University of Idaho head coach Mark Sowa announced the addition of five swimmers, one of whom will arrive in January, to the Vandal roster.
“These five athletes not only are extremely talented but also are great people with a love for this sport and a desire to make Idaho swimming and diving better,” said Sowa of his first signing class. “From the moment we started talking to them, we could see they shared the same vision we did as to what this program can become. This class will enable us to make a nice step forward.”
Kirah Monks will be the first one on campus when she arrives in January from Whitby, Ontario, Canada, where she has excelled at Sinclair Secondary School and with the Ajax Aquatic Club. Arriving in the fall are Sami Hendricks (sister of current Vandal Katie Hendricks), Emily Renzini, Janelle Stacy and Jamie Sterbis.
Monks graduated last spring from Sinclair Secondary as a three-time OFSAA silver Medalist. She had a stellar career with Ajax Aquatic where she went to the Canadian Age Group National Championships, was a Senior National Qualifier in the 1500m freestyle, and a Coach’s Cup recipient. Additionally, she has qualified for the Canadian Olympic Trials in the mile.
“Kirah should be able to help us immediately,” Sowa said. “We have a big hole to fill in our distance events. She has speed and can race any freestyle event from the 50 to the 1650.”
Even as a mid-year transfer, Sowa has immediate expectations of Monk.
“It is never easy to come into a program at semester,” Sowa said, “but after having her here this fall on her recruiting trip, I know she will fit seamlessly into our program and have an immediate impact on the conference.”
Hendricks graduates in 2012 from Sumner (Wash.) High School after qualifying and placing at the state meet throughout her high school career. She also competed for 11 years with the Valley Aquatics Swim Team. She excelled in the classroom as a member of the National Honor Society and the Honor Roll.
“We are extremely excited about the speed Sami will bring to the program,” Sowa said. “She has a ton of pop and will continue to improve once she experiences racing at this level. It is our hope she will contribute not only in the sprint freestyle events but the relays as well.
“Most importantly, Sami is a great young lady who will make our team better.”
Renzini is from Colbert, Wash., and graduates this spring from Mount Spokane High School. She was the first swimmer to commit to Sowa’s first class and had an impressive junior career.
“I had a chance to watch Emily race this summer and I was extremely impressed with how tenacious she is,” Sowa said. “I believe Emily is excited about the potential to build this program into a champion and being on the ground floor of that effort.”
Renzini’s time in the 200 butterfly is already two seconds better than the Idaho record, which bodes well for the Vandals as Sowa plans to use her not only in that event but the 100 fly, the individual medleys, and mid-distance freestyle events.
“Most of all,” Sowa said, “Emily is going to be a great teammate and we are excited for her to be a Vandal.”
Stacy comes to Idaho from Ketchikan, Alaska, where she has been a constant force for Ketchikan High School and the Ketchikan Killer Whales club team. She was the high-point recipient for the Killer Whales for four seasons and has been a team captain and state qualifier throughout high school. Her versatility is a good problem to have, Sowa said.
“We have a great problem in what to swim her in next year,” Sowa said. “The moment Janelle arrived on campus, we had a feeling this was a perfect fit for her. She can score for us in both backstrokes, sprint fly, sprint free and 200 IM. Her addition makes us a much deeper team and gives us a lot of options.”
Sterbis hails from Brookings (S.D.) High School where she was a team captain as well state champion, Swimmer of the Year, and MVP. She also earned recognition as a scholar-athlete from her school and was a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American. As a club swimmer for Brookings, she was a state champion, MVP and Swimmer of the Year as a competitor in butterfly, freestyle and backstroke events.
“Jamie has a huge upside,” Sowa said. “She is tremendously athletic and has a great feel in the water. I love her outlook and her desire to improve. I would expect her to score for us in the 100 and 200 fly after having competed in those events at the Minnesota Grand Prix.
“I have no doubt she will be a great Vandal and will make huge strides for us next year.”
Vandal swimming and diving welcomes its early signees to Idaho and the Vandal family.