It was a light Fall for Pitt recruiting, but Chuck Knoles and the Panthers had a big Spring with the announcement of seventeen new signees. For the most part a large Spring class can prove a mixed bag, but Pitt appears to have picked up some late bloomers in this class.
The 2012-13 incoming class includes Avery Warrington, Martin Vogel, David Sweeney, Andrew McCarthy, Matthew Tankle, Connor O’Prey, Mark Cooney and Eric Long. The women will be bolstered by the addition of Mackenzie Meixner, Maddy Marcelle, Blair Wegescheide, Danielle Parowski, Alexandra Iwanicki, Lauren Fuerst, Lindsey Rodenkirk, Amanda Ford and Samantha Winkelmann.
The Panthers inked five student-athletes - Bethany DeWitt, Kaleigh Ritter, Sean Heiden and Mack Rice, this past November.
"These student-athletes fill several holes on our squad and we are extremely excited they are joining our Pitt family," Knoles said. "Each of these athletes has the strength of character, athleticism and academia that we look for in our Panthers. I have no doubt they will continue the success of Pitt swimming."
Avery Warrington (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) is an explosive athlete with great attributes. His ability to swim the freestyle events is tremendous, but he also has the skills needed to train and compete in the butterfly and backstroke. Warrington comes from a small club program where Coach Ann Stone helped him focus on technique in preparation for collegiate swimming. Warrington’s current bests are 45.35 in the 100 free, 20.85 in the 50 free and 51.49 in the 100 back.
“Avery impressed us in numerous ways,” Knoles stated. “He is talented, but he also brings several intangibles, including his speed and size. Avery is mature for a swimmer his age. We like the way he studies the sport of swimming and reflects on what he is doing in the water in order to improve. Avery will help us in the sprint events.”
Martin Vogel (Randburg, South Africa/British International Distance College) brings a wealth of national and international experience to the table. He is coming off a successful season where he qualified for the finals in three events at the South African Nationals. Vogel excels in all of the strokes, specializing in the individual medleys and butterfly events. His best times are 4:27.51 in the 400 IM, 2:06.45 in the 200 IM and 2:02.05 in the 200 fly.
“Martin’s accomplishments thus far have been many,” Knoles noted. “We are excited about having a swimmer with his level of experience join us. Martin will contribute in the individual medleys and butterfly events but is also versatile enough to be a threat in other areas. We look forward to challenging him to become a top level collegiate swimmer.”
David Sweeney (Acworth, Ga./North Paulding) is a consummate talent in the water. He excels at all distances of the freestyle while also bringing the ability to swim at a high level in the butterfly and backstroke events. Sweeney will be useful in numerous areas for the Panthers. His best times are 4:26.66 in the 500 free, 1:39.15 in the 200 free, 1:49.34 in the 200 fly and 15:47.79 in the 1650 free.
“When I watched David swim in December, I was impressed and knew he was a special athlete,” Knoles commented. “At that point, he had already put up respectable times. In the spring, however, David continued to drop time and made himself a real contender in the pool. He will be a great addition to the team and will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact during his freshman season.”
Andrew McCarthy (Bainbridge Island, Wash./Bainbridge) is a distance specialist from the Pacific Coast. He won his third high school state title in the 500 freestyle this season, while leading his team to its highest finish since 1988. McCarthy also holds several school records at Bainbridge High School. His best times are 15:52.97 in the 1650, 4:33.09 in the 500 free and 1:42.02 in the 200 free.
“Andrew has proved to be a champion in and out of the pool,” Knoles said. “We were not only impressed by his swimming but also by his achievements in the classroom, and his contributions in the local community. He has been a leader amongst his peers in high school, and we are excited to have him bring those same traits to Pitt.”
Matthew Tankle (West Chester, Pa./Salesianum School) has competed in both high school and USA Swimming meets over the past year. He comes from a terrific club program, Golden Ram Aquatics with Coach Scott Elliott. Tankle captured two individual state titles this past season and has been a member of several first-place relays at the Delaware High School State Championships. His best times are 51.57 in the 100 back, 1:52.72 in the 200 back and 47.34 in the 100 free.
“Matt has shown consistent improvement throughout his career,” Knoles commented. His drive to succeed has aided his ascension through the high school ranks. Matt has a full skill set in the water, which we are excited to hone and improve. His trend of improvement will continue at the University of Pittsburgh.”
Connor O’Prey (Ridley Park, Pa./The Haverford School) is a hard worker, who served as captain of the swim team. His leadership and individual performances contributed to Haverford’s highest-ever team finish at the Eastern Interscholastic Meet. He was also elected by his peers and coaches to be the national YMCA athlete representative for the YMCA Board of Directors. His best times are 57.84 in the 100 breast, 2:07.83 in the 200 breast and 50.79 in the 100 fly.
“Connor had a great finish to his high school season,” Knoles noted. “He continued to show his potential at YMCA Nationals. He has split time in the pool between water polo and swimming. We are excited about what Connor can accomplish when he focuses his energy on one aquatic sport.”
Mark Cooney (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) comes from an extremely successful program in Carmel, Indiana under the direction of Coach Chris Plumb. Cooney specializes in the backstroke and individual medley. His best times are 51.90 in the 100 back, 1:54.04 in the 200 IM and 1:54.73 in the 200 back.
“Mark brings enthusiasm with him,” Knoles commented. “We have been impressed by how bright he is and his desire to be a contributor. There is room for Mark to improve, and he has the ability to leave an impression at the University of Pittsburgh.”
Eric Long (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield Area) is a local standout from the Pittsburgh area. Long proved he was a contender in the pool when he finished among the top eight in the 200 free and top 16 in the backstroke at the state meet. His best times are 1:41.06 in the 200 free, 46.16 in the 100 free and 52.73 in the 100 back.
“We are excited to add Eric to the team next season,” Knoles said. “Watching how he has improved from last summer through his senior season has been thrilling. Eric has a lot of potential. He showed that he has great speed in the freestyle events. His training will focus on both his freestyle and backstroke.
Mackenzie Meixner (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional) is a butterfly specialist who has been swimming year round for just two years. Prior to devoting herself to swimming she was a competitive dancer. Her best time in the 50 fly is 24.42 and 57.06 in the 100 fly.
"Mackenzie is simply-put, an athlete," Knoles stated. "Her background in dance has given her amazing core strength and flexibility. We look forward to working with her. Mackenzie is going to be a phenomenal collegiate swimmer."
Maddy Marcelle (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) is a tremendous breaststroker. She placed in the top eight at this year's state championship meet. Her best times are 29.1 in the 50 breast, 1:06.0 in the 100 breast and 2:26.5 in the 200 breast.
"We have had the opportunity to watch Maddy grow with our club team the past few years," Knoles stated. "She has turned in some impressive performances and still has plenty of room to grow. Maddy has swum faster every year and we anticipate her continuing that trend in college."
Blair Wegescheide (Wappingers Falls, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) placed in the top 16 at the New York State meet as a junior and senior. Her best times are 27.1 in the 50 back and 58.1 in the 100 back. A standout at basketball, Wegescheide was ranked among New York's top 50 players her freshman and sophomore seasons. She focused primarily on swimming the past two years.
"We are thrilled Blair decided to follow in her father's footsteps and make her way to Pitt," Knoles commented. "While a lot has changed since her dad was in grad school here, one thing that has not changed is the commitment to excellence one has come to expect at the University of Pittsburgh. At 6'1, Blair has the one thing we can't teach and that's height. We look forward to working with Blair and to her continued improvement."
Danielle Parowski (Altoona, Pa./Mercersburg) is a middle distance freestyler. Prior to transferring to Mercersburg for her senior year, she placed in the top eight in both the 100 and 200 free at the 2011 Pennsylvania State meet. Parowski has competed at YMCA nationals, as well as Junior Nationals. Her best times are 51.59 in the 100 free and 1:51.43 in the 200 free.
"Danielle is an excellent talent," Knoles noted. "She has increased her training in the past year. While that is challenging, it is going to definitely pay off in the future. Danielle has beautiful technique and is a phenomenal racer. We look forward to her impacting our freestyle group immediately."
Alexandra Iwanicki (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West) enjoyed an excellent senior year. She switched clubs this past season, joining Westmont Swim Club. At March sectionals, Iwanicki swam her best times of 23.99 in the 50 free and 52.58 in the 100 free. She also placed at the Illinois State Championships.
"We were very excited when Alex chose Pitt," Knoles stated. "She has worked hard at changing her technique this year, and it definitely paid off. We project Alex will continue that trend and become a significant contributor in the sprint events."
A versatile swimmer who can shine in nearly every event, Lauren Fuerst (Richardson, Texas/Richardson) specializes in the free and back. Fuerst excels academically and has been admitted to Pitt's Honors College with hopes of majoring in neuroscience. She competed in the finals of the 100 back at the Texas State meet and is a junior national qualifier as well. Fuerst's best times are 52.39 in the 100 free, 56.56 in the 100 back and 2:06.03 in the 200 back. She also may compete in the butterfly.
"Lauren is a tremendous young lady, who impressed the staff a great deal when she visited the Honors College on campus," Knoles added. "She has a great head on her shoulders with tremendous aspirations. Lauren fit in well when she met the team and we look forward to her being a part of our Panther family."
Lindsey Rodenkirk (New Berlin, Wis./New Berlin) is the younger sister of current Panther and team captain Alex Rodenkirk. She specializes in backstroke events, but can also swim the freestyle in any distance. Rodenkirk finished 10th in the 100 back at the Wisconsin State meet and was a member of the 200 and 400 free relay teams that placed in the top 16.
"Lindsey comes from a great family and we are pleased she opted to join Alex to become a member of our squad," Knoles said. "Lindsey has improved greatly over the past couple of years but we feel she has the ability to go so much farther. We look forward to helping Lauren achieve those goals."
Amanda Ford (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrew's) is a tremendous athlete who excels at distance swimming and running. She swims for the legendary Sid Cassidy, brother of Pitt Director of Operations/Senior Assistant Coach Marian Clark. Ford also competes in paddleboard and open water competitions. She has been remarkable in the classroom and plans to major in English. Her best times are 5:08.01 in the 500 free and 10:43.12 in the 1000 free.
"We've heard great things from coach Cassidy about Amanda's potential," Knoles noted. "She is an amazing worker who loves to swim long events. Amanda qualified for and scored points at the Florida State meets in both track and field and swimming. She is a welcome addition to our distance group."
Samantha Winkelmann (Richmond, Va./J.R. Tucker) will be joining the Panther diving squad under the tutelage of Pitt diving head coach Julian Krug.
"I have watched Sam dive at the USA Regional and Zone competitions," Krug stated. "She has outstanding basic skills that we can develop further. Sam has phenomenal athleticism and is a fierce competitor. I look forward to working with her."