The WVU Tech swim team has recorded a few incredible years in a row. In the 2017-2018 season, both the men’s and women’s teams participated in the NAIA Swimming National Championships, landing eight men’s All-Americans and four women’s All-Americans.In the Appalachian Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships, the men’s team brought home the championship and eight All-AAC players, while the women gained four All-AAC honorees.
MAJOR OF THE YEAR
Saul Montealegre, ’18, was named a SHAPE America Major of the Year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). Montealegre grew up in Bogotá, Colombia. He came to the United States to earn a degree, play soccer and learn to coach. He racked up a number of accolades on the Tech soccer squad and led the team to the 2015 NAIA National Tournament. He served as assistant coach for the team and coached club soccer. Now that his degree is wrapped up, he plans to pursue his dream of becoming a professional athlete and then move into coaching.
THIS ONE'S WAY UNDER PAR
Garret Goosman, ’11, is the Assistant Athletic Director at WVU Tech. He’s also the head golf coach – and he’s so good at it that he was named the 2018 River States Conference Coach of the Year.
BIG THINGS IN BASKETBALL
The men’s squad put in work on the court all season. So much work, in fact, that the team had to drive more than 1,200 miles (17 hours) to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to make their play at the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship.
ON THE PITCH
In Golden Bear soccer, the women’s team landed the title of River States Conference regular season champions under the guidance of Head Coach Stephanie Kot. Kot’s leadership also won her the title of RSC Coach of the Year. Defender Ruby Bingham posted big numbers this season. The Australian player landed RSC Player of the Year and RSC Defender of the Year.Meanwhile, the men’s squad claimed the River States Conference title in November and participated in the National Tournament in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD
2017-2018 was a great year for men’s cross-country and track and field athletes. The track squad wrapped up their indoor season with two All-Americans at the NAIA championships in Pittsburg, Kansas. The outdoor team walked away from the NAIA championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama with four All-Americans. Cross-country runner Michael Ecker-Randolph represented Tech at the NAIA championship in Vancouver, Washington, while racewalker AJ Gruttadauro traveled half the world to compete in China.
Despite a season plagued by injury, Tech grappler Bryan Overton triumphed in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, allowing him to advance to the NAIA National Wrestling Championship in Des Moines, Iowa.
CHECK-IN: A QUICK Q&A WITH AJ GRUTTADAURO
In May, WVU Tech’s AJ Gruttadauro competed in the 2018 International Association of Athletics Federation Word Race Walking Team Championships in Taicang, China. We chatted with him when he got back:
What challenges did you face?
Challenges for me started before I left. As I am gluten-free, for me it means packing an entire suitcase of food that I can make in a hotel room. This also means making sure they are foods that work well for me and can give me the energy I need to perform. Next was finishing all my final exams and papers before I left. I was fortunate that my professors were all willing to work with me.
As for competition, the group in China is among the best 50Km race walkers in the world, so it was tough competition. However, my toughest competition was probably myself. When you go to a race like that you want to do well – for yourself, your coaches and for Team USA. You push yourself to the highest performance level that you can.
Who else raced with you?
On Team USA Men’s 50Km team, I was the only college-age man. On the other teams there were only a handful of athletes that are attending college. The athletes are from all over the U.S. There were several from the East Coast but also many from California.
What was the importance of having Tech compete abroad?
It is very important to have athletes compete abroad. In the U.S., race walking is not as highly valued as it is in other countries. This gives us an opportunity to recruit athletes from other countries.
You have done this in the past. How did the year compare?
I have competed with Team USA abroad before. This was different in that the distance was five times what I have done before. My training and prep for this was similar, only more intense. As one of the youngest guys in the 50km field, there was pressure for me to do well, but I was not expected to cross the finish line in medal contention. As a result, I could focus on my race and push myself to do well. When I competed in Rome I had an awful performance. It was not what I had imagined or planned for. This time I planned and trained better for the heat of China in May. As a result I had a huge personal best time during that race.
Do you plan to do another trip?
Next year there will be many opportunities for me to qualify to travel with Team USA. The most notable will be the Pan Am games July 26 through August 11 in Lima, Peru.