Michigan State swim and dive dispatched by Wolverines, but strong finishes provide optimism

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EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Spartan swim and dive teams clashed with their rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, in McCaffree Pool Friday night. The dual meet was a big test for the Spartans, as the Wolverine men’s teams are ranked fourth and the women’s teams second in the country while the Spartans are unranked.

That gap showed as Michigan dominated wire-to-wire, winning 131-67 on the men’s side and 117-81 on the women’s side. In fact, Michigan won all but one heat they competed in, setting several McCaffree pool records along the way.

Though they didn’t win outright, the Spartans got several strong finishes. Junior Allie Heineman finished second in the women’s 50 freestyle with a time of 23.98, a personal best. Freshman Jonathan Lee scored his third straight top-two finish in the men’s 100 breaststroke, finishing second with a 56.99.

The Spartans also got second-place finishes in the women’s 200 individual medley, women’s 200 backstroke, men’s and women’s 100 breaststroke and men’s and women’s 400 freestyle relay. Junior Payton Woods, who recently qualified for the 2020 Olympic trials after setting the school record in the 50 freestyle, took third in the event today with a time of 20.91.

“We had lots of people swim their best times today, even while we were behind,” said Heineman.  

MSU notched one first place finish in women’s 1m platform dive from senior Morgan Wellenzohn, who scored 286.49 points. The Spartans also had the second and third best scores in that event from Julia Oppedisano (265.35) and Erin Neely (237.37), their best finish of the night.  

Despite the score, the team kept its spirits up as they prepared for the Big Ten tournaments at the end of the month.

“We were still really upbeat, especially because we had several girls trying to make the cuts today for next year,” Heineman said.

“Michigan’s got a great team,” MSU head coach Matt Gianiodis said. “That makes it hard, but I was proud of a lot of our guys…the effort was fantastic.”

Asked how good of a test the meet was for the Big Ten tournament, Gianiodis said, “It was a good preview for a lot of the kids on our team for what to do…the hope is that we’ll get some rest over the next couple weeks and perform better.”

The Spartans will next compete in the Big Ten women’s swim and dive tournaments Feb. 20 to 23 in Bloomington, Indiana. The Big Ten men’s swim and dive tournaments are Feb. 27 to Mar. 2 in Iowa City, Iowa.