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Drexel continues the legacy of several wrestling legends | The Triangle

Drexel continues the legacy of several wrestling legends

Mert and Joanne Hill (pictured above) hosted the Drexel University wrestling team during their stay in San Diego. The Hill family’s his-
tory with the program extends to the 1960’s, when Mert headlined the elite crop of Drexel wrestlers.(Photograph courtesy of Drexel Athletics)

Thanks to financial support from Drexel alumni and current San Diego residents Albert “Mert” and Joanne Hill, Drexel University Athletics has officially created a Head Wrestling Coach position. This is the first officially-named male coaching position at Drexel and second named head coach position for the university.

The Hills are no newcomers to the wrestling world – the honorable creation of this position brings Mert Hill full circle, as the 1967 College of Engineering graduate was a dedicated wrestler during his time at Drexel, sporting number 137. In 1966, Mert was co-captain of the team and was awarded the F.C. Walton award for most valuable wrestler for the year.

Additionally, Joanne Hill graduated from the College of Home Economics in 1969, whose programs have now been assimilated into the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design.

Both Mert and Joanne have been active fans and supporters of Drexel, especially the wrestling program. Drexel University Athletics has shown their gratitude of the Hills’ leadership, dedication, and appreciation by bestowing them the title. Prior to this coaching position, Mert and Joanne committed to the Jack Childs Wrestling Room, which is named after former Drexel Wrestling Head Coach and Hall of Famer Jack Childs in May of 2011.

During the Wrestling team’s trip to California, Mert and Joanne supported them as well, sporting Drexel gear in a photograph with the team. Current Head Coach of Wrestling Matt Azevedo, currently in his ninth Drexel season, has led the Dragons to 28 NCAA Wrestling Championship qualifications.

The team has seen significant improvement over Azevedo’s leadership, with six straight seasons of NWCA Division I Top 30 All-Academic Team domination and are currently 5-3 for the 2019-2020 season.

Prior to the Hills’ title, another female head coach position for the Women’s Lacrosse team was created in 2015 thanks to a million-dollar contribution from former director of Women’s Athletics Mary Semanik. Semanik and her husband, John Semanik ‘56, showed similar dedication to Drexel Athletics as Mert and Joanne Hill; the Semaniks helped develop the Daskalakis Athletic Center that we know and love today.

Both Mary and John are members of the Drexel Athletics Hall of Fame as of 1994 and they established the John and Mary Semanik Student Athlete of the Year Awards after their Drexel retirement.

The lobby of the DAC center is officially named the Mary and John Semanik Lobby in their honor, thanks to their years of support, both through Mary’s dedication to women-led NCAA Division I teams after the creation and enforcement of Title IX and John’s work as athletic director for nearly 30 years.

John Semanik passed away December 25, 2008, and Mary Semanik passed February of 2016, but their legacy lives on as strong supporters of Drexel Athletics.