HOUSTON -- A mix of six elite swimmers from across the country and around the world have signed with Rice and will join the Owls in the fall of 2018, head swim coach Seth Huston announced on Friday (Nov. 24).
The Owls' new U.S. signees are Becca Evans of New York, Shannon Jelley of Ohio, and Erin Vance of Maryland. The program's new international contingent consists of Marta Cano-Minarro and Rocío Gonzáelz-Espresati of Spain, and Phillis Range of Germany. All have elite competitive credentials and have met the University's challenging academic entrance requirements. The signees' first semester at Rice begins in August of 2018 and the group would compete at the C-USA Swim Championships for the first time in 2019.
Under Coach Huston's direction the Owl swimmers have won three Conference USA team championships and qualified individually for both the U.S. Olympic Trials and NCAA Championships. He had high praise for the Owls' latest class, his 16th at Rice since taking the helm of the program.
"This was one of the craziest recruiting years I can remember as a the head coach at Rice University," coach Huston said. "First, I would like to thank coach Amanda Caldwell for her relentless pursuit in our recruiting efforts. Our 2022 class has ended up being an incredibly competitive, versatile and diverse group of young women. I know we have the group that was intended to become Rice Owls. We graduate a big senior class and I feel like we have an amazing group to step in and begin to fill their shoes."
A closer look at the incoming class is as follows:
Marta Cano-Minarro * Freestyle/Butterfly
Rivas Vaciamadrid, Spain (IES Ortega y Gasser HS / Real Canoe Swim Club);
* Represented her native Spain at the FINA Junior World Swimming Championships;
* Finished 14th in the 200-freestyle and 29th in the 100-free.
* Competed in the European Games, finishing sixth in the 200-free and 13th in the 100-free
* AP Scholar with Distinction
100 Free -- 56.99 lcm
200 Free -- 2:01.99 lcm
400 Free -- 4:12.88 scm
100 Fly -- 1:02.25 lcm
200 Fly -- 2:15.76 lcm
Coached by Jose Ignacio Gonzalez Alaez (Club)
Coach Huston said: "Marta is an incredibly versatile and accomplished swimmer. Marta has the ability to be very competitive in a number of events for us and it is going to be fun to challenge and utilize that versatility. I was really impressed with Marta when she committed to us. She really placed a high value on finding and being a part of a great academic institution like Rice."
Cano-Minarro said: "I chose Rice because of its fantastic academic program and its warm and inviting culture of the swim team."
Becca Evans * Freestyle Sprints
Pittsford, N.Y. (Pittsford HS / Fairport Area Swim Team);
* Monroe County Outstanding Swimmer in 2017;
* Monroe County Division II Swimmer of the Year in 2016;
* USA Swimming Scholastic All American 2016 & 2017
* National Honor Society
50 Free -- 23.45 scy
100 Free -- 50.94 scy
100 Fly -- 56.29 scy
Coached by Marty Keating (HS)
Coached by Ryan Callan (Club)
Coach Huston said: "Becca let's her competitiveness and passion to get better as an athlete, do her talking for her; she is quiet and unassuming, but I love her versatility and competitiveness. I think Becca will be an excellent Division I swimmer and a big contributor to our program in the coming years."
Evans said: "Rice is an outstanding school academically with many opportunities. I loved the campus, as well as the team. I know Rice is a place where I can really reach my goals both in the classroom and in the pool."
Rocío Gonzáelz-Espresati * Middle Distance Freestyle
Elche, Spain (IES Misteri d'Elx HS / Club Elche);
* Represented her native Spain in the 2017 European Junior Championships
* Spain's top-ranked swimmer in the 200-freestyle;
* Ranked second in Spain in the 400-freestyle and third in the 100-free.
* Provincial age-group record-holder in the 200, 400 and 800-freetyle.
100 Free -- 57.89 lcm
200 Free -- 2:02.59 lcm
400 Free -- 4:17.96 lcm
800 Free -- 9:01.19 lcm
200 I.M. -- 2:23.65 lcm
400 I.M. -- 4:58.72 lcm
Coached by Francisco Amat (Club)
Coach Huston said: "Rocio is an awesome addition to our team. I think Rocio has a more than a `glass is half-full' attitude; the glass is over-flowing in her mind. Rocio is confident and a great competitor. I look forward to her bringing a championship mind set and work ethic and competitiveness to our team."
Espresati said: "Rice is one of the best universities in the U.S., and I realized that it is the perfect choice in order to achieve my academic and athletics goals. I could see that Rice is a huge family that always takes care of each other. I really enjoyed meeting Seth and Amanda, and I felt like we connected perfectly. They showed an interest in both the swimming and studying areas that I had never seen before, and that helped me to understand that this University is never going to lay aside any of those fields that are so important to me. So, all what I can say is that I can't wait to join Rice, and start giving you my best! GO OWLS!!"
Shannon Jelly * Butterfly/Freestyle
* Mason, Ohio (Kings HS / Countryside Torpedoes);
* 2017 YMCA Long Course National Champion in Women's 200-meter butterfly;
* 9-time Ohio High School State Finalist;
* 10-time first team all-conference;
* National Merit Commended Scholar;
* Senior Academic Advisor;
100 Fly -- 1:03.09 lcm
200 Fly -- 2:15.93 lcm
100 Free -- 58.63 lcm
200 Free -- 2:06.89 lcm
500 Free -- 4:55.70 scy
Coached by Sam Mizener (HS)
Coached by Jason Roberts (Club)
Coach Huston said: "Shannon is an awesome, well rounded young lady. She loves the concept of team and really thrives in that atmosphere. Shannon knows what it takes to be a champion and works patiently to reach her lofty goals. I look forward to coaching her and can't wait to see how Shannon contributes to our team's success."
Jelly said: "Rice offered exceptional academic opportunities in my chosen field of study, chemical engineering, while also allowing me to develop my swimming under a great Division I program and coach."
Phillis Range * Breaststroke/IM
Gottingen, Germany (Theodor Heuss Gymnasium / Two 1861 Gottingen Swim Club);
* 2017 German junior champion in 200-m breaststroke;
* Finished seventh in breaststroke at German National Championships;
* Represented Germany at the European Games;
100 Breaststroke -- 1:11.39 lcm
200 Breaststroke -- 2:32.01 lcm
200 I.M. -- 2:23.36 lcm
Coached by Kerstin Krumbach (Club)
Coach Huston said: "When Phillis came to our campus, our coaches and team felt like she was a great fit for our program. She is passionate to be her best and very humble. I get the sense that Phillis will give her all for her team and I know that with that kind of attitude she will make big contributions to Rice University and the swimming program."
Range said: "Rice really offers the perfect mix of outstanding academics and athletics! The girls and coaches are just amazing and support each other wholeheartedly! I truly loved the family-like atmosphere and am so looking forward to the next four years."
Erin Vance * IM/Breaststroke
Ellicott City, Maryland (McDonogh School / Eagle Swim Team);
* National Qualifier in the 200-meter long course breaststroke;
* Two-time selection as the Maryland Outstanding Swimmer;
* Club record-holder in the breaststroke events;
* Member of two high school record-setting relays;
* Ranked in the National Top 5 as a 14-year old;
* Four-year member of the Academic Honor Roll and a Dean's List honoree;
200 I.M. -- 2:04.88 scy
400 I.M. -- 4:22.73 scy
100 Breaststroke -- 1:04.91 scy
200 Breaststroke -- 2:17.97 scy
Coached by Scott Ward (HS & Club)
Coach Huston said: "I think Erin knew Rice was the right fit before she even came to Rice. Her visit confirmed for her and us that she is an excellent fit for Rice University and our swimming program. Erin is very analytical and passionate. These are qualities that allow people to reach their potential. I think Erin will really thrive in our program and I am looking forward to continue to develop her IM and breaststroke events."
Vance said: "Rice has exceptional academic opportunities and an amazing swim program. After Hurricane Harvey, I saw how the team worked together to help their community and I knew those were the kinds of people I wanted to spend my next four years with. The campus is beautiful and lively, and the residential college system seems like a lot of fun. I can't wait to challenge myself in the classroom and in the pool!"