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ISSUE 119 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/24/2006

Swimmers, divers excel at 'U'

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor

Friday, February 24, 2006

Another year, another pair of outstanding performances for the St. Olaf men’s and women’s swimming and diving team.

At last weekend’s MIAC Championships, held at the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Center, the Ole women came out on top for the second consecutive year and the 14th time since 1987, topping runner-up Carleton by an impressive margin of 763.5 to 617.5. The Gustavus women finished a distant third with 578 total points.

“We were expecting the score to be pretty close, but we really maximized our point total,” said team co-coach Dave Hauck. “Everybody contributed in some way or another.”

Highlighting the meet on the women’s side was the outstanding performance of Hannah Berg ’06 in the 100-yard butterfly. Berg’s time of 58.79 in Friday’s preliminaries broke a school record that had stood for 18 years. She also won that evening’s finals in the event.

“We’ve been trying to get someone to go under a minute in that event for 18 years, and we got two people to do it in the same day,” said Hauck, also referencing junior Julia Rood’s third-place, 59.89 performance.

Other highlights from the three-day event included an Ole victory in the 800-yard freestyle relay (a group comprised of Katie Blum ‘06, Mikayla Meyer ‘07, Christina Roberts ‘08 and Kelly Dolan ‘07) as well as finals victories by Lainie Cassel ’08 (200-yard butterfly) and Carly Knoell ’06 (200-yard backstroke).

“We overcame a couple of holes in our lineup and really performed well,” Hauck said. “Carleton didn’t really show up for a couple of days, and that helped us run away with the meet.”

Despite their runner-up finish to Gustavus (now winners of five consecutive MIAC titles), the St. Olaf men also turned in several outstanding team and individual performances. The Ole men trailed by slim margins all three days, finishing 65 points behind the Gusties.

“The strength of the Gustavus men was in their depth,” Hauck said. “We didn’t quite have the swimmers to match in the bottom half of our lineup.”

“Realistically, we knew that things would have to break just right in order for us to win, but that wasn’t our main focus. We just wanted to swim to our fullest potential, and we definitely did that.”

The men qualified several relays for the NCAA Division III Championships, to be held March 16-18 at the Aquatic Center. The 400-yard medley relay of Tom Kukla ’07, Ben Wareham ’06, Nelson Westby ’09 and Jacob Koch ’09 set a new MIAC meet record (3:24.39) and is currently ranked third in the nation. The same group also won the 200-yard medley relay, again the third-best time amongst Division III schools. The Ole 800-yard freestyle relay is currently ranked fourth in the nation.

Individually, Westby turned in the third-best 100-yard butterfly time in the country (50.01) in winning the event, while fellow first-year Koch touched out Gustavus’ Scott Hagemeyer in the 100-yard freestyle.

“Jake’s a racer,” Hauck said in reference to the previously-unheralded Koch. “He showed [on Saturday] that he’s a soldier. Beating Hagemeyer was the ‘shot heard ‘round the pool’ in my mind.”

Diver Christian Lorentzen ’07 was dominant again at the meet, winning both the one-meter and three-meter diving competitions and earning MIAC Diver of the Meet honors for the second consecutive year. He automatically qualified for the national meet in both events.

Dave Hauck was also named MIAC Co-Coach of the Year at the meet. He is in his 33rd season at St. Olaf and has won 23 men's MIAC Championships and 14 women's MIAC Championships.

After finishing 15th at last year’s National Championships, the Ole coaching legend is optimistic about the men’s chances this season.

“We’re pretty confident we can finish in the top ten, hopefully in the fifth to eighth range,” Hauck said. “The meet being in Minnesota also helps, as we’ll have a lot better support group for our guys.”

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