Saturday's prelim races set stage for thrilling conclusion

Saturday's prelim races set stage for thrilling conclusion

MINNEAPOLIS – The third and final day of the 2017 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Swimming and Diving Champions began in a big way with Saturday morning's preliminary races and diving rounds, and the results certainly set the stage for what promises to be a fitting conclusion to another outstanding meet.

Saturday's prelim races at the University of Minnesota's Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center certainly felt like finals heats at times, with MIAC swimmers recording two times that would have met the 2016 NCAA Selection cut, and six NCAA B-cut times. 

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The women's 200-yard backstroke prelims featured two of the meet's stars thus far, as St. Thomas' Emma Paulson – the two-time defending champ in the event – met the 2016 Selection cut with her time of 2:00.64, and Carleton's Maria Wetzel met the B cut with a time of 2:02.71, with Gustavus' Hayley Booher (2:07.43) finishing with the third-best time. St. Olaf rookie John Loepfe continued his outstanding meet with the top time (1:50.55) and a B cut in the men's 200-back prelims, with St. Thomas' Tom Negaard (1:51.93) and fellow Ole Abe Casey Eyman (1:54.67) also posting top-three times.

The women's 100-yard freestyle prelims featured a talented trio at the top of the leader board, as Carleton's Caroline Mather (51.53), St. Olaf's Claire Walters (51.55) and Gustavus' Kate Reilly (51.92) all met the B cut to set up a thrilling championship heat Saturday night. In the men's 100-free prelims, Gustavus rookie Matt Allison had a B-cut time of 45.51 to finish just ahead of two-time defending champ Kenny Bergman (45.82) of Saint John's, with St. Thomas' Nick Cox (45.97) also finishing below 46 seconds.

It was a St. Thomas-filled affair in the women's 200-yard breaststroke prelim, as Nicole Herrli led the way with a time of 2:23.57 and UST took six of the top seven spots in the finals. Carleton first-year Ada Meyer had the second-best time (2:24.72) with Tommie rookie Deidree Voss (2:24.99) also in the top three. Gustavus sophomore Tanner Sonnek continued his outstanding weekend with an NCAA 2016 Selection Time of 2:02.96 to lead the men's 200-breast prelims by nearly five seconds. UST teammates Colin Glass (2:07.33) and Alexander Robb (2:07.34) also posted top-three times.

A pair of St. Thomas swimmers earned the top two seeds in the women's 200-yard butterfly, as Katelyn Strauss (2:08.52) and Kristen Nelson (2:12.30) recorded the top two times, with St. Catherine's Mary Jane Voss right behind Nelson with a time of 2:12.47. The morning finished with the men's 200-fly prelims, with St. Thomas' Brady Anderson (1:55.46), Gustavus' Ryan Sklar (1:55.95) and St. Olaf's Jack Welsh (1:56.90) posting the top three times to lead Saturday night's finals heat.

Saturday morning's session also included the start of the men's 3-meter and women's 1-meter diving competitions. They'll continue the prelim/semifinal rounds Saturday afternoon – so scores were not yet available – to whittle down the field to eight divers apiece for Saturday night's finals.

The 2017 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships will conclude with the sixth and final session Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. In addition to the women's 1-meter diving finals, men's 3-meter diving finals and swimming finals in the 200-back, 100-free, 200-breast and 200-fly, the session will also feature the prelims and finals of the 1,650-freestyle and the 400-meter freestyle final. Saturday's championship doors will open at 2:30 p.m., as preliminary heats of the 1,650-yard freestyle and diving semifinals will take place prior to the session. Following the session, there will be an awards ceremony to honor the top student-athletes, coaches and teams from an outstanding three days of competition.

Tickets are available for $10 for adults and $5 for students, and heat sheets are included in the cost of admission. Children 5 and under are admitted free, and MIAC passes will be honored. No other passes or discounts will be accepted.

As in years past, all six sessions will be broadcast live online thanks to Webcast America. Fans will also be able to watched archived video of each session following the event and purchase DVDs of the broadcasts via Webcast America's site. MIAC Media's Mike Gallagher will handle play-by-play duties for four of the six sessions. There will also be "live" results available online with results updated shortly after the conclusion of each event for fans following the action from afar.

The MIAC has an exclusive Web site for the 2017 MIAC Swimming & Diving Championships. The site features the complete event schedulepsych sheetticket information and venue information. The site will be constantly updated throughout the event with heat sheets, links to follow the action live, results, recaps, photos and more.

Fans can also monitor MIAC men's swimming and diving on-the-go thanks to the the MIAC mobile app, which is a free download for both Apple and Android devices. Also, connect to the conference on its FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube pages and use the official event hashtag #MIACSD to interact throughout the championships.

2017 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships - Session 5
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