A December bout with mononucleosis was only the start of the disruptions during Jana Mangimelli's sophomore season at Georgia.
The standout swimmer from Brookwood returned to the water just in time to get strep throat, followed up by shingles. The pileup of health problems made the 2010-11 season a tough one, though she gutted out an eighth-place finish in the 400 individual medley at the NCAA Championships.
The rocky season made one of her primary goals this season an obvious one.
"That was my No. 1 goal, to stay healthy," Mangimelli said. "No matter what else happened, I wanted to stay healthy."
With health comes higher hopes.
Mangimelli is entered in the maximum three individual events for this year's NCAA meet, which begins Thursday in Auburn, Ala. She will swim both the 200- and 400-yard individual medley races, as well as the 200 breaststroke for the Bulldogs, who enter the meet as one of the favorites for the team title.
"I definitely feel a lot stronger," Mangimelli said this week. "I've been in the weight room a lot and I feel a lot better in the water than I ever have."
The two-time Daily Post swimmer of the year is shooting for an NCAA performance more along the lines of her debut college season, which included earning SEC freshman of the year honors. She was fourth in the 2010 NCAA meet in the 400 IM with a Bulldog record time of 4 minutes, 5.31 seconds. She added a 10th-place finish in the 200 backstroke and a 14th-place finish in the 200 IM.
Mangimelli enters this year's national meet after a strong showing at the SEC Championships, where she had third-place finishes in the 200 IM and 200 breast and a fourth-place swim in the 400 IM. She has the nation's seventh-fastest time in the 200 IM and the 12th-best in the 400 IM.
"I've never made it back to the top eight (at NCAAs) in the 200 IM, so that's a big thing I'm trying to do this year," Mangimelli said.
The other big goal is a team one.
Georgia, fresh off its third straight SEC title, enters the NCAA meet with the most qualifiers of any team in the nation with 16.
Smith gets ACC award
Wesleyan grad Tanner Smith, a senior at Clemson, was named recently to the All-ACC Academic Team for men's basketball. It was his fourth straight season to receive the honor -- just the second Clemson basketball player ever to accomplish that four-year run.
Smith, a three-time Capital One Academic All-District selection, received his undergraduate degree in marketing.
Cook picked for league award
Georgia State tennis player Thomas Cook was named the Colonial Athletic Association's player of the week on Wednesday.
The Parkview grad led the Panthers to a dramatic 4-3 win over South Carolina State when he pulled out the final singles match to break a 3-3 tie. He won the third-set tiebreaker 13-11.
Cook followed that up by sweeping three singles matches, two in the No. 3 position and one at No. 2. The sophomore has won seven straight matches dating back to Feb. 19.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.