The Bob Christensen Memorial Trophy honors the Father of St. Thomas Swimming, the man who was the first coach of the Tommies. Bob Christensen (right) was hired in 1939, shortly after athletic director Jack Starrat took a group of self-coached students and gave them a chance to become champions. Within a few years, St. Thomas had its first state college championship (a pre-cursor to MIAC Swimming). Christensen was instrumental in designing the O’Shaughnessy Natatorium, and remained as St. Thomas’s swim coachfor five years–winning two championships– until World War II dramatically interrupted college life.
The men’s captains for 2008-09 were Jeremy Anderson, Tony Linn, and Seth Warren, and the women’s team captains were Krista Horejsi and Jill Otterson.
We recognize our Men’s Most Improved Swimmer or Diver by honoring Greg Fitzpatrick (’84), a swimmer who won the trophy three consecutive years. Starting out as a sprinter (because that’s what he was in high school), Greg first one the trophy based on good, old fashioned hard work. The second year, he improved again, fairly dramatically, but clearly hadn’t reached his potential. By his junior year, we finally discovered that his gifts weren’t in sprinting, and he converted to distance, and blossomed! By the MIAC Championships, he had worked himself up to 10th in the 1650…pretty good stuff for a guy who came out of high school with a 50 Free personal record in the 26s.
This year’s winner is Tony Linn, whose entire career at St. Thomas has been characterized by remarkable improvment. Tony came to St. Thomas with about two years of club swimming as a 9-10 year old. But wanting to be a part of the Tommie swimming family that his brother Dave enjoyed so much, Tony joined up, and learned to swim all over again. This year, he posted sprint freestyle times of 22.90 50.79, and 1:53.90 (the 200 was a 10-second taper), his PRs by a bunch, and like Greg Fitzpatrick, the result of a lot of hard work. And, like Greg, Tony won this award as a Freshman, and while he didn’t win last year, he received multiple votes. If we’re judged by the company we keep, Tony is doing very well to have his career parallel a wonderful guy like “Fitty.”
Our women’s Most Improved is not yet named for an individual, but some wonderful people are represented on that trophy dating back to 1980, the third year of women’s swimming at St. Thomas. The 2009 winner is Kristie Dameron of Chandler, AZ. Kristie improved throughout the year, getting a little faster every meet, until she dropped her sprint free times right off the edge of the table at the Minnesota Challenge. Every swim was a joy, not only for Kristie, but for those who shared the wonders of a new personal record almost every weekend.
This is the second in our series recognizing the winners of our team’s annual awards. The Dave Linn and Kristen Murray Trophies honor our Sophomore and older scholar athletes with the highest cumulative GPA. These trophies are named for two athletes who have received every kind of academic recognition available to an MIAC and NCAA student-athlete.
Kristen Murray (Right, class of ’02) was named MIAC Academic All-conference each of her years as a St. Thomas athlete. In 2001, she was named Co-Sida Verizon District Academic All-American, one of 20 women honored in the college division that spring., and in 2002, she was named Co-Sida Verizon At-Large National Academic All-American. Kristen was an Aquinas Scholar, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.95 G.P.A. She graduated from the University of Iowa Dental School, and is practicing dentristry with her father in Dubuque, IA.
Dave Linn (right) was twice named to the Co-Sida Verizon At-Large Natioanal Academic All-American team, and four times to the MIAC Academic All-Conference team. A pre-med major, who carried a 4.00 G.P.A through the fall of his junior year, Linn graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2005, and a month later, was named to the ESPN The Magazine’s At-Large College Division Academic All-American Team.
Linn is returning to medical school after a two-year sabbatical in the seminary, including a year at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, where he studied philosophy.
This year’s winner of the Dave Linn Trophy is Pat Hangge. Pat is a pre-med student, and the son of Monica and Tom Hangge, a St. Thomas basketball player in his day. Pat carries at 3.96 G.P.A. at present.
The women’s team enjoyed an embarras de richesses of superb scholar-athletes, with no fewer than five women all tied (give or take a couple of hundredths) for the Murray Trophy. They are:
Anna Kramer, a junior from Madison WI., double-majoring in Journalism (Advertising and Mass Comm) and Business Admin (Marketing and Marketing Management).
Monica Beggs, sophomore, from Houston, TX, majoring in Legal Studies in Business Ethics and Business Law.
Becca Ney, Sophomore, of Plymouth, MN, double-majoring in Education and Communication Arts.
Sydney Kuramoto, Junior, of Rochester, MN, majoring in Biology (Pre-Med).
Sara Wappes, Junior, of Cloquet, MN, majoring in Biology (Pre-Med).