SMU’s unknown athletes

Win or lose, the SMU football team, men’s and women’s soccer, basketball and volleyball teams receive some sort of recognition at the end of every week. Yes, these athletes deserve a chance in the spotlight, but what about the other student athletes and coaches left lingering in the background? SMU has a variety of other sports that will appear from time to time in the paper, but does the campus even know we have an equestrian team?

This summer, SMU sent head coach of women’s swimming, Steve Collins, to the Beijing Olympics to help coach the Slovakian National Team. The head coach of men’s swimming, Eddie Sinnot, also made the trip as the manger of the U.S. team. Students, if even aware of this event, hardly batted an eyelash at the thought of SMU coaches hanging out poolside to eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps. Four SMU graduates were also present in the track and field events, but did anyone on campus bother to learn their names to cheer them on as they sprinted down the track? Probably not.

SMU senior Andrea Kvetova finished fourth in the nation in the women’s javelin at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Mustang cross country team broke into the top 25 teams in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association women’s Division I cross country poll. They defeated powerhouses Penn State, Rice and Wake Forest to achieve the No.21 spot. Short of the athletes directly involved in the event, few people were probably aware the Mustangs were competing for a national title.

Yes, our men’s soccer team was the No.2 in the nation, but that was several weeks ago. But does anyone notice that the women’s cross country team has jumped all the way to the No.4 spot in the South Central Region after their strong performance at the Notre Dame Invitational at the beginning of the month? Maybe it’s because people prefer men’s athletics to women’s, but these dedicated athletes deserve to be recognized for their dedication and determination to win.

How many students can identify the only female athlete this season to win back-to-back Conference USA Athlete of the Week honors? No, it’s not a soccer or basketball player. It’s sophomore cross country runner, Silje Fjortoft. As C-USA’s 2007 Freshman of the Year, Fjortoft has established a name for herself as one of the top athletes on the team’s roster, and continues to dominate at track meets around the country.

Students pass the Perkins Natatorium every day on their way to class, but do any of them have the slightest idea what goes on in the Olympic-sized lap pool? For example, how many people knew the women’s swimming and diving team is ranked 12th in the most recent CollegeSwimming.com polls? Or that the men’s team is ranked 19th by the same site? Or that senior Colton Ingram participated in the Alcatraz Invitational in September, and clocked in at 28:17, good enough for 10th place.

While we’re not trying to suggest football, soccer and basketball be ignored, we just wanted to highlight the outstanding talent possessed by some of the not always recognized athletes. Maybe since no one seems to go to football games we can get a crowd to fill Perkins Natatorium.

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