DENTON, Texas (5/1/08) North Texas swimming and diving coach Joe Dykstra announced Thursday the addition of eight athletes to the 2008-09 Mean Green recruiting class.
The Mean Green are coming off a season in which it set every swimming record in the school record books and tallied its first two NCAA consideration cuts in the program’s 10-year history. Dykstra, a second-year head coach who has helped turn around the North Texas swimming program, was honored as the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year.
“I am so thrilled with this recruiting class,” Dykstra said. “It is the largest and most accomplished group ever to join our program and will add so much not just to the swimming & diving team, but to the university as a whole.”
Delia Covo, the lone diver of the 2008-09 recruiting class, could have an immediate impact for the Mean Green on the diving front. Covo was a four-time Level 10 USA Gymnastics state and regional qualifier for coach Michael Harris and HUGS Gymnastics. Covo, a member of the National Honor Society, will graduate summa cum laude from Douglas MacArthur High School in San Antonio.
“Delia has a limited amount of diving experience, having recently made the switch to the sport from gymnastics,” Dykstra said. “She has already made tremendous progress developing competitive lists on both 1 and 3 meter boards, and with her background as a level 10 gymnast, she has all of the potential to be one of the best divers in the Sun Belt Conference. I can see her qualifying for the NCAA Zone meet in the very near future.”
Madison Fleming was the team captain this season for Keller High School and coach Nancy Wendell. Fleming finished third at the 5A Region III Championships and 12th overall at the 5A State Championships in the 100 butterfly. Fleming, a four-year letterwinner for the Indians, also lettered in soccer and tennis.
The Mean Green will also add Rosa Gentile, a senior at Clear Lake High School in Houston. Gentile, a four-time NISCA All-America, finished second in the Texas 5A state meet in the 100 butterfly with a time of 55.79; two seconds faster than the current school record. A four-year letterwinner for coach Tom Landgraf and the Falcons, Gentile is the sister of former Mean Green swimmer Angelica Gentile.
Also joining the Mean Green will be Granbury, Texas native Seabre Pope. Pope, a four-year letter winner for coach Casey Pacheco and Granbury High School, was a two-time 5A all-state selection for the Pirates. Pope, who earned All-America honors as a freshman, was the District 4-5A MVP and a three-time state qualifier.
“The highlight of this group has got to be Rosa Gentile,” Dykstra said. “Rosa, along with Seabre Pope, and Madison Fleming are all faster than our school record in the 100 butterfly.”
Leanne Hill, a four-year letterwinner from Plano, Texas, was a NISCA All-America and earned third place at the 2008 5A state meet in the 400 freestyle relay for Plano High School. She placed fourth in the 100 back at the 5A Region III Swimming Championships. Hill also lettered one year in track.
Brandi Townsend, a senior at Dripping Springs High School, was a four-year letterwinner for coach Andrea McCarthy and the Tigers. Townsend, a four-year state qualifier, holds the district and Dripping Springs pool record in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:08.99. Townsend also swam for West Austin Aquatics and coach Janet Russer.
Stephanie Bernier and Chelsea Bolton will also join the Mean Green next season. Bernier, from Cedar Hill High School, will compete in the 100 fly, while Bolton will swim in the 100 and 200 breaststroke for North Texas. With the four athletes signed in November, the North Texas swimming and diving team will have 12 freshmen set to join a Mean Green squad looking to claim its first ever Sun Belt Championship in 2009. Carleigh Kutac (Houston, Texas), Dawn Richerson (Mansfield, Texas), Hiliary Reidman (Moore, Okla.) and Danae Welch (Cedar Park, Texas) all signed with North Texas during the early signing period in November.
“What excites me most about this group in the water is the fact that they have all been improving significantly over the last few years and I feel they have the potential to develop into a group that can truly dominate the conference in a year or two,” Dykstra said. “We have swimmers coming in to cover every event and this will really help us with our depth at the conference level across the board.”