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Cougars too much for Cobbers

UMM Sports Information

The University of Minnesota Morris swim and dive team traveled to frigid Moorhead for a dual meet against the Concordia Cobbers. Despite swimming without the services of several team members, including ace Kaitlin Kamm, the Cougars came out on top by a score of 143-100.

The tone of the meet, which featured a number of close, exciting races, was established in the afternoon's first event, the 200 yard medley relay. Concordia jumped out to a half second lead after the opening backstroke leg, but Andelee Quast pulled Morris into a virtual dead heat during her breaststroke leg. However, Concordia again edged ahead during the butterfly leg, leaving Natalie Reynen a .7 second deficit to make up in her anchor freestyle leg. Despite swimming a near lifetime best split of 25.68, Reynen wasn't quite able to catch the Cobbers' Joleen Baker, giving Concordia a victory by a scant .12 seconds.     

Although junior captain Kayla Gastecki put a win in the Cougars' column with her performance in the 1000 yard freestyle (11:55.83), the Cobbers' 2-3-4 finish meant the Cougars failed to gain much ground.

That changed, however, when junior Courtney Kahnk, appearing in her first meet of the season due to a couple nagging injuries, nabbed first place honors in the 200 freestyle (2:09.41), with teammates Samantha Salathe and Tori Brua grabbing third and fourth places.

The most competitive race of the meet followed, as the 50 yard freestyle saw the Cobbers' Baker narrowly out-touch the Cougars' Reynen and senior Sarah Dens, besting her rivals by .08 and .09 seconds, respectively.

Fortunately for Morris, Quast and freshman Hanna Gassaway righted the ship by going 1-2 in the 400 yard individual medley (5:16.02; 5:16.89). Morris' head coach Dave Molesworth noted that Gassaway's time was a lifetime best and that Quast's time was very close to her best-ever effort, which bodes well for continued time drops as the two of them continue to train and push each other.

During the meet, two separate diving competitions were held. One was a five-dive event and the other was a six-dive event. The Cougars' Carissa Fuller battled the Cobbers' Jana Hedtrom in both events, losing the first event by 11 points, but coming back to win the second by eight points. Had Fuller's dives been scored as part of a single 11-dive event, her combined 341.25 points would have been only 1.6 points short of the UMM school record. Molesworth was also very pleased to see Jessica Martineau and newcomer Erika Wielenga dive well. Martineau established a personal best with an 11-dive total score of 233.4 and Wielenga's total was a respectable 237.5.   

The momentum of the meet started to turn the Cougars' way in the 100 yard butterfly, as Jessica Fischer, Kayla Kranitz and Kennedy Erdmann took first, third and fifth places.

Sarah Dens then exacted a bit of revenge in the 100 yard freestyle, out-sprinting the Cobbers' Joleen Baker to take first place (57.38), with Brua and freshman Tasha Miller finishing third and fourth.

The Cobbers fought back in the 100 yard backstroke, taking three of the top four places, but Morris responded with a vengeance, winning the meets final four events – 500 yard freestyle (Gastecki; 5:50.14), six-dive competition (Fuller), 100 yard breaststroke (Quast; 1:14.07) and a first and second place finish in the 200 yard freestyle relay (Reynen, Brua, Kahnk, Dens; 1:44.94) & (Erdmann, Gasaway, Salathe, Kranitz; 1:49.41).    

Asked to reflect upon the meet and how the team is progressing, Molesworth sounded optimistic. "I was excited to see the team rise to the occasion after getting out-touched in the 200 medley relay. They showed great character and rallied around each other. While we were missing a couple of people, it was nice to get Courtney Kahnk back. The diving core scored some much-needed points and they showed some great improvements. For Carissa Fuller to win a one-meter diving event was a great boost of confidence for her. It was also nice to see some of the time drops, like Jill Burns knocking almost 10 seconds off of her lifetime best in the 500 freestyle. I believe, on the day, a total of 15 career-best marks were established, which is fantastic. This was exactly what this team needed going into winter break, and I am very excited to see what they can do when we get back from our winter training trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico and head to some invites, all in preparation to reach our goals at the Liberal Arts Championships."