BUFFALO, NY - University at Buffalo swimming and diving head coach Andy Bashor has announced his latest recruiting class made up of 10 swimmers and two divers on Wednesday. The Bulls head coach believes this could be his best recruiting class in his eight years at UB.
"I am extremely excited about our class of early signees," Bashor said. "We recruited quality student-athletes to come to UB and help us compete for MAC Championships. We did focus on recruiting ability, but we also wanted strong character student-athletes with leadership qualities that will help our team grow. I truly believe we found that and I am excited to continue the strong tradition for the UB Swimming and Diving Program."
The women's signees include Rachael Bertini (East Setauket, NY/Ward Melville), Megan Burns (Henrietta, NY/Rush-Henrietta), Victoria Butler (Clarence, NY/Clarence), Claudia Casale (Larchmont, NY/Sleepy Hollow), Eve Koston (Doylestown, PA/North Penn), Hannah Miller (Fort Wayne, IN/Snider), Kelly Moran (Rotterdam, NY/Mohonasen) and Saoirse Palu-Benson (Venetia, PA/Peters Township).
On the men's side, Hudson Carroll (New Paltz, NY/New Paltz), Garrett Clarke (Liverpool, NY/Liverpool), Jonathan Ekas (Erie, PA/McDowell) and Kristian Santos (Amsterdam, NY/Amsterdam) have also signed with the Bulls.
Bertini joins the UB family as a four-year letter winner for Ward Melville High School. Ward Melville has been the Suffolk County champion for the past 22 years. She was on the 2013 New York State Championship 200 medley relay team, swimming the free leg and setting a new high school record. Also, Bertini placed eighth in 100 butterfly at the same meet. She earned first-team All-Long Island honors and was a NCSA Junior National qualifier.
"I chose the University at Buffalo because of all the amazing factors it had to offer. The campus, the team, the coaches, the academics and the people all were what I was looking for in a school," Bertini said. "The more I learned about UB, the more I knew I belonged there. Everyone was so welcoming and really seemed like they loved being a part of University at Buffalo's swimming and diving team. The team was more than everything I wanted in a swim team and I am thrilled to be a part of their program come next fall."
"When I met Rachael on her recruiting visit, I knew that she would be a great addition to the team," Bashor said. "She has faster swimming ahead of her and she will complement our sprint group over the next four years."
Burns is ranked the 10th fastest female to come out of the state of New York this year. She finaled in the 50 and 100 free events at the High School State Championships last month. Burns also was the anchor in the 200 free relay, which placed third. She has received numerous awards over the years. She has been named to the All-Greater Rochester team every year since the seventh grade and was the Monroe County Central Division Swimmer of the Year last year.
"I chose UB because it is the perfect fit for me," Burns said. "UB has the perfect balance of academics, I want to become a Nurse Anesthetist; athletics, I want to continue to compete in college at a high level; and location, my friends and family will be able to see me compete. I also loved the team on my visit, I can't wait to be part of UB Bulls swimming!"
"Megan is a pure sprinter with a lot of speed," Bashor said. "I am looking forward to enhancing her speed into a fast sprinter. She is going to make a big impact on our team next year."
Butler is a local girl who is going to help add depth to the team. She was on the winning 400 free relay team at states this year. She also finaled in the 200 IM at the New York State meet this year. Throughout high school, Butler has earned numerous awards: four-year Scholar Athlete, four years on the Honor Roll, Girl Scout Leadership and Silver Award winner, co-captain of the swim team, co-leader of the Impact Club and Student Council Class Representative.
"I chose UB because the school offered the graduate program I'm interested in," Butler said. "UB has an excellent swim program. And even though UB is close to home, I won't feel like I'm at home while living on campus. I used to always tell myself I would never go to UB because I felt like it was too close to home and everyone went there, but after going on my recruiting trip, I was surprised how much I really liked the school. UB is a great school. I absolutely loved the team and I can't wait to become a part of it next year."
"We are excited to have one of the fastest women from the Buffalo area on our team," Bashor said. "Victoria had a tremendous summer and is really developing into the quality of swimmer that will compete in the MAC."
Casale was born in Italy, grew up in Germany and will graduate high school in the United States. This year she was team captain and awarded MVP. This past summer, Casale qualified for Winter Juniors for the first time in the 200 backstroke and is going to be a strong addition to the Bulls.
"I chose UB because the school has a great reputation for athletics and academics," Casale said. "The chemistry between the swimmers and the coaches was great and I can't wait to be a part of it!"
"Claudia comes from a historic club program that has prepared her to compete in the Mid-American Conference right away," Bashor said. "She will be a great addition to our IM and backstroke groups."
Kosten comes to UB from the Philadelphia area. She was on two powerful relays. Her 200 and 400 free relays both placed second at the PIAA States and eighth and 13th overall nationally. Kosten also finaled in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events at the same meet.
"I chose UB because of the variety of majors offered," Kosten said. "I felt like I fit in well with the team and I liked the quality of the coaching and the facilities."
"Right away, Eve will complement our sprinting events well," Bashor said. "Her work ethic and experience swimming against fast competition will help her make the transition to UB and the Mid-American Conference."
Miller joins the UB team as one of the top recruits out of the state of Indiana. She specializes in distance freestyle. Miller placed eighth in the 500 free last year at the Indiana High School States and is currently ranked second. She also excels in the classroom earning a spot on the USA Swimming Scholastic All-American team.
"I chose UB because of the all the opportunity the school has to offer," Miller said. "Also, I loved the coaching staff and team."
"We are very excited to have Hannah at UB because she will enhance our distance events and make an impact in the conference," Bashor said. "She is an extremely hard worker and we are looking to her to continue this at UB."
A diver, Moran received an Academic Letter award for superior academic achievement in three or more consecutive years. She was selected as a "WNYT 13 Kid who Cares" for her support of her diving teammate, Bailey Wind, after she was involved in a horrific car accident and sustained a broken neck. Additionally, Moran has been selected as a NYS Public High School Athletic Association Scholar Athlete for all four years in high school.
"For me, UB was always at the top of my list for numerous reasons, one of which was the amazing pool facility," Moran said. "I have been fortunate to train at the pool during the last three summers and have fallen in love with it as well as the campus. The nursing program is phenomenal and after visiting the school of nursing, I was even more convinced that this was the right fit for me. On my recruiting visit, the entire team and staff made me feel incredibly welcome and treated me like one of their own. I visited several other schools and after spending time with the team, my decision was easy. I am so excited to finally be able to call UB my home."
"Kelly has attended camp for three years and the growth she makes year to year is great to watch," diving coach Karla Helder said. "We are happy to have Kelly join us and I am eager to see where the rest of her career leads her."
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Palu-Benson is an all-around freestyler from the 50 to the mile and a strong flyer. She adds great versatility to the program. Last year as a junior, Palu-Benson finaled in the 100 fly and 500 free events at the PIAA State meet. She also comes to UB under the current school record time in the 200 butterfly. Palu-Benson is a Scholastic All-American and has been on the High Honor Roll for three years.
"I chose UB because I really loved the school and felt it was the perfect match for me both athletically and academically," Palu-Benson said.
"Saoirse is a great fit for UB and the Mid-American Conference," Bashor said. "She continues to make big improvements this year so we are excited to see what see will do at UB."
Besides placing third in the 100 backstroke as a junior at the NY State Meet, Carroll has been captain of the New Paltz swim team the past two years. He is a two-time All-American in the medley relay after his team won states in that event in 2012.
"I chose UB because of the amazing coaching stuff, the accommodating academic advisors, great academics and athletics and the general family atmosphere that seems to support and allow personal and team dreams and goals to become a reality," Carroll said.
"It is going to be fun watching Hudson grow at UB," Bashor said. "He hasn't had the extensive training yet, and we are very encouraged to what he will accomplish when he arrives at UB."
Other than being a Junior National qualifier in the 100 breaststroke, Clarke is very active outside the water. He is a great team leader, being the president of the Honor Society, team captain and an Eagle Scout. Garrett also plays the double bass in the orchestra, while still finding time to be a Scholastic Academic All-American.
"I chose the University at Buffalo for its ability to challenge me as both an athlete and as a student," Clarke said "It is one of the foremost public research institutes in the country and has a wonderful mathematics program which I plan to study in college. The kids at UB are a great group of guys and I would be honored to share a lane with them. UB is an up-and-coming program and I would like to continue to drive this team forward."
"When I first meet Garrett, I knew he would be a great fit on our team because of his drive to become faster," Bashor said. "He will make a big impact in the breaststroke events and relays."
Ekas has been busy in the water earning two All-American awards, five All-State awards, two scholar-athlete awards and qualifying for USA Winter Nationals.
"I chose UB because the team is held at a high standard in both athletics and academics," Ekas said. "The coaching staff and team were pleasant, which made me feel at home. UB is an up-and-coming team that I can't wait to be apart of."
"Jonathan will come in and make immediate impact in the backstroke and sprint events," Bashor said. "He has shown great improvement over the past couple of years and I look forward to coaching him to faster times."
Santos is a scholar-athlete award winner who will add depth to the diving team.
"I've come to camp at UB for the past four years and have loved the facilities and environment of the school," Santos said. "Kristian is a diver that has strength and grace in his court," Helder said. "I have been privileged to work with him at camp and watch the genuine love of the sport come through even in the toughest of situations."
All 12 swimmers and divers will join the team for the 2014-15 season.