Iowa men place second at Hawkeye Invitational

BY BEN ROSS | DECEMBER 05, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's swimming and diving team was unable to come away as the winner of the Hawkeye Invitational this past weekend, but the Black and Gold were still able to make strides toward their goal of earning a Big Ten championship.

No. 10 Iowa (4-1, 4-1 Big Ten) placed second in the six-team field with a score of 723 in the three-day event. No. 1-ranked Michigan took home the hardware, as the Wolverines handled the competition in nearly every event to cruise to a 967-point win. Notre Dame came in third with a score of 511, followed by Denver. Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee rounded out the scoreboard by placing fifth and sixth.

Iowa redshirt freshman Grant Betulius may have made the biggest name for himself over the weekend — he set the school record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 47.65. His time is also the 19th-fastest for the 100 back in the nation this season.

Michigan had sealed the win long before the final event, but that didn't keep the No. 9-ranked Iowa 400-free relay team of All-Americans Duncan Partridge, Paul Gordon, Ryan Phelan, and Jordan Huff from competing well. The Hawkeye quartet recorded a time of 2:54.78, barely falling to the Maize and Blue's time of 2:54.38.

Head coach Marc Long said he couldn't select any individual as his MVP. His team's performance, he said, was a collective effort.

"It's hard to choose one person right now," Long said. "That last relay was outstanding. I know we got touched out, but we're going to keep moving on and practicing. We're working toward the end of the year. There were so many great performances in ways of school records broken. It would be hard for me to single someone out."

This is the only time Iowa and Michigan will meet before the Big Ten championships in late February, and it's likely the Wolverines will be the only team standing in the way of Iowa's championship hopes. Gordon said facing Michigan once prior to the championships is an undeniable advantage, and that he's looking forward to the rematch.

"Before my [400-free relay] race, I was thinking I was going to be racing all these same guys, in the same pool, in the same lanes," the Sioux Falls, S.D., native said. "I got to race all the best guys in my events, and everyone else did, too. So there's not going to be any surprises come Big Tens."

Sophomore Dustin Rhoads echoed his teammate's words, saying he was glad the Hawkeyes got the opportunity to race Michigan before the conference meet. He added that he thinks they have the potential to come out ahead next time they clash.

"This meet gave us confidence," Rhoads said. "Swimming against some of the swimmers in the country, we'll see them right here again. We'll go right back to training hard again, now we got to kick up the intensity a bit and prepare for Big Tens in February and NCAAs in March."

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