Brady Boie – Sports Editor
The Gustavus men’s swimming and diving team took home its fourth consecutive MIAC Championship title this past weekend. The Gusties outscored second-place Saint John’s 968.5 to 694.5 and broke numerous school and meet records in the process. Their dominance was on display from the beginning, as the Gustie team of Junior Matt Strom, Senior Taylor Vander-Jeugdt, Junior Peyton Richardson, and Senior Andrew Becker touched the wall first in the 200 medley relay on Wednesday night. Their winning time of 1:30.40 was good enough for a school record and set the tone for the rest of the meet. On that same night, the Gustie team featuring Richardson, Strom, and Seniors Erik Small and Dane Hudson won the 800 freestyle relay by almost four seconds.
“[The medley relay] set the tone for the meet. We wanted to go faster to get the NCAA B cut, but starting the meet with a school record got everyone excited to swim… it was a big race,” Richardson said.
Richardson’s superb swimming was far from over. On Thursday, he swam a 100 Butterfly time trial before prelims and swam a 48.92, which broke the school record of 49.35 that had stood for almost twenty years.
“Peyton’s time trial in the 100 butterfly was huge… we didn’t even score any points from it but seeing him go as fast as he did, getting the [NCAA] B cut, getting a best time, and going 48 in the 100 fly as the first thing that happens in a meet was a huge energy boost right off the bat for that session,” Senior distance swimmer Adam Thornberg said.
Richardson followed up his record-breaking swim with a second-place finish in the 200 individual medley, being narrowly edged out by his teammate Small. Other notable individual Thursday performances included a victory from Becker in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.28 and a 500 freestyle win for Strom in 4:29.89. The 500 freestyle final featured four Gusties and served as a pivotal point in the meet
“Obviously Saint John’s was gunning for us at that meet… having that many Gusties in the same heat was a morale boost… you knew going in that we were going to do pretty well… having that many people in all of the distance events was a huge help,” Thornberg said
Despite all of these impressive performances, the best was yet to come for the Gusties. They closed the night with a flawless 400 Medley Relay. The team comprised of Strom, Junior Kieran Ripken, Richardson, and Becker posted a blazing-fast time of 3:19.15. This time was good for both a school and a meet record.
“We were pretty confident that we were going to break the school record that we had set last year, but we had our eyes set on the NCAA B Cut and MIAC meet record as well… we knew that all four swimmers were going to execute their job and swim fast,” Richardson said.
The fast swimming continued for the Gusties on day three. Small set a new school record in the 400 Individual Medley, edging St. Olaf Senior Tim Rizzo by just two-tenths of a second. This race featured four Gusties in the top eight spots and highlighted excellent talent and depth.
“Erik Small had a great meet. He won every event he swam and got some really great times… I was very impressed,” Thornberg said.
After Small’s victory, Richardson touched the wall first in the 100 butterfly, with teammates Becker and Hudson following in second and third. Strom continued his excellence with another MIAC championship win in the 200 freestyle. The night ended with a 100 breaststroke victory from Ripken and another relay win for the Gusties.
The final day of the meet was more of the same for the Gusties. The men took home first place in every single event except one and swam great races. The men’s 1650 freestyle featured five Gusties and was won by Strom. Richardson took home the 200 backstroke title, winning with a time of 1:52.99. Becker defended his 100 freestyle title from one year ago and Small won the 200 butterfly. Sophomore Nyden Hill took second in the 200 breaststroke and had two teammates join him in the top eight. Finally, the men’s team of Small, Strom, Hudson, and Becker took down a fifteen-year-old meet record in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:00.89. This performance put an exclamation point on the meet and helped the Gusties set their sights on even bigger goals.
“It is rewarding and exciting to win [the MIAC], but once we have won it several times we have to set our goals higher than just winning,” Richardson said.