The defending Horizon League Champion University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's and women's swimming & diving teams added 12 newcomers to their roster for next season, head coach Kyle Clements announced this morning.
Abigail Duke of Schaumburg, Ill., Nicholas and Timothy Halverson of Kiel, Wis., Leah Hennes of Mahtomedi, Minn., Mike Lucchesi of Greendale, Wis., Margaret Maxstadt of Naperville, Ill., JJ Melville of Waukesha, Wis., Tanner Nimke of Rochester, Minn., William Sass of Brookfield, Wis., Riley Spitzig of Ankeny, Iowa, Andres Villa of Bloomington, Minn., and Erik Wahlgren of Brookfield, Wis. have all signed with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's and women's swimming & diving team and are set to compete this fall.
"This latest group of men and women to sign with UWM catapults this class into a very special category," Clements said. "This is one of the biggest, deepest and fastest classes to enroll at Milwaukee. (Assistant) Coach (Brittany) Sayler and the student athletes here have done a great job selling this university and getting the word out to the swim community how Milwaukee is not only a great place to learn, but a great place to swim."
Duke is a recent graduate from James B. Conant High School and also swam for the Wheaton Swim Club team. She is a multi time long course and short course senior state qualifier and also qualified for the Speedo Championship Series last year.
"The success of our program is based on getting quality athletes that are quality people," Clements said. "Abby is exactly that, and that is why she is a great addition to this team. She is a great talent and will come in and work very hard both in the classroom and in the pool and help raise the level of success for all those swimmers around her. She will join our distance program and be a very important part of UWM's future."
Nic Halverson is a two-time state champion in the 500 freestyle after finishing runner-up as a sophomore. Nic competed in an impressive 11 events at the state meet during his final three years at Kiel High School, including posting five top-five finishes.
"I am very happy to announce that Nic has committed to swim at UWM this coming fall," Clements said. "Nic is one of the top swimmers in the state and we are very lucky to have him. He will add instant points to our freestyle events. His club and high school coaches have this young man ready to swim at a high level. He gets stronger with each swim and will continue to do so here in Milwaukee."
Tim Halverson teamed up with brother Nic to take fifth in the 4x400 yard freestyle relay at state as a senior, one of three medals Tim earned in his final year at Kiel. He also took second in the 500 yard freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle.
"Tim is an outstanding addition to our program," Clements said. "He has developed into one of the premier talents in the state. I cannot wait to get this young man into our program. He has so many tools and great qualities that not many incomers have. We will look to develop those qualities and really fine-tune him into a complete swimmer. There is no limit to his potential and I can't wait to have him here."
Lucchesi comes to UWM after one year at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Fla. Lucchesi helped IRSC to it's 37th-consecutive NJCAA men's swimming & diving championship as a freshman. In high school, the Greendale native won a state title in the 200 freestyle relay as a senior, took second in the individual 200 freestyle, fourth in the 100 freestyle and third in the 400 freestyle relay.
"I have been waiting for a year to write Mike's release," Clements said. "After a great freshman year at IRSC, Mike came back to Milwaukee and spent a year in residence at UWM. During that year, Mike has continued to get faster and faster. Mike will make immediate impact not only on our team but also in the Horizon League. He has done an amazing job keeping motivated and training extremely hard for his club team here in Milwaukee."
Maxstadt hit the ground running at Neuqua Valley High School (Naperville, Ill.), swimming at the state meet in the 50 freestyle in her freshman year. She made return trips to state as a junior and as a senior, anchoring two top-eight finishing relays as a senior.
"Maggie really rounded out our women's class beautifully," Clements said. "We did not meet Maggie until second semester, but after she visited campus we knew that she belonged here in Milwaukee. She can freestyle every event from the 50 to the 500. Having someone that versatile on your roster makes every coach happy. She has everything a coach is looking for and I cannot wait to get her on campus and go to work."
Melville went to the state meet all four years while at Waukesha West and made big jumps his final year. As a senior, Melville finished fourth in the 100 breaststroke, seventh in the 200 IM, and also anchored both the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
"JJ is one that I feel very fortunate to call a Panther," Clements said. "He represents all that we are looking for when we are adding to our roster. He has all the makings of a top swimmer and I am looking forward to working with him. His size, stroke, work ethic and intelligence are going to take him very far, both in the pool and classroom. September cannot come soon enough."
Nimke is a graduate of John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minn. where he closed out his high school career on a strong note. As a junior, Nimke took eighth in the 100 freestyle at the state meet. As a senior, he took fifth in the same event and also took fourth in the 50 freestyle, touching the wall less than half a second behind first place.
"Tanner is one of the most important signees of this class," Clements said. "He is a great sprinter and will instantly contend for a conference spot, both as an individual and as part of a relay. This young man has so much talent and it's only going to be a matter of time until he breaks loose into a swimmer that is tough to catch."
Spitzig comes to Milwaukee from Des Moines Area Community College. The Dowling Catholic High School (Ankeny, Iowa) graduate had a tremendous high school career that saw him finish fourth in the 100 breaststroke and 10th in the 100 butterfly as a senior after also finishing in the top 10 in the 100 breaststroke in both freshman and sophomore years. He was named to the academic all-state team following his senior year. Spitzig also swam in the 2008 USA Swimming Senior Short Course Championships, taking first in both the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly.
"I am really happy to have Riley on our roster next season," Clements said. "Riley is one of those athletes that knows what he wants to achieve in college swimming. He did a year in community college to really train hard and get himself ready for D-I swimming, and it paid off. All of Riley's best times came in the past year. He is so versatile, and will be able to help us in any event format."
Wahlgren swam against the best in the state of Wisconsin all four years, improving his standings in each event every year. As a senior, Wahlgren was named team co-MVP and took seventh in the 100 freestyle, eighth in the 50 freestyle, fifth in the 200 freestyle relay and 13th in the 400 freestyle relay at the state meet.
"Erik is that swimmer that takes this good class and makes it a great class," Clements said. "He is that swimmer that we can throw in four different events and get good results. He is a big, strong kid that is only going to get stronger in a college weight program. As he continues to develop and his technique catches up to his power, he will become a top-eight swimmer in this conference."
Hennes is a diver from Mahtomedi (Minn.) High School and also dove for the Zephyr club team. As a senior, Hennes took 13th on the one-meter board at the state meet. She was also a standout in track, competing in the 100m hurdles, high jump and pole vault where she earned a trip to the sectional finals as a freshman and senior.
"I cannot wait to get Leah on the boards," Milwaukee diving coach Todd Hill said. "She had a great high school career and will come in and develop into a great collegiate diver. She will have all the tools on all the boards and we will soon be looking for her to earn points in the Horizon League."
Sass dove at the Wisconsin state meet his final three years for the Brookfield Central/Brookfield East combined team and finished second on the one-meter board at the state meet as a senior. He helped the Barracudas to a second-place finish at sectionals, their best finish since 1995, and was named team co-MVP with fellow future Panther Erik Wahlgren.
"Will is going to be a great addition to an already deep men's diving team," Hill said. "He is joining the UWM team with extensive club diving experience, having attended many high-level competitions over the past four years, including numerous trips to state."
Villa was a high-school standout in diving for Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minn. Villa took fourth on the one-meter board as a senior at the state meet and also finished second on the platform, sixth on the three-meter and eighth on the one-meter for his club team.
"Andres comes to UWM as a very accomplished club diver that qualified for the Junior National Championships in 2011," Hill said. "Andres is not only a very good springboard diver, but is an exceptional platform diver. He will be an immediate contender at the Horizon League Championships. He is a great addition to a very deep men's diving team."