Editor’s note: At the time of publication, SFU swimming is still competing at the NCAA Championships, therefore some more All-American performances may still occur.
Over March 9 and 10, the SFU track team and SFU men’s wrestling team went to compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships, with the track team travelling to Pittsburgh, Kansas and the men’s wrestling team traveling to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to compete. For men’s wrestling, Morgan Smith became SFU men’s wrestling’s first two-time All-American, while the track team put out an All-American performance in the distance medley relay (DMR).
From March 14–17, the SFU swimming team will also be competing at the NCAA Championships, with the swimming ones held Greensboro, North Carolina. At the time of publication (March 16), however, the Championships had not yet finished, and so the final results were still not in.
Here are your newest SFU All-American athletes and performances.
Morgan Smith: All-American in men’s wrestling’s 197 pound weight class (third place)
Despite the All-American finish, Smith did not get off to the start he was perhaps hoping for, as he lost his second match of the tournament to number one seed Evan Ramos from Shippensburg University. The match could not have been closer, but unfortunately for Smith, he lost on a 6–5 decision. This was a minor blip in an otherwise stellar tournament for Smith, and he would avenge the loss later on.
In the consolation final (for third place), Smith and Ramos would face off against each other once again. This time, Smith (the tournament’s number five seed) would come out on top, and win third place as a result. It was a dominating performance, as he won 4–2. The two athletes have a history of facing off against each other, as Smith defeated Ramos in last year’s National Championship as well.
This caps off a terrific season for Smith, in which he went 41–8. With the third place finish, he is now SFU’s first two-time All-American in wrestling. More importantly, this caps off an exciting SFU career for Smith, who entered the season as a senior. Over the past three seasons, he has a dominant record of 108–18. In the NCAA era, he is arguably the greatest men’s wrestler that SFU has produced.
Miryam Bassett, Renate Bluschke, Alana Mussatto, and Julia Howley: All-Americans in track and field DMR relay (third place)
Bassett got things started for SFU in the first leg, keeping SFU in the mix after 400 m in her first DMR for the Clan. In the second leg, Bluschke ran her personal best 400 m, putting in a dominant performance before getting the baton to Mussatto, who ran in the 800 m just a couple hours earlier. Despite this, Mussatto was able to move the Clan up three spots (from seventh place to fourth) in the 400 m stretch. The pressure was then on Howley, the anchor, who kept the Clan in fourth place to end the race, which matched their number four ranking coming into the race. The team would finish in third, however, as Adams State was disqualified, thus moving the Clan up a spot.
Three quarters of the group are in their senior season for SFU, with freshman Bluschke being the standout. As a 200 m and 400 m racer, Bluschke has enjoyed a fine first season for the Clan, capped off by some great experience at the NCAA Championships. She was SFU’s only freshmen to qualify for the tournament, and should continue to grow as an athlete as she progresses in her Clan career.
For Bassett, Mussatto, and Howley, this finish puts the cherry on top of their respective SFU careers, although they will still be competing in the upcoming outdoor season for SFU track and field. Bassett is typically a longer distance runner (800 m and 1,500 m) so running in the DMR was a relatively new experience for her, even though she is in her senior season. Mussatto, who also earned All-American Second Team honours for her performance in the 800 m, was a major difference maker in the race, and put Howley and the rest of her team in a position to succeed. Howley is no stranger to the podium, as she reached it in her first three meets for SFU’s cross country team back in September. Nonetheless, this All-American performance will certainly be another big takeaway from her fantastic senior season.
MacKenzie Hamill, Andrew Woinoski, Rolando Hernandez, Jessie Gibson: All-Americans in SFU swimming in a variety of events
Through two days in the NCAA Championships, the swim team has put together a great performance, with four individual All-American athletes already.
The first two to do so were Hamill and Woinoski, who were both competing in the 1,000-yard freestyle. After clocking their times in the preliminary morning heat, both athletes had to await their fate until the late evening when the final heat was done. With a time of 9:10.46 for Hamill and 9:12.50 for Woinoski, both got the nod as All-Americans. Hamill finished fifth, and in the process, set a new SFU record for the event, beating his time of 9:11.69 he set in 2016. Woinoski, on the other hand, narrowly snuck onto the podium, finishing eighth. Hamill is in his junior season for SFU, and will look to next year to better his record time once again. On the other hand, Woinoski is only in his sophomore year, and will have two more seasons to keep putting up All-American performances. Both athletes will be competing in the 1,650 m freestyle event on Saturday.
On day two, Hernandez and Gibson kept the All-American performances coming. Hernandez started the day off in the 400-yard individual medley (where the swimmer swims 100 yards of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle) with a solid fifth-place finish. His time of 3:50.52 was two seconds faster than what he swam in the morning prelims, and narrowly missed Adrian Vanderhelm’s record of 3:48.07 set in 2015. Nonetheless, it is the second fastest time in this event in SFU history.
On the women’s side, Gibson finished fifth in the 100-yard butterfly for the second straight year, with a time of 53.83. Despite the same result as last year, however, she broke a 10-year record in the event for SFU, beating Vicky Sui’s time of 54.96 set in 2008. Hernandez, and Gibson are both in their sophomore seasons for the Clan, and will be looking to continue putting in strong performances in the upcoming years.