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Mavericks set university record with six national champions

It has been a stellar year for Colorado Mesa University varsity sports, with three of the university’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II athletic programs reaching new heights of national prominence.

Logging their best NCAA results ever, CMU ended the 2021 spring season with six national champions. 

“It’s been a phenomenal year,” said Athletic Director Bryan Rooks. “That’s a fact.”

 National championships were won by Ammar Hassan, CMU’s oft-decorated diving champion and recent graduate, who once again captured top honors in 1-meter and 3-meter diving becoming the NCAA Division II’s first 6-time national diving champion. Strong performances in diving by Tanner Belliston, Chandler Livingston and Isiah Cheeks helped the men’s swimming and diving team match their best-ever overall finish at 11th in the nation.

 Fred Green, a 5th year wrestler, who worked towards his Master of Business Administration degree this year, captured top honors as an NCAA Division II wrestling champion in the 165-pound class. At the end of his match, Green signified the triumphant end of his competitive wrestling career by participating in the wrestling tradition of unlacing his shoes, removing his headgear, placing them on the mat and kneeling behind them. Green is a transfer athlete who began his collegiate wrestling career at Boise State University. He arrived at CMU in the fall of 2019 when his coach, Mike Mendoza, accepted a position with the Mavericks.

On the women’s side, Jill Payne, Mica Jenrette, Sierra Arceneaux and McKenna Molder won the women’s indoor track and field 4x400-meter relay becoming the first CMU women’s varsity athletes to win a national championship title (other female CMU national champions have competed in club sports). They are also the first relay team from CMU to earn All-American status. The overall women’s indoor track and field team tied for 12th in the final team standings, which was their best national championship finish ever.

Green, who is currently back in his home state of Washington, called winning a national championship fulfilling. 

“It’s proof that dedicating myself to a long-term goal was worth the process. It was a great way to end a career — on top with no unfinished business.” 

As for Rooks, he credits the recent growth of athletics at CMU, along with numerous athletic facility improvements, with raising the profile of the university and helping to attract top-level competitors.

 “Three-and-a-half years ago, CMU had 11 varsity programs. Now we have 28,” he said, adding that he anticipates the Mavericks’ upward trajectory will continue as “winners attract winners.” 

Rooks said that while watching CMU student-athletes win at a national level is gratifying, he is even more proud of how these student-athletes handle themselves on campus, in the classroom and within the Grand Junction community. 

“We expect our student-athletes to excel on their playing surface and excel in the classroom as well. Here at CMU, we will continue to align these priorities and provide opportunities for our men and women to be well-rounded and successful in all aspects of life.”


Written by Kristen Lummis