Swimming & Diving Adds Six on National Signing Day

LAWRENCE, Kan. –  Kansas swimming and diving started the tough task of replacing four senior members, including an All-American, by mining some of the top talent from six different states. Head coach Clark Campbell announced a six-person signing class, including three top-five recruits and all five swimming signees among their state’s top 25, on National Signing Day Wednesday.

Swimmers Elizabeth Amato-Hanner (Omaha, Neb.), Haley Downey (Bartlesville, Okla.), Jenny Nusbaum (Cary, N.C.), Katy Schlies (Carmel, Ind.) and Carly Straight (Fort Worth, Texas) joined diver T.J. Duckett (St. Louis, Mo.) in signing National Letters of Intent (NLI) to continue their education and athletic careers as Kansas Jayhawks.

“The first thing that Coach (Jen) Fox, Coach (Gabe) Downey and I all figured is that we are losing a really good class this year,” head coach Clark Campbell said. “With the four; Chelsie (Miller), Laura (Bilsborrow), Haley (Molden) and Bryce (Hinde), we are losing a lot of points and fast swimming. So we worked really hard on getting the best class we can.”

Amato-Hanner won the Nebraska high school state championships for her performance in the 100-yard backstroke in the spring of 2015 while swimming for Omaha Westside High School and head coach Doug Krecklow. She also recorded a runner-up finish at the state meet in the 200-yard individual medley. Amato-Hanner is a member of the Swim Omaha club program and has qualified for winter juniors in the 100 back, 200 back, and 200 IM throughout her high school career. Amato-Hanner, the No. 2 recruit out of Nebraska according to CollegeSwimming.com, is also strong in the freestyle sprints.

“Elizabeth is a very good backstroker and IM’er” Campbell said. “She’s super close to her Olympic Trial cuts in her backstroke and IM events. We have been watching Elizabeth for a really long time, how she races and how she approaches the sport. She is going to be a great fit to our program.”

Haley Downey garnered three top-eight finishes at the 2015 Speedo Champions Series, she placed seventh in the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes and finished eighth in the 400-yard individual medley. The Bartlesville High School product, coached by KU alum Chad Englehart, is ranked the No. 2 recruit for Oklahoma, according to CollegeSwimming.com and swam an Olympic Trials qualifying time in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2015 Futures Championship (Central). She was named the Tulsa World’s All-Metro Girls Swimmer of the Year.

“Haley is an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.” Coach Campbell. “Haley used to live in Olathe (Kan.) and is an alum of the Jayhawk Swimming Camp so it’s been fun to watch her and see her do as well as she has.”

A Cary, North Carolina native, Nusbaum, registered a third-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle at the 2015 YMCA Long Course Nationals. Nusbaum also placed 17th in the 400 free at nationals. She placed in the 50-yard freestyle at North Carolina’s high school state championship meet, while also anchoring Green Hope High School’s 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relays.  A top-25 recruit out of the state of North Carolina according to CollegeSwimming.com, Nusbaum is a former teammate of current Jayhawk freshman Haley Bishop for YOTA (YMCA of the Trianble Area) coached by Chad Onken.

“Jenny was a teammate of one of our freshmen phenoms, Haley Bishop,” Campbell said. “Jenny is a freestyler as well and she had a tremendous summer of 2015 and we really can’t wait to see what she does in 2016. She’s somebody that is going to help us out a lot.”

Schlies assisted the Carmel High School 400-yard freestyle relay to an Indiana high school state title and contributed to the program’s string of team titles at the state meet. Schlies is a top-15 recruit from the state of Indiana according to CollegeSwimming.com who qualified for the 2015 Junior National Championships last year. Coached by Chris Plumb at Carmel Swim Club, she specializes in the backstroke and freestyle events.

“Katy comes to us from an outstanding swimming state in Indiana and a team that has won numerous state titles in a row,” Campbell said. “She’s a freestyler and will be helping us in pretty much every freestyle event from sprints to distance.”

Straight is a two-time finalist at the Texas State Championship meet, she placed fourth in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles last spring. The Fort Worth, Texas native also qualified for the 2015 Speedo LCM Championship Series, registering three top-25 finishes. Ranked No. 5 in the state of Texas by CollegeSwimming.com.  

“Carly is the sister of Madison Straight a KU sophomore, she is also a twin and her twin will be coming to KU as well so the entire Straight family will be in Lawrence,” Campbell said. “Having Carly here is really going to help in replacing Haley Molden. Haley is one of our best freestylers we’ve ever had and Carly comes to us with times that are about what Haley was coming out of high school. We know that she is going to be a big factor in the Big 12.

St. Louis product, Duckett has collected two top-six finishes in the diving well at Missouri’s high school state championships throughout the first three years of her high school career, in addition to qualifying in two events – one meter and three meter synchronized diving – at the 2013 USA Diving Junior National Championship.

“She’s one I’m really excited for,” Gabe Downey, KU’s diving coach, said. “I have know her for some time and that certain helps. I know her attitude, her background and I know her work ethic. I know that she has the right mentality to fit into our culture. From a diving aspect, I really like that she has a lot of untapped potential. She’s been limited by injuries but because of that she has a lot of room for growth. She has all of the physical tools and you put that with her mental approach and her character and I think she’s going to be a great diamond in the rough. We knew from day one that we wanted her.”

Kansas swimming will host the Big Challenge inside Capital Federal Natatorium, Nov. 20-22. The triangular championship-style meet will feature Nebraska, Iowa State, Illinois, Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Iowa. The squads will swim as tandem units, representing the Big 12, Big Ten and a mid-major team. While the swimming team is in Topeka, the diving squad will host the KU Dive Invite inside Robinson Natatorium, Nov. 20-22.

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