For the third straight season, the Gophers men’s swimming and diving team finished fourth at the Big Ten championships while one of its biggest rivals celebrated a conference title.
No. 3 Michigan cruised to its third straight Big Ten title Saturday at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center in Bloomington, Ind.
The Wolverines, who have won five of the past six conference titles, exerted their dominance over the four-day championships, winning more than half the events, including all five relays. The Wolverines finished with 899 team points.
“They’re going to continue to be dominant,” Minnesota head coach Kelly Kremer said. “They’re going to be a handful for anybody, not just in the Big Ten, but in the country.”
Indiana took second (664 points), followed by Ohio State (470), Minnesota (378) and Purdue (328).
Michigan opened the championships with victories in the 200-yard medley relay and the 800 freestyle relay Wednesday.
The Gophers finished sixth in the 200 medley relay after a strong final leg by junior captain Derek Toomey. Toomey had the fastest split in the event, swimming the last 50 yards in 18.39 seconds.
Toomey won the preliminary round of the 50 freestyle Thursday morning with a pool-record time of 19.25 seconds. He finished third in the final Thursday night after a poor start with a time of 19.42 seconds.
Freshman diver Manny Pollard took fourth place in 1-meter diving, earning a career-best score, but the Gophers trailed Purdue for fifth place after Thursday.
A strong showing in the 100 breaststroke Friday propelled the Gophers back into fourth.
Sophomore Max Cartwright finished fourth in the 100 breaststroke followed by senior captain Jared Anderson in fifth and senior Josh Hall in seventh. The Gophers wrapped up Friday night with two top-10 finishes in 3-meter diving and took a 31-point lead over Purdue for fourth place.
Toomey earned another top seed in the 100 freestyle preliminaries Saturday morning but again took third in the finals Saturday night.
Senior diver Mikey Ross earned his third top-10 finish of the championships with a sixth-place finish in platform diving Saturday, and Pollard took ninth in the event.
The Gophers closed the championships with a third-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. Michigan won the event for its 12th victory in four days.
Kremer said his team has to improve its relays and its overall consistency, among other things, if it wants to compete with Michigan in the future.
“Talking to the guys, they’re really hungry for the time when we can get back into the discussion of winning Big Ten championships,” he said.
The Gophers will compete later this month at the NCAA championships in Indianapolis, Ind.
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