Revisiting NCAA Recruit Rankings: Women’s High School Class of 2017

Each summer, college swimming fans look forward to recruiting – the lifeblood of any NCAA swim program. Since 2012, we’ve been ranking down the top NCAA prospects in the nation from each recruiting class. But sports are inherently unpredictable, and even the most sure-fire prospect can go awry or completely change their role over four years.

As we do each year, we’ll look back at the high school class of 2017, which just finished four years of college eligibility this spring.

First, a few notes:

  • Most of the data we’re tracking here deals with NCAA scoring. Obviously, some swimmers are great assets for their teams in dual meets and conference competition without ever being national factors. While we don’t discount the impact of those types of swimmers, the difference in competition between various teams’ dual meet schedules and conference meets makes NCAA scoring the best “apples to apples” comparisons between swimmers.
  • Relays are another point of contention, as a swimmer in a strong program has more opportunity for NCAA relays, though they also have more competition for those relay spots. We’ve left relay results out of the data below, except where specifically indicated. That, too, gives us a more fair comparison between athletes.
  • We don’t rank diving recruits, but we have started to track individual diving scoring, which is helpful in determining how much of an impact a diver is likely to have on NCAA finish.
  • We did our best to scour NCAA results over the past four-plus years, but it’s certainly possible we made a mistake in compiling our data. If you spot an error, please respectfully let us know in the comment section so we can update our work!

2021 Note: Between last year’s canceled NCAA meet, the resulting added eligibility for athletes, and the number of entire programs and conferences taking redshirt seasons for 2021, some of these athletes may have years of scoring still to come, and there are some continuing discussions on which classes each athlete belongs in, particularly with international athletes.

We only include domestic recruits in our recruit rankings, as it’s often harder to predict if and when an international recruit will join the NCAA, and which class they should be ranked with. However, we’ve gone back through and tallied up all individual scorers that roughly fit into this class – international and domestic.

REVISITING OUR TOP 20

Check out this post for our analysis of the top 20 recruits in the high school class of 2017. Bear in mind that this was posted in July of 2016, when these swimmers were high school juniors, and looks much different with the benefit of hindsight.

Here’s a look at our top 10 recruits, plus how many individual points they scored at NCAAs in each of their four years:

Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
1 Courtney Harnish Georgia 44 7 15 22 38
2 Sierra Schmidt Michigan 57 9 17 31 21
3 Margaret Aroesty USC 9 9 0 no invite
4 Brooke Forde Stanford 104 21 43 40 42
5 Nikol Popov Tennessee 3 no invite 3 0
6 Lauren Pitzer Stanford 23 1 22 no invite 5
7 Ashlyn Schoof Louisville 0 0 no invite no invite no invite
8 Hannah Kukurugya Stanford 0 0 0 0
9 Taylor Pike Texas A&M 25.5 5 6 14.5 1
10 Grace Zhao Stanford 7 5 2 no invite no invite
11 Victoria Edwards Texas 0 no invite no invite no invite no invite
12 Ashley Volpenhein Stanford 0 no invite no invite no invite no invite
13 Marta Ciesla USC 0 0 0 no invite 3
14 Caitlin Tycz USC 0 0 0 no invite no invite
15 Alexis Margett Michigan 0 no invite no invite no invite no invite
16 Anna Belousova Texas A&M 45 27 18
17 Taylor Ault Florida 0 0 0 0
18 Paige Madden Virginia 98 0 38 60 44
19 Joy Field Texas A&M 0 no invite 0 no invite
20 Regan Barney Princeton 0 no invite no invite no invite no invite

The hits:

  • This was the last class before we started doing senior-year re-ranks. And Brooke Forde was arguably one of the reasons we added that layer to our recruiting coverage. Between our junior ranks and the end of her senior year, Forde dropped from 4:07.4 to 4:02.5 in the 400 IM and 1:57.8 to 1:55.5 in the 200 IM. She wound up the #1 scorer in the entire class, and also won 3 individual and 2 relay titles at NCAAs.
  • Schmidt and Harnish both had very good careers at the top, scoring in all three of their NCAA meets.
  • Paige Madden had a chance to challenge Forde for the top scoring spot. She clearly developed over her career, going from 0 freshman points to 38 sophomore points to 60 senior points. She was seeded to score 44 in the canceled 2020 meet, two more than Forde.
  • Texas A&M’s Anna Belousova was another big hit, scoring 45 points in just two NCAA meets. She wasn’t planning to swim 2020 NCAAs and hasn’t registered a swim since.

The misses:

  • Two of our top 10 didn’t score any NCAA points. Ashlyn Schoof only earned an NCAA invite as a freshman, though she did lead off a scoring 200 medley relay for Louisville this year as a relay-only swimmer.
  • Hannah Kukurugya earned an NCAA invite in all four of her seasons, but was scratched from the roster as a sophomore to help Stanford get under the NCAA roster cap. She came quite close to scoring in the 200 fly with finishes of 18th and 21st.
  • Quite a few in our 11-20 group went without an individual NCAA invite. But all still had an impact at the conference level – Edwards placed at Big 12s as a freshman. Volpenhein was a four-year Pac-12 scorer on a very good Stanford team. Margett was a three-year Big Ten scorer. Field was an SEC scorer and one-time NCAA invitee. Barney was a two-time Ivy League champ in the 400 IM.

OTHER IMPACTFUL RECRUITS IN THE HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITING CLASS OF 2016

Of course, not every contributor comes from our top 20 list. Some swimmers develop extremely well in college. Some swimmers slip under our radar, or don’t really show their ability until their senior year of high school, after our rankings come out.

We dug through NCAA results to find the best American swimmers from this class to not appear on our top 10 list. Again, it’s not always easy to account for redshirt years, gap years or mistakes in an athlete’s listed class each season. So if we forgot anyone, respectfully let us know in the comments.

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
Evie Pfeifer Texas 87.5 23.5 16 48 1
Bailey Bonnett Kentucky 35 14 14 7 9
Kate Moore NC State 29 2 27 15
Kristen Romano Ohio State 27 7 0 20
Sarah Thompson Missouri 23 23 26
Camryn Toney Texas A&M 19 19
Maddie Smith Northwestern 18 18
Julia Poole NC State 16 3 13 5
Katie Trace Ohio State 16 3 13
Josie Grote Indiana 15 15
Sophie Angus Northwestern 11 11 6
Caroline Gmelich Virginia 11 11 3
Autumn Haebig Nebraska 11 11
Emma Nordin Arizona State 9 9 43
Emma Seiberlich Virginia 6 6
Mykenzie Leehy Houston 6 6
Abby Richter Virginia 5 5 14
Alexis Yager Tennessee 5 5 5
Peyton Palsha Arkansas 5 5
Olivia Calegan NC State 4 4 7
Kyla Valls Virginia 4 4
Haley Yelle Texas A&M 3 3
Danielle Dellatorre Georgia 3 3 23
Amanda Nunan Tennessee 2 2 9
Taylor Petrak Ohio State 1.5 1.5
Morgan Friesen Louisville 0 11
Daria Pyshnenko Michigan 0 8.5
Caroline Hauder UNC 0 4
Erica Laning Arizona State 0 2

Standouts:

  • Evie Pfeifer was obviously the biggest unranked name, scoring more individual points than anyone but Forde or Madden. When we ranked this group as juniors, she was 4:42.8 in the 500 free and 4:16.6 in the 400 IM. By her senior year, she cut to 4:39.4 and 4:12.8 and would definitely have improved her rank.
  • Kentucky’s Bailey Bonnett scored in all three of her NCAA Championship meets. She was a true collegiate breakout, going from 1:01.9/2:13.8 as a high school junior recruit to 1:00.8/2:12.5 as a senior to 59.4/2:07.1 as a college freshman.
  • Missouri’s Sarah Thompson probably would have ranked higher on this list had 2020 NCAAs not been cancelled. She was seeded to score 26 that year and scored 23 as a senior after not scoring her first two seasons.
  • Arizona State’s Emma Nordin was in line for a massive scoring surge as a junior before the meet was canceled. ASU took a program-wide redshirt this season amid the pandemic, so there’s a possibility she adds to her scoring total next year.

INTERNATIONAL

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
Robin Neumann Cal 51 16 14 21 4
Mackenzie Padington Minnesota 37 5 32
Jing Quah Texas A&M 17 11 6 9
Reka Gyorgy Virginia Tech 16 16
Calypso Sheridan Northwestern 15 15 44
Klara Thormalm San Diego State 15 9 6
Sarah Darcel Cal 12 12
Mariia Astashkina Louisville 12 12 0
Tamila Holub NC State 11 11 0
Olivia Anderson Georgia 7 7 2
Petra Halmai FGCU 6 6 7
Sonnele Oeztuerk Auburn 3 3 0
Ioanna Sacha Houston 3 3
Tjasa Pintar Tennessee 2 2 3.5
Freya Rayner Ohio State 0 11
Arina Openysheva Louisville 0 7
Jemma Schlicht USC 0 1.5
Flora Molnar Alabama 0 1

Standouts:

  • This wasn’t a massive international class, perhaps diluted by the pandemic, with a number of scorers turning pro or taking redshirt seasons when international travel was difficult.
  • Cal’s Robin Neumann was the every-year contributor, scoring 51 across four seasons and three NCAA meets.
  • Minnesota’s Mackenzie Padington probably would have pushed towards Neumann’s scoring levels. She ramped up in a big way as a sophomore, rising to 32 points, but announced a transfer and then ultimately turned pro around the Olympic year.
  • The biggest points loss in the 2020 cancelation was Calypso Sheridan, who was in line to score 44 for Northwestern.

Diving

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points
Brooke Schultz Arkansas 82 29 32 21
Delaney Schnell Arizona 76.5 13 31.5 32
Emily Bretscher Purdue 39 14 25
Charlye Campbell Texas A&M 24 24
Abigail Knapton Nebraska 22 22
Cami Hidalgo Georgia Tech 22 22
Alicia Blagg Miami 19 19
Frida Kaellgren Arizona State 14 14
Ashley McCool Florida 11 11
Christy Cutshaw Michigan 7 7
Mya Kraeger Indiana 4 4
Genevieve Angerame Ohio State 2 2
Kelly Straub Notre Dame 1 1
Maha Amer Arkansas 1 1

Standouts:

  • Brooke Schultz was an individual NCAA champ for Arkansas, and divers actually accounted for two of the top five individual scorers in the class. That included Arizona’s Delaney Schnell.
  • A huge portion of this class’s diving points came in 2021 as seniors.

ALL INDIVIDUAL SCORERS IN THE CLASS:

(Ranked recruits are listed with their 2014 rank. International recruits are listed with “INTL” and unranked recruits with “UNR.” Diving recruits are listed with “DIVE”)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
1 4 Brooke Forde Stanford 104 21 43 40 42
2 18 Paige Madden Virginia 98 0 38 60 44
3 UNR Evie Pfeifer Texas 87.5 23.5 16 48 1
4 DIVE Brooke Schultz Arkansas 82 29 32 21
5 DIVE Delaney Schnell Arizona 76.5 13 31.5 32
6 2 Sierra Schmidt Michigan 57 9 17 31 21
7 INTL Robin Neumann Cal 51 16 14 21 4
8 16 Anna Belousova Texas A&M 45 27 18
9 1 Courtney Harnish Georgia 44 7 15 22 38
10 DIVE Emily Bretscher Purdue 39 14 25
11 INTL Mackenzie Padington Minnesota 37 5 32
12 UNR Bailey Bonnett Kentucky 35 14 14 7 9
13 UNR Kate Moore NC State 29 2 27 15
14 UNR Kristen Romano Ohio State 27 7 0 20
15 9 Taylor Pike Texas A&M 25.5 5 6 14.5 1
16 DIVE Charlye Campbell Texas A&M 24 24
17 6 Lauren Pitzer Stanford 23 1 22 no invite 5
17 UNR Sarah Thompson Missouri 23 23 26
19 DIVE Cami Hidalgo Georgia Tech 22 22
19 DIVE Abigail Knapton Nebraska 22 22
21 UNR Camryn Toney Texas A&M 19 19
21 DIVE Alicia Blagg Miami 19 19
23 UNR Maddie Smith Northwestern 18 18
24 INTL Jing Quah Texas A&M 17 11 6 9
25 INTL Reka Gyorgy Virginia Tech 16 16
25 UNR Julia Poole NC State 16 3 13 5
25 UNR Katie Trace Ohio State 16 3 13
28 UNR Josie Grote Indiana 15 15
28 INTL Klara Thormalm San Diego State 15 9 6
28 INTL Calypso Sheridan Northwestern 15 15 44
31 DIVE Frida Kaellgren Arizona State 14 14
32 INTL Sarah Darcel Cal 12 12
32 INTL Mariia Astashkina Louisville 12 12 0
34 UNR Sophie Angus Northwestern 11 11 6
34 UNR Caroline Gmelich Virginia 11 11 3
34 DIVE Ashley McCool Florida 11 11
34 UNR Autumn Haebig Nebraska 11 11
34 INTL Tamila Holub NC State 11 11 0
39 3 Margaret Aroesty USC 9 9 0 no invite
39 UNR Emma Nordin Arizona State 9 9 43
41 10 Grace Zhao Stanford 7 5 2 no invite no invite
41 INTL Olivia Anderson Georgia 7 7 2
41 DIVE Christy Cutshaw Michigan 7 7
44 INTL Petra Halmai FGCU 6 6 7
44 UNR Mykenzie Leehy Houston 6 6
44 UNR Emma Seiberlich Virginia 6 6
47 UNR Alexis Yager Tennessee 5 5 5
47 UNR Peyton Palsha Arkansas 5 5
47 UNR Abby Richter Virginia 5 5 14
50 UNR Olivia Calegan NC State 4 4 7
50 UNR Kyla Valls Virginia 4 4
50 DIVE Mya Kraeger Indiana 4 4
53 UNR Danielle Dellatorre Georgia 3 3 23
53 INTL Ioanna Sacha Houston 3 3
53 5 Nikol Popov Tennessee 3 no invite 3 0
53 UNR Haley Yelle Texas A&M 3 3
53 INTL Sonnele Oeztuerk Auburn 3 3 0
58 UNR Amanda Nunan Tennessee 2 2 9
58 INTL Tjasa Pintar Tennessee 2 2 3.5
58 DIVE Genevieve Angerame Ohio State 2 2
61 UNR Taylor Petrak Ohio State 1.5 1.5
62 DIVE Kelly Straub Notre Dame 1 1
62 DIVE Maha Amer Arkansas 1 1
64 UNR Morgan Friesen Louisville 0 11
64 INTL Freya Rayner Ohio State 0 11
64 UNR Daria Pyshnenko Michigan 0 8.5
64 INTL Arina Openysheva Louisville 0 7
64 UNR Caroline Hauder UNC 0 4
64 13 Marta Ciesla USC 0 0 0 no invite 3
64 UNR Erica Laning Arizona State 0 2
64 INTL Jemma Schlicht USC 0 1.5
64 INTL Flora Molnar Alabama 0 1

BONUS: THE SUPER-SENIORS

We usually like to run through the top seniors who don’t technically fit with this class. This year, the main one is Sarah Bacon, Minnesota’s three-time NCAA champion diver who came into college with the class of 2016, but took a redshirt year in 2020.

Bacon finished with 135 individual points across four NCAA meets. She had one more NCAA meet than anyone in this class (or her own class of 2016), but even on a per-year basis, she would have outscored everyone in both classes except Forde, Louise Hansson, Asia Seidt and Beata Nelson. You can see that full class’s individual scoring here.

Archives: Revisiting Recruit Ranks

Analysis as of: Spring 2021 Spring 2020 Spring 2019 Spring 2018 Spring 2017
Class of 2020 After Freshman Year
Class of 2019 After Sophomore Year After Freshman Year
Class of 2018 After Junior Year After Sophomore Year After Freshman Year
Class of 2017 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year After Freshman Year
Class of 2016 After Senior Year After Junior Year
Class of 2015 After Senior Year
Class of 2014 After Senior Year
Class of 2013 After Senior Year

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samulih
3 months ago

Have you ever done a NCAA champs breakdown on four academic standings, like it seems to me so many seniors wash out of the sports before their senior years, that is the feeling I get while looking the results on recent NCAA champs.

Taa
3 months ago

Stanford and USC don’t look good.

Ghost
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

Maybe that is why usc let Salo go and they weren’t good this year and why Stanford fell this year. Luckily many of their bullets took a bye year

Coach
Reply to  Ghost
3 months ago

This isn’t just looking at one year. It’s a four year view.

PVSFree
3 months ago

Man that USC class is a little rough. Only 9 points among the #3, #13, and #14 recruits, and zero points after their freshman years. Any reason USC is seemingly struggling?

ace
Reply to  PVSFree
3 months ago

probably going to get downvoted for this but the culture at USC is very different for lack of a better term, it can be a super fun campus but they have some interesting traditions that arent for everybody. For some people it works but for others it doesn’t.

Apathetic
Reply to  PVSFree
3 months ago

I think there’s an argument that Salo’s training paid off at the beginning of a career but was hard to maintain, particularly for the women’s team. Plus, with some exceptions, it seems like they tapered best for the UCLA dual meet and PAC 12s. And, lastly, I worry that Kipp coming in changed a lot for this team and will take a few years to develop his own swimmers like he was starting to do at Northwestern.

None of these ladies were that disappointing, they just never put it together at NCAAs. Aroesty’s freshman year was very impressive (especially at that Pac 12 vs Pros event), but she never tapered well and fell off a bit of a cliff… Read more »

Taa
Reply to  PVSFree
3 months ago

Coaching change is the obvious excuse. My theory is you have to keep the swimmers engaged in the program year round. If your entire teams splits and leaves campus in Mid May then you aren’t ever going to be a top tier school. So if you want to see USC improving look at the summer meets in Socal and see how many of the Trojans are sticking around and competing.

swimswamswum
Reply to  PVSFree
3 months ago

I remember listening to a Soni interview a while back that Salo training can be extremely hard to adapt to and puts a lot of ownership on the swimmer giving 100% effort how Salo needs. Soni coming from a high-volume program said that it was a big adjustment and after she was frustrated one season, Dave sat her down and laid out that she was not buying-in fully – which then led to the Soni we know. My hypothesis is that for a lot of high-volume high school athletes, the first year with Salo can be like a year of taper then they struggle to get their base back and adapt.

swimswamswum
Reply to  swimswamswum
3 months ago

Also a probably non-zero factor is that environment of LA is very different than that of a more college town area.

Last edited 3 months ago by swimswamswum
Samuli Hirsi
Reply to  swimswamswum
3 months ago

In podcast Doebler just said she has not been to LA proper yet, altho Covid times being in LA does mean LA lifestyle

Ervin
Reply to  swimswamswum
3 months ago

Kantika Houzzo said similar things about it being hard to adapt to coming from her high volume program in Hungary.

Admin
Reply to  Ervin
3 months ago

I wonder how much athletes consider training styles in choosing a school, and how much resource or expertise is available to help them in that.

It rarely comes up with recruits I speak to, and when it does, it’s usually a more emotional response – “I’m ready to do more work” or “my coach says they don’t work hard enough.”

I think a great area of study for the Counsilman Center or similar would be looking at these inflection points and transitions of training programs and help club and college coaches figure out how that interplay works. Could result in better overall outcomes for student-athletes in terms of both performance and satisfaction with their college swimming experience.

PVSFree
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Part of the problem with that though is you may go to a school that you think is perfect in terms of academics, school culture, team culture, and training style, but then there’s a coaching change and the training style completely shifts. Do you follow the coach who’s training style you liked or stay at the school that was a good fit academically/culturally?

When I was being recruited I was told not to go to a school specifically for a coach because of the possibility of coaching changes. Granted I wasn’t being recruited by the powerhouses like Texas, Cal, or NC State that have had the same coach for years – I think those top tier athletes have an easier… Read more »

Ghost
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

It won’t get better with the Hs athletes and college coaches making even earlier decisions!

Coach
3 months ago

Somehow you need to figure in relay points. Yes I know that if done straight up that swimmers at the top schools get an advantage, but it’s also harder for them to make relays. Relays are such a huge part of NCAA, it just cant be ignored.

wolfensf
Reply to  Coach
3 months ago

Also I thought that relay impact was included in how you ranked a swimmer anyway.

Yikes
3 months ago

It would be cool to see how each of these recruits would have placed in the team standings based on their points scored across their NCAA careers.

Awesome
3 months ago

Steve Bultman continues to demonstrate his ability to develop athletes: 5 of the top 25 individual scorers in this class are from Texas A&M. They have more than any other school on this list. Well done, Steve, Tanica, and Jay!

Hswimmer
3 months ago

I thought Kukurugya would have been a lot better in yards. Also, surprised at Regan Barney she did well at juniors long course always and short in high school

swimapologist
Reply to  Hswimmer
3 months ago

RE: Regan Barney, while I think it’s definitely possible to be really fast at an Ivy League school (we’ve seen plenty of it), I think the reality is that you really have to want to be fast to make it happen, and I think a higher-than-average number of swimmers who commit to Ivy League schools are just doing it to get in to an Ivy League school.

While many may swim out their years, go to practice, do their work, I don’t know if all of them are committing with the intention of pursuing their peak swimming performance while there.

Hswimmer
Reply to  swimapologist
3 months ago

Yeah I get that, but she had a lot of potential especially in the big pool.

ArtVanDeLegh10
3 months ago

Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, it seems as though 10 of the 20 top recruits didn’t score at NCAAs individually. What does that tell you?

Random123
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
3 months ago

typo on the write up? it says two…

Samuli Hirsi
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
3 months ago

there is something wrong with coaches on the college level if the result is such a crap shoot with swimmer who really can swim or their previous coaches used wrong methods to get those times and in college it is just “hospice care” as swimmers are just too beat up to have anything more in the tank to take next step.

Taa
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
3 months ago

Developing talent is more important than recruiting it? I’d be interest to see what the conversation rate is on the next 20 swimmers and then the next 20 swimmers etc.

The other thing is coaches should focus more on identifying recruits that are underdeveloped as opposed to kids that have been doing double workouts for the last 5 years.

Swimmer2
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

I would say that this is very true on the mens side and why Texas has been so successful. Eddie has been pulling in every guy over 6’2” who can swim fast enough to not get lapped in practice too often and turning them into very fast swimmers. Shebat and licon weren’t top tier recruits but they turned into huge scorers.

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
3 months ago

That it’s hard to score at the NCAA Championships?

Seriously. 10 of the top 20 high school juniors eventually scored individually at NCAAs. 25 of the other ~1500 Division I swimmers in the class scored individually. So which group do you think has better scoring odds when college coaches are recruiting? Would you rather buy a high-end stock or a lotto ticket?

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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