Suzanna Gonzalez became the first Mustang athlete to earn NAIA All-America honors in swimming with a second place finish in the women’s 500-yard freestyle at the NAIA National Championships.

Suzanna Gonzalez

Suzanna Gonzalez, a junior from Trabuco Canyon, Calif., became the Mustangs’ first-ever NAIA All-America swimmer when she finished second in Thursday’s women’s 500-yard freestyle final at the 2017 NAIA Swimming & Diving National Championships in Columbus, Ga.

Gonzalez swam a school-record time of 5:00.00 to smash her former record of 5:01.43. Abigail Richey of Savannah College of Art & Design finished first with a time of 4:59.00. Three-time defending NAIA National Champion Courtney Hayward of Brenau University finished fourth with a time of 5:03.08.

The top three finishers in each individual and relay event at the NAIA National Championships earn All-America status.

Gonzalez finished third in Thursday’s 500-yard freestyle prelims in a tightly contested event where less than one second separated the top three swimmers. Hayward swam the fastest time in the prelims with a clocking of 5:03.01, followed by Richey at 5:03.42 and Gonzalez at 5:03.62.

Gonzalez also helped lead the Mustangs to a 10th place finish in Wednesday’s women’s 800-yard freestyle relay when she combined with Ally Hecht, a freshman from Leavenworth, Kan.; Tracy Gates, a senior from Escondido, Calif.; and Evelyn Edge, a senior from Genoa City, Wis., for a school-record time of 8:02.11 to demolish their former record time of 8:10.13 set earlier this season.

Morningside finished 15th Thursday’s men’s 200-yard freestyle relay final with a time of 1:27.89 from the quartet of Evan Persson, a senior from Blair, Neb.; Jake Kohorst, a freshman from Elk River, Minn.; Timothy Cohoon, a sophomore from Buffalo, Wyo.; and John Dieter, a junior from Carroll, Iowa. 

The Mustangs’ finished 16th in the men’s 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:35.15 from Kohorst, George Weiss, a sophomore from Council Bluffs, Iowa; Billy Salber, a freshman from Omaha, Neb.; and Dieter.

The Mustangs finished 16th in the women’s 400-yard medley relay with a time of 4:15.48 from the quartet of Veronica Mullen, a sophomore from Omaha, Neb.; Jessyca Huff, a freshman from Castle Rock, Colo.; Gonzalez and Edge.

Morningside finished 19th in the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay prelims with a time of 1:43.51 from Edge, Gonzalez, Deborah Cvrk, a freshman from Sioux City, and Mullen.

Morningside finished 17th in Wednesday’s men’s 800-yard freestyle relay when Persson, Cayden Hare, a freshman from Jamestown, N.D.; Lucas Farrington, a sophomore from Rockwell City, Iowa; and Dieter combined for a time of 7:24.29.

The Mustangs had several swimmers compete in Thursday’s individual event prelims.

Edge finished 17th with a time of 5:20.64 and Gates was 23rd with a time of 5:24.93 in the women’s 500-yard freestyle prelims.

Dieter was 30th in the men’s 200-yard individual medley prelims with a time of 2:00.32.

Cvrk was 52nd in the women’s 50-yard freestyle prelims with a time of 26.23 seconds.

Persson was 41st with a time of 22.09 seconds, Kohorst was 46th with a time of 22.25 and Salber was 49th with a time of 22.37 in the men’s 50-yard freestyle prelims.

The NAIA Swimming & Diving National Championships will continue through Saturday.