Missouri State Swimming and Diving Signs Three More Student-Athletes for Fall 2015

Photo Courtesy: Missouri State Athletics

SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State swimming and diving has rounded out its roster for the 2015-16 season, as head coach Dave Collins announced the additions of three student-athletes to the women’s program Thursday, May 21.

Hope Ernhart (Benton, Ark.), Althea Felton (Columbia, Mo.) and Loretta Stelnicki (Inverness, Ill.) have signed their National Letters of Intent this spring to swim for the Bears heading into the 2015 fall semester.

Ernhart is ranked as the top-rated female swimmer from the state of Arkansas according to CollegeSwimming.com. A three-time state champion in the 50-yard freestyle and two-time state champion in the 100-yard freestyle for Benton High School and head coach Deb Law, Ernhart also has experience at the club level, competing for coach Onat Tungac and the Central Arkansas Swim Club Racers. At this season’s Arkansas High School State Championships, Ernhart broke the state record in the 50 free with a time of 23.65. Following the end of her high school career, Ernhart was recognized by the Arkansas Activities Association as the Wendy’s Player of the Year in swimming and also was an Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Scholarship Recipient. She holds Benton High School records in the 50 free, 100 free, 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard IM and 500-yard freestyle. Ernhart garners Racers all-time marks in the 50 free, 100 free and 200 free. Her club career includes three trips to the NCSA Junior Nationals, with a 50 free finals qualification in her last appearance.

“Hope is one of the best sprinters to ever come out of the state of Arkansas,” Collins said. “We’re looking for somebody to come in and be dynamic. We’ve talked a lot to her about that opportunity. She’s going to be able to walk right in the door and hopefully make an impact not only on our team, but in the conference. Good sprinters are hard to find, but I think that we’ve done that with this class. Hope is definitely one that we feel can come in and make an immediate impact.”

Felton joins the Bears this fall after winning a state championship in her senior campaign at Rock Bridge High School. A captain on the Bruins’ 2014-15 squad under head coach Laura Wacker, Felton helped set a school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay en route to a first-place finish at the MSHSAA Girls Swimming and Diving Championships. Felton was named to all-state teams in three events and an honorable mention in the 50-yard freestyle. Her top individual finish came in a fifth-place showing with a time of 52.60 in the 100-yard freestyle. She also helped Rock Bridge claim third in the 200-yard freestyle. Prior to her senior season, Felton participated at the state meet as a sophomore and junior, finishing as an all-state honoree in the 200 and 400 free relays as a junior. Felton also competes as a member of the Columbia Swim Club. She served as a member of a Region VIII Sectional Championship team in 2014 and also took top honors at the 2014 Speedo Champions Series in the 200 free.

“The exciting thing about Althea is that swimming is relatively new for her,” Collins said. “She would be what you would kind of consider a late bloomer in the sport. She hasn’t been put through the grind like a lot of swimmers have that are at her same level of ability and her age, and we’re excited about that. She brings a lot of relay experience which is obviously something we want to continue to improve upon on our freestyle relays. I think that she is going to be able to come in and bring us a spark in that sprint group.”

Stelnicki is a multi-event swimmer who also has relay experience coming out of William Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill. Stelnicki served as a member of three relay teams that broke school records each year dating back to her sophomore season. As a senior, Stelnicki helped win all three relays at the Mid-Suburban League conference championships with record-breaking times, while she also won the conference’s 100-yard breaststroke title with a school-record 1:05.23. A member of William Fremd’s back-to-back conference championship teams, the Vikings finished an all-time best sixth at the Illinois state meet this season. An all-state selection as a junior and two-time all-academic honoree, Stelnicki finished in the top eight of the 100 breast as a junior at the Illinois State meet. As a senior, Stelnicki served as a captain and was named the team MVP.

“Loretta was a great pick up for us,” Collins said. “Just extremely versatile. I’m not sure where we’re going to use her yet, and that’s a good thing because she’s got a lot of different areas that she can help this team improve. I look forward to getting to work with her. She’s got great size, she’s got a very good background in swimming and she’s just a really knowledgeable athlete that I think can come in and do very well for us as a freshman.”

Ernhart, Felton and Stelnicki join Kaylee Larson, Brianna McCullough, Moriah Moore and Josie Pearson – who signed their NLI’s in the fall – as newcomers to the Bears’ women’s swimming and diving roster for the upcoming 2015-16 season.

The men’s swimming and diving team signed six swimmers this past fall in 2015 enrollees Bryce Blattner, Brenden Bolman, Kevin Douglas, Minki Kang, Michael Mollak and Artur Osvath.

Check out all the latest news and information on the Bears’ swimming and diving teams at MissouriStateBears.com and follow @MoStateSwim on Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the year.

The above article is a press release submitted to Swimming World. To reach our audience, contact us at newsmaster@swimmingworld.com.