BLACKSBURG, Virg., Nov. 23. THE Virginia Tech swimming & diving team announced Saturday the signing of six swimmers to National Letters of Intent for
the 2003-2004 academic year.
"We knew going into this recruiting year that we would be losing a good portion of our team, with seven women and six men graduating in May," said head coach Ned Skinner. "Those 13 athletes represent the heart of
our team and have been a part of many special moments in Hokie history, so we recognized very early on that we were going to have to have an extraordinary recruiting year. With the six athletes we have signed
early in the fall, I believe we have gotten an excellent start to accomplishing our recruiting goals for the year."
The first of the Hokies' early signees is Tommy Evans, a native of Blacksburg, Va. He is the current Virginia high school record holder in the 100 free (46.91) and 200 free (1:43.2), and the defending high school state champion in these two events. Evans also placed third at the YMCA Nationals this summer in the 50 free. Evans brings good size and raw talent to the Hokie men. He will graduate from Blacksburg High School in June.
"We are very excited about Tommy's decision to become a Hokie and are glad we were able to tap into some of the excellent local talent here in Blacksburg," Skinner said.
Joining Evans on the men's side is Cabot Pitts. Pitts swims for Curl-Burke under the direction of Coach Peter Morgan and is from Clifton, Va. Cabot has enjoyed great successes in both the 100 and 200
backstroke, posting times of 53.12 and 1:52.80, respectively. He has also done well in the IMs, recording times of 4:05.17 for the 400 IM and 1:56.68 for the 200 IM. He is a Junior National qualifier and holds the 200 free, 100 back, and 200 IM records for his high school, Robinson Secondary, from which he will graduate in June.
"I am very impressed with Cabot's times and career thus far and am really looking forward to seeing him build on that during his career at Tech," Skinner said.
On the women's side Erin Courtney, a backstroker hailing from Dover, Del., has proven herself as a strong competitor in the 200 back, posting a best time of 2:05.56. Already this season, she has come very close to improving on that time. She is a Junior National qualifier in three events and will provide a middle distance twist, with the 200 free (1:54.42) and 500 free (5:03.58) being two great events for Erin as
well. Courtney will be graduating from Caesar Rodney High School in June 2003.
"We couldn't be happier with Erin signing early with us. She is going to be an excellent in-season swimmer for us and her potential is limitless," Skinner said.
Also joining the women for the 2003-2004 season is Erin Tarpey from Fairfax, Va. Tarpey attends Robinson Secondary with Pitts, one of Tech's early signees on the men's side. The strengths that she brings to the
women's team is her speed in both the fly and free events. She is a Junior National participant in the 100 fly (56.96), 50 free (24.18), and 50 fly (25.65).
"With her natural speed Erin will have an immediate impact on Tech's relays as well as numerous individual events next year," Skinner said.
Another Virginia native committing to Virginia Tech for Fall 2003 is Mason Walsh of Herndon, Va. Much like Tarpey, Walsh brings extraordinary speed with her while her focus is on freestyle and breaststroke. She
took second at Eastern Zones in the 50 free (23.99) in both the short course and long course seasons. She also has a strong 100 free (54.16) and 100 breast (1:08.16). In June, Walsh will graduate from Herndon High School.
"Mason is an extremely talented swimmer who is only going to get better as her career continues," Skinner said. "She has all of the tools to make a significant impact on the BIG EAST Conference."
Rounding out the women's early signing class is Liane Bianco. Bianco is from Mechanicsburg, Pa., and is an "amazingly well rounded swimmer," according to Skinner. Bianco could be a threat in any one of the
strokes, which make the 200 IM (2:08.13) a good event for her. She is not to be counted out in the breaststroke races either as she has personal bests of 1:06.0 in the 100 and 2:26 in the 200. After
graduating from Mechanicsburg High School in June, Liane will become a Hokie in the fall.
"I truly believe that with Liane's dedication to the sport of swimming and her versatility she could develop into one of the finest IMers in Hokie history," Skinner said.