coach Jon Carlson. “Our swimmers take advantage of the fact that they will be facing some of their toughest competition of the year and its good to see them go out and swim hard.”
On the women’s side, it was the 200-free relay and 400-medley relay teams turning in the top performances. Kelsey Lucia, Katie Olson, Alissa Tinklenberg, and Sarah Hund teamed up to place runner-up in the 200-free relay after touching the wall in 1:35.83, just :00.37 seconds behind the first place team from St. Cloud State. Tinklenberg, Jennifer Strom, Steph Korba, and Lucia went 3:57.30 in the 400-medley relay to also place second. St. Cloud State won that race as well, finishing in 3:51.63.
“Great swims by both our 200 free and 400 medley relays today. Our relays are off to a fantastic start this season and today they did a great job keeping the momentum going,” said Carlson.
Alissa Tinklenberg led the Gusties individually with a pair of top-three finishes. Tinklenberg finished second in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:05.44 and third in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:07.88.
Kelsey Lucia and Jennifer Strom also turned in marks inside the top-eight. Lucia placed fourth in the 50 free (24.29) and Stom finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.55).
Other top swims came from Steph Korba (9th, 200 butterfly, 2:11.14), Katie Olson (10th, 200 free, 1:56.52), Sarah Hund (11th, 50 free, 24.87), and Laura Drake (13th, 100 breaststroke, 1:09.78).
“Alissa continues to impress our coaching staff – another great day for her. Although a hand full made it into the spotlight today, from top to bottom, we had a lot of great individual swims,” added Carlson.
Leading the way on the men’s side was Billy Schultze. Schultze was in the finals in both of his individual swims, placing fifth with a time of 1:00.30 in the 100 breaststroke and taking seventh in the 200 IM with a time of 1:59.65. Schultze also joined Kurt Youngdahl, Zach Nachtsheim, and Sam Olson-Anstett to finish fifth in the 200-free relay after touching in 1:26.40.
“Billy went out and battled in two great swims today,” said Carlson of his senior captain. “He continues to be a leader for us both in the water and out.”
Other top individual performers included Ross Larson, Zac Solis, Youngdahl, and Olson-Anstett. Larson went 1:59.89 to take 12th in the 200 backstroke, Solis finished 13th behind Larson in the 200 back with a time of 2:00.97, Youngdahl placed 15th in the 50 free at 22.08, and Olson-Anstett swam a 2:09.68 to end up in 16th in the 200 butterfly.
“Rookies Larson, Solis, and Youngdahl were thrown into the fire against some of the best swimmers they will face all year today,” Carlson said. “You have to grow up fast in this sport and I think those guys handled themselves very well in their first big meet.”
The two-day Falcon Invite will conclude on Saturday, December 3. Prelims will begin at 10:00 a.m. with the finals starting at 6:00 p.m. later that night.