2015 MIAC Men's Swimming and Diving Championships Preview

2015 MIAC Men's Swimming and Diving Championships Preview

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2015 MIAC MEN'S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW

MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2015 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Men's Swimming and Diving Championships begin Thursday, and two major questions accompany this season's marquee event. Will St. Olaf continue an incredible run to capture a third-straight MIAC title, and which individuals will captivate the crowd and steal the spotlight?

Prior to last season's MIAC Championships, St. Olaf was on a run of every-other-year titles, claiming conference crowns in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, but last year they finally completed a successful title defense to earn back-to-back championships and a fifth title over the last eight years.  This season, Head Coach Bob Hauck's veteran-laden team will try to be the first MIAC men's swimming and diving team to win three in a row since Gustavus won five straight from 2002 to 2006.

The Oles claimed last season's title by more than 100 points with an impressive score of 848, with St. Thomas (the 2012 champ) coming in second with 740. Carleton came in third with a total of 536 and Gustavus (495.5) and Saint John's (429) rounded out the top five. Hamline was sixth with 150.5, Macalester was seventh (126) and Saint Mary's (112) completed the men's standings.

Individually, there are plenty of stars back including 2014 MIAC Swimmer-of-the-Year Mike Lanz from St. Thomas, and a trio of St. Olaf individuals back to defend their titles from a year ago. Gustavus also brings back a defending champ  and Carleton and Saint John's also have plenty of All-Conference-caliber talent back in the pool.

The Oles feel good about their chances to three-peat thanks to the amount of individual and relay talent back. Star Mike Gratz won three individual titles last season (200-yard individual medley, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle) and he's the top seed again in the 100-back (52.20). Tanner Roe also returns after winning a pair of MIAC freestyle titles (50, 200), and he enters the Championships seeded first in four event - 200-IM (1:52.28), 50-free (21.03), 200-free (1:41.23) and 100 free (46.30). Nick Wilkerson returns after winning the 200-breaststroke title, and he's seeded first in both the 100- (57.07) and 200-breast (2:03.89). The Oles are seeded first in all five relay events, and the team is also set on the diving board, as Scott Hodgson returns after finishing second on both boards a year ago.

However, the Tommies enter the championships feeling good about their chances to knock off the Oles in the first season under  new coach Scott Blanchard, who took over after legendary UST Coach Tom Hodgson retired. Lanz appears ready to duplicate his heroics from a year ago, as the defending 100- and 200-yard butterfly champion is seeded first in both events with a time of 49.81 in the 100 and 1:53.71 in the 200. He'll be joined by a trio of rookies who are all seeded first in their respective events - Warren Melton in the 400-IM (4:15.30), Josh Gerick in the 1,650-free (16:38.47) and Brady Anderson in the 200-back (1:54.34).

Carleton has high hopes in 2015 behind standout swimmer Evan Harris, who had a pair of top-three finishes last season and is ranked in the top six in five different events heading into the meet. Sophomore Evan Lahr and junior Stephen Grinich also hope to deliver more highlights for the Knights on the MIAC's biggest stage. Gustavus' hopes for another top-four finish start with star senior Zac Solis, who won the 500-free last year and added two other runner-up finishes. This season, he's ranked first in the 500-free (4:42.27), second in the 1,650-free and fourth in the 200-free.

Saint John's is also eyeing a return to the top five behind a host of talented returners. Sophomore Jose Alvarez had three top-five finishes as a rookie, and is looking for more success his second time around, while junior Nolan Bauer and senior Joe Duxbury also return to lead the Johnnies in 2015. Hamline has hopes of ascending into the top five thanks to a pair of new standouts. Skiah Garde Garcia already has a pair of school diving records during his rookie season, and classmate Hodd Gorman has been a standout in the distance events during his freshman campaign.

Macalester will be led by a pair of talented juniors this season, as versatile standout Ben Kromash met the MIAC qualifying standard in a total of five events and Walter Benson qualified in both the 100- and 200-free and back races. Saint Mary's hopes to follow the lead of junior P.J. Heller and sophomore Joe Tonda at the MIAC meet, with Heller leading the Cardinals in the freestyle events and Tonda competing in the individual medley and backstroke. 

The 2015 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships will be held Thursday, Feb. 19, through Saturday, Feb. 21, with two sessions each day. The morning sessions will begin at 10:30 a.m. (doors at 9 p.m.) and will feature preliminary races, with the evening championship sessions starting at 6:30 p.m. (doors at 5:30 p.m.). Saturday's championship doors will open at 3 p.m. for preliminary heats of the 1,650-yard freestyle and diving.

Tickets are available at either a single-session rate, or all-session passes will also be available for fans who plan to attend the entire event. Single-session passes cost $8 for adults and $4 for students, and all-session passes are $40 for adults and $20 for students. Heat sheets are included in the cost of admission. Children 5 and under are admitted free, and MIAC passes will be honored for all six session. 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, with St. Catherine swimming alumnae Lauren Kranig taking over for the other two 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 2015 MIAC Swimming & Diving Championships. The site features the complete event schedule, psych sheet, ticket 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.

The rest of the 2015 MIAC Men's Swimming and Diving Championships Preview contains MIAC Championship details, helpful links, a promotional video, an event preview via the MIAC Weekly podcast, and a championship preview for each team submitted by their sports information director.


MIAC MEDIA PREVIEWS S&D CHAMPIONSHIPS

MIAC Media has been busy preparing for one of the conference's biggest annual events with previews of the Championships across all platforms. Monday, the MIAC Weekly podcast with Host Mike Gallagher (who will be the play-by-play voice of the online broadcast for four of the six sessions) took an in-depth look ahead at the event with special guest Macalester Head Coach Beth Whittle. Also, the MIAC released a video to promote the event on its YouTube channel. 

  


MIAC MEN'S SWIMMING AND DIVING LINKS

| MIAC Men's Swimming and Diving PageSchedule | Top Times | News | Athletes-of-the-Week | Recordbook | Archives |


TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS

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CARLETON | Knights' men's swimming and diving home page | 

Head coach
• Andy Clark (22nd season)

A Year Ago
• 3rd place | 536 points

Swimmers and Divers to Watch
• Evan Harris (Sr. | 3rd at the 2014 MIAC Championships in 200 breaststroke and 500 freestyle; also swam on All-MIAC 400 and 800 freestyle relays; ranked 2nd in the MIAC this season in the 200 breaststroke [2:05.85] and 200 IM [1:54.55}, 3rd in the 200 freestyle [1:44.39], 4th in the 100 breaststroke [58.17], and 6th in the 400 IM [4:18.46])
• Stephen Grinich (Jr. | All-America Honorable Mention in 200 freestyle relay at 2013 NCAA Championships; 3rd at 2014 MIAC Championships in 50 freestyle; also swam on All-MIAC 200, 400, and 800 freestyle relays; ranked 11th in MIAC this season in 50 free [21.78] and 14th in the 100 fly [53.92])
• Evan Lahr (So. | 2nd at the 2014 MIAC Championships in 50 freestyle and 3rd in 100 freestyle; also swam on All-MIAC 200 and 400 freestyle relays; ranked 3rd in the MIAC this season in the 50 freestyle [21.19] and 12th in 100 freestyle [47.89])
• Alex Mathson (So. | swam on All-MIAC 800 freestyle relay at 2014 MIAC Championships; ranked 3rd in the MIAC this season in the 400 IM [4:16.64] and 4th in both the 500 freestyle [4:51.40] and 1650 freestyle [17:01.65])
• Wilson Josephson (Jr. | ranked 3rd in MIAC this season in the 200 fly [1:57.23], 7th in the 200 freestyle [1:45.66], 10th in both the 100 freestyle [47.87] and 100 fly [53.20], and 14th in the 50 freestyle [21.82])

By the Numbers
• 7: In seven of the last nine seasons, the Knights have finished in the top four at the MIAC Championships
• 13: Carleton's men's roster is made up of swimmers from 13 states in addition to one foreign country. The team members hail from California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin as well as the Republic of Korea.
• 800: Carleton posted the MIAC's top time in the 800 freestyle relay this season (7:07.27)

Out of the Pool
• The Carleton men's swimming and diving was recognized by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) for its efforts in the classroom last season after posting a cumulative 3.19 GPA.

GUSTAVUS | Gusties' men's swimming and diving home page |

Head coach
• Jon Carlson (25th season)

A Year Ago
• 4th Place | 498.5 points

Swimmers and Divers to Watch
• Zac Solis (Sr., Centennial, Colo.) | 2014 MIAC Champion in the 500 freestyle, and runner-up in the 200 free and 1,650 free…Currently ranked first in the 500 free (4:42.27), second in the 1650 free (16:52.56), and fourth in the 200 free (1:44.97)…Was named the MIAC Men's Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week twice during the regular season.

By the Numbers
• 1: Where junior Ben Miller (Des Moines, Iowa) ranks in the 200 backstroke…Miller's time of 1:52.82 at the Minnesota Challenge (Feb. 7-8) achieved an NCAA B Cut and placed him second overall in the race.  
• 3.15: The 2013-14 Gustavus men's swimming and diving team's cumulative grade point average.  The Gusties were recognized as a Scholar All-America Team by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) at the end of last season.  The team improved a near full one-tenth from its 3.06 GPA in 2012-13.

Did You Know?
• Men's swimmers Ross Larson (Sr., Brookings, S.D.) and Jacob Stern (Jr., Rosemount, Minn.) where named Scholar All-Americans by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) last season. 

Out of the Pool
• The Gustavus Adolphus swimming and diving teams hosted the Area 9 Special Olympics aquatics competition on Sunday, Feb. 8 in the Vic Gustafson Pool.  More than 50 student-athletes were in charge of set up and take down, timing, posting results, coordinating athletes, and running the award ceremony following the competition.  To go along with their meet duties, the Gustie swimmers also served as the cheer squad and rooted on the participants for the entirety of the meet.  Roughly 50 Special Olympics swimmers competed in races with distances ranging from 25 yards up to 200 yards.  Aquatics, unlike other sports, is a life skill that is taught, first, to ensure safety and, secondly, for sports and competition purposes.  Special Olympics aquatics covers a great variety of swimming skills, from short sprints to longer events and relays, perfect for all ages and ability levels.

HAMLINE l Pipers' men's swimming and diving home page |

Head coach
• Ryan Hawke (2nd season)

A Year Ago
• 6th place | 150.5 points

Swimmers and Divers to Watch
• Skiah Garde Garcia, Fr. Diver, Holds two Hamline Top Ten records for 1 and 3 Meter  (6 dives)
• Hodd Gorman, Fr., Holds two Hamline Top ten records (1000 and 1650 Free)
• Connor Benson, Jr., Middle Distance
• Victor Lara, Jr., Distance/IM
• Colton Plumber, So., Butterfly

By the Numbers
• 1: Senior on the team
• 4: Meets won this season by Hamline
• 5: Freshmen on this year's team

Did You Know?
• Connor Benson and Victor Lara also were members of the Hamline men's soccer team.

Out of the Pool
• The Pipers spent last summer coaching and teaching swimming programs at the Y.

MACALESTER | Scots' men's swimming and diving home page |

Head coach
• Beth Whittle (5th season)

A Year Ago
• 7th place | 126 points

Swimmers and Divers to Watch
• Walter Benson (Jr. | MIAC qualifying times in 100 & 200 free, 100 & 200 back)
• Luke Bower (So. | MIAC qualifying times in 50, 100 & 200 free, 100 fly)
• Ben Kromash (Jr. | MIAC qualifying times in 100 & 200 free, 100 break & fly, 200 fly, ranks 22nd in MIAC in 200 fly and 1000 free)
• Ian Lock (Fr. | MIAC qualifying times in 50, 100, 200 & 500 free, 100 fly)
• Alex Rack (Jr. | MIAC qualifying times in 100 back & break, 200 breast & IM) 

By the Numbers
• 10: The number of student-athletes Macalester's men's team is expected to have at the MIAC Championships
• 41: The total number of MIAC Championships qualifying times recorded by the Scots this season.

Did You Know?
• Upon completion of the Scots' swimming and diving season, Peter Bertel will join the Macalester baseball team, for which he batted .329 in 32 games last season.

SAINT JOHN'S | Johnnies' men's swimming and diving home page

Head coach
• Bill Saxton (17th season)

A Year Ago
• Fifth place | 429 points

Swimmers and Divers to Watch
• Jose Alvarez (So. | Recorded three fifth-place finishes as a freshman at the 2014 MIAC Championships: 100 fly, 200 fly and 200 IM)
• Nolan Bauer (Jr. | Claimed fifth in the 400 IM and seventh in the 1,600 free at the 2014 MIAC Championships)
• Joe Duxbury (Sr. | Is second on the team with four top-eight individual times in the MIAC this season)
• Paul Knaak (Jr. | Touched the wall in eighth in both the 50 and 100 free at the 2014 MIAC Championships)
• Justin Wollin (So. | Finished fourth in both the 1- and 3-meter dives as a freshman at the 2014 MIAC Championships)

By the Numbers
• 12: The Johnnies currently boast 12 top-eight, individual times in the MIAC (through Feb. 3).
• 5: Sophomore Jose Alvarez (North Bay Village, Fla./Belen Jesuit) has five of the 12 top-eight individual times. He is second (53.04) and third (1:57.99) in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, respectively.
• 0: The Johnnies' lone All-MIAC returnee from last year (third in the 100-yard backstroke), junior Braden McCormack (Rosemount, Minn.), is currently studying abroad in Ireland and will not be participating at the 2015 MIAC Championships.

Did You Know?
• The 2014 season was the first for SJU since 2009 in which it did not record four or more All-MIAC (top three, champion relay) performances at the conference meet.

Out of the Pool
• Each of the six Johnnie swimmers that earned Academic All-MIAC honors over the past two seasons return in 2014-15.

SAINT MARY'S | Cardinals' men's swimming and diving home page

Head coach
• Eric Lindquist (15th season)

MIAC A Year Ago
• 8th place (112 points)

Top Performers
• P.J. Heller (6-6, 200, Jr., Freestyle | Stopped clock in 51.24 in the 100 freestyle at 2013-14 MIAC Championships. … Shaved five seconds off his MIAC-qualifying time in the 200 freestyle (1:52.13)
• Joe Tonda (6-3, 185, So., IM/Backstroke | Closed out his first MIAC Championships by clocking a time of 2:06.49 in the 200 backstroke. … Posted his best time of the season in the 100 backstroke (57.38). … Added a 2:05.43 in 200 IM)
• Zac Finkelstein (5-11, 165 Fr., Freestyle/Breaststroke)

By The Numbers
5: Zac Finkelstein (Naperville, Ill.) has posted the Cardinals' top time in five different events—including the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke at the MIAC Invitational.
9: Joe Tonda (St. Paul, Minn.) enters his second MIAC Championships owning the Cardinals' top time in nine different events.

Did You Know?
The Cardinals recorded their fastest times in six events in their final meet before the upcoming conference championships.

Out Of The Pool
Both Saint Mary's teams were among those who earned College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) 2014 Spring All-America Scholar honors. … The Cardinal teams also boasted three athletes—Bethany Schmidt (Sparta, Wis.), Kristin Wilkes (Savage, Minn.) and Scott Carnahan (St. Cloud, Minn.)—on the 2013-14 MIAC All-Academic Team.

ST. OLAF | Oles' men's swimming and diving home page |

Head coach
• Bob Hauck (26th season)

A Year Ago
• MIAC Champions | 848 points

In the 2014 NCAA Championships
• 14th at NCAA Championships

Swimmers and Divers to Watch
• Tanner Roe (Sr. | Owns MIAC's top times in five events: 50 Free, 100 Free, 200 Free, 200 IM, 400 IM)
• Michael Gratz (Sr. | No. 1 in MIAC in 100 Back, 2014 MIAC champ in 200 IM, 100 Back)
• Nick Wilkerson (So | Has top MIAC time in 100 Breast and 200 Breast and the No. 4 time in the 200 IM)
• Erik Money (Sr. | Ranks No. 3 in MIAC in 100 Breast and 200 Breast)
• Nathan France (Fy. | Ranks No. 2 in MIAC in 100 Breast, No. 4 in league in 50 Free)

By the Numbers
• 3-of-4: St. Olaf has won three of the last four MIAC titles including the last two.
• 30: The Oles have won 30 MIAC championships, 28 since 1977 which included 20 in a row from 1980-1999. The program has won five since 2007. 

ST. THOMAS | Tommies' men's swimming and diving home page |

Head coach
• Scott Blanchard (1st season)

A Year Ago
• 2nd place | 740 points

In the 2014 NCAA Championships
• 2014 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, tied for 33rd place (Mike Lanz 6th in 100 fly (All-America); Nick Johnson HM All-America diving)

Swimmers and Divers to Watch
• Griffin Voss, SR, Sprints (at 2014 MIACs, 3rd 200 Free, anchor runner-up 800 free relay)
• Chris Tri, JR, IM-Distance (2014 MIAC runner-up 400 IM, fourth 1,650 free, fourth 500 free)
• Michael Lanz, SO, Butterfly (All-America; 2X MIAC champ in 2014; 2X NCAA qualifier)

By the Numbers
• 16: Top-3 seeded performances on 2014-15 conference list by UST swimmers coming into this meet.
• 3: Years as assistant coach at UST for Scott Blanchard before he replaced the retired Tom Hodgson this season.
• 6-4-3-1-2-1-2-2: Team placings at MIAC Championships for St. Thomas men over last eight seasons.

Did You Know?
• St. Thomas has at least six top freshmen expected to contribute including diver Andrew Grabowksi; distance men Josh Gerick and Dominic Azar; backstroker Matt Kearney, and sprinters Warren Melton and Bailey Biwer.

Out of the Pool
•The Tommies had six male swimmer/divers make Academic All-MIAC last winter with cumulative grade-point averages of 3.50 or higher. St. Thomas make the 64-team College Swimming Coaches' Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America Team last spring with its 3.25 gpa for the semester.

MIAC Men's Swimming and Diving Home Page