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Mikaela Macklin, left, and Greg Allen. Mikaela Macklin, left, and Greg Allen.

Strokes of Genius

Two stand out in a crowded field of scholar-athletes.
By Coleen L. Geraghty

This story is featured in the summer 2014 issue of 360:The Magazine of San Diego State University. 

San Diego State University set a school record this year with its highest score ever on the annual Academic Progress Report released by the NCAA.

That adds up to a lot of success stories, but the most outstanding belong to the Aztecs named student-athletes of 2014.

Baseball outfielder Greg Allen and swimmer Mikaela Macklin won the honors by demonstrating excellence in academics, athletics, leadership and character.

Both student-athletes are destined to be enshrined in the Aztec Hall of Fame for their achievements in the pool and on the field. But they also shine in the classroom with GPAs above 3.5 and multiple-year spots on the Mountain West All-Academic teams.

Power in the pool

Macklin set all kinds of records during her swim career at SDSU. She holds school titles in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys, 200-meter breaststroke and 800-meter free relay.

This year, she won the Mountain West Senior Recognition Award—determined by MW coaches—as part of the 800-meter freestyle relay championship team that set the division meet record.

The May ’14 graduate was MW Swimmer of the Year in 2013 and qualified for the NCAA championships in three events last year. She was honored as a MW scholar-athlete and a member of the MW All-Academic Team in each of her years at SDSU.

Macklin also qualified for the NCAA Championships this year, earning honorable mention All-America honors by finishing 12th overall in the 200 individual medley.

Her accomplishment helped the Aztecs place 27th of 51 teams competing in the NCAA championships, the highest rank ever achieved by the SDSU swimming and diving team.

Macklin’s athletic spunk spilled over into the classroom. Graduating with a 3.74 GPA, she received the Most Outstanding Student award from the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at commencement.

Department faculty recalled Macklin’s work ethic, initiative and capacity for leadership. In one class, she volunteered to call the White House press secretary for a spontaneous telephone interview.

Through her internship work with the California State Games last summer, the grass roots U.S. Olympic Committee program increased its social media presence by 10 percent on Facebook and 23 percent on Twitter.

Flair on the field

No crystal ball necessary to predict a bright future for Greg Allen.

The Aztec outfielder was selected by the Cleveland Indians during the second day of the MLB draft in June based on his .307 batting average and his team rank of third in hits (77), second in runs scored (52), and first in stolen bases (25).

The prowess of Allen and teammates catapulted Aztec baseball to a MW championship this year and earned SDSU a berth in the NCAA baseball tournament for the third time in six years.

Allen’s individual achievements include a spot on the 2013 NCAA regional All-Tournament team and two years on both the MW academic All-Conference team and the MW All-Tournament team.

He is also a two-time winner of the prestigious Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Award, which honors undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.

Among players and coaches, Allen is known as a gifted communicator. Mark Martinez, recently named executive head coach of Aztec baseball, described him as intelligent and mature, with the ability to defuse situations through give and take.

“Greg does have a little bit of Eddie Haskell in him,” Martinez said. “You’ll be debating, and he’ll hit you with a zinger—nothing hurtful—but it catches you off guard. He’ll get you to laugh at yourself.”

A business management major with a 3.52 GPA, Allen expects to train with the Indians’ minor league system this summer before returning to SDSU in the fall to complete his degree.