MINNEAPOLIS – The University of St. Thomas men's swimming and diving team won its fourth consecutive Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) championship in front of a raucous crowd on Saturday night at the University of Minnesota's Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. St. Thomas also claimed the women's Conference title, marking the third consecutive year UST has swept the MIAC Championships.
Led by MIAC Swimmer of the Year Bailey Biwer and four-time MIAC Diver of the Year Andrew Grabowski, the Tommies earned 908 points over the three-day Conference meet to secure a team title victory. Grabowski finished his final MIAC meet as one of the most prolific divers in Conference history, having won seven out of a possible eight diving crowns during his four-year tenure. Biwer – who closed out the weekend with a first-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly – racked up 18 Conference titles in relays and individual events during his collegiate career, including six in 2018.
Gustavus placed second with 759.50 points, followed by Saint John's in third-place with 398. Individually, Gustie junior Tanner Sonnek stood out once again on Saturday, breaking his own MIAC meet record for the second night in a row with a blistering 2:00.61 time in the 200-yard breaststroke. Sonnek was one of three repeat champions on the men's side, joining Grabowski – who won his fourth straight title in the 3-meter dive – and St. Olaf's John Loepfe, who claimed first in the 200-yard backstroke for the second consecutive season.
Following each of Saturday evening's races, a short awards ceremony was held to honor the top eight finishers. The top three finishers in each event received medals and automatically earn All-Conference honors. Saturday's All-Conference honorees are listed below.
In addition to individual athlete awards, the MIAC also recognized Ryan Hawke (Hamline) as the Swimming Coach of the Year and Gabe Kortuem (Carleton/St. Olaf) as the Diving Coach of the Year.
The St. Thomas 200-yard freestyle relay team of Tom Negaard, Bailey Biwer, Hunter Neilsen and Charles Hynes set new MIAC, meet and team records with a time of 1:21.44 in the finals, breaking the previous MIAC record of 1:21.55 set by Carleton in 2013.
Gustavus rookie swimmer Nolan Larson made a name for himself in the men's 200-yard individual medley, winning the race with a school-record time of 1:51.23.
Gustavus junior Tanner Sonnek broke his own MIAC Championship meet record in the men's 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 54.79, topping last year's record-setting mark of 55.10. On Saturday, Sonnek topped another one of his MIAC meet records, this time in the 200-breaststroke with a time of 2:00.61.
Saint Mary's freshman Griffin Rades broke the Cardinals' program record in the 200-yard individual medley not once, but twice on Day 1 of the Championships, touching the wall in 1:58.92 in prelims and besting his own mark less than 12 hours later with a finals time of 1:56.35. One day later, Rades was at it again, setting a new program mark in the 400-yard individual with a time of 4:15.52 in prelims and shaving four seconds off that finish in the final round to settle on a new Cardinals record of 4:11.11. Rades broke one more school record on Saturday, finishing the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:12.47 to break his third Cardinal program mark in as many days.
The St. Thomas men's 200-yard medley relay team of junior Tom Negaard and seniors Alexander Robb, Bailey Biwer and Charles Hynes finished .04 seconds faster than the previous school record, set last season.
St. Thomas junior Max Larson broke the school's record in the men's 400-yard individual medley by three seconds with a finals time of 4:03.23.
2018 MIAC SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Men's Team Scores (FINAL)
2018 MIAC Men's All-Conference Individuals
Key: M - Meet Record; M* - MIAC Record; R - Repeat Champion; R3 - Three-time Champion, R4 - Four-time Champion; A - NCAA 'A' Qualifying Standard; B - NCAA 'B' Qualifying Standard; ST17 - 2017 NCAA Selection Time; $ - NCAA Diving Zone 11-Dive Qualifying Score, % - NCAA Diving Zone 6-Dive Qualifying Score.