UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania, December 28. PENN State head swimming coach Bill Dorenkott announced today that 14 student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to attend Penn State and become members of the men's and women's swimming teams beginning next academic year. Dorenkott signed 10 men and four women during the fall early signing period this year. Eight of the 14 signees hail from Pennsylvania.
On the men's side, the following student-athletes have signed: John Austin (Kennett Square, Pa.), James Capparell (Bridgewater, N.J.), Matthew Cox (Radnor, Pa.), Matthew Edgin (Columbus, Ohio), James Francis (Wethersfield, Conn.), Peter Harley (Westfield, N.J.), Kenny McCormick (West Chester, Pa.), Jin Park (Princeton, N.J.), Ryan Peart (Green Lane, Pa.) and Jack Zierenberg (Allison Park, Pa.). On the women's side, the following student-athletes have signed: Colby Capretto (Oakmont, Pa.), Diana Greco (West Chester, Pa.), Lauren Smart (Langhorne, Pa.) and Alexandra Young (Carmel, Ind.).
Austin swims at Unionville High School and for the Golden Rams Aquatics as a club team. He will primarily be a freestyle sprinter and will be the second sibling in his family to attend Penn State, as his older brother also graduated from Penn State.
"John has a great deal of upside as he is relatively new to the sport. He has an athletic build and has excelled in other sports," said Dorenkott. "John continues a tradition at both the university and within our program of multiple siblings matriculating in Happy Valley."
Capparell swims for the Scarlet Aquatics for his club team and attends Bridgewater-Raritan High School. He will be primarily a freestyle swimmer with the Nittany Lions but probably will be a multiple-event swimmer.
"James and his family really clicked with Penn State when they were up for his official visit," Dorenkott explained. "He is a terrific fit for what we are putting together here, which is looking for not just the fastest athletes but also the best people. James is going to be a multiple event contributor at the Big Ten level as a freshman."
One of two members of the Germantown Academy Aquatic Club and the swimming team at Germantown Academy, Matthew Cox will be multiple-event swimmer at well, as he swims freestyle, butterfly and the IM. His club coach, Dick Shoulberg, was on the coaching staff with Dorenkott at the 2001 Pan Am Games.
"We recruited Matt very late in the fall after Dick Shoulberg recommended him," Dorenkott recalled. "I watched Matt race at the Middle Atlantic Championships this past past summer where he had some very good time drops. I like the fact that Germantown kids come to us well prepared both academically and athletically. I would not be surprised to see Matt sub 1:50 in the fly and sub 4:00 in the IM very soon."
Next year, Edgin will become the second member of the Nittany Lions to be from Ohio, as he will join current standout Tim Williams both on the team and in the butterfly, as Edgin swims both the fly and the freestyle. Edgin swims at Upper Arlington High School and for the Upper Arlington Swim Club team.
"Matt comes from a very strong program where his coach continues to churn out fast swimmers," said Dorenkott. "He is a well mannered and conscientious young man who has a desire to be special. He is a very strong kicker with good underwater speed. Matt will be a much needed contributor in the butterfly for the next four years."
Another multiple-event swimmer will be arriving in Francis, who swims the butterfly, freestyle and backstroke. Francis attends Wethersfield High School and swims for the Laurel East Hartford YMCA.
"Like many of our current and former student-athletes, James will continue to get faster for the next four years," said Dorenkott. "We enjoy finding and working with swimmers who have a steep rate of improvement and the patience to understand that fast swimming takes time. I also like the fact that James can swim a myriad of different events and I am not entirely sure what his forte will be in college."
Harley, who also goes by P.J., is a distance freestyler who currently owns Junior National time standards. Slated to join an already strong distance program with the Nittany Lions, he currently swims for Westfield High School and for the Berkeley Aquatic Club team.
"P.J. checked us out this fall and his coach really sold us by talking about his character and work ethic. He currently has Junior National time standards and will benefit by working in a distance group that is among the strongest in the country," Dorenkott explained.
McCormick is club teammates with John Austin with Golden Ram Aquatics and will come to Penn State next year from the same high school that produced former Penn State All-American and U.S. National Team member Regan Stacey. He attends B. Reed Henderson High School and is yet another multiple event swimmer as he participates in the butterfly, freestyle and IM.
"Kenny is work ethic driven swimmer from a very strong family," complimented Dorenkott. "Both parents are educators and were strongly in favor of Penn State after touring our Morgan Academic Support Center. I will have a sales job to do with Kenny convincing him that he is going to be an outstanding 200 butterflyer and 400 IM'er as he prefers the shorter stuff."
Park was a teammate with current Nittany Lion freshman matt Bright with the Peddie Aquatic Association club team. A freestyle and butterfly swimmer, Park emigrated to the United States with his family just a few years ago. He attends West Windsor-Plainsboro High School.
"Jin enjoys the social aspect of being on a team and felt a part of our men's team as soon as he stepped on campus," an excited Dorenkott explained. "He is good friends with Matt Bright from his club days and we feel fortunate to have Him coming to Penn State. I am not sure he knows how good he can be in the future. If he chooses to reach his potential, then he will be swimming on the international stage soon."
The second member of the recruiting class to hail from Germantown Academy, Peart is a breaststroker, who like Cox, also swims for the Germantown Academy Aquatic Club team.
"Our goal in putting together a team is to find individuals who possess characteristics, aside from talent, that we believe are important at Penn State. Ryan is the type of individual from the type of family that we enjoy being around on a daily and yearly basis. We are grateful to have two Germantown Academy kids in the same class choose Penn State," praised Dorenkott.
Zierenberg will become just the sixth swimmer in Penn State history to have a last name beginning with Z when he matriculates next fall. A freestyler and butterflyer, he swims at Hampton High School and for the Jewish Community Center Sailfish. His father is also a Penn State graduate.
"Jack comes to us from one of Pennsylvania's finest coaches and is the first Jewish Community Center kid we have signed in a while, which we are very excited about. Like a number of our incoming class members, Jack can swim many different events and can swim then all well," said Dorenkott.
On the women's side, Capretto will be a second-generation Penn State student-athlete, as her father Bob was a Nittany Lion football letterman from 1966-67. Colby Capretto is a freestyle sprinter out of Shady-Side Academy.
"Colby has an infectious smile and a can-do attitude," said Dorenkott. "I like the fact that she is a student of the sport and eager to improve. I told her that the only way I wanted her to come here was if she felt that she could blaze her own path and leave her own unique footprint on our university and program and she certainly has the positive attitude that she can do that."
Like current team members Caitlin Meehan and Kelly Nelson, Greco also hails from West Chester, Pa. but attends a different high school than Meehan and Nelson, Archmere Academy. A freestyler, she also swims for the Suburban Swim Center club team.
"Diana has the physical tools to be very fast and also has impeccable technique, which can be attributed to her coach," Dorenkott explained. "I believe her ability to communicate with our coaches was the different in her choosing Penn State."
Smart swims the backstroke and is a member of the swimming team at Pennington High School and the Sprint Swimming club team. She comes from an athletic family as well as her older brother plays basketball at Dickinson College.
"Lauren is a delightful young lady with a great deal to offer to our program," Dorenkott complimented. "We feel strongly that Lauren is going to be another in a long line of Penn State backstrokers who have experienced significant improvement and success. I love it when unheralded Pennsylvania swimmers come to Penn State and really shine during their four years. We have experienced much of our team successes as a result of kids like Lauren."
Young will come to Penn State from the same high school and hometown as current senior All-American Nikki Collins. However, Young swims a different event, as she is a butterflyer in contrast to Collins' distance freestyle events. Young swims at Carmel High School and for the Carmel Swim Club team.
"Alex's club coach felt that her personality and training strengths lent themselves to our program. I have a lot of respect for both her coach and the program he runs so it was really a no-brainer to ask Alex to join us," said Dorenkott. "I am confident that Alex is going to set herself apart as a Nittany Lion in the future."