Missouri State head swimming and diving coach Dave Collins announced the signing of ten student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to join the Bears’ 2015-16 roster on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
Swimming for the Bears in the fall of 2015 are men Bryce Blattner, Brenden Bolman, Kevin Douglas, Minki Kang, Michael Mollak and Artur Osvath, and women Kaylee Larson, Brianna McCullough, Moriah Moore and Josie Pearson.
“The early signing period is very important,” Collins said. “You spend all summer preparing and getting to know kids and then the fall semester getting kids on campus. It’s a big piece of the whole recruiting puzzle and you’ve got to sign kids early. I’m very pleased with how the early signing period has worked out for us.”
“On the men’s side we graduate half our team basically, so what I sold to this group of recruits was immediate impact,” Collins said. “Their opportunity to be immediate-impact athletes in this program that has recently won a conference championship. In my mind, you couldn’t ask for a better setup as an incoming freshman.”
Bryce Blattner | Back/IM | Wichita, Kan. | Wichita Heights HS | Wichita Aqua Shocks
Blattner is a multi-event swimmer who is the seventh-ranked recruit out of the state of Kansas, according to CollegeSwimming.com. Blattner swims for Wichita Heights High School and the Wichita Aqua Shocks. He has swam and lettered in each year he has competed at the high school level, setting school records and earning state titles in the 200 IM, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay. Blattner also finished runner-up in the 100 back and earned first team all-state honors. As an Aqua Shock, Blattner has broken Missouri Valley records in the 200 back. He has been honored as a U.S. Swimming Scholastic All-American, Kansas Honors Scholar and is a member of National Honor Society.
Collins on Blattner
“I am very excited to have Bryce joining us. His work ethic and versatility of events make him a perfect fit for our program. As soon as I had the opportunity to see Bryce in a training environment, I knew we had to have him. His future is bright.”
Brenden Bolman | Back | Grayslake, Ill. | Grayslake North HS | Cats Aquatic Team
Bolman swims both freestyle and backstroke events at Grayslake North and for the Cats Aquatic Team. As a junior last season, Bolman won section titles in both the 50 free and the 100 free, while also competing at the Illinois State Championships in the 100 free. He has participated in the Speedo Champions Series, Speedo Junior National Championships and NCSA Junior National Championships. He has made a Winter National cut in the 100 back (57.73) and a Winter Junior National cut in the 200 back (1:50.66).
Collins on Bolman
“Brenden is a much needed addition to our program with Paul Le graduating. We have been fortunate to develop some very good backstroke talent over the years and I believe Brenden could be the next in line to continue a great tradition.”
Kevin Douglas | Back/Free/IM | Ste. Genevieve, Mo. | Ste. Genevieve HS | Flyers Swim Team
CollegeSwimming.com’s sixth-ranked swimmer out of Missouri in the 2015 recruiting class, Douglas swims for Flyers Aquatic Swim Team based out of St. Louis, Mo., under head coach Ian Cross. Douglas has competed at the Junior National Championships and in the Speedo Champions Series. The multi-event swimmer currently competes in backstroke, butterfly and individual medley events. Douglas has swam personal-best times in the past year in the 500 free (4:37.03), the 400 free (4.11:04) and the 50 fly (26.90). The Ste. Genevieve High School senior has been a member of the school’s Honor Roll throughout his high school career.
Collins on Douglas
“Kevin’s biggest strength is his range of events, which is exactly what we need after losing half our team to graduation. He will have the opportunity to swim multiple strokes and distances, putting him in position to be very successful in the Mid-American Conference.”
Minki Kang | Distance Free | Bryant, Ark. | Bryant HS | Arkansas Dolphins Swim Team
Kang is one of the top ranked recruits out of Arkansas and is one of the nation’s top-rated distance swimmers in the 2015 recruiting class after finishing the last two years as an all-state performer. Rated by CollegeSwimming.com as the 89th top recruit in the nation and No. 1 recruit from the state, the South Korea native has set Arkansas high school-record times in the 200 and 500 free at the state meet the last two seasons. With the Arkansas Dolphins Swim Team, Kang has made Winter Junior National cuts in the 400 and 500 free and a Summer Junior National cut in the 800 free. The distance swimmer made the Olympic Trial cut by posting a time of 15:40.02 in the 1500 free and also made U.S. open cuts in the 1000 free (9:10.04) and the 1650 free (15:22.47).
Collins on Kang
“Minki will provide an immediate impact on the distance events in the Mid-American Conference. He is a very accomplished athlete with great freestyle technique and I can’t wait to see what he can accomplish in our program.”
Michael Mollak | Back/Free | Elkhorn, Neb. | Elkhorn HS | Greater Omaha Aquatics
Mollak is set to join the Missouri State swimming and diving team next season after competing for Elkhorn High School and Greater Omaha Aquatics (GOAL) under head coach Tom Beck. The fourth-rated swimmer out of Nebraska in the recruiting class of 2015 by Collegeswimming.com, Mollak has participated at various events such as the Speedo Junior National Championships, Speedo Champions Series and Minnesota Grand Prix. Last year, Mollak earned a state title in the 200 free in a time of 1:40.73. He also placed second in the 100 back and sixth in the 100 free as a junior.
Collins on Mollak
“Michael is coming off of a great junior year and summer in which he achieved summer junior cuts. At 6-foot-6, he has the potential to be a very elite athlete. He is very well coached and will be ready to impact our team as a freshman.”
Artur Osvath | Breast | Budapest, Hungary
The native of Hungary will join the Missouri State swimming and diving team as a specialist in breaststroke events. Osvath has competed in multiple events on the international circuit ranging from appearances at the regional to the national level. This past season, Osvath competed in a variety of events and found himself on the podium numerous times. He finished runner-up in the 50, 100 and 200 breast at the Junior National Swimming Championships in Kecskemet, Hungary. The Hungarian finished third (200 breast) and fifth (100 breast) in the SCM 2014 National Championships in Szazhalombatta, while also earning a second-place finish in the 200 breast at the Energy Standard Championship held in Moscow, Russia – a competition that takes place among some of the best talent from the countries of Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Spain and Italy.
Collins on Osvath
“As a European Junior Championship finalist, Artur brings great international experience to our program. That experience will be very helpful with such a young team next year. He is very excited to get to the U.S. and be a Bear.”
“On the women’s side we don’t have as many ladies graduating, Collins said. “We were much more selective on what we were identifying as needs for next year’s team. I felt like we addressed those and still have some scholarship money available and roster spots available for other signings. Although it’s a smaller group of recruits on the women’s side than what we’re use to, I think we got some great quality kids and regional kids that I think will be able to come right in and be impactful in the Missouri valley.
Kaylee Larson | Breast/Fly | Columbia, Mo. | Hickman HS | Columbia Swim Club
The fourth-ranked swimmer from the state of Missouri according to CollegeSwimming.com, Larson swims competitively for the Columbia Swim Club. Last season, the breaststroke specialist finished second and fourth in the 100 and 200 breast events, respectively, at the Region 8 championships. For the Columbia Swim Club, Larson achieved a Speedo Summer Junior National cut in the 400 individual medley. She gained her first NCSA Junior National cut as a freshman and has been an honoree of the Missouri Valley All-Academic team.
Collins on Larson
“Keeping a talented swimmer like Kaylee in the state of Missouri is huge for us. She has put up some very good breaststroke times, but I am more excited about what is to come for her. I see her with the opportunity to be a truly elite college swimmer.”
Brianna McCullough | Free | Papillion, Neb. | Papillion-La Vista HS | Greater Omaha Aquatics
McCullough is a fourth-ranked swimmer by CollegeSwimming.com and competes for Papillion-La Vista High School and also Greater Omaha Aquatics (GOAL) under coach Tom Beck. McCullough has broken several school records, which includes the 100 free, 200 free, 100 back and 400 free relay. She has been named the Papillion Times Female Swimmer of the Year for the past two years and has earned a state runner-up finish in the 200 free and third-place finish in the 100 free two times. She is a member of National Honor Society and has been named to the Honor Roll in each semester she has attended high school.
Collins on McCullough
“Brianna really impressed us this summer. Her attitude and dedication to her team were also very impressive attributes we look for in recruiting. It is exciting to think about what she can continue to accomplish once she gets involved with the strength and conditioning component of our program. I see her doing big things as a Bear.”
Moriah Moore | Free | Pleasant Hill, Iowa | Valley HS | Central Iowa Aquatics
Moore is currently a senior at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, and recently competed in the 2014 Iowa Girls High School Swimming and Diving Championships. The freestyle swimmer earned a state title as the anchor leg in the 400 free relay, placed second in the 200 free relay, fifth in 100 free and sixth in the 200 free. She is the tenth ranked swimmer out of the state of Iowa in the recruiting class of 2015, according to CollegeSwimming.com. She has also participated in Speedo Champions Series events for Central Iowa Aquatics.
Collins on Moore
“Moriah is coming off of a very exciting performance at the Iowa High School state meet where she anchored her 400 free relay team to a state championship. She will provide some much needed depth in the sprint events and help out on relays as a freshman.”
Josie Pearson | Breast/IM | Evergreen, Colo. | Evergreen HS | Jeffco Hurricanes
Pearson is a three-year letterwinner for Evergreen High School and competes for the Jeffco Hurricanes. The Colorado native participates in multiple events which includes the butterfly, breaststroke and individual medley. As a junior, Pearson was a member of the Colorado Class 4A state championship team. Last season, she set team records in the 100 fly, 100 breast and 200 free relay, while also competing on a 200 medley relay team that broke their own previous state record. She was named an all-state honorable mention in 2014 and also made her first Winter Junior National cut in the 400 IM.
Collins on Pearson
“We are thrilled to have Josie joining our program. As a very talented IM swimmer, she has the ability to compete in various events for us. We take a lot of pride in the depth and success we have had in the IM events at the MVC championships and Josie will insure that continues.”
College Swimming News courtesy of Missouri State Swimming and Diving.