Championship season has come. This is the beginning of what will be a two month whirlwind of Big Ten and NCAA Championship meets where the Minnesota Golden Gophers will try and bring home some hardware to Minneapolis. Up first this week is the Women’s Big Ten Swim and Dive Championships and the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships!
Women’s Swimming and Diving
The 2021 Women’s Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships kicked off on Tuesday and will continue through Saturday. The swimming portion is behind held here in Minneapolis at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. The diving portion is being held at Purdue in an attempt to maintain social distancing for the championships.
The event began Tuesday night with two finals held in the 200-yard Medley Relay and the 800-yard Freestyle Relay and after the first night Minnesota was in 5th place after a pair of sixth place finishes in the events.
Four more finals will take place Wednesday and Thursday nights, with five on Friday and six capping the meet off on Saturday. Finals will begin at 6:30 PM each night and will stream live on BTN+. In addition Saturday’s finals will air live on BTN.
In the pool Minnesota has a few swimmers who have a chance to bring home an individual Big Ten title. Freshman Megan Van Berkom has the second fastest time in the confernece so far this season in both the 200 butterfly and the 400 IM. Sophomore Rachel Butler is right behind Van Berkom with the third fastest time in the 400 IM. Sophomore Emma Lexer is one of the fastest in the conference at both the 100 and 200 breaststroke and has a chance to bring home a title. Additionally Emily Cook has a fast time in the 100 backstroke and could make a run.
The most likely Gopher winner will be in Indiana. Senior diver Sarah Bacon is a reigning two -time Big Ten and NCAA Champion and has the inside track to once again win either the 1 or 3 meter springboard events for the Gophers.
Indoor Track and Field:
The 2021 Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships will be held Thursday-Saturday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Each day will be split into two sessions with men’s competition in the mornings and women’s in the afternoons. All of the events will stream live on BTN+ with tape delayed coverage on BTN to be announced. A full schedule of the individual events can be found HERE.
The Gophers will look to build on 2020’s results as the Gopher women were the runners-up and the Gopher men finished in third place. Both the Gophers men and women have several athletes with good chances at individual top finishes this weekend.
On the women’s side the Gophers are led by Amira Young. The sprinter has the best time in the conference this season in the 60 meters and has the second best time in the 200 meters. The Gophers have a trio of threats in the 400 meters as Val Larson has the second best time in the conference this spring with Abigail Schaffe and Janielle Josephs coming in with the fifth and sixth fastest times. They have combined to have the fastest time in the conference in the 4x400 relay. Schaffe also has the second fastest 600 meter time this spring.
Bethany Hasz has been the belle of the ball in the 3000 meters setting a new school record and winning by over 25 seconds in her last race. She has a 20 second edge on the next fastest time in the conference this season and is a legitimate threat to win the NCAA title in the event. She also has the 3rd best time in the conference in the 5,000 meters and won the 6k Big Ten Cross Country Championship earlier this month.
Add in Tess Keysers with the third best throw in the weight toss and Allison Gerads with the best score this far in the heptathalon, and the Gopher women are primed to impress.
For the Gopher men it’s not been as successful a season this far, but they still have several potential individual champions on the roster. Ben Psicihulis has the fourth best 600 meter tie in the conference this season. Alex Basten has the best 3,000 meter time in the Big Ten so far giving hopes to a maroon and good sweep of the event across the genders. Kaleb Siekmeyer has the second best weight throw in the conference in 2021 giving hopes to the Gophers earning some major points in the field events.
Good luck to all three Gophers teams on bringing home some bling this week!