Rider University swimming head coach Steve Fletcher has announced that eight student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to further their athletics and academic careers as members of the Class of 2019.
Joining the Rider women’s team in the fall are Leeanna Cass (Lanoka Harbor, N.J.), Victoria Evans (Egg Harbor, N.J.) and Taylor Stalnaker (Monroe, N.Y.), and joining the Bronc men’s team are Porter Barnes (Columbus, N.J.), Griffin Hutton (Hamilton, N.J.), Luke Musselman (Timonium, Md.), Carter Paules (Emmaus, Pa.) and Joseph Warker (Reading, Pa.).
Cass, from Lacey Township High School, swims the backstroke and IM and intends to major in Education (Mathematics).
The Ocean County swimmer of the year in 2012 and a three-time NJSIAA Meet of Champions qualifier, Cass has top times of 58.80 in the 100 back, 2:05.00 in the 200 back, 59.40 in the 100 fly and 2:10.90 in the 200 IM while earning back to back MVP honors for her high school team and is also a YMCA State Champion in the 100 and 200 back and a YMCA Nationals Finalist, swimming for the Ocean County YMCA squad.
“Leeanna has already demonstrated the speed as a high school junior to final in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in her events,” said Fletcher. “She will be one of our top backstrokers as a freshman. She has enormous upside potential to improve in college swimming. She is technically sound in all four strokes and proves her versatility in the IM. She has big meet experience at YMCA nationals that should give her the confidence to compete immediately in our lineup at Rider in her first season.”
Evans is from Egg Harbor Township High School, where she competes in the spring freestyle and butterfly events, qualifying for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Her intended field of study is Business and Dance.
“Victoria is a leader on her high school team,” said Fletcher. “She contributes in every meet to the success of a winning program and will bring with her to Rider an understanding of what it takes to continue a winning culture. She is newly committed to year round training as a senior sprinter and will have an immediate impact at Rider in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events. Her energy and focus on development will not only take her far in her senior year but comes just in time as she enters the college environment with a renewed dedication to hard work and improvement.”
From Monroe-Woodbury High School, Stalnaker competes in the backstroke and fly events with top times of 26.70 in the 50 back, 56.20 in the 100 back, 2:04.30 in the 200 back, 58.40 in the 100 fly, 52.70 in the 100 free and 1:55.48 in the 200 free with her intended field of study Political Science and Pre-Law.
A three-time team captain, Stalnaker has led her high school squad to three straight New York State Section 9 Titles and swimming for the Aqua Gems Swim Club, she is a five-time NCSA Junior Nationals qualifier while also earning qualification to the USA Swimming Nationals.
“Taylor is a fierce racer,” said Fletcher. “Her speed is evident, but her team attitude is second to none and it’s clear she goes to the block to compete at every opportunity. We will hope to tap into her experience as a team leader in a successful program at Monroe-Woodbury to add to the team chemistry necessary to help our women’s program continue to realize its potential. Taylor’s excitement for the sport and love of racing will provide an exciting spark to our team culture.”
From Northern Burlington Regional High School, Barnes is an NJSIAA Meet of Champions qualifier with top times of 59.50 in the 100 breast, 2:07.90 in the 200 breast, 1:57.10 in the 200 IM and 4:09.30 in the 400 IM.
Intending to study Finance, Barnes also swims for the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties.
“Porter continues to improve and accomplish more each year as a high school athlete and is setting himself up well for a fast collegiate career,” Fletcher said. “His contributions in the IM will be most immediate in our lineup. He has talent in the breaststroke events that will set him up to move quickly up the conference standings in the MAAC while supporting our team efforts in dual meets throughout the season.”
From Hamilton High School West, Hutton swims the distance freestyle, butterfly and IM events and has top times of 4:35.30 in the 500 free, 9:19.70 in the 1000 free, 15:29.30 in the 1650 free, 1:51.60 in the 200 fly and 4:40.40 in the 400 IM and owns high school records in six events.
Swimming for the Princeton Piranhas Swim Team, Griffin is a USA Swimming Winter Nationals qualifier in the 1650 free and is a five-time NCSA Junior Nationals qualifier.
“Griffin is a “matter of fact”, quiet, hard-working distance freestyler with current speed and future potential as well as versatility,” said Fletcher. “Known affectionately as a “grinder”, he is a distance swimmer who proves it every day in training. He has already qualified for high level meets like USA Swimming’s Winter National meet in the 1650, and he’ll compete well in the MAAC in the 500 and 1000 freestyles. One of the other exciting aspects about Griffin’s swimming is his potential in both the 400 IM and the 200 butterfly. Griffin will add intensity to an already burgeoning core of distance freestylers in the training environment at Rider.”
An All-Maryland selection and team captain from Loyola Blakefield High School, Musselman has top times of 53.60 in the 100 back, 1:54.40 in the 200 back, 53.30 in the 100 fly and 1:59.70 in the 200 fly for the 2014 Eastern Prep Swimming Champions and also swims for Loyola Blakefield Aquatics.
Musselman intends to study Sport Management at Rider.
“Luke fills a targeted need for the Broncs in the backstroke events,” Fletcher said. “His best times as a junior in high school reflect great potential in the MAAC. Strong indicators of his potential show up in the improvement in his long course results during the summer between his junior and senior years of high school. He will contribute immediately to the lineup at Rider in the 200 backstroke but also shows tremendous promise in the 400 IM and butterfly events.”
The brother of current Bronc junior Evan Paules, Carter comes to Rider out of Emmaus High School as a two-time PIAA District 11 champion in the 100 breast as well as the 2014 champion in the 200 IM with top times of 58.10 in the 100 breast, 2:07.20 in the 200 breast, 1:54.10 in the 200 IM and 4:05.40 in the 400 IM.
Intending to study Business, Paules also swims for the Emmaus Aquatic Club and is a NCSA Junior Nationals qualifier.
“Carter rounds out a competitive trio of 400 IMers committing to Rider this fall along with Hutton, Musselman and Barnes,” Fletcher said. “He will also contribute immediately as a freshman in dual meets and in the MAAC in the breaststroke events. He is a proven hard worker and will undoubtedly add to the toughness of the training environment at Rider. He is surging competitively late as a high school senior, and has set the stage for a successful collegiate career of fast swimming.”
A diver from Wilson High School, Warker is a two-time All-American, two-time PIAA District 3 champion and two-time PIAA state finalist and intends to study Environmental Science.
The 2012 AAU One-Meter Synchro 16-18 National Champion and two-time Junior Nationals qualifier, Warker also holds the Wilson HS six-dive record on the one-meter board.
“Joe is a welcome addition to our diving squad on the men’s side,” Fletcher said. “He’ll join the team as a freshman making our diving unit three strong completing the roster in a big way. He has extensive competitive experience at the National level through USA Diving and AAU Diving. His extraordinary competitive accomplishments as a high school athlete will strengthen our team in the conference. His ability combined with his motivation to contribute to the team will also enhance the daily training environment for all of our divers.”
The conference championships take place in Buffalo, New York on February 11-14 with the Rider men the three-time defending MAAC champions.
College Swimming News courtesy of Rider University swimming.