Minneapolis – With 254 points in the final day of competition at the 2012 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships, the Gustavus women’s swimming and diving team did it. The Gusties captured their third-consecutive MIAC Championship after compiling a total of 687 points over the three-day event. Gustavus, who has won the conference title in seven of the last 11 seasons, edged out St. Olaf (643 pts) by 44 points to secure the trophy. St. Thomas rounded out the top-three in third with 520 points.
Head Coach Jon Carlson put a great deal of emphasis on the leadership displayed by his upperclassmen not only at this season’s conference championships, but over the past three years. “This championship is a credit to the strong leadership and character of this season’s senior class. After finishing runner-up their first year, these individuals committed themselves to returning the women’s’ swimming and diving program back to the top of the podium, which they have now accomplished three times over,” explained Carlson.
If the Gusties needed a jump-start after a grueling morning session, they got it from the opening race of the evening. Senior Melissa Aune (St. Peter, Minn.), first-year McKenna Jones (Faribault, Minn.), and junior Anna Eames (Hopkins, Minn.) set the bar after going 2-3-4 in the 1,650 freestyle. Aune finished runner-up in 17:51.61, Jones took third in 1:56.62, and Eames placed fourth in 18:01.84. Jones later added a sixth place finish in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:17.24.
“The women knew they needed have a good night and we started out with a strong showing in the mile. Melissa Aune, McKenna, Jones, and Anna Eames sort of set the tone for the evening thanks to their back-to-back-to-back finishes,” said Head Coach Jon Carlson.
As was the theme for the entire MIAC Championships, sophomore Alissa Tinklenberg (Willmar, Minn.) found a way to stand out and solidify herself as a force to be reckoned with in any event she swims. Tinklenberg swam to a gold medal in record-breaking fashion on Saturday as well, winning the 200 backstroke with an MIAC, meet, and school record time of 2:00.99. The sophomore’s performance, which bested former teammate Carley Mosher’s 2010 standard of 2:01.79, meets the NCAA automatic qualifying mark.
Joining Tinklenberg in the top-eight in the 200 backstroke was junior Quinn Arnold (Marinette, Wis.) who placed eighth after touching the wall in 53.34.
Also making the podium on the final day was senior Steph Korba (Lakeville, Minn.) and rookie Jennifer Strom (Rochester, Minn.). Korba touched the wall in 2:09.13 to take silver in the 200 butterfly, while Strom went an NCAA B cut standard 2:23.55 to place third in the 200 breaststroke.
Rounding out the day’s top individual competitors was freshman Katie Olson (North Oaks, Minn.) and junior Sarah Hund (Willmar, Minn.). The pair went back-to-back in the 100 free with Olson taking sixth with a time of 53.34 and Hund placing seventh with a time of 53.54.
“We knew going into the final relay that all we had to do was finish the race and the championship was ours,” said Carlson. “We had such slow starts and the crowd would cheer after each one because our disqualification on Thursday night. Despite that, we still ended up winning the race – a cool memory for me.”
Junior Kelsey Lucia (St. Cloud, Minn.), Hund, Olson, and Tinklenberg capped off the meet by teaming up to win the 400-free relay with an NCAA B cut time of 3:29.74. The Gusties have now won the 400-free relay three-straight seasons.
First-year diver Heather Funai (Lincolnwood, Minn.) also contributed big points for the Gusties on the boards, taking sixth place with a score of 351.00.
“Heather Funai dove great again,” said Carlson of his rookie diver. “After prelims she was sitting in tenth and somehow found a way squeeze her way into the top-eight. From there she moved up two spots. Heather dove like a champ all weekend and it was awesome to watch.”
The 2012 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championship home page has complete details from the three-day event, including results, recaps, photo galleries and more.