Nine women and four men have signed their national letters of intent to swim for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee swimming and diving program, Milwaukee head coach Kyle Clements announced today.
Alena Bodnaruk of Lakeville, Minn., Maggie Burns of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, Adrienne DiFoggio of Palos Hills, Ill., Nash Firebaugh of Greencastle, Ind., Kyle Gerum of Waukesha, Wis., Emily Kinnaird of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Maddy Nelson of Fitchburg, Wis., Jon Roberts of Muskego, Wis., Kady Ruemmele, Elkhorn, Wis., Gabby Sanchez of Madison, Wis., Arica Smith of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Sami Stelpflug of Clarkston, Mich., and Peyton teDuits of Fitchburg, Wis. are all set to join the Panthers next season.
"Once again, I am pleased to introduce another wonderful recruiting class to join the Panthers here in Milwaukee," Clements said. "I want to thank or recruiting coordinator and assistant coach Dave Joyce and our current Panthers for all their efforts in helping sign such an amazing class of young men and women. These thirteen individuals bring numerous honors, awards and accolades, but more importantly they all possess the attitude and dedication required to be a Panther."
Bodnaruk helped her team to a 10th place showing at the Minnesota Class AA state meet as a senior, two spots ahead of their finish one year ago. Bodnaruk took 13th in 500 freestyle and 14th in the 200 IM. She also helped the 400 free relay to a seventh-place finish and 200 medley relay to 12th.
"We are so happy that she accepted our offer to swim at Milwaukee," Clements said. "She is a terrific swimmer and student that will immediately make a positive impact on this team both in the pool and classroom. She is talented and versatile enough to swim multiple events, and when you put a swimmer like her onto a versatile roster like ours, it's just about finding the right combination that will take this program to a new level. I look forward to getting to work with such an accomplished swimmer."
Burns is one of two incoming freshmen that make up the first-ever international team members for the Panthers, coming to Milwaukee from Burlington, Ontario, Canada. She is a national team member and is ranked in the top-50 in each of her events in all of Canada.
"We cannot wait to see what the next four years hold for Maggie," Clements said. "I really think that the sky is the limit for her. There are those recruits that you meet that love swimming and have such a passion for the sport that just being in the same room with them gets you more excited about swimming. Maggie was that recruit for me. Just by talking to her you can really tell that she is all in and takes her passion for swimming seriously. Forget about the talent that she has, but with that attitude, she is going to make things happen not only for herself but for the team as a whole."
DiFoggio is a versatile swimmer from Palos Heights, Ill. She is ranked in the top-100 swimmers in the state of Illinois by CollegeSwimming.com and finished up her senior year at the Illinois state meet by competing in three events.
"Adrienne is one that is really getting the staff excited for next season," Clements said. "After you meet Adrienne and you hear what she has accomplished and the improvements that she makes every taper, you can't help but wonder what she is going to do coming off a full year of college training. Like most of her fellow classmates, she is very versatile and she will help us in any event that we put her in."
Firebaugh comes to Milwaukee from Greencastle, Ind. He is one of top swimmers in the state of Indiana according to CollegeSwimming.com and has competed at the state meet all three years thus far. He also competed in the 2013 National Club Swimming Association's Junior National Championships this past summer, swimming in three events for Sugar Creek Swim Club.
"Nash is a big pick up for the men," Clements said. "He is an outstanding student-athlete that makes us better in a lot of different events. Adding somebody like Nash to this roster not only adds another great swimmer, but it allows us to move others into different events, making us a more versatile and a better team. Nash will be one of those freshmen that we will rely and lean on, and will give himself a lot of opportunities to score points throughout the year."
Gerum enters his senior season on an uphill swing his first three years at Waukesha South High School, one of the top swimming programs in the state. After making his first trip to the state meet in a relay event as a sophomore, Gerum then competed in four events last year and will look to build off of that this season.
"Kyle is one of those swimmers that we know is going to get better and faster," Clements said. "We know because we see him doing it every time he races. He is just now coming into his own as a swimmer, and it has been a lot of fun for us to watch. This young man truly enjoys swimming and swims like it. He is one that is going to benefit greatly for our weight and dryland program. Watch out for this young man."
Kinnaird is the other international student set to join the Black & Gold next fall. She also hails from Canada, coming from Winnipeg, Manitoba. While there, Kinnaird has competed for the Manitoba Marlins, primarily in backstroke events. She is ranked 26th in the 50 backstroke and is also in the top-50 in the 100 backstroke in all of Canada.
"Emily was a very important recruit and signee for UWM," Clements said. "The backstroke group is losing some depth due to graduation, and we were bound and determined to get quality individuals on the roster so the team can move forward without missing a beat. Emily fits that bill and then some. She is dropping time consistently and it is not by hundredths but by multiple seconds. She is going to be given countless opportunities to be a huge contributor for this team, and when you put a swimmer like Emily in those positions they always come up big."
Nelson has helped her Verona Area High School team to a meteoric rise, going from a 19th-place finish her freshman year to a fourth-place finish this past fall. She competed at state every year and stood on the podium four times over her impressive high school career.
"Our team is better with Maddy on the roster, and I couldn't be happier that she is joining us," Clements said. "She is one that I have seen swim multiple times and in hundreds of results. Every time I see her I find something else I like, and something that she can work on to make her that much better. Maddy is a great swimmer, but there is even more there. I look forward to working with her, and seeing her do great things."
Roberts enters his senior year with the strong Muskego High School team with high expectations. The standout took second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 50 free last year at state and was named as one of just five "Athletes to Watch" by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this year.
"We couldn't be happier with Jon's choice to come to Milwaukee," Clements said. "Jon's commitment opens up a lot of opportunities for our team. He is capable of swimming different events and strokes. He gives us depth in the sprint freestyle. He joins a great group of young sprint males that have the opportunity to become a very fast relay. Jon is the top-returning sprinter in the state and he continues to get faster. He is going to make a big difference, not only on our team, but in the Horizon League."
Ruemmele has made outstanding improvements in the pool over her four years at Elkhorn Area High School, swimming at the state meet all four years. She capped her career this year in impressive fashion, taking third in the 100 backstroke, fifth in the 200 IM and also competed in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay at the Wisconsin state meet.
"We are so excited to have Kady," Clements said. "Her name is one to familiarize yourself with because she is a very talented swimmer that is just now coming into her own and has the ability to make a major impact on this roster. Not only is she talented, but she swims the events that we needed to add depth in. Once she gets to UWM and joins our eleven month swim, dryland, and weight program, she is going to take off."
Sanchez is the latest Panther to come from in-state powerhouse Madison Memorial High School. The senior is a state qualifier and finalist and has also had quite a bit of success for her club team, being named to the Madison all-city team.
"Our program is very fortunate that Gabby is going to join us," Clements said. "There is a lot our program can do with an athlete like this young lady. If you are one that has the drive, dedication and a love for swimming, our program can help you reach your goals. With Gabby's commitment to Milwaukee you know that she has those qualities. Not only are we going to help her reach her goals, but she is going to help us reach ours.
Smith wrapped up her high school career last month, taking third overall in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 free at the Wisconsin Division II State Meet. She also scored with the 200 free and 200 medley relay teams as Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol. In all, she scored 16 times at the state meet in her four years.
"Arica is the perfect fit for our program," Clements said. "She is a great student, great swimmer, and a great person. From the first time I met her I knew that she was one that needed to be a Panther, and we are very fortunate that she choose UWM. With our sprint program, she is going to have an opportunity to not only grow inside sprint free, but I am also excited to see what other strokes she can do fast. Either way, she will have an immediate impact on our sprint events and relays and we could not be happier to have her."
Stelpflug had a remarkable career at Clarkston High School in Clarkston, Mich. The standout was the first swimmer at the school to earn All-American honors at her school and helped the Wolves not only transition from competing at the Division-3 level to the D-I level, but helped them excel, placing eighth at the state meet this year. Her brother, Kenny, is currently a junior at UWM.
"UW-Milwaukee is a very fortunate university to have Sami joining it next fall," Clements said. "Very rarely does a coach or team really know the recruit or their family, but we have been lucky enough to get to know Sami and her family over the years. That is why I know that Sami is going to accomplish a great many things in her next four years here at UWM. She is the perfect combination of size, strength, flexibility, and has the work ethic to get the most out of her talents. She will be able to help the program in a number of different ways, and will make an immediate impact."
The brother of current NCAA backstroke champion Drew teDuits, Payton teDuits comes to Milwaukee from Madison Edgewood High School. Also primarily a backstroke specialist, Payton teDuits has shown he can also swim a variety of events at a high level. He enters his senior year having competed at the state meet 10 times in six different events.
"The Panthers are excited to have Payton joining the roster next year," Clements said. "Payton is going to play a big role in our future success and further development of this program. He is capable of swimming a number of different things, but will be looked to take over a lot of backstroke responsibilities. He is a big guy and getting bigger. As he continues to grow and develop you are going to see him continue to improve, not only in the backstroke events, but in every event."