WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons University's Mindy Williams (Hampstead, N.H.) was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year in addition to junior Aine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.) being chosen the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year and first year Sarah Singleton (Mission Hills, Calif.) being tabbed the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Rookie of the Year, it was announced today by the conference.
The Sharks have swept all three major awards in three of the last four years. In addition to the major award winners, Simmons boasts 14 GNAC All-Conference honorees due to top-three individual finishes and first place relay efforts at the GNAC Championship in February. Those competitors in addition to Scholand and Singleton are seniors Jason Erichsen (Banks, Ore.), Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.), Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) and Kara Smith (Eastham, Mass.), juniors Laura List (Bedford, Mass.) and Cristina Samaniego (Avon, Conn.), sophomores Elizabeth Bartlett (Richmond, Mass.), Anna Leedham (Lowell, Mass.), Sara Manjikian (Belmont, Mass.), Maria Soraghan (Bedford, N.H.), and Olivia Walz (Natick, Mass.) as well as first year Natalie Krieg (Cambridge, Mass.).
Williams earns the top coaching honor nod for the seventh straight year and the eighth time overall following a campaign that saw her direct the Sharks to their 15th straight GNAC Championship and 11th with Williams at the helm. The former Colby College standout was also tapped as the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year for the fourth time in six years and third consecutive year. Under her guidance, Simmons placed 34th in its second straight appearance at the NCAA Division III National Championship on March 21-24 in Greensboro, N.C., captured its second NEISDA crown in as many years in February. Williams tutored an All-America Honorable Mention honoree and saw the Sharks break six school records during the season.
Simmons dominated the GNAC Championship, winning 18 of 22 events under Williams, while breaking nine conference records in the process. The well-respected coach guided the Sharks to their second straight NEISDA crown with a 153.5-point victory over runner-up Roger Williams University. Williams' squad won six individual events and three relay races during the meet and saw 14 competitors combine to achieve All-NEISDA status 49 times by virtue of a top-eight individual or top-four finish in a relay. Simmons also combined to win 30 medals, including 18 golds and broke a school and meet record during the weekend.
The Sharks mentor guided them to their sixth consecutive season with double-digit victories after posting an 11-2 dual-meet record.
Williams has enjoyed tremendous success in just over a decade at the Fenway school, compiling a 94-35 (72.9%) dual-meet record, including 64-10 (86.5%) over the past six seasons. The Sharks have shown a steady progression at the NEISDA Championship, ascending from 11th-place, in Williams' first year as the team's mentor, to three straight years of third, the runner-up trophy in 2017 to a pair of crowns in each of the last two campaigns. In addition, Simmons has broken 26 of the 27 individual and relay records that stand in the school's record books during her stay in Boston.
Scholand was the class of the conference, culminating her 2018-19 campaign with a ninth-place finish in the 1650-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championship to earn All-America Honorable Mention honors after clocking in at 17:01.44 in Greensboro, N.C. The New Mexico native becomes the first Shark to be named Athlete of the Year in consecutive seasons since Miriam Swisher earned the honor three straight campaigns from 2015-17 and continues the Simmons hold on the honor for five straight years. Scholand was the top scorer with 80 points in the GNAC Championship and won all four of her events (1000, 500 and 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke), including three in conference-record time, while also helping the Sharks win the 800-yard freestyle relay and establishing a new GNAC mark in the event. The Sandia High School product continued her brilliance at the NEISDA Championship, winning all three of her individual events (1650, 1000 and 500-yard freestyle) to become the first swimmer in school history to win three events on two occasions after achieving the same feat a year ago. The junior also helped Simmons win three relay events, including the 800-yard freestyle which was completed in NEISDA and school-record time with a 7:40.31 clip. Scholand earned Athlete of the Week honors early in the season and won 23 of 33 races in dual meets or finals heats during the year, while registering 28 top-three finishes, while setting a pair of Simmons pool records. The Neuroscience and Behavior major dominated distance events, winning all six 1000-yard freestyle outings, six of eight 500-yard freestyle races and three of four starts in the 1650 with her only loss coming at the NCAA Championship meet.
Singleton is the second Simmons athlete to earn top rookie honors in as many years and the fourth in the last six seasons. The first year was named Rookie of the Week a conference-high four times and established herself as one of the fastest swimmers in league history in the individual medley after shattering both the 200 and 400-yard records at the GNAC Championship in addition to establishing a new standard in the 100-yard butterfly as part of a 75-point scoring effort for the fourth-highest point total of the meet. A graduate of Grace Christian Academy, Singleton set school records in the 100-yard butterfly (58.46), the 200-yard individual medley (2:10.99) and the 400-yard individual medley (4:37.31). A Neuroscience and Behavior major, Singleton posted 21 top-five finishes, including 13 victories.
Erichsen won all three breaststroke events (200, 100 and 50) for the Sharks at the GNAC Championship meet to go with a second-place showing in the 400-yard individual medley to give the senior 77 points for the second-highest total in the meet. Erichsen also helped Simmons put together a win in the 400-yard medley relay. The Oregon Connections Academy graduate earned All-NEISDA status in four events and ended an outstanding career with a victory in the 200-yard breaststroke to bring home a gold medal for the first time. Erichsen was named Athlete of the Week early in the season and was a consistent winner in breaststroke events, winning 15 of 19 finals or dual meet races in the 50, 100 and 200-yard events. Erichsen won all four 50-yard breastroke races and five of six at the 200-yard distance as part of 26 top-three finishes for the Environmental Science major.
Fleming won a pair of individual events for the Sharks to go with two relay wins as well. The senior broke the GNAC and pool record with a mark of 2:07.79 in the 200-yard backstroke to go with a win in the 50-yard freestyle. The Northampton High School product was named GNAC Athlete of the Week three times and was the only competitor on the squad to medal in seven events at the NEISDA Championship to match the same feat from the previous year. The Public Relations/Marketing Communications major put five gold medals around her neck throughout the meet as part of a final season that saw her win races in every freestyle distance ranging from the 50 to the 1000. Fleming racked up 22 top-three finishes, including 16 wins for the season.
Simpson showed her prowess in the freestyle events for Simmons, placing second in the 1000, 500 and 100-yard events at the GNAC Championships and added a third-place effort in the 200, while helping the Sharks set a conference record in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The Boyertown High School graduate began the season by being named the GNAC Athlete of the Week following Simmons first meet of the season and capped her career by earning the Kay Fromer Senior High Point Award at the NEISDA Championship, given to the swimmer who has accumulated the most points at the meeting during their respective career. The senior added to her point total by finishing second in the 1650 and 1000-yard freestyle events to go with a third-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle. The Exercise Science major contributed to the team's NEISDA record-breaking effort in the 800-yard freestyle relay as well and was a consistent scorer all season for the Sharks, earning top-three finishes on 24 occasions, including seven victories.
Soraghan won the 100-yard freestyle for the Sharks at the GNAC Championship and placed third in the 1000-yard freestyle in addition to helping Simmons to victory in the 200 and 800-yard freestyle relay events. The sophomore battled through injuries during the season, but rebounded to earn All-NEISDA status in six events at the Championship meet following a second-place finish in the 1000-yard freestyle and a pair of fourth-place efforts in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle events. The Pinkerton Academy product etched her name in the NEISDA record-book as part of the team's winning 800-yard freestyle relay quartet.
List placed second in both the 200-yard backstroke and the 50-yard freestyle at the GNAC title meet, while contributing to wins in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard medley relays for Simmons. A Bedford High School graduate, List joined Fleming by earning All-NEISDA honors in seven different events, including a silver and bronze medal. The junior was the runner-up in the 50-yard freestyle and placed third in the 100-yard race, while helping the Sharks to wins in both the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays. The Nursing major turned in a season that saw her earn 22 top-five finishes, including seven wins.
Leedham excelled in the butterfly for Simmons, winning the 200-yard butterfly at the GNAC Championship to go with a third-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly. The sophomore contributed to a win in the 400-yard medley relay as well. A graduate of Lowell High School, Leedham earned All-NEISDA status in four events, including a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly at the NEISDA Championship and an eighth-place effort in the 200-yard invididual medley. A major in Nursing, Leedham compiled 18 top-five efforts, including a pair of victories during the year.
Bartlett earned turned in a trio of third-place finishes for the Sharks at the GNAC Championship, placing third in all three breaststroke events (50, 100 and 200). The sophomore received All-NEISDA status in a pair of events after placing sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke and seventh in the 100-yard individual medley for Simmons. A graduate of Mount Greylock Regional High School, Bartlett recorded 18 top-five efforts during the season, including a victory in the 50-yard breaststroke on January 26 vs. Mount Holyoke College.
Manjikian shined on the diving board for the Sharks winning on the three-meter board with a GNAC-record score of 372.10 in 11 dives to also establish a pool record for Simmons. The sophomore placed second on the one-meter board as well. The Belmont High School product achieved All-NEISDA status on both the one and the three-meter board at the Championship meet, after placing third in the three-meter event in 11 dives. The Nursing major placed fifth on the one-meter board as well. For the season, Manjikian earned GNAC Athlete of the Week honors in addition to placing first eight times as part of 17 top-four finishes.
Walz turned in a second-place showing in the 200-yard breaststroke at the GNAC Championship meet and helped the Sharks to a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The sophomore earned All-NEISDA status following a sixth-place showing in the 200-yard freestyle at the NEISDA title meet as part of 15 top-five finishes for the season. A graduate of Natick High School, Walz posted sixth second-place finishes in 2018-19.
Smith turned in a second-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly at the GNAC Championship to earn All-Conference status. The senior achieved All-NEISDA status as well after placing sixth in the 200-yard butterfly at the Championship meet. The Nauset Regional graduate finished her career by placing among the top five 13 times during the season and placed second on two occasions.
Samaniego finished third on the three-meter board at the GNAC Championship with a personal-best score of 312 points in an 11-dive set. The Avon High School graduate also earned double All-NEISDA status later in the season when she placed fifth on the three-meter board and seventh in the one-meter event at the NEISDA Championship. The junior registered 17 top-five efforts for the year, including six runner-up finishes.
Krieg racked up a career-best 336.65 points to place second on the three-meter board at the GNAC Championship. The first year managed a sixth-place showing to earn All-NEISDA status at the title meet and finished the season with 15 top-five finishes. A graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Krieg recorded her first collegiate win on the one-meter board vs. Merrimack College on the three-meter board on January 19.