🏊♀️ Swimming and Diving Inks Nine Recruits
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas swimming and diving announced the signings of nine student-athletes on Thursday, Nov. 14, on National Signing Day. The Jayhawks will be welcoming Kara Church, Taylor Conley, Katie Cross, Brooke Dalbey, Claudia Dougan, Erin Kerrigan, Natalie Leachner, Emma Walker and Ellie Wehrmann to the 2020-21 roster.
Church is from Scottsdale, Ariz. where she attends Mountain Ridge High School. She is a member of the Scottsdale Aquatic Club that is coached by Kevin Zacher. During her high school career, she finished as the 2019 state runner up in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle, was a 2019 All American, Junior National qualifier, made the All-District Team and was a 6A All-Region honorable mention. She is also a leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“Kara is a strong distance freestyler, and with Jenny Nusbaum graduating that is a role that is very important for us to fill,” head coach Clark Campbell said. “Kara has been up and coming. She has been a finalist at the Arizona state championships as well as at sectionals and is heading to junior nationals. So, she will come in and do a lot right away in the pool. She is also an accomplished open water swimmer so she will be doing the Open Water National Championships each year as well.”
Conley is from Carmel, Ind. where she attends Carmel High School. She is a member of the Carmel Swim Club that is coached by Chris Plumb. Conley is a three-time state finalist in the 100-yard backstroke as well as was named a 2018-19 National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) All American. She was a member of Carmel’s 31, 32 and 33 consecutive state winning teams as well as has been named a two time Scholastic All-American. Conley is also a National Honor Society Member and was awarded the English department award three times.
“Taylor has experienced a lot of championship swimming during her career, which is great,” Campbell said. “She will come in and help us in the backstroke events right away. With Elizabeth Amato-Hanner graduating, Taylor is going to come in right away and will be contending for one of our top backstroke spots. We are excited because she is a proven champion and she has seen a lot of championship swimming and we know she has a high ceiling.”
Cross is from Kirkland, Wash. where she attends Lake Washington High School. She is a member of the Bellevue Swim Club and has been coached by Andrew Nguyen and Dave Hale. During her high school career, she was named to the Kingco First Team bother her freshman and junior seasons, was a junior national qualifier and was named the captain of her high school team. She is also her class vice president.
“Katie is a multiple-time state finalist and a junior national qualifier and will be one of our more versatile swimmers,” Campbell said. “Not only does she swim backstroke, but she also does the individual medley, breaststroke and some freestyle. So, she is versatile and somebody who will improve a lot while at KU.”
Dalbey is from Flower Mound, Texas where she attends Flower Mound High School. She is a member of the Lakeside Aquatic Club and has been coached by Tom Cyprus, Tony Arbogast and Troy Goddard. During her high school career, Dalbey has been a three-time All-American, a 2019 state finalist, a three-time Texas 6A state qualifier and a three-time First-Team All-State honoree. She is also a member of the English National Honors Society, student council, the National Charity League and the Circle of Friends organization.
“Brooke is an accomplished freestyler with a lot of range,” Campbell said. “She can do everything from the 50 to the 500. One of the things that I enjoy the most about Brooke is she has a really solid technique. We feel that as she gets stronger with our strength and conditioning program, she is just going to get faster. She has the underpinnings to be a really good freestyler and we look forward to working with her in her four years at Kansas.”
Dougan is from Apple Valley, Minn. where she attends Eastview High School. She is a member of the Riptide Swim Team and has been coached by Mike Parratto and Mark Tollefson. Dougan is a five-time high school letter winner, a three-time All-Conference team member, a three-time team MVP, and finished inside the 2018 NISCA Top 16. She has also been named her team captain for the 2019 season.
“Claudia is a rising star in sprint freestyle,” Campbell said. “She is also a solid butterflier as well. She will be competing this coming weekend at the Minnesota state championships and she has a good shot at being the champion in both the 50 and the 100 freestyle. Her 200 freestyle is coming around and she trains at a high level with a great program in Minnesota. Her best days are ahead of her and we can’t wait to see how fast she goes as a Jayhawk.”
Kerrigan is from Warrenton, Va. where she attends Kettle Run High School. She is a member of the Nation’s Capital Swim Club and has been coached by Jeremy Linn and Cherie Adair. While in high school, Kerrigan was named a 2017-18 Scholastic All-American, is a two-time Potomac Valley Swimming Scholar-Athlete, and was a 2017 Winter Junior National qualifier. Kerrigan was also named her high school MVP for 2018-19.
“Erin is a distance swimmer from the Washington D.C. area, and she is also a good open water swimmer,” Campbell said. “She has been on her new club team for not too long, but she has shown a lot of improvement in a short amount of time with them. She is someone with a lot of upside and can do just about anything over a 200. We are excited that she is very versatile and can’t wait to get her here.”
Leachner is from Stilwell, Kan. where she attended Blue Valley Southwest High School and was coached by Russ Ingold. She is also a member of the Kansas Diving club team. While in high school, Leachner was a 2019 state champion and All-American. She also is a member of the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.
“Natalie is someone that we are really excited about,” diving coach Gabe Downey said. “She is a great kid and we know she will fit in with the program. She will take what is already a great culture here and make it even better. She has a lot of existing ability but also a lot of potential and is somebody who we believe the best has yet to come.”
Walker is from Salt Lake City, Utah where she attends Ames High School. She is a member of the Wasatch Front Fish Market club team that is coached by Ron Lockwood. Walker has been a two-time state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, was a two-yard junior national qualifier and a Senior Zones Champion in the 200-yard breaststroke.
“Emma’s specialty is breaststroke and has some cool ties already to the university,” Campbell said. “Her grandfather is Burt Nash with the Burt Nash Center, so the family already has a KU history and we have enjoy learning more about her family. Emma is a multiple state finalist and a junior national qualifier in the individual medley and the breaststroke. Breaststroke is already a really strong area for us, and Emma is going to come in and make it even stronger.”
Wehrmann is from St. Peters, Mo. where she attends Incarnate Word Academy. She is a member of the Flyers Aquatic Team that is coached by Jim Halliburton. While in high school, Wehrmann has been a three-time state champion in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle as well as holds the Missouri Class 1 record in those events. She is a student council representative as well as is a member of the National Honor Society and has made the honor roll all four years.
“Ellie has a strong tie to Kansas as her mom is a Jayhawk alumna. She is one of the most competitive athletes that I have ever seen,” Campbell said. “She is versatile with her main events being freestyle and the individual medley, and has four very good strokes. We just love how Ellie and her family just bleed the crimson and blue and she is so excited to be a Jayhawk. She is going to really help us at the Big 12 level and beyond.”