The Wisconsin women’s swimming and diving team finished in sixth place in the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., Sunday.
Junior Ivy Martin led the Badgers to a victory in the 200-yard freestyle relay and finished first in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle. Martin’s efforts won her the Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships award.
Despite Martin’s performance, head coach Whitney Hite believes that she still has room to grow.
“She’ll get faster,” Hite said. “We’re kind of breaking the surface of her potential. And she’s hungry. I keep calling her a cheetah. She’ll run them down. And she’s super competitive, so my expectation is [for Martin] to be the best ever.”
The men’s team will compete in the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., beginning Wednesday. Hite expects junior Drew teDuits, the 2013 NCAA champion in the 200-yard backstroke, to defend his first-place finish in the same race at the Big Ten Championships last season.
“Drew keeps getting better as well,” Hite said. “We’re hoping that we’re just scratching the surface with him. I think he can get stronger and train at a higher level, which he’s doing compared to last year.”
Wisconsin (3-12 Big Ten, 10-17 overall) will play its final regular season game against Northwestern (4-10, 14-13) Sunday at home. Head coach Bobbie Kelsey stressed that her team will need finish the season on a positive note after what has been a disappointing 2013-’14 campaign for the Badgers.
“You don’t want to limp out, you want to go out strong,” Kelsey said. “We’ve been close, but it just hasn’t happened for us for whatever reason. We’re all trying. It just hasn’t materialized.”
The Badgers have earned six of their 10 wins at home, so they will look to take advantage of playing at the Kohl Center on Senior Day.
Wisconsin will graduate just three seniors, Daria Kryuchkova, Morgan Paige and Taylor Wurtz. The trio of seniors will be honored after their final game in front of a home crowd.
Kelsey looked back on Wurtz and Paige’s careers at Wisconsin.
“Both of those kids have been great for our program and [I’m] sad to see them go,” Kelsey said. “They have to graduate at some point. So I know they’re going to go on to do great things with their lives. And if they want to play overseas, I’m sure that’s an opportunity for them.”
Last Saturday’s 79-74 win over Iowa propelled Wisconsin (9-5 Big Ten, 22-5 overall) to its fifth straight victory and moved the Badgers up to No. 14 in the national Associated Press rankings. Junior center Frank Kaminsky scored 21 points to lead Wisconsin in what head coach Bo Ryan saw as a very balanced attack.
“The key is to have a team where if somebody’s hot, [the opposing team] can’t just concentrate on one person, that you can get it from other places,” Ryan said.
Ryan stressed that Kaminsky’s late-season push as a formidable presence in the frontcourt is a result of his dedication to improve his all-around game.
“It’s simply maturation,” Ryan said. “Frank Kaminsky is maturing on and off the court, and it shows in the way he’s playing.”
The Badgers will look to avenge an early season loss at the hands of Indiana (5-8, 15-11) on Tuesday when they take on the Hoosiers at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin fell 75-72 to Indiana Jan. 14 in Bloomington. The loss snapped the Badgers’ 16-game winning streak that opened the 2013-’14 campaign.
The Badgers’ (21-5-2 WCHA, 25-5-2 overall) regular season ended this past weekend with a sweep over Minnesota State (7-20-1, 12-21-1), but they’ll be playing the Mavericks at least twice more, this time in the opening round of the WCHA tournament next weekend.
Though the Badgers won all four regular season meetings by at least two goals, head coach Mark Johnson is not taking MSU lightly.
“The challenge will be we're just coming off a weekend playing the same opponent we're playing in the first round of the playoffs,” Johnson said. “The challenge becomes they'll have an opportunity to make some adjustments after they look at the two games that we just played them, and certainly you hear a lot of coaches talk about, when you have to play a team three or four times in a row, those are the hurdles that you have to try to climb over.”
Though the Badgers’ impressive regular season has already likely done enough to earn a selection to the NCAA tournament at-large, Johnson does not want to take any chances.
“The end goal is, if you win the championship, you're automatically in the tournament, so there's something to play for,” Johnson said. “And that's the way we'll approach it.”
Track & Field
With the Big Ten Indoor Championships approaching this weekend in Geneva, Ohio, Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Mick Byrne believes the No. 5-ranked men’s team will continue their positive momentum and turn in a strong performance.
“We feel that, certainly on the men’s side, we’ve got some great momentum,” Byrne said.
Among the schools the Badgers will be competing with this weekend include conference foe Penn State, which is ranked No. 6 in men’s track and field and No. 10 in women’s, but they must focus on other top Big Ten teams as well.
“We run a conference meet to pick a champion, and there are obviously some great teams—Penn State right now are just looking fantastic—and I think Illinois, Ohio State, they’re going to be teams that are going to give us some trouble,” Byrne said.
“Over the last couple of weekends, our kids have had some great meets, and we’re all excited about heading to Ohio,” Byrne said.