After the conclusion of the early National Letter of Intent (NLI) signing period, the Lindenwood Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams will welcome six new members to its 2017-2018 squad. Lindenwood’s head coach, Jason Owen, assistant coach, Jonathan Lau, and diving coach, Chris Pape, are ecstatic to introduce the future class of 2021.
“With each year of improvement, the foundation of the team gets stronger. This group will provide a great start to our year of building the strongest incoming class to date. The most exciting thing about this group is the rate at which they have been improving during their junior and senior years. We can’t wait to see what they will be able to do as lions,” says Owen.
Making up the signees who will be joining the men’s team in the fall of 2017 will be Gerald Brown, Joseph Hillyard, Grant Williams, and Dylan Callaghan. For the women’s team, Lexie Winnett and Melanie Dunnuck will be the first-signed newcomers to the women’s team next fall.
Lexie Winnett – Woodward, Iowa (Central Iowa Aquatics) / Sprint Free & Fly
Lexie is a key addition out of Woodward, Iowa who will make an immediate impact in the team’s relay events and sprint corps. She trains under the tutelage of Kyle Hastings at Central Iowa Aquatics. At the 2016 IGHSAU State Swimming Championships, Lexie placed second in the 50 free (23.31) and sixth in the 100 fly (57.19) to leverage Johnston High School to a second-place team finish. Her 50 freestyle is already faster than the 2016 NCAA DII invited cutoff and with additional development Lexie will provide tremendous firepower to the Lions at Nationals. Her older brother, Justin, is a current member of the Lindenwood men’s team.
“In the time we have worked with her brother Justin, we have come to love the enthusiasm and passion that the entire Winnett family has for the sport of swimming,” Lau said. “Lexie is a valuable addition to the team not only with her times, but we also know that her dedication towards improving and aspirations toward elevating our women’s team to national championship contention will be pivotal to our program over the next four years.”
Melanie Dunnuck – South Lyon, Mich. (South Lyon Aquatics) / Free
Melanie will bring some added depth to the middle distance freestyle squad. She recently competed at the 2016 MHSAA Div. 1 Girls Championships where she placed eighth in the 200 freestyle (1:53.00) and 16th in the 500 freestyle (5:06.61), both dipping her under the NCAA DII B Standards. Melanie also has shown the ability to be competitive in the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 100 Breast events. Continuing to develop her versatility will be a key element to the women’s program in the near future.
“I knew I liked Melanie during our first conversation last summer,” Owen said. “She talked about swimming in a way that told me she was serious about it, but was also laid back and easy to talk to. The girls loved having her on campus also and were all excited to hear of her commitment. Her balanced personality will contribute to our team culture and make the years together successful and fun at the same time. In addition to her personality, she has been dropping time like crazy. She dropped over 20 seconds in the 500 free and over 5 in the 200 free in the past year. Who knows what could happen over the next four years?”
Gerald Brown – Minot, N.D. (A.S.K Swim) / Back & IM
Gerald is a multi-discipline swimmer out of Minot, N.D. where he is ranked as the top recruit in the state on CollegeSwimming.com. He led Minot High School to a third-place finish at the 2016 North Dakota Boy’s High School State meet with a first-place finish in the 200 IM (1:56.38) and 100 Back (52.15). Gerald has his sights set on the state records for both of those events this upcoming March.
“Gerald is one of the most talented up-and-coming swimmers to come out of North Dakota in recent years,” Lau said. “We are excited to continue to develop his athleticism and expand his repertoire of events. Gerald has ability and tools at his disposal that many of us can only dream of having. He has been rapidly improving and we look forward to helping him reach his true potential in years to come.”
Joseph Hillyard – Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis Thunder Aquatic Club) / Free & Back
Joseph is a swimmer who has been quickly improving over the past couple years. Hailing from Tennessee, as a product of the Memphis Thunder Aquatic Club, he will bring a variety of skills to the men’s team with his ability to compete in the 50 free (21.70), 100 free (46.87), 200 free (1:42.81), 100 back (52.57), 200 back (1:55.40), and 100 fly (51.64). As Joseph continues to develop, he will be knocking on the door of multiple NCAA DII B standards in the near future, as well as contributing valuable points as an individual and relay asset at the conference level and potentially the national scene.
“Joseph had seen our program on deck at a competition where his sister was competing and became interested,” Owen said. “He reached out and we were definitely interested in his strong times across multiple events. Once he and his mother were on campus, we had great conversations and connected very well. One of our seniors came to us later to say he felt that Joseph was exactly what our team needed. To keep progressing with the program, it is important to find student-athletes that contribute to the point scoring and culture of the program, and I think Joseph will do both for us.”
Grant Williams – East Grand Rapids, Mich. / Diving
Grant will bring championship experience with him from Michigan that will allow him to make an immediate impact for the team next year. A 2016 MHSAA Div. III State Champion on 1 Meter, he looks to continue his success at Lindenwood. Grant looks to defend his title against an ever improving group of younger divers, while improving his list and readying himself for his college career. With his scores and dives from his past state meet, he will be eyeing up the NCAA National Meet as an immediate goal.
“We are very excited to bring Grant to the team next year,” Pape said. “He has an excitement for the sport and for his teammates that is important to us here. With his abilities and his attitude it’s going to be fun to work with him while he pushes his talents and our program to the next level.”
Dylan Callaghan – Kentwood, Mich. / Diving
Dylan is a two-time MHSAA Div. I State diving participant and has worked his way up from 25th place his sophomore year to 14th Place last year as a junior. This year he will continue his rise at the podium and looks to be a top 10 finalist. Callaghan has also seen success at the Club level competing and placing at USA Diving Zone meets. With his meet experience and ever improving list of dives he is sure to be one to watch in the next years.
“I am really looking forward to watching Dylan progress over the next few years,” Pape said. “He is a very talented diver and is the type of person that will only get better with every practice. His talents on the diving board and his ability to get through the water clean will see him go far and do big things for this for our men’s program.”
The men’s and women’s team will compete in the Delta State Christmas Invitational from December 10-13 in Cleveland, Miss.
News courtesy of Lindenwood Athletics.