Minneapolis – The Gustavus Adophus women’s swimming and diving team went into the 2014 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Championships with a business-like attitude and over the course of the three-day meet was surgical in its execution. From the beginning of the season, the slogan “Drive For Five” graced the walls of the Vic Gustafson Natatorium in St. Peter. On the final day of competition on Saturday, the Drive For Five came to fruition. The Gusties recorded 290 points on day three to bring their three-day total to a school-record 886.5 points, allowing them to capture the MIAC crown for the fifth straight season.
“I told the girls before the meet, lets go out and do something epic. Lets try to put up a conference meet that people won’t forget – be as epic as you can be,” said Head Coach Jon Carlson. “They did that this weekend. Swim-after-swim, swimmer-after-swimmer, they stepped up. It was so cool to watch and an unreal experience to be a part of.”
St. Thomas finished second with 697 points, while St. Olaf rounded out the top three in third with 507.5 points.
The Gustavus women’s swimming and diving program has won seven of the last eight and nine of the last 13 MIAC Championships. Head Coach Jon Carlson’s team has now won a total of nine MIAC titles, which ranks second behind St. Olaf’s 15. Gustavus’s success is unprecedented in recent history and is second only to St. Olaf’s string of 11 straight league titles won during the late-1980s through the 1990s.
“It really is an incredible feeling,” Carlson said about the multitude of record-breaking swims turned in by his squad over the three-day meet. “They not only showed up and competed well, but the girls did things that you don’t normally see at a conference meet. It sounds a little sappy and also a bit corny, but this team came to break records and wanted to be a team that wouldn’t be forgotten for a long time. This is as many points as a Gustavus team has ever scored and that’s saying something.”
To go along with the team title, Gustavus’s senior standout Alissa Tinklenberg (Willmar, Minn.) was named the MIAC Women’s Swimmer-of-the-Year, and Jon Carlson was honored by his peers as the MIAC Women’s Swimming Coach-of-the-Year. Tinklenberg earns the honor for the second straight season and is the program’s first swimmer to win the award twice. It is the third time in the tenure of Jon Carlson that he has been named the MIAC Coach-of-the-Year, garnering the distinction in 2002 and again in 2010.
“That’s a team award and I thank both the women and men for winning it for me,” commented Carlson. “It’s pretty cool that a team can be so good that it wins a coach an award such as this. I didn’t score a point this weekend and the fact that I received an award is a reflection of the amazing team I have.”
Tonight on the final day of competition, Tinklenberg put the finishing touches on an already brilliant meet with another individual victory – her third of the weekend. “Tink” won her third-straight MIAC title in the 200 backstroke after touching the wall in 1:59.59. Her time this evening broke the MIAC, meet, and school-record – all of which she held. The previous MIAC and school record was a 1:59.66 set last year at the NCAA Championships, while the previous meet record was a 1:59.92 set last season.
“This women’s team was focused from the start of the year and that has a lot to do with Alissa Tinklenberg,” stated Carlson about the top swimmer to ever come through his program. “Tink was ready to do this at the end of her junior year and was putting in workouts by herself on days that most people would take off. She was willing to put everything she had into this season and did that from the end of last season. When you’ve set that goal and are willing to put in the time and effort, that sets an unbelievable tone for the team.”
Later in the meet, Tinkenberg added a final relay win to her resume by helping the 400-free relay take gold with an MIAC, meet, and school record time of 3:26.77. Tink swam the anchor leg and was joined by Katie Olson (Jr., North Oaks, Minn.), Leah Anderson (So., Apple Valley, Minn.), and Danielle Klunk (Jr., Appleton, Wis.). The group broke the MIAC record of 3:28.29 set by St. Olaf at the 2013 NCAA Championships, the meet record set by Tinklenberg, Sarah Hund, Dajana Vidovic, and Kelsey Lucia in 2011, and the school record of 3:28.62 set last season by Olson, Sarah Hund, Tarin Anding (So., Sartell, Minn.), and Tinklenberg.
“There was a time when I would have said that Alissa Tinklenberg is one of a kind,” continued Carlson about Tinklenberg. “I’m not so sure I would say that now because of the effect she has made on her teammates. Her work ethic and leadership is so contagious that she has created a lot of Alissa Tinklenbers on this team.”
Tinklenberg won every race she competed in over the three-day meet and finished with 60 points for the second year in a row. She is now the owner of 19 MIAC gold medals and holds the program record for conference points with 229 – surpassing former record-holder Carrie Gundersen’s point total of 207.
The Gusties also benefited from first place swims by Jennifer Strom (Jr., Rochester, Minn.), Danielle Klunk, and Katie Olson. In the 200 breaststroke, Strom out-touched everyone with a time of 2:17.11. She broke her own MIAC, meet, and school record performance of 2:19.65 set last season at the MIAC Championships.
Just like how Strom scored big in the breaststroke events, Klunk took care of business in the butterfly. She swam a 2:06.45 to win the 200 butterfly and break Saint Benedict’s Ellen Dean 2011 MIAC and meet record of 2:08.86. Klunk’s time was also faster than Stephanie Korba’s school record of 2:09.13.
Gustavus’s gold medal performances on Saturday were capped off with a win by Olson in the 100 freestyle. Olson posted a time of 51.61 in the sprint race, finishing ahead of the second place finisher from Carleton by just .07 seconds.
Other all-conference performers on day three included Libby Larson (Jr., Detroit Lakes, Minn.), McKenna Jones (Jr., Faribault, Minn.), and Hayley Booher (Fy., Warren, Vt.). Larson finished runner-up in the 1650 free (17:57.00) and Jones finished behind her in third (17:59.44). Booher rounded out the group with a third place mark in the 200 backstroke (2:04.45).
Following the conclusion of the meet, there was a brief awards ceremony to honor the All-MIAC Sportsmanship Team, team champions, individual award winners including Swimmers, Divers and Coaches-of-the-Year. The top three swimmers in each race were named All-Conference. A complete list of MIAC Swimming and Diving award winners will be released in the coming week.
Fans can relive all the action of the 2014 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships online. The event home page has complete results, recaps, photo galleries and highlight videos from an exciting weekend. All photos are available for purchase directly from the galleries. All six sessions are also archived online thanks to Webcast America, and fans can purchase DVDs or watch each session on-demand.