Courtesy: Concordia Athletics
NCAA D2 Concordia University Irvine will welcome 26 new student-athletes hailing from nine states this fall. This versatile recruiting class includes future doctors, marine biologists, entrepreneurs, thespians, musicians, physical therapists, researchers, teachers, an Olympic Trials hopeful or two (or three!), and a lot of talented swimmers who are going to have a big impact with The Eagles in the Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference (PCSC).
Third year Head Coach Bert Bergen was thrilled to have so many of these student-athletes visit campus in this challenging past year. “Their willingness to tour, to meet team members, coaching staff and see the residence halls, dining hall, training areas and fully embrace the Concordia Experience was such a blessing during this trying year. We are so fortunate to welcome this dynamic group of young people to our wonderful community. They will join a determined and resilient group and our team of 60 will be a heck of a sight on deck!”
Starting in the desert, Ryan Burke (Chandler, AZ/Pitchfork Aquatics), Kyle Stocek (Chandler, AZ/Arizona Aquatic Club), Hannah Gross (Scottsdale, AZ/Phoenix Swim Club), Thatcher Grooms (Mesa, AZ/Mesa Aquatic Club) and Jonah Pohlmann (Chandler, AZ/Mesa Aquatic Club) continue the strong pipeline of excellent student-athletes coming to CUI from Arizona. Ryan is a Futures qualifier and already has NCAA “B” qualifying times in distance events, Kyle was an AIA high school state finalist, a Futures qualifier and has times that are top-6 at the PCSC Championships. Hannah will bring depth to the strong Eagle sprint corps in freestyle, butterfly and backstroke and Thatcher swims it all…fast! He has PCSC A-final times in the 100-200 back, 200 fly, 200-400 IM. Recent signee Jonah brings some firepower to the distance events: his 500-1000 free and 100-200 butterfly times would all be top-3 at the PCSC meet.
Nevada is sending two good ones as well: Kendall Ruberio (Las Vegas, NV/Sandpipers of Nevada) can swim 100 free up to 1650 and has an NCAA “B” cut in the 1000. Her versatility extends to the 100-200 back as well. Amelia Brady (Reno, NV/Northern Nevada Aquatics) will also be logging some hours with Kendall in the mid distance lanes, but has some speed to burn in 50-100 free and 100 breast. Utah’s enthusiastic and talented Payton Bouwhuis (South Jordan, UT/Park City Swimming) will impact the traditionally strong men’s distance group and Colorado has a pair on the way in transfer Hannah Chabin (Highlands Ranch, CO/Highlands Ranch Aquatics) and Dorothy Bennett (Thornton, CO/Front Range Barracudas). Hannah is a late blooming breaststroke/IM specialist while Dorothy is yet another strong addition to the mid/distance freestyle group. Our Lone Star representative, Abigail Stokes (Leander, TX./Concordia-Texas) is returning to swimming after a year off and we expect her to make an immediate impact with her enthusiasm and work ethic.
From one tropical paradise to the another, high school and club teammates Paloma Banto (Lahaina, Maui, HI/Lahaina Swim Club) and Slater Fleck (Lahaina, Maui, HI/Lahaina Swim Club) are joining The Eagles from Maui Preparatory Academy. Paloma is as talented as they come with PCSC A and B finals times in the 100-1000 free, 100-200 breaststroke and 200 IM. Slater will swim distance freestyle and IM for The Eagles and he too, is already a PCSC top-12 projected performer in as many as four events.
The Great Northwest never fails to produce some talented swimmers looking for sunshine. The impressive lineup of student-athletes coming from Washington are headlined by Jack Harris (Camus, WA/LaCamas Headhunters). Jack will assume a strong role in the breaststroke group and will bring depth in the 100-200 freestyle events. Sara Jones (Bellingham, WA/Lynden HS) will bring a lot of untapped talent (and PCSC B-final times) in sprint free and fly to Irvine. Lanis Webb (Liberty Lake, WA/Coeur D’alene Area Swim Team) returns to SoCal and will provide immediate pop in the 100-200 back and 50-100 freestyle events. His backstroke times would already be top-8 in the PCSC. Nicole Cook (Medical Lake, WA/Spokane Waves) and Nathan Fleischman (Lake Stevens, WA/Mighty Marlins Swim Club) will each fill a lot of gaps as their ranges extend from freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly sprints to Individual Medley.
A little further north, Donovan Lodzins (Eagle River, AK/Chugiak Aquatic Club) is the third Alaskan to join the program in two seasons. He’s got great swim genes and will join the powerful and deep sprint corps giving him a chance to work with the best.
Finally, our own state of California has provided some great additions. CBU transfer Hunter May (Santa Barbara, CA/Santa Barbara Swim Club) headlines a strong group. He brings multiple PCSC A-final worthy swims in breaststroke and IM and will push for NCAA cuts. CIF finalists Ellie Hardey (Loomis, CA/Wolverine Aquatics) is right on NCAA “B” qualifying times in the breaststrokes and IM and Jayden Hernandez (San Jose, CA/Quicksilver Swimming), a Futures qualifier, brings his 49.6 100 fly and strong freestyle and backstroke versatility to The Eagles. Fellow CIF finalist Garrison Veron (Rancho Cucamonga, CA/Fusion Aquatics) will join Jack and our reloaded breaststroke group and CIF champion Garrin Hatfield (Madera, CA/Fresno Dolphins) will swim IM and distance freestyle next year. The final two pieces are sprinter Chloe Norris (Orange, CA/Socal Aquatics) and distance ace Joey Molettieri (Castro Valley, CA/East Bay Aquatics) who will bring a charge to the Eagle roster and valuable depth in the relays.
Concordia’s men finished 2nd for the 2nd straight year at the PCSC Championships in April with only 13 scoring men. The women recorded their highest ever team finish (4th of 12) at PCSCs. Three Eagles qualified for the NCAA Championships and Katelyn Thomas finished 13th at NCAAs becoming the first ever women’s Division II All-American for Concordia in its third year in the division.