Gannon University student-athletes continue to set the pace in the classroom and in competition concluding their winter and spring campaigns that were full of noteworthy individual and team performances.
Coming out on top is difficult to do once, but the Gannon men’s cross country team continues to achieve national distinction in the classroom. Coach John Carrig’s ’81, ’87M runners recorded the highest team GPA in NCAA Division II. This is the fourth time that the team has achieved this honor in Carrig’s 26-year head coaching career. Gannon was named an NCAA Division II All-Academic team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the 13th consecutive season. The Golden Knights produced the nation’s highest cumulative team GPA with 3.80.
Coming into February’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championships at the Graham Aquatic Center in York, no Gannon female swimmer had won PSAC gold since the University joined the conference prior to the 2008-09 academic year. That situation ended decisively as the Gannon women’s swim team won five gold medals on the way to a fourth-place finish. In all, the swimmers earned 14 All-PSAC honors, recorded 10 NCAA “B” cut times and broke two school records while finishing fourth at the PSAC Championships. The 400-yard freestyle relay team became the first Gannon relay team–female or male–to ever win a PSAC title.
A one-run, late-inning loss in the PSAC tournament left the baseball team just a few wins short of potentially receiving a first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. Still, this was a record-breaking year for overall victories (31-17) and PSAC wins (18-10). The team was ranked regionally for the first time in program history and looks to build on this year’s successful campaign.
The competitive cheer co-ed team ended its inaugural season on a high note with a fifth-place finish at the 2016 National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Golden Knights achieved the distinction of having the lowest deduction of any team in the finals and recorded perfect scores of 10 in two categories. The all-girl squad barely missed a berth in the finals after finishing second in the Challenge Cup portion of the event.
Junior golfer Diana Munoz saved her best for last. By shooting her best score of the week, she leaped 17 spots during the final round to finish in a tie for 38th place out of 66 golfers at the NCAA Division II Women's Golf East Regional hosted by the Panther Creek Country Club in Springfield, Illinois. She also became the first golfer in program history to win three events during the same season after capturing titles at the Clarion, Allegheny and West Chester invitational tournaments. Munoz was the runner-up at the PSAC Championship and Ohio Valley Invitational.
The men’s golf team qualified for its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, marking the first time the program has played in four consecutive national tournaments since making five straight appearances from 1983 to 1987. Senior Cameron Zbrzeznj placed 14th at the NCAA Division II Men's Golf Atlantic/East Regional.
The acrobatics & tumbling team qualified for the national championships at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. It was the program’s second appearance in three years of existence. Despite achieving scores of 9.50 or better in six heats, the team fell to top-ranked Baylor in the national quarterfinals. Lisa Wagaman was named National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) Freshman of the Year.
Postseason appearances are becoming a tradition for the softball team, which qualified for its sixth consecutive PSAC Tournament. The Lady Knights opened tournament play by knocking off West Chester University, which at the time was ranked No. 12 in NCAA Division II.