Nov. 21, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan water polo head coach Matt Anderson has announced the signing of eight student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. The list of signees for the 2012-13 academic year includes five All-Americans, former members of the Junior Olympic squads, the state of Ohio Player of the Year, and the entire list holding academic merits.
This list includes Katie Allison (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington), Bryce Beckwith (Sacramento, Calif./St. Francis), Hayden Green (El Segundo, Calif./El Segundo), Kirby Kaptur (Willow Springs, Ill./Lyons Township), Kelly Martin (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park), Presley Pender (Costa Mesa, Calif./Newport Harbor), Emily Sejna (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) and Alexandra Thomason (San Rafael, Calif./Marin Catholic).
"When we went into this year's class, we were looking for a couple of specific positions, but we had such an overwhelming amount of young ladies that really wanted to come and play at Michigan, which is a positive," said Anderson. "It means they like what we're doing and they obviously like what the school is capable of doing for them. Then, we readjusted what we were looking for to try and get the players that we liked as people and as players that we know will fit in well here.
"About every fourth year I have a large class, meaning it pushes close to 10 student-athletes, and this kind of falls into that category," added Anderson. "Some years we go smaller, but every fourth or fifth year I've tended to have a large class. Just like last year, when we lost a large senior class, that's what I would expect out of this group coming in, that they will have four years to do well for us at the various positions and then in four years they will have brought a lot to the table like our previous senior classes have."
The signees will join a roster that will lose four seniors. U-M will open the 2012 season when it hosts the Michigan Kick-Off on Jan. 21-22 at Canham Natatorium.
Following are biographical sketches and comments from Anderson on all eight signees:
Katie Allison (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) -- Allison, a 5-foot-9 utility player and projected two-meter defender, is a two-time National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) All-American and the 2011 Ohio All-State Player of the Year. She received first team all-state recognition in water polo and swimming from 2009-11 and was named prep team MVP the last two seasons. In 2010, she helped her water polo team to an OHSAA state championship title.
Anderson commented, "I've been waiting for a while to grab a Buckeye out of Ohio, and she comes to us as the state of Ohio's Player of the Year. She actually grew up as a Michigan fan, meaning she's rooted for the Blue even though she's from Columbus. She is somebody that is already good defensively and is going to get better. She's very powerful, especially in terms of how she is able to score the ball."
Bryce Beckwith (Sacramento, Calif./St. Francis) -- Beckwith, a two-meter player, led her team to several regular-season tournament titles in Northern California. She is a four-year starter on the varsity squad and was selected to the USA Water Polo All-Academic team at the end of her junior and senior seasons. She is a two-time all-region selection and was named to the all-section and league squads from 2009-11. Most recently, she helped St. Francis to three tournament championship titles dating back to September.
"We're just ecstatic about Bryce," said Anderson. "Bryce is somebody that came out to us, visited with her family when she was younger in high school, and right away kept Michigan on her list. Bryce is somebody that we feel very fortunate to have. She has national team experience, along with several other recruits. She is somebody that is going to be very good at two meters for us over the next four years."
Hayden Green (El Segundo, Calif./El Segundo) -- Green, a 5-8 goalkeeper, was selected to a pair of All-CIF teams, including a first-team selection in 2011. She was voted to the All-Ocean League first team in 2010 and 2011 after guiding her prep squad to back-to-back conference titles. A three-year starter on varsity, Green recorded 600 saves the last two seasons and set ESHS records in steals (50), saves in a season (313) and saves in a single game (20).
"Hayden Green is coming to us from southern California, and we're very excited about having her in the program; she's going to fit in perfectly," said Anderson."We need to get some depth at the goaltending position since Alex Adamson will be a senior next year. It will give Hayden an opportunity to get a year of varsity water polo under her belt, and that will allow her to become better as she gets older."
Kirby Kaptur (Cap-tor) (Willow Springs, Ill./Lyons Township) -- Kaptur will join the Wolverines with seven years of experience. The 5-7 two-meter defender served on the USA Women's Youth National Team from 2009-11 and was named all-region in 2011. A four-year starter, she received IHSA all-sectional and all-state selections the last three seasons. She helped her squad to a 2010 state championship. At the conclusion of the last two seasons, she was named to USA Water Polo's All Academic Team.
"Kirby Kaptur is actually someone that in seventh grade came to my camp, and I've kept an eye on her since then," explained Anderson. "She has come out of the Midwest and has been on the national youth team. She also brings a lot of high intensity and work ethic and just wants to do all she can to get as good as she can."
Kelly Martin (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) -- Martin was named to both All America and USA Water Polo All-Academic teams. She was selected to the NISCA All America team from 2009-11, was named Metro Conference All-Academic in swimming and water polo, and was named to the Orlando Sentinel's All-Central Florida water polo first team (2009-11). In 2010 and 2011, Martin helped WPHS reach the Florida state championship match and finish runner-up in both seasons.
Anderson stated, "Ever since 2001, we have been recruiting out of Florida ahead of pretty much every college, and we've always had a very good relationship with getting the very good Florida players to come to Michigan. Kelly continues that. She's going to bring a lot of intensity and effort to the table."
Presley Pender (Costa Mesa, Calif./Newport Harbor) -- A two-sport athlete, Pender received the NHHS Varsity Athletic Award for water polo and swimming. She received USA Water Polo All-Academic honors in 2010 and 2011. She was a member of the Junior Olympic team from 2001-10 and helped lead her club team to a 2009 summer championship.
"Presley Pender is going to fit in perfectly. She's coming from Newport Beach, and we've had very good success with Newport Harbor players," added Anderson. "She's captain of her high school team, so that gives you an idea of the type of leadership that she'll bring. She comes from a wonderful family, and Presley is going to have a very nice college career."
Emily Sejna (Sen-YAH) (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) -- Sejna's water polo background consists of several all-state and sectional honors from 2009-11. As a defender, she was named to the all-state second team in 2011 after receiving honorable mention the season prior. Last year's stats include 99 goals, 58 assists, and 67 steals while holding her prep records for assists in a season and career.
"Emily is somebody that I noticed about two years ago, and I was hoping that nobody else would really get her," said Anderson. "Emily has a chance to do wonderful things in college. She is extremely fast. She has the stature you need to be a very good player in terms of being able to play many different positions. Her attitude is just wonderful."
Alexandra Thomason (San Rafael, Calif./Marin Catholic) -- A 5-9 attacker/utility player, Thomason was named to the USA Women's Youth National Team in 2010 and 2011. She helped guide her prep team to three Marin County Athletic League titles the last three years. Thomason was selected to the MCAL first team in 2009 and 2010 after receiving second team distinction in 2008.
"Allie Thomason is somebody that comes to us from northern California, my old stomping grounds," said Anderson. "She comes to us from a program that has had good success with very limited players, meaning they had seven players on their varsity and they still were able to make the CIF playoffs. Allie has a wonderful disposition and she works hard. She wanted to go to a place where she would be pushed to her maximum potential. Between the academics, the personality, and especially the athleticism, Allie is going to do very, very good things in college."
Contact: Zena Lewis (734) 763-4423