Another tense Saturday night, another clutch comeback by the Tommie men's swimming and diving team.
Just like in 2010, Coach Tom Hodgson's Tommies won the final event, the 400 free relay, to post a scant three-point win over St. Olaf and claim the 2012 team title. The three-day meet concluded Saturday at the U of M Aquatic Center.
St. Thomas tallied 765 points to the Oles' 762 in what might have been the closest team finish in MIAC swimming history. Nineteeen different Tommie men contriuted points on Saturday night.
St. Olaf and St. Thomas finished 1-2 last season.Two years ago, the Tommies rallied from a 73-point deficit and outlasted Gustavus 709-701 for the crown -- UST's first in 54 seasons.
The Tommie women finished third out of 11 teams, and Jennifer Easton swept the one- and three-diving events to be named MIAC women's Diver of the Year. Freshman Elise Guenther won the 1,650 (17:46.56).
Mark Dusbabek was named Diving Coach of the Year. Tom Hodgson was named co-Coach of the Year in swimming.
UST and St. Olaf were tied after the first day 222-222. After day two, the Toms had a mere 10 point lead. St. Olaf opened the final night with a 71-12 margin over the Toms in the 1,650 as it placed 1-2-3-4-6 and held a 59-point lead with six events remaining.
UST chipped away in the next four events to cut the deficit under 20 points. In the next-to-last event, three-meter diving, Tommies Nick Johnson and Gus Jones placed third and fifth to offset St. Olaf winner Ian Straehley's points and continue UST's comeback. That left a showdown between UST and the Oles in the 400 free relay with St. Olaf ahead by just three points.
St. Thomas fell behind early but won the relay in 3:03.59, by more than three seconds over the runner-up Oles. Michael Hoelterhoff, Max Hubbard, Ben Henrickson and Sam Rauchwarter combined on the clincher.
Justin Mullee won the 100 back for the other Saturday men's victory. UST had four top-eight placewinners in the 100 free and 200 fly.
St. Thomas has won or shared seven MIAC team championships so far this school year. That includes four this winter (men's hockey, men's swimming, men's and women's basketball), with indoor track still to come.
Click here to view more Greg Smith action photos:
Gus Jones stepped out of the shadows and scored 27 key points in two diving events. (Greg Smith photo)
Tommie fans react to the winning 400 free relay (Greg Smith photo)
Justin Mullee won the 200 back to help Saturday's comeback. (Greg Smith photo)
The butterfly was a big event for the Tommies -- women's and men's finalists in that event included (L-R) Katie Bromback, Mariann Kukielka, Erin Windschitl, Ben Ruhme, Evan Ecklund, Griffin Voss and Matt Rippentrop. (Greg Smith photo)
MIAC Coach of the Year honors were won or shared by Mark Dusbabek in diving (left) and Tom Hodgson. (Greg Smith photo)
Here's what a three-point championship win on the final event looks like. (Greg Smith photo)
UST won its second championship in three seaosns -- both by razor-thin margins. (Greg Smith photo)
Click here for MIAC news release and final Saturday results: