This season, the CSU swimming and diving team ended the regular season in second place, placing fifth in the conference championships and won an award with the coach of the year.
Now the team has more awards to hang its hat on, as acknowledgements continue to pour in from the Mountain West Conference. Eleven members of the team have been named All-Conference selections — the most in two years, matching the 2005 total. The MWC announced that one relay team was also named to the All-Conference team.
The announcement came early yesterday morning, and the team is very proud to have more than 10 swimmers gaining some notoriety, especially after spending a season working hard to improve more than anyone on the outside-looking-in would have realized.
“They earned it, there’s no doubt about that,” head coach John Mattos said. “They have been working extremely hard all season long. I had very little doubt that they would perform at a high level. They stepped up a huge notch and accomplished some great things.”
The award was a bittersweet ending to a great career for senior Annsley Lujan. The four-year athlete was able to a swim a personal-best 2:19.86 at the championships in the 200-meter breaststroke.
“It was a really good feeling,” Lujan said. “It was definitely one of my goals. It was an honor to be part of that group of people who are obviously really fast. To do it in my last swim meet ever made it all that much better.”
Also, gaining the honor is the young and talented freshman Breann Fuller. Fuller, who set new records in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstrokes, is also the only Ram who will be on her way to the NCAA championships March 19-21.
“She is one of the best out there right now,” Mattos said. “You just can’t put a price on talent, and the young lady is talented, very even-keeled.”
Fuller is not the only Ram named to the team who broke and set records last week at the championships. Sophomores Nicole Lynch and Maddie Gamble also swam with purpose. Gamble set new records in the 500-meter freestyle and 1,650-meter freestyle, while Lynch etched her name in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Sophomores Sam Dole and Michelle Price were also named to the team after their stellar performances in the 50-meter freestyle and the 400-meter individual medley, 100-meter backstroke, respectively.
Third-year swimmers had the most honors, as the juniors were rewarded with five swimmers being named to the team. Carmen Gisella Cianci (200 Freestyle), Nora Kennedy (100 Butterfly), Mari Anna Loftness (200 Breaststroke), Kathleen McCleary (1,650 Freestyle) and Jennifer Muniz (400 Individual Medley) were all named to the team.
“It is a testament to their ability to remain focused and get task at hand taken care of,” Mattos said.
Muniz and Dole both scratched in new records as part of relay teams last weekend. The 200-meter medley relay team, consisting of Fuller, Lynch, Kennedy and Dole, was also named to the All-Conference team after posting a school record time of 1:41.85 seconds.
The season is over, but the team hopes to use this year’s success to propel them to more next year.
“I got a feeling that they’re going to be ready to come back and saddle up; I expect a really fun and fast year,” Mattos said.
Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.