MICHIGAN STATE SWIMMING AND DIVING RELEASE -- December 10, 2001
Spartan Swimming And Diving Signs Nine For Class of 2006
Katrina Kniff, Jason Fish and Eric Lynn highlight Coach Lutz’s recruiting class.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan State swimming and diving program has announced nine signees that will join the team next season. A trio of Michigan swimmers headline the class of 2006 for the Michigan State University swimming and diving team: Katrina Kniff (East Grand Rapids), Jason Fish (DeWitt), and Eric Lynn (Plymouth). Also signing are Tesla Hughes (Taft, Tenn.), Erika Templeton (Canton, Ohio), Rachael Hagerman (Goodland, Kan.), Emily Crookall-Nixon (England), Marsena Vranesic (Lebanon, Pa.) and Chris Stevens (Champaign, Ill.).
Katrina Kniff was the Class B state champion in the 50-yard freestyle (23.99) and second in the 100-yard free (52.14). She was also part of the winning 200-yard freestyle relay and the second-place 400-yard freestyle relay that led East Grand Rapids to the team title.
We are very excited about Katrina as she has continued to improve in recent years. She has the tools to be a great sprinter and a very versatile athlete for our team, said MSU head coach Jim Lutz. She will be counted on heavily for relays and in the stroke events.
Jason Fish has posted times of 58.00 in the 100-yard breaststroke and 2:08 in the 200-meter butterfly.
Jason is untapped and has had a limited background from a training standpoint, Lutz said. He is a great competitor and swims with a lot of heart. It is exciting to think about how he will elevate his training when he surrounds himself with other athletes looking at the national level. It is very important for us to continue to recruit local talent for support of the program and to keep talented athletes home.
Joining Fish on the men’s team is fellow Michigan native and sprinter Eric Lynn.
I really feel that Eric can be a big time athlete, commented Lutz. He has the physical size and strength that is conducive for excellence and we feel we have the program that can help him rise to new levels.
Rounding out the men’s signees is Chris Stevens, who has posted a time of 1.42 in the 200 free.
Having coached Chris four years ago with a club in Illinois, I know his background and his potential, said Lutz. He has grown physically and has a desire to compete at a high level. His work ethic will fit in very nicely with the dedicated group we already have in place. Chris has a range from the 200 free through the 1650 free. He brings the talent to help us carry on a wonderful tradition in the middle distance freestyle events that John Munley helped to take to a new level. Training with Peter Politi each day will give Chris some additional experience to stand up and beat any and every challenge he may face.
The women have signed five recruits besides Kniff. Tesla Hughes was a senior national scorer with a time of 8:50 in the 800-meter free and 16:50 in the 1500-meter free.
Tesla has already has times under our current school records and her meter times converted to yards will qualify her for NCAA’s, Lutz said. It is going to be great having a 1-2 punch with Tesla and Jen Windstein in the distance events. Tesla comes from a great program in Huntsville coached by Brooke Pate who I have worked with years ago. With Tesla in the mix and the great sprinting group we have put together, we now can concentrate on developing our stroke group.
Erika Templeton has a 4.0 GPA and will look to add depth to the breaststroke. Erika carries a 4.0 GPA in excellerated courses and was looking for a great academic and athletic program, said Lutz. She brings a variety of events with the breaststroke as her forte. She will be used for many stroke events along with the individual medley events. Her size will enable her to compete at a very high level in a short period of time after arriving on campus. She has the tools to be great and the attitude to accommodate these tools.
Rachael Hagerman was a senior national qualifier with a time of 26.5 in the 50-meter free.
I saw Rachael swim and feel that few athlete posses her natural gift for feel in the water, Lutz commented. She grabs ‘big’ water and is very powerful. She has one of the best kicks I have seen in recent memory. Rachael has been able to excel in a small program coached by her father. Getting her in a situation with others at her level or just above her level will give her that daily challenge that can only help her be better.
Emily Crookall-Nixon brings international experience to the Spartan squad as she was a UK national finalist last year.
The fact that she has been a national scorer on the European circuit gives her valuable experience to compliment her versatility, Lutz said. Her times in the individual medley’s and butterfly give her excellent opportunities to be an immediate scorer at the Big Ten level. In the backstroke she will quickly make up for the loss of two departing backstrokers.
Marsena Vranesic, a sprinter, rounds out the women signees.
Marsena is an outstanding sprinter with the physical size at 5-11 and she can make an immediate impact for individual and relay events, said Lutz. This marks two consecutive years that our sprint group has possessed some serious firepower. She is a teammate of Jen Windstein and comes highly recommended by Jen and her coaches. We feel very optimistic about her contribution to our program for many years.
Overall, Coach Lutz is excited about coaching his new signees next season.
I feel that the quality is simply outstanding not only from a talent standpoint but more importantly from the type of people we are recruiting, he said. Each recruit is a quality person and that will help this team get through any difficult times we may face. Strong character builds strong confidence and that is exactly what this class will represent.