GCU’s new sports programs on fast track to nat’l success

When it comes to developing new sports programs, Grand Canyon University seems to have found the fast track to success.

The Antelopes’ track & field program just returned from Minnesota with a national championship in tow – in just the second year of the program’s existence.

About the same time, the wrestling team was wrapping up a No. 3 national ranking, as two grapplers won individual national championships.  The wrestling program is just five years old.

And the swimming & diving team, also in it’s fifth year, is competing right now in Texas at the NCAA Division II Championships and both teams were in the top five after the second day of competition.  Last year, the men’s team finished fourth in the nation and women’s team 10th.

A side note to this week’s competition… Mychala Lynch from Xavier Prep in Phoenix won the school’s first-ever NCAA national title in the sport when she finished ahead of the field in the 100 fly.  Her winning time of 54.37 was just .18 off setting a new D-II national record.

The wrestling program also added a couple of individual national championships, as Victor Carazo won the 174-pound title and Kyle McCrite is the new title-holder at 125.  That makes three total, since Todd Wilcox won the school’s first wrestling title last year in the 133 division.

Wilcox has graduated and Carazo is a senior, so McCrite will have the opportunity next season to become the school’s first two-time champion in the sport.

Carazo and McCrite also earned All-America honors, as did Bobby Ward, who finished third at 149, and Celic Bell, who took eighth place at 197.

In the swimming & diving nationals, GCU athletes won All-America honors in 18 events and two brought home individual national championships.

Dominique Hubert won an individual title in the 60-meter dash, where the sophomore from Georgia ran a personal-best time of 6.65 seconds, and junior Karlin Stewart won his championship in the long jump with a leap of 24’8.5″.

The women’s team, too, made a good showing this year, finishing in sixth place with a total score of 32 points after reaching the finals in three running events, two field events, and the 4×400 relay.

Shavine Hodges, a sophomore from Jamaica, posted the best finishes of the meet for the GCU women, coming in second in both the 60 meters (7.42) and 200 meters (24.14).

Grand Canyon, a small Christian-based private college on the west side of Phoenix recently announced plans to request a move up to Division I, and both the men’s and women’s basketball teams gave the idea some credence when both got invitations to the NCAA Tournament.

Based on this year’s overall results, the Lopes appear to be making a good case for the move up.

(Photo: GCU Athletics)