COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (October 1, 2014) ~ Entering its inaugural season of competition, the Colorado State University-Pueblo swimming & diving team has been picked to finish sixth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. Additionally, junior Clarissa Gardella (Bakersfield, Calif.) and freshman Leila Zijadic (North Vancouver, B.C., Canada) were named to the preseason all-conference team.
The ThunderWolves, led by head coach Brian Pearson, collected 11 points overall in the poll. California Baptist University was selected to finish first in the league after earning six of seven first place votes and 36 overall points.
Gardella comes to CSU-Pueblo after swimming for two years at Bakersfield (Calif.) College. While at Bakersfield, Gardella was a two-time All-American in the 50 free. The Bakersfield, Calif., native also garnered All-American accolades in the 50 back, 200 and 400 free and the 200 and 400 medley relays for the Renegades. Gardella helped lead Bakersfield to a Western States Conference crown as a sophomore (2014) after placing second in the 50 back (27.92), 50 free (24.62) and 100 free (54.69).
Just a freshman, Zijadic earned several provincial medals in British Columbia, including gold in the 200 breast. Zijadic qualified for the finals in the Canadian Age Group Championships, finishing sixth, while also taking sixth in the Western Canadian Championships. Zijadic competed at the club level for both Chena Swim Club and the West Vancouver Otters, where she broke many club records in the breaststroke events.
The Pack were one of four squads to be represented by a pair of student-athletes on the preseason all-conference squad. Mary Hanson of Cal Baptist was voted the preseason swimmer of the year, while her teammate Breanne Schlenger was selected as the preseason diver of the year.
CSU-Pueblo will compete in its first-ever meet on Oct. 12 versus RMAC opponent Western State Colorado University. The meet will begin at 3 p.m. at Pueblo County High School.
2014-15 RMAC Women's Swimming & Diving Preseason Coaches Poll
School (First Place Votes) Points
1. California Baptist (6) 36
2. Lindenwood (1) 27
3. Colorado Mesa 26
4. Adams State 20
5. Colorado Mines 19
6. CSU-Pueblo 11
7. Western State 8
Name School Year Hometown
Briana Burns Colorado Mines Fr. Houston, Texas
Katrin Gallup Colorado Mines So. The Woodlands, Texas
Clarissa Gardella CSU-Pueblo Jr. Bakersfield, Calif.
Mary Hanson Cal Baptist Sr. Ridgecrest, Calif.
Yosita Hapsari Cal Baptist Jr. Jakarta, Indonesia
Eryn Leonard Colorado Mesa So. Craig, Colo.
Marissa Mantzey Adams State So. Peoria, Ariz.
Alena Rumiantceva Cal Baptist Jr. Arkgangelsk, Russia
Mary Saiz Colorado Mesa So. Pueblo, Colo.
Leila Zijadic CSU-Pueblo Fr. North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
# CSU-Pueblo #
As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.