2017 MIAC S&D Championships open with exciting first session

2017 MIAC S&D Championships open with exciting first session

MINNEAPOLIS – The 2017 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Swimming and Diving Championships got off to an outstanding start Thursday morning at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

St. Thomas – which swept the men's and women's titles a year ago – had a solid start to its joint title defense in 2017's first session, which included preliminary races to set up Thursday evening's championship and consolation heats. The Gustavus women placed a big number of swimmers in the championship heats, and numerous other schools delivered impressive highlights to open the meet. 


In the women's 500-yard freestyle, both St. Thomas and Gustavus got off to a strong start in the first event of the championships, as a pair of Tommies recorded the top times and Gustavus placed four swimmers in Saturday night's championship heat. UST's Alex Howard swam the prelim's top time of 5:04.97, and teammate Katelynn Strauss – the defending champ – was right behind at 5:08.22.

The men's 500 free followed an eerily similar script with a pair of Tommies atop the leader board. Bailey Biwer led the way with an NCAA B-cut time of 4:33.18, and defending champion Warren Melton had the second-best time at 4:37.86. The men's 500 free prelim saw a pair of highlights for Hamline and Macalester, as both the Pipers' Hodd Gorman and Macalester's Paul Reischmann earned a spot in the finals with top-five times.

Gustavus' Hayley Booher started her final MIAC Championships in style, as the two-time defending champ in the 200-yard individual medley put herself in position for a three-peat with the prelim's top time of 2:10.23. Saturday's final should be tightly contested, as St. Thomas' Nicole Herrli (2:10.25) and St. Catherine's Alissa Ellingson (2:10.66) both touched the wall within a half-second of Booher. St Thomas placed three swimmers in the finals, with a pair from St. Kate's also making the top eight.

There was a youth movement in the men's 200-IM prelims, with freshmen and sophomores recording the top four times. St. Thomas' Joe Herrli touched the wall first in 1:55.14, Gustavus sophomore Tanner Sonnek was as close behind as possible at 1:55.15 and St. Olaf teammates John Loepfe (freshman, 1:55.32) and Gus Reynolds (1:56.34) were right behind to set up a highly-anticipated final heat Thursday night.

Reigning MIAC and National Swimmer-of-the-Year Emma Paulson impressed in her first event, as the two-time defending champ in the 50-yard freestyle recorded an outstanding time of 23.08 seconds to lead Thursday morning's prelim heats. Carleton's Caroline Mather (23.35), St. Olaf's Claire Walters (23.48) and Gustavus' Kate Reilly (23.55) joined Paulson in the top four, all with 2016 NCAA Selection times, and the next two finishers – Gustavus' Maggie Webster (23.68) and Carleton's Alex Braiedy (23.68) – each finished with NCAA B-cut times in an extremely impressive round of prelim heats.

The men's 50-free prelims also featured some impressive times, led by Gustavus' Matt Allison and his 2016 NCAA Selection time of 20.51. Saint John's Kenny Bergman – a two-time winner in the 100-free – swam second in 20.89, just barely ahead of St. Thomas' Nick Cox (20.90). St. Thomas placed three in the top eight, while Gustavus and Saint John's each had two qualify for the championship heat.

The action on the diving boards also began Thursday, as the women took their first turns on the 3-meter board, and the men held their prelims and semifinals on the 1-meter board. Results for the women's prelims were not immediately available. The men were led by two-time MIAC Diver-of-the-Year Andrew Grabowski of St. Thomas, with a score of 461.95. St. Olaf's Leif Jorgenesen Duus (458.50) and Gustavus' Logan Bican (435.35) rounded out the top three, and all three met the NCAA Diving Zone selection score in the prelims/semis. The men will complete the 1-meter finals Thursday night, while the women will finish out their 3-meter competition Friday evening. 

The 2017 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships will continue Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. with the first championship session. In addition to the 500- and 50-free, the 200-IM and men's 1-meter diving, the session will also feature championship races in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay. The Session 2 heat sheet will be available online.

The meet will continue with two more sessions apiece Friday and Saturday. 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 2:30 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 $10 for adults and $5 for students, and all-session passes are $50 for adults and $25 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. 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 1
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