Minich Named NEISDA Diving Coach of the Year; Scholand Named Top Swimmer, Manjikian Tabbed Top Diver

Simmons University Diving Coach CJ Minich, swimmer Aine Scholand Class of 2020 and Sara Manjikian Class of 2021

WESTON, Mass. – Simmons University women's diving coach CJ Minich (Wellesley, Mass.) has been named the 2020 Charles Batterman Women's Dive Coach of the Year by the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association, it was announced by NEISDA. In addition, Simmons senior Áine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.) was formerly named the Bruce Hutchinson Swimmer of the Meet and junior Sara Manjikian (Belmont, Mass.) was tabbed the Diver of the Meet, following last weekend's championship meet at University of Rhode Island. 

Minich becomes the first diving coach in school history to earn the NEISDA honor after seeing all three of her divers qualify to compete at the NEISDA Championship and capture both the one-meter and three-meter crowns during the meet. The trio of Sharks combined to score 164 points under Minich's direction, including Manjikian winning on both boards. Sophomore Natalie Krieg (Cambridge, Mass.) earned a bronze medal, while senior Cristina Samaniego (Avon, Conn.) placed fourth to give Simmons three of the top four finishers on the three-meter board. Krieg placed sixth on the one-meter board during the meet, while Samaniego finished seventh. It marked the second straight year that Minich was the only diving coach to boast as many as three qualifying divers at the championship meet. 

Minich has enjoyed a tremendous year as the Sharks diving mentor, helping tutor Manjikian to a Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship gold medal on the three-meter board with a conference record-breaking effort as well as a pair of school records.  In eight meets, Simmons divers combined to post 35 top-five finishes, including nine victories and a 1-2-3 finish on three occasions. 

She is in her fifth season at the Boston school and has presided over success on both the one and three-meter boards since her arrival, coaching three different divers to a combined four Great Northeast Athletic Conference championships on the three-meter board in addition to an individual title on the one-meter board in that came in just her first year with Simmons. The Sharks have sent at least one diver to the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championship in each of the last four years that Minich has been at the Fenway School and saw her direct three Simmons divers to qualifying berths on both boards at the NEISDA meet for the first time in school history in last year's title competition. Minich has seen three school records fall under her watch to go with a pair of GNAC Championship standards. 

Scholand was the top scorer at the NEISDA Championship for the third straight year. She helped Simmons to a second-place team finish with three individual first place finishes. The senior also contributed to a trio of relay wins for the Sharks and a second-place showing to attain All-NEISDA status in the maximum seven events. Scholand earned the Bruce Hutchinson Award as the Swimmer of the Meet for the second time in three years to join Miriam Swisher (2013-17) as the only student-athletes in school annals to earn the honor more than once. The Sandia High School product's trio of victories make her the only swimmer in school history to win all three of her individual events in three different years. The New Mexico native won the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:05.81 to win by more than 84 seconds and eclipse the NCAA "B" cut qualifying standard. She also won the 500-yard freestyle with a "B" cut time of 4:59.30 to win by more than 21 seconds. Scholand won her third distance event with a mark of 10:15.75 to capture the 1000-yard freestyle by more than 48 seconds. The Co-Captain opened the winning 800-yard freestyle for the Sharks and helped them post a time of 7:57.48 to go with a winning mark of 3:35.32 in the 400-yard freestyle relay that she swam third in. She again swam third in the 200-yard freestyle relay to contribute to the team's first-place time of 1:39.26 and helped Simmons place second in the 400-yard medley relay as the opening backstroke leg to combine on a time of 4:02.78. 

The Neuroscience and Behavior major has been one of the most dominant distance swimmers in the nation this season, posting an undefeated record in all freestyle races more than 500 yards, including three entries in the 1650-yard freestyle and seven starts in the 1000-yard freestyle. Scholand has also won five of six 500-yard freestyle races as part of 20 wins for the year and 25 top-three finishes. In addition, she has three first-place efforts in the 100-yard backstroke, including a victory at the GNAC Championship two weeks ago to go with a win in the 200-yard freestyle and a second-place showing in the 100-yard butterfly at the conference title meet. In addition to four GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week honors this season, Scholand was named the NEISDA Co-Athlete of the Week for the week of November 4-10. 

For her career Scholand has been named All-America in each of the last two seasons, earning First Team accolades as a sophomore and Honorable Mention recognition last year. She has also been selected the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year in both years with the Sharks and is the only competitor in school history to compete in three different events at the NCAA Championship in one season. Scholand owns three individual school records in the 1650, 1000 and 500-yard freestyle and helped Simmons establish a school standard in the 800-yard freestyle relay, while owning three all-time individual NEISDA Championship standards and five individual GNAC Championship marks. 

Manjikian became the first diver in school history to win a gold medal at the NEISDA Championship with her win on the one-meter board with a score of 353.75 points in an 11-dive set. The junior followed that effort with  a school-record point total of 392.85 points in 11 dives on the three-meter board to win her second gold medal of the weekend. 

The Belmont High School product's success at the NEISDA title meet followed her gold-medal effort on the three-meter board just two weeks prior at the GNAC Championship with a conference-record score of 225.00 points in a six-dive set on January 31. In addition, she earned a silver medal on the one-meter board in six dives. The Nursing major has been the Sharks top scorer in every meet this season, while putting together nine wins and 12 top-three finishes. She has been selected as the GNAC Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week three times this season as the most decorated diver in school annals in a single season. Manjikian has been consistent on both boards throughout the season, placing first on both boards in the same meet on four occasions and has tallied 200 or more points nine times. The three-year standout registered a double-win over Wellesley College on November 9, where she broke her own school mark on the one-meter board with 250.30 points in six dives. Manjikian also etched her name in the record book at Knight Natatorium on the Colby-Sawyer College campus with a pool-record effort of 221.50 points to place first on the three-meter board on January 11. 

Manjikian has earned GNAC All-Conference honors in each of her first two seasons at the Fenway School after placing first on the three-meter board in both years at the conference championship meet. She currently holds the GNAC and school record on the three-meter board for an 11-dive set and also owns the school mark on both the one and three-meter boards for a six-dive set as well. In addition, Manjikian earned All-NEISDA status last season and has earned GNAC Athlete of the Week honors four times during her career.  

Simmons finished the season with a 6-5 record in dual meets to record its eighth straight campaign with a winning record, while capturing its 16th straight GNAC Championship. The Sharks have also won the NEISDA crown in two of the last three years after placing second this season and will look to compete at the NCAA Championship for the third straight year, pending an invitation for any of their competitors to advance to Greensboro, N.C. on March 18.