Student-athletes add long list of academic accolades to unrivaled year of competitive success
The past school year provided no shortage of highlights for student-athletes at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
The fall season saw the Tritons volleyball team win 25 matches, advance to the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship and secure its first-ever victory in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
In the winter, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament – the men doing so after claiming the GLVC Tournament crown, and Coach Bob Sundvold’s team then played its way to the Sweet 16.
Not to be outdone, UMSL’s swimming teams sent a school-record 10 competitors to the NCAA Division II Championships, and junior Zara Konstapel secured first-team All-American honors after placing seventh in the women’s 100-yard breaststroke.
In the spring, both the men’s and women’s golf teams played their way into the NCAA Division II Championship – the men after winning the GLVC championship – and senior Joel Sylven punctuated the year by winning the individual title, joining the 1973 men’s soccer team as the only national champions in school history.
“We will openly say UMSL had its best athletic year ever, top to bottom,” said Director of Athletics Lori Flanagan, who relished the whole ride.
The Tritons’ achievements weren’t limited to the court, pool, course or field, and they’ve been continuing even after the competitions ended.
Eleven UMSL teams received Team Academic All-GLVC Awards for maintaining grade point averages of 3.3 or higher as a group. Those teams included women’s golf (3.67), volleyball (3.65), men’s tennis (3.65), men’s golf (3.57), women’s tennis (3.57), women’s swimming (3.55), softball (3.47), women’s track and field (3.45), women’s basketball (3.41), women’s cross country (3.38) and women’s soccer (3.37).
A school-record 158 UMSL student-athletes garnered Academic All-GLVC honors individually during the 2021-22 year, and all 19 of the Tritons teams had a least one representative. In all, 62.9 percent of Triton student-athletes were named to the list.
Men’s basketball player Shane Wissink, men’s golfers Reilly Ahearn and Michael Brothers, women’s soccer player Esther Robinson, men’s tennis player Karl Heinrichs and women’s tennis player Leticia Lunge each earned academic all-conference honors for the fifth time in their careers, and UMSL had 20 other student-athletics recognized for the fourth time.
The GLVC recognized 17 UMSL student-athletes with the Brother James Gaffney FSC Distinguished Scholar Award. The award, named for the former president of Lewis University, is presented annually to student-athletes who achieve a 4.0 GPA during the course of the academic year.
UMSL’s honorees were baseball player Matt DiMemmo; women’s basketball player McKenzie Lathrom; men’s cross country and track and field runner Benjamin VandenBrink; women’s cross country and track runner Lily Wagemann; men’s golfer Brandon DiMemmo; women’s golfers Tove Brunell and Sophie Faulkner; women’s soccer players Imogen Bennett and Ayana Weissenfluh; softball players Mimi Bradley and Corinne Daley; women’s swimmers Rebecca Bechtel, Lily Franzen and Kristen Stalder; women’s tennis player Maja Lietzau; volleyball players Leah Luchinski and Charlotte Richards.
There were 27 UMSL student-athletes who received GLVC Council of Presidents’ Academic Excellence Award after exhausting their eligibility while maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA throughout their academic careers.
Matt DiMemmo was among them and was one 25 student-athletes from the league’s 13 member institutions who concluded their collegiate careers with an unblemished 4.0 cumulative GPA.
Another of the UMSL honorees, women’s basketball player Alex LaPorta, was named the GLVC Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, becoming the first player in UMSL women’s basketball history to win the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. She joined Richards, who was named the GLVC Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year in January. LaPorta, a two-time first-team All-GLVC selection on the court, posted a 3.85 GPA while pursuing her MBA in her final season.
Even more recently, UMSL men’s and women’s swimming teams received Scholar All-America honors from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America. UMSL was one of 52 NCAA Division II institutions to have both men’s and women’s teams recognized.
Eight swimmers received individual Scholar All-America honors: Bechtel, Ryan Clark, Franziska Hauptmann, Ian Heye, Konstapel, Kate Nelson, Jon Osa and Conley Savage.
There were seven women’s golfers who received All-American Scholar Recognition from the Women’s Golf Coaches Association by posting GPAs of at least 3.5. The honorees were Brunell, Momo Kikuchi, Victoria Klausner, Manon Labeur, Juliette Lecomte, Jenna Teeter and Linn Thornqvist. UMSL’s seven selections were the most in the GLVC.
Four men’s basketball players – graduate students Wissink and Kellen King, senior Yaakema Rose Jr. and junior Lawrence Brazil III – were named to the NABC Honor Court.
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