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Men’s swimming and diving travels to face rival Gophers

BY JALYN SOUCHEK | NOVEMBER 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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The men’s swimming and diving team is in Minnesota today to compete against the Golden Gophers, where the Hawkeyes hope to continue last years’ success.

Last season’s dual meet against Minnesota marked the first victory for Iowa in the rivalry in more than 14 years. That victory has only intensified the coming meet between the Black and Gold and the Maroon and Gold.

“It hasn’t been much of a rivalry the last 15 years … because they dominated the series,” head coach Marc Long said. “I think [the rivalry is] just naturally because of our location and the Big Ten, in all sports and these border states, especially, are rival schools.”

Senior Byron Butler said the relationship between the Iowa and Minnesota teams is one of mutual respect, and the meet is always intense. Last year’s upset is a motivation for both sides, with Iowa trying to continue its 2011 success, and Minnesota wanting to avenge the loss.

“I think they might be a little bit upset about last year,” Butler said. “[It was the] first time we really shook them up in a long time. I just think it’s going to be good racing the whole meet.”

Senior Jordan Huff saiud the excitement from last season’s victory is still felt.

“The first couple of years, they’ve beat up on us pretty good, but last year we got ’em at home,” the Dubuque native said. “Now, we’re pretty excited to go up there and race at their home.”

When the two schools met again at the Big Ten championships, Minnesota captured fourth place in front of fifth-place Iowa. The feelings of that loss are still in the back of the minds for some of the Hawkeye swimmers.

“That didn’t feel too good. It left kind of a bad taste in my mouth that I’m sure that was in everyone else’s,” Huff said. “We’re just excited to race them again in this dual-meet.”

Butler also agrees that loss didn’t feel good, but that will not sway the performance today.

“It hurts, but we’ll get after it this year,” he said. “I don’t think we really need any extra motivation. I think everyone is hungry to begin with. We have big goals.”

Huff said that in order for the Hawkeyes to continue their success, they’ll have to continue racing hard, get their hands on the wall first, and to get after it right from the beginning to get a W.

With the proud tradition of Minnesota swimming, Long said, the Hawks will have their hands full. This time around, Minnesota is ranked No. 13 and Iowa No. 19.

For the head coach, it’s more important how the team’s season finishes than what the team is currently ranked.

“It’s the end of the year that matters,” he said. “We’re all racing for that goal. It’s more important how you finish at the end of the year. We don’t look at [rankings] too much.”

In order to come out on top, Butler thinks to beat the depth of Minnesota again this year, the Hawks will have to focus.

“Just race,” he said. “Shut off the clocks, and beat the guys next to you.”


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