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Monday, September 20, 2021

Sports

Raising the standards: UH athletic programs recent successes


Track fans across the country quickly learned Shaun Maswanganyi's name as the UH freshman phenom took the track and field world by storm. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Track fans across the country quickly learned Shaun Maswanganyi’s name as the UH freshman phenom took the track and field world by storm. | Courtesy of UH athletics

While Houston men’s basketball receives a significant amount of buzz from the UH community, many of the University’s other athletic programs have made major accomplishments in their respective sports.

From NCAA Championship appearances, postseason success and sending runners to the Tokyo Olympics, here’s how some of the top Cougar programs did in the 2020-2021 year:

Track and Field

UH track and field team dominated the 2021 season, with both the men’s and women’s teams winning the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships in sweeping fashion, marking the fifth consecutive AAC title for the men and the second conference title for the women since 2018.

Freshman phenom Shaun Maswanganyi took the track world by storm, setting UH and AAC records and posting some of the NCAA’s fastest sprint times of the season on his way to being named the AAC Freshman of the Year.

On the women’s side, graduate students Brianne Bethel and Tristan Evelyn made headlines with their sprint times in the 100-meter and 200-meter races.

Maswanganyi, Bethel and Evelyn all qualified to run on the world’s biggest stage, representing their countries in the Tokyo Olympics.

Maswanganyi will run for South Africa, Bethel will run for the Bahamas and Evelyn and Mario Burke, who represented the men’s team from 2015-19,  will run for Barbados.

In other international meets, freshman sprinter Camille Rutherford and sophomore long jumper Jadon Brome competed in the NACAC Championships, with Brome placing third in the long jump and Rutherford running away with the U-20 100-meter dash.

Swimming and Diving

UH’s swimming and diving program continued to prove why it has been an AAC dynasty as the Cougars cruised to their fifth straight conference title, posted some of its best numbers in school history and sent multiple athletes to the NCAA Championship in March.

Milestones were reached as junior diver Chase Farris became the first Cougar diver since 2015 to have qualified for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. She was joined by senior swimmers Mykenzie Leehy and Ioanna Sacha.

Sacha made history at the NCAA Championships in the 200 Individual Medley, shattering the program record she previously set just a few weeks prior to give UH its first points at the NCAA Championships since 2014.

Leehy added to the program milestone on the third day of competition adding five points to UH’s total, the most points by a UH swimmer since 1989.

The historic season ended with UH posting the most point total in the NCAA Championships since 2011, as the team finished in the top 30 in the country, the highest amongst non-major conference programs

Volleyball

UH’s volleyball team finished with a 13-6 record overall, including a 9-1 record in conference play, to win the AAC West Division title.

The team featured a program-best five members earning AAC regular season honors, sophomore setter Annie Cooke being named Setter and Freshman of the Year, as well as being named to the AAC’s All-Conference First Team.

Joining Cooke on the All-Conference First Team were junior Kortlyn Henderson and sophomore Abbie Jackson.

Junior Torie Frederick and sophomore Rachel Tullos were named to the American All-Conference Second Team.

Golf

Both the men’s and women’s golf programs put together strong seasons led by multiple All-Conference players to earn postseason appearances.

Sophomore Karen Fredgaard of the women’s team had the best season by far, finishing third at the AAC Championships to lead UH to a second-place finish overall.

Fredgaard was named the AAC Player of the Year along with being one of four Cougars on the women’s team to make the All-Conference team.

On top of all of that, Fredgaard also competed in the NCAA Championships and became the first Cougar in program history to be earn First Team All-American honors.

On the men’s side, senior Alexander Frances led the Cougars with a 72.55 scoring average which led to his unanimous selection to the AAC All-Conference team.

Sophomore Austyn Reily made his name known when he became the ninth Cougar in program history to capture the Texas Amateur title by shooting 10-under over the course of four rounds in June.

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