Ranking the Classes - #11-15



Previous FiveNext Five

#15 - Arizona

Small classes were a hallmark of Eric Hansen’s Wisconsin Badger teams and his first freshman class at Arizona follows that pattern.  Hansen, of course, had a great deal of success with small numbers in Madison and there’s little to doubt that once he establishes his own team he won’t have similar success.

The arrival of LSU’s Amanda Kendall makes the departure of Aubrey Peacock seem like an even trade for the Wildcats.  In all likelihood, both swimmers will benefit from a change of venue and return to their times from a year ago, though neither fill Arizona’s biggest need. 

And that need is distance where they lose Alyssa Anderson and where just one swimmer – Ashley Evans – swam the mile all season long.  You read that right – one swimmer.  Bonnie Brandon, at 6’2” fills that need and then some.  At 4:38 and 16:02, she’s the top distance swimmer in this year’s class.  Arizona also added latest prodigy to come from Jim Todd’s Center Grove breaststroke factory.  Emma Schoettmer broke the Junior National record in the 200 breaststroke and on track to equal if not exceed Todd’s previous prodigies Michelle McKeehan and Laura Swander.  Finally Leticia Lelli is a good addition.  Her value lies in her versatility.  It’s a value that, as Hansen builds this team, will be at a premium.

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
1
Bonnie Brandon CO
1.00
32
EMMA Schoettmer IN
1.92
47
Leticia Lelli AZ
2.51

Losses

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Alyssa Anderson
75
36
Emma Darlington
31
6
Grace Kittle
22
5
Aubrey Peacock


#14 Auburn
When he was at Auburn, David Marsh consistently bringing recruited some of the best talent in the country.  Sure some of it came from overseas, and yes some joined mid-year, but he assembled the talent that enabled the Tigers to finish first or second over the final six years of his tenure.

Since Marsh’s departure, Auburn’s recruiting has suffered and as a result Brett Hawke’s women’s have yet to crack the top six, much less the top two and replacing Ariana Vanderpoel-Wallace is no easy task.  His efforts, however, seem to be turning the corner, and while he can’t keep AVW around for another year, he did get one of her high school teammates in Aubrey Peacock.  Peacock’s exodus from the desert will provide immediate help, particularly if the change of venue can help her return to her freshman form. 

Peacock’s arrival was a bonus to a class that already a pair of top-five backstroke signees.  Jillian Vitarius and Caitlyn Forman are both sub-54/1:54.5 in the backstrokes.  Add in Sarah Reynolds (54.2/1:57.7) and the Tigers have made a strength out of a weakness. 

Alexandria Merritt arrives with a Florida State High School title in the 100 freestyle and is more than capable of hanging in with the SEC’s best flyers.  Merritt comes from Tallahassee via a route Marsh used so effectively – the Auburn Swim Camp.   The camp allowed Marsh to work his magic with recruits Merritt was similarly enamored.  "Ever since then," she explained, "I knew I would be an Auburn Tiger one day.”

Tiger fans are hoping this class can help Auburn ascend to the swimming summit, but considering what the top teams have signed, it will be a steep climb.

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
30
Jillian Vitarius TX
1.81
31
Caitlyn Forman KY
1.86
61
Sarah Reynolds AL
2.84
73
Alexandria J Merritt FL
3.28
184
Caroline R Bryant NC
7.91

Outgoing Seniors

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Vanderpool-Wallace, Ariana 35.50
50
Dantin, Vennie 52.00

Winters, Kelsey 1.00



#13 Texas A&M

For the sixth straight year, Steve Bultman delivered a top ten finish.  That’s impressive.  What’s more impressive, however, is that he’s done it with only one top-ten class in that time.  This year he’s secured his second and if its anything like the last several classes, it’s likely to ultimately exceed expectation. 

While Bultman can look forward to another couple years of breaststroker Breeja Larson, he began this class with a couple of breaststrokers in Ashley McGregor and Romy Landeck.  McGregor just missed making a trip to London this summer, but she becomes the latest, greatest A&M signee from the Great White North and the top Canadian collegiate breaststroker since Jillian Tyler.  Landeck arrives in College Station with Texas state titles in the 100 Breast and 200 IM, but has excellent versatility. 

In addition to Landeck, A&M picked up two more in-staters.  Meredith Oliver was the top freestyle recruit from the Lone Star state not named Julia Anderson (who went to Stanford).   Claire Brandt is an excellent short course sprinter with a Junior National title to her name, but she will also have the opportunity to develop as a backstroker.  Same can be said for Katherine Huff, the top senior from the State of Georgia. 

While not big nor overly balanced, this class should help keep A&M in the top ten. 



Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
27
Ashley McGregor CAN
1.68
67
Katherine Huff GA
3.23
67
Claire Brandt TX
3.23
71
Romy Landeck TX
3.26
95
Meredith Oliver TX
4.24

Losses

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Medrano Munoz, Rita 40
6
Thibodaux, Jo 13
Heller, Anna M 35

Latone, Megan 40
40
Conner, Alyssa 41



#12 Indiana

Few will be hit as hard by graduation as Indiana.  The Hoosiers graduate nearly half of their NCAA points and nearly a third of their Big Ten Championship points and this class, while solid, will be challenged to keep the Hoosiers in contention for Big Ten and Top Ten Championship finishes.

Brooklynn Snodgrass highlights the class.  The powerful backstroker will be the fourth Canadian on the Hooiser roster but will still find herself behind rising Sophomore Justine Ress on the depth chart.  Her impact will be most important in the IM’s where IU looks to replace Alyssa Vavra.  Vavra was the Big Ten Swimmer-of-the-Year so replacing her will be no easy task but Snodgrass will get some help with the addition of Haley Lips.  Lips addresses Indiana’s butterfly need with times that aren’t far from Brenna McClean.  Myra Retrum will also help address the IM’s.

Taylor O’Brien arrives in Bloomington with loads of potential.  She hit a bit of a plateau as a Senior, but given the opportunity to become a part of Mike Westphal’s distance group, should develop into a tough multi-event competitor. 

One thing the Hoosiers did well this year was keep some up-and-coming talent in state.  Carmel’s Alexis Bullard and Lake Central’s Shelby Carroll have both shown consistent improvement in the backstrokes but could make their way into the lineup along with Allie Lamberson on the basis of their sprinting.  The rawest talent of the bunch though is Erika McCormick.  While Emma Schoettmer (Arizona) was the Indiana breaststroker most coaches coveted , McCormick is an unpolished gem.   If she follows her improvement curve into the college ranks she, along with the rest of the Hoosiers, will be enjoying a successful month of March.

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
29
Brooklynn Snodgrass CAN
1.73
42
Taylor O'Brien PA
2.27
49
Haley Lips SC
2.59
130
Alexis Bullard IN
5.39
168
Hannah Lips SC
7.38
189
Myra Retrum IN
7.92
280
Erika McCormick IN
12.92
500
Allie Lamberson IN
36.44

Losses

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Vavra, Allysa M 56
36
Farrell, Margaux I 32
6
Strumbel, Brittany L 39
5
Tracey, Kimberly L 17

Schaefer, Courey Y 15

White, Jessica N 5


#11 Purdue

When looking at the list of schools Florida’s top kids go to you see the familiar names – Cal, Florida, Auburn, Purdue, WHOA, wait.  Purdue?  It’s true.  The Boilermakers entered the 2012 recruiting sweepstakes without much to spend and much to replace, but they hit big in signing breaststroker / IMer Lysi Halkides.  Halkides won’t displace Emily Fogle anytime soon but she and her incoming teammates strengthen a program that loses zero points from NCAA’s and just fifteen points from Big Ten’s. 

Of course when you don’t have much to spend, you have to look where the others aren’t and South Dakota and Montana would seem to fit that bill.  Jacie Beagle is the best recruit to come from South Dakota since, hmmm, well, a very long time.  Beagle is legit and will be a Big Ten player in the backstroke while Montana’s Lew Gerbrandt is a step behind.  If there’s a downside, its that Purdue was shut out in its own backyard, though they did continued to dip into the California talent pool.



Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
13
Lysistrati Halkides

1.30
54    
Nika Petric
SLO
2.71
79
Jacie Beagle
SD
3.34
141
Lew Gerbrandt
MT 5.88
112
Stephanie Schlobohm
CA
6.83
126
Alexa Davis
CA 9.38
174
Elizabeth Lyon
IN 24.42




Graduating Seniors

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Gilson, Kristen L 4

Roth, Lauren A 11

Previous FiveNext Five


comments powered by Disqus