Anthony Musciano, a freshman, keeps his gold medal on his desk in his dorm room.

Jack Strickland, a senior, stores his two gold medals in a metal bucket next to his bed.

The gold medals Musciano and Strickland received this year for their conference titles are symbolic. Musciano’s medal represents potential. Strickland’s medals signify overcoming doubt and disappointment.

“It’s definitely a blessing,” said Musciano, a Drexel University men’s diver who first talked publicly about being gay in March.

Musciano and Strickland are two of the 32 publicly out LGBT college athletes and coaches who won conference titles during the 2016-17 school year.

LGBT athletes captured 17 conference titles as individuals or on relays, and 23 teams that included LGBT athletes or coaches won conference titles.

For Musciano, he won the Colonial Athletic Association title in 3-meter springboard diving. Strickland won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference indoor 60-meter hurdles and the outdoor 110-meter hurdles.

“It had taken me four years to finally get on the top of the podium,” Strickland said of his indoor hurdle title. “It was incredible joy, but it was also — finally, you did it.”

During his first three years at Friends University, Strickland felt like he couldn’t win. He finished second or third in the conference a combined three times, and that includes losing the 60 hurdles in 2016 by a hundredth of a second.

“After coming in second and third for the past two years, you start to doubt everything,” said Strickland, who initially talked publicly about being gay in 2016. “There was always doubt in my mind.”

He overcame that doubt to win this year’s 60 hurdles in 8.56 seconds. When he got home, he put the medal into the bucket that has stored mementos from throughout college. Three months later, he won the KCAC 110 hurdles in 15.08 seconds, and he had a second gold medal for his bucket.

“I set out this whole year to be on top,” said Strickland, who plans to work as a nurse for the next year and start medical school in 2018. “It’s really gratifying that all my work and workouts finally paid off for something.”

Winning was more unexpected for Musciano.

Entering the CAA 3-meter diving competition, his only college win was at a dual meet. Musciano’s first two 3-meter dives at conference, he scored less than 50 points each and was in third place.

The 5-foot-8, 145-pound Musciano then averaged 58.3 points his final four dives to score 326.45 points, his highest score of the season.

“I came out of the water, and then they said the final score. My teammates came over and screamed, and we were all screaming,” Musciano said. “That was exciting, very exciting.”

He also finished second in the 1-meter springboard competition. It led to Musciano earning CAA Rookie Diver of the Year, CAA Diver of the Year, and CAA Diver of the Meet at the conference championships. It’s just the third time since 1996, when CAA Rookie Diver of the Year was introduced, that the CAA Rookie Diver of the Year has swept the conference diving awards.

Musciano said he was “completely in shock” winning his first conference title, but now, he sees the potential to achieve even more next year.

“There are definitely dives that I could do better, as well as doing completely new dives, but I’m definitely trying to improve for this coming year,” Musciano said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Conference titles by LGBT college athletes and coaches in 2016-17

Mason Darrow, Princeton (Ivy League team title)
Darrion McAlister, Marian (Mid-States Football Association team title)

Men’s Cross Country
David Gilbert, Lewis-Clark (Frontier Conference team title)
Cavender Salvadori, William & Mary (Colonial Athletic Association team title)

Men’s Gymnastics
Jake Martin, Ohio State (Big Ten Conference team title, high bar)

Men’s Swimming and Diving
Schuyler Bailar and David Pfeifer, Harvard (Ivy League team title)
Chris Cassingham, Mary Washington (Capital Athletic Conference team title)
Liam Huffman, George Washington (Atlantic 10 Conference team title)
Nick Jessee, St. Louis (Atlantic 10 Conference 800-yard freestyle relay)
Ayrton Kasemets, Oakland (Horizon League team title)
Anthony Musciano, Drexel (Colonial Athletic Association 3-meter springboard)
Austin Olivares, Lindenwood (New South Intercollegiate Swimming Conference team title)
Steven Stumph, Southern California (Pac-12 Conference 200-yard breaststroke)
Coach Patrick Jeffrey, Stanford (Pac-12 Conference team title)

Men’s Track and Field
Chase Boyle, Mount St. Mary’s (Northeastern Conference outdoor hammer)
Jason Hadley and Josh Thorne, Mount Union (Ohio Athletic Conference indoor team title, outdoor team title)
Cavender Salvadori, William & Mary (Colonial Athletic Association outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase)
Austin Shupp, Shippensburg (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference indoor team title, outdoor team title)
Jack Strickland, Friends (Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference indoor 60-meter hurdles, outdoor 110-meter hurdles)

Men’s Volleyball
Justice Lord, Michael Tyler, and Juan Varona, Barton (Conference Carolinas regular season title, tournament title)
Jimmy Nuckolls, King (Conference Carolinas regular season title)

Women’s Basketball
Taylor Emery, Gulf Coast State (Panhandle Conference regular season title)

Women’s Lacrosse
Alanna Carvalho, Alabama-Huntsville (Gulf South Conference regular season title)

Women’s Soccer
Sonia Johnson, DePaul (Big East Conference regular season title)

Women’s Softball
Coach Lauren Lappin, Missouri-St. Louis (Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament title)
Women’s Swimming and Diving

G Ryan, Michigan (Big Ten Conference team title, 500-yard freestyle, 1,650 freestyle, 800 freestyle relay)
Coach Patrick Jeffrey, Stanford (Pac-12 Conference team title)

Women’s Tennis
Coach Simon Thibodeau, UC Santa Barbara (Big West Conference tournament title)

Women’s Track and Field
Emmonnie Henderson, Louisville (ACC indoor shot put, outdoor shot put)
Carly Muscaro, Merrimack (Northeast 10 Conference indoor 200 meters, indoor 400, outdoor 200, outdoor 400, outdoor 400-meter relay).

Jack Strickland can be reached on Twitter or Instagram @ThaJackAttak.
Anthony Musciano can be reached on Instagram @ajmatl.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.

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