Northwestern Women Sign Seven

Northwestern head coach Jimmy Tierney announced today (Nov. 14) the signing of seven future Wildcats to National Letters of Intent. The group comprises the early signing period portion of NU's incoming Class of 2016.

Ellen Anderson (Montgomery Village, Md./Gaithersburg), Erika Elliott (Barrington, Ill./Barrington High), Julianne Kurke (Atlanta, Ga./Parkview), Emily Launer (DeKalb, Ill./Rosary), Shelly Patton (Littleton, Colo./Heritage), Julia Pratt (Vincennes, Ind./Vincennes Rivet) and Karen Turner (Lake Oswego, Ore./Lakeridge) make up the class of 'Cats that will matriculate to Evanston in the fall of 2012.

"We are thrilled to have signed one of our most talented classes since the start of this decade," Tierney said. "Together they bring so much to our swimming and diving family: Academic and athletic talent, desire, passion for the sport and great character. We truly believe this group will have a profound impact on our program for years to come."

Headlining the class is the versatile Turner, who is listed as a five-star recruit by Swimming World Magazine and as the No. 45 overall recruit in the nation by Turner has broken 41 Oregon state swimming records during her prep career and enters Northwestern with personal best-times that already approach the existing NU school records in the 100 back, 200 back, 100 fly and 200 IM.

Anderson joins Northwestern from one of the nation's top swim clubs, the Rockville Montgomery Swim Club. She is a gifted distance freestyler who is a two-time NISCA All-American in the 500 free. Anderson also holds three age group club team records in distance free events, an impressive accomplishment given the historic strength of Rockville Montgomery.

Elliott is a local freestyler ranked as the No. 7 recruit in the entire state of Illinois by She has earned 15 All-America awards and has been a part of six broken school records for a strong program that has won 20-straight conference championships.

Kurke is a Swimming World Magazine four-star recruit who won the Georgia state title in the 200 breast as a member of the Swim Atlanta club. This same club produced former Northwestern All-Americans Merritt Adams and Andrea Hupman, two of NU's all-time greats. Kurke holds Parkview High School records not only in the pool, but on the track as well; she is the standard-bearer in the 100 breast and 200 medley relay in the water and in the 4x800 relay on the oval.

Launer is a distance freestyler ranked as the No. 10 recruit in the state of Illinois by A 32-time YMCA All-American at YMCA National meets, Launer won national championships in the 400 and 800 freestyles at a July, 2011, meet in Atlanta, Ga. She was part of state championship teams as a freshman and sophomore with Illinois powerhouse Rosary.

Patton is a backstroke and individual medley five-star recruit (Swimming World Magazine) with five NISCA All-America honors and two-career runner-up finishes in the 100 backstroke at the Class 5A Colorado state championship meet. Swimming with the stellar Denver Hilltoppers club, Patton won the 2010 Western Sectional title in the 200 IM and owns a 2012 Olympic Trials cut in the event.

Pratt is a sprinter who comes from a family of Wildcat athletes. Her dad, Robert, started 17 games as an offensive lineman on the football team in the early 1980s, while her mother, the former Anne Niehaus, held school records in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke events and qualified for the 1984 NCAA Championships with the 400 medley relay. Pratt herself won Indiana Senior State titles in the 50 and 100 free in 2011 with her club, the Vincennes Swim Team.

Complete bios for Northwestern's early signing period Class of 2016 are as follows:

Ellen Anderson

5-7 • Freestyle

Montgomery Village, Md./Gaithersburg

High School: Ranked a four-star recruit by Swimming World Magazine and as the ninth-best recruit in the state of Maryland by ... Two-time NISCA All-American in the 500 freestyle ... Two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American ... As a sophomore, earned Montgomery County Gazette All-Gazette second team and Washington Post All-Metropolitan honorable mention honors ... Was All-Gazette first team and All-Metropolitan second team as a junior ... Won the County Championship in the 500 free in both 2010 and 2011 while finishing runner-up in the event at the 2011 Washington Metropolitan Championships ... Holds team records in the 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 100 back, 100 fly and 200 IM ... Swam with the Rockville Montgomery Swim Club beginning in 2008 ... Is a Senior National qualifier and national's team captain ... Holds club records in the 500 and 1,000 freestyles in the 15-16 year-old age group and the 800 freestyle mark in the 17-18 year-old age group ... Has been on the 4.0 Honor Roll for every year since she was a freshman ... Active SGA member ... President of the National Honor Society and member of the Spanish Honor Society.

Personal: Born Ellen Casey Anderson ... Daughter of Allan and Margaret Anderson ... Has two older brothers, one of whom ran varsity track at Maryland ... Coaches a summer league and stroke clinic while also working as a lifeguard ... Chose Northwestern over Virginia and Purdue ... Plans to major in economics.

Says Tierney: "Ellen comes from one of the largest and strongest clubs in the nation, Rockville Montgomery Swim Club. She is an excellent distance swimmer who will have an impact in our D-group right away. Her specialties are the 500, 1,000 and 1650 frees. Her future is very bright! Ellen will be a wonderful addition to our swimming family."

Erika Elliott

5-11 • Freestyle/Backstroke

Barrington, Ill./Barrington High

High School: Ranked as the seventh-best recruit in Illinois and No. 156 nationally by ... Labeled a three-star recruit by ... An all-state, all-conference and all-sectional honoree ... Has earned 15 all-America awards and is a five-time state medalist ... Part of six broken school records for a program that has won 20-straight conference championships ... Is an 11-time Mid-Suburban League champion herself ... Swam 11 years of club with the Patriot Aquatic Club ... Earned a state record in the 800 free relay with Patriot Aquatic, which won the Senior State title in 2011 ... Individual Senior State champion in the 100 free as well as in the 800 free relay, 400 medley relay and 400 free relay ... Junior National qualifier ... Also lettered two years in water polo ... National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and four-year honor roll member ... AP Scholar ... Treasurer of the Student Council ... Is in the top five percent of her class, having earned straight A's during her entire academic career.

Personal: Born Erika Lauren Elliott ... Daughter of Michele Perlis and Mark Elliott ... Has a younger sister, Danielle, who also swims ... Enjoys scuba diving ... Chose Northwestern over Pennsylvania ... Volunteers as Keshet Sunday School and at Good Shepard Hospital ... Mother is a physician (OB/GYN) and father is the C.E.O of a medical clinic ... Plans to major in chemistry with a pre-medicine focus.

Says Tierney: "We are thrilled to have Erika, a very strong local freestyler, join our ranks. She and her family expressed great interest and passion for NU early on and we were determined to make her a part of our team next year. She will compete right away with our top 100 and 200 freestylers and battle for relay spots as well. Her coach at the Patriot Aquatic Club, Karl Milkereit, has prepared her well for college swimming in the Big Ten."

Julianne Kurke

5-6 • Breaststroke

Atlanta, Ga./Parkview

High School: Ranked as a four-star recruit by and as the 19th-ranked recruit in the state of Georgia by ... All-American and school-record holder in the 100 breast ... Three-year team MVP and two-time team captain ... Competed for Parkview in swimming for four years while also competing several years with the cross country and track squads ... Four-year scholar athlete for swimming and three-year scholar athlete for cross-country and track ... In addition to her school record in the 100 breast, also holds the 200 medley relay mark and the 4x800 relay school record with the track team ... Swam seven years of club with Swim Atlanta ... Part of Swim Atlanta's Senior National Team .... Earned a Senior National cut in the 100 breast ... Won the Georgia state title in the 200 breast ... Earned the Outstanding Achievement Award in Anatomy and Physiology ... Four-year honor roll member with a 3.972 GPA ... Earned award for the highest GPA on the cross country team.

Personal: Born Julianne M Kurke ... Daughter of Pam and Paul Kurke ... Family is originally from Northbrook, Ill., moving to Atlanta when Julianne was born ... Chose Northwestern over Pennsylvania, Georgia Tech and MIT ... Plans to major in biology.

Says Tierney: "We believe that Julianne is one of the up-and-coming breaststrokers in the country. She is coached by Swim Atlanta's Chris Davis, who tutored Andrea Hupman and Merritt Adams, two of our all-time great Wildcats. She is a bright young lady and very eager to make strides to be an elite breaststroker."

Emily Launer

5-7 • Distance Freestyle

DeKalb, Ill./Rosary

High School: Member of the Illinois High School state title team as a freshman and sophomore before finishing third in her junior season ... Ranked as the 10th best recruit in the state of Illinois by ... Earned two national championships (one in the 400 freestyle and another in the 800 freestyle) in July 2011 in Atlanta, Ga. ... Four-time Academic All-Catholic Conference ... National Interscholastic Swimming All-American ... Also ran two years of distance events in track during her prep career ... Swam 10 years of club at the Kishwaukee YMCA for coach Brian Bickner ... A 32-time YMCA All-American at YMCA National meets ... YMCA National qualifier in 13 events in short course and long course meters in 2011 ... 2011 Summer Junior National Qualifier ... National Honor Society member ... Mu Alpha Theta ... High Honor Roll from 2008-11 ... National Foreign Language Society ... Rosary High School's 50 plus Service Award ... Catherine of Siena Candidate.

Personal: Born Emily Christine Launer ... Daughter of Jim and Kim Launer ... Chose Northwestern over Nebraska, Notre Dame, Iowa and Miami (Ohio) ... Plans to major in engineering.

Says Tierney: "Emily is one of the most enthusiastic and upbeat swimmers I have ever met. She will be such a positive influence on our program and add strength to our distance group. Emily will compete in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyles. She had a tremendous summer season culminating in a national YMCA championship. Her high school, Rosary, coached by Bill Schalz, has been one of Illinois swimming's powerhouse programs for many years."

Shelly Patton

5-6 • Backstroke/IM

Littleton, Colo./Heritage

High School: Ranked as a five-star recruit by ... Five-time NISCA All-America swimmer ... Two-time Colorado 5A state runner-up in the 100 backstroke ... Helped Heritage to a fourth-place finish at the Colorado state championship meet ... Has competed in club swimming for 10 years with the University of Denver Hilltoppers ... 2010 Western Sectional SCY 200 IM champion ... 2010 U.S. Junior Nationals Finalist in the 200 IM ... 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier in the 200 IM ... Ranked No. 1 in her graduating class ... National Honor Society member ... Selected by All-League Honor Orchestra on the viola.

Personal: Born Michelle K Patton ... Daughter of Steve and Laurie Patton ... Chose Northwestern over Rice, Wisconsin and Notre Dame ... Plans to major in biology with a focus on neuroscience.

Says Tierney: "Shelly was one of our top prospects early on in this recruiting year. We were impressed by her talent and knew that she was motivated to be challenged in the classroom as well as in the pool. She can be a player in the backstroke events and individual medleys her first year. She also will add depth in the 200 freestyle and strengthen our 800 free relay. Her club team, the Denver Hilltoppers, coached by Shawn Smith, is one of the strongest club teams in the West."

Julia Pratt

6-1 • Freestyle

Vincennes, Ind./Vincennes Rivet

High School: Ranked as 15th-best recruit in the state of Indiana by ... Three-year sectional champion and state finalist in the 50 free ... Also a three-time all-state second-team award winner and team MVP ... Swam club for five years with the Vincennes Swim Team, earning Senior State titles in the 50 free and 100 free in 2011 ... A gifted athlete, also played three years of varsity volleyball, two of varsity basketball and two of junior varsity tennis in high school ... Earned All-Blue Chip Conference honorable mention in volleyball ... National Honor Society member.

Personal: Born Julia Margaret Pratt ... Daughter of Anne Pratt and the late Robert Pratt ... Father played football at Northwestern from 1979-83 as a multi-year starter on the offensive line ... Mother, Anne (Niehaus) Pratt, swam at Northwestern from 1983-85, holding school records in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke events while qualifying for the 1984 NCAA Championships with the 400 medley relay ... Chose Northwestern over Indiana, Purdue, N.C. State and Virginia Tech ... Plans to major in communications.

Says Tierney: "Julia was born to be a Wildcat! Her parents Anne (swimming) and Bob (football) were former NU great athletes and Julia practically grew up a Wildcat fan. Julia is very talented and no doubt has her best swimming days ahead of her. She will help us immediately in the 50 and 100 free, plus the shorter relays."

Karen Turner

5-5 • Freestyle/IM

Lake Oswego, Ore./Lakeridge

High School: Ranked as a five-start recruit by ... Ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the state of Oregon and the 45th-best recruit in the nation by ... Has broken 41 Oregon swimming records, 15 of which still stand, and one national age group relay record ... Was the high-point award winner at the state championship meet in 2010, winning state titles with state-record times in the 200 medley relay (1:46.01), 100 back (55.22) and the 200 free relay (1:36.41) ... Also won a 2010 state championship in the 100 fly (55.37) ... Attended National Select Camp in Colorado Springs in 2009 ... Nominated for the Johnny Carpenter High School Athlete of the Year in 2010 ... Swam nine years of club with the Lake Oswego Swim Club ... Club MVP in 2005 and 2008-11 ... Has attended national senior level meets since the age of 12, placing second at Junior Nationals in the 200 IM ... Competed in the 100 back and 200 IM at the 2008 Olympic Trials ... Has 2012 Olympic Trial cuts in the 200 back, 50 free and 200 IM ... National Honor Society and honor roll member ... Scholastic All-American in 2010-11.

Personal: Born Karen Michelle Turner ... Daughter of Linda and Steven Turner ... Chose Northwestern over UCLA, Virginia and Missouri ... Anticipated major is undecided.

Says Tierney: "Karen may be one of the most talented signees in NU swimming history. The sky is the limit for her. I truly believe she will have an impact on the Big Ten and be in a position to compete at NCAA's all four years. She already has times close to our school records in both backstroke events, the 100 fly and the 200 IM. She will be a great relay swimmer for us in coming years. Coley Stickles at Lake Oswego, Ore., has trained her well."