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Nov. 25, 2015

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.— Virginia rowing head coach Kevin Sauer announced on Wednesday (Nov. 25) that 16 student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Cavaliers in the fall of 2016.

The class includes Grace Bentley (Andover, Mass.), Sara Cliborne (Henrico, Va.), Diana Felix (Long Beach, Calif.), Molly Harding (London, England), Kate Hastings (Wilmington, Del.), Sarah Herman (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), Gaby Kulesz (Darien, Conn.), Isabel Ott (Tiburon, Calif.), Claire Plunkett (Darien, Conn.), Lauren Poland (Chicago, Ill.), Isabella Strickler (Grosse Pointe, Mich.), Gabby Swann (Virginia Beach, Va.), Lizzie Trull (Wellesley, Mass.), Carrie Wentzel (San Anselmo, Calif.), Reilly White (Wyckoff, N.J.) and Maria Zeris (Moorestown, N.J.).

“This is a fantastic class and they will make an immediate, positive impact with their character and as student-athletes,” Sauer said. “Everyone is excited to have them join us next year! Many thanks to recruiting coordinator Brett Gorman, assistant Josh Gautreau and our awesome team who helped show the UVA class of 2020 how special this place is.”

9042551.jpeg Grace Bentley
Andover, Mass. – Andover High School
Greater Lawrence Rowing
Coach: Harry Finch
Parents: Mark and Jennifer Bentley

• Member of the 2015 U.S. World Development Team 2015
• Placed 10th at 2015 CRASH B
• Raced at the 2015 Youth Nationals Championship

“I chose the University of Virginia because of its balance of challenging academics and athletics. I believe that it is important to be able to succeed in both aspects of my life and I felt that I could do so at UVA. The overall student pride and friendly environment of the team made it an incredible place to be.”

Sara Cliborne
Henrico, Va. – Henrico High School
Rivanna and Resilient Rowing Clubs
Coaches: Cathy Coffman and Paul Allbright
Parents: Kevin and Travers Cliborne

• Placed seventh in the Women’s Quad at the 2015 Club Nationals
• Member of the USJNT Sculling Jr. Development Camp
• Participated in the 2015 Club Nationals and Head of the Charles
• Field Hockey (All-Conference and All-Region), track and soccer letterwinner in high school

“Being in a competitive environment with a coaching staff that would help me realize my full potential was a big part of my decision. UVA was a place I knew I would be challenged to excel both athletically and academically.”

Diana Felix
Long Beach, Calif. – St. Joseph High School
Long Beach Junior Crew
Coaches: Alfredo Montenegro, Rodrigo Rodrigues, Xeno Müller, Brian de Regt and Claire Kuehnel
Parents: Dr. Betsy von Kreuter Felix and Dr. Juan Carlos Felix

• Placed first at the 2015 Head of the Charles Regatta
• Place fourth in Women’s Quad at 2015 Youth National Championships
• 2015 LBJC Superior Student-Athlete Award

“I want to be able to pursue a degree in engineering while fully participating in a high-level rowing program, and the University of Virginia has made that possible for me. The women’s rowing team at UVA is the most welcoming and kind group of individuals I have ever met, and I cannot wait to be a part of such a fantastic, nurturing program.”

Molly Harding
London, England – The Henley College
Marlow Rowing Club
Coach: Bret King
Parents: Jackie Harding and Stephen Harding

• Earned silver medal in the Women’s Quad at the 2015 Junior World Rowing Championships
• Finalist in the junior Women’s Quad at the Henley Royal Regatta in 2014 and 2015
• Multiple-time British National Champion in the women’s double and quad
• Earned silver at the British Senior Championships in the women’s four with Olympic gold medalist Katherine Grainger
• Earned outstanding achievement in sport at Great Marlow School
• Nominated sports captain and prefect at Great Marlow School
• Junior club captain at Marlow Rowing Club

“I chose UVA for many reasons. The beautiful location of the university and the academic opportunities are second to none! The women’s rowing team at UVA had undoubtedly great team spirit, and I believe that along with the enthusiasm, support and encouragement from such a great coaching staff, they will help me to become not only a better athlete but also to achieve my greatest goals.”

Kate Hastings
Wilmington, Del. – Mercersburg Academy
Newport Rowing Club
Coach: John Cohn (Newport RC), Brigette Hoppe (Wilmington Aquatic Club)
Parents: Andrew and Sherry Hastings

• Six-time All-American triathlete – is currently top-ranked triathlete in the U.S. in the 18-19 age group
• Member of Team USA for three years competing in three world triathlon championships
• Placed fourth in the 2015 Triathlon Age Group World Championships and bronze medalist in the 2015 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships
• Competed in over 35 Sprint and Olympic Distance triathlons, winning 28 age group titles, five overall women’s titles and setting 16 course records.
• Helped high school place third at the NXN Cross Country National Championships and win three state titles.
• Two-time All-State selection in cross country and track and field

“UVA provides me the world class academic experience, vibrant student community, and the opportunity to row for Coach Sauer and UVA’s elite rowing program against the best rowers nationally and internationally.”

Sarah Herman
Baldwinsville, N.Y.
Coach: Chris Ludden
Parents: Tom and Debbie Herman

• 4-time New York State champion (2012 through 2015)
• Earned silver medal at SRAA’s in 2014 and Bronze medal at SRAA’s in 2015
• Received the Outstanding Team Player award in 2014 and 2015
• Attended U.S. Junior National Team Development Camp in 2013

“I chose UVA because of its combination of excellent academics, incredible coaching staff and highly competitive rowing program. I’m very proud to call myself a Cavalier!”

Gaby Kulesz
Darien, Conn. – Darien High School
Parents: Barbara and Javier Kulesz
Maritime Rowing Club and New Canaan High School Crew
Coaches: Yan Vengerovsky and Anna Cherednikova

• Selected as team captain for the 2015-2016 season
• Earned gold medal in the Varsity Quad at 2015 Head of the Schuylkill
• Garnered gold medal in the Women’s Double and bronze medal in Women’s Quad at 2015 Club National Championships
• Earned silver medal in the Women’s Quad at the 2015 Youth National Championships
• Earned gold medal in the Women’s Double and gold in the Women’s Quad at the 2014 Club National Championships

“I chose UVA because of the fantastic energy I felt when I visited. The coaches and everyone on the team immediately welcomed me. Everyone has a great attitude and are willing to push themselves while also creating a supportive environment.”

Isabel Ott
Tiburon, Calif. – Urban School of San Francisco
Marin Rowing Association
Coach: Sandy Armstrong
Parents: Jeff & Sheryl Ott

• Member of the 2015 World Development Team
• Placed Second at the 2015 Head of the Charles

“I felt strongly about finding a school where I would be pushed both academically and athletically. I believe that UVA is a place where I will be able to grow and explore new subject matter, while becoming a stronger athlete and teammate under the direction of the accomplished UVA coaching staff. I can’t wait to get out on the water!”

Lauren Poland
Chicago, Ill. – Fenwick High School
Chicago Rowing Foundation
Coach: Mike Wallin
Parents: Joe and Anne Poland

• Placed first at Head Of the Rock
• MCAC champion
• Helped team to third-place finish at Illinois High School Sports Association state playoffs
• Three-year letterwinner in water polo and swimming

“I wanted to row for Coach Sauer and be part of a championship program.”

Claire Plunkett
Darien, Conn. – Darien High School
Saugatuck Rowing Club, Westport, Conn.
Coach: Gordon Getsinger
Parents: Robert and Karen Plunkett

• Earned gold medal and set course record in Women’s Youth Eight at 51st Head of the Charles Regatta
• Won bronze medal in Women’s Youth Four at 50th Head of the Charles Regatta
• Earned gold medal in Women’s U19 Eight at 2015 USRowing Club National Championships
• Captured silver medal n Women’s Junior A Eight at 2014 USRowing Club National Championships
• Gold in 1st Varsity Eight at 2015 Head of the Schuylkill Regatta
• Gold in 1st Varsity Four at 2015 Head of the Schuylkill Regatta

“I’ve always wanted to be at UVA. It has everything I was looking for in a school. UVA has a unique combination of excellent academics and incredible team culture and success.”

Isabella Strickler
Grosse Pointe, Mich. – Grosse Pointe South High School
Detroit Boat Club
Coaches: David Macon and George Sleator
Parents: David and Victoria Strickler

• Member of National Honor Society all four years of high school
• Placed fourth in Women’s Double at 2014 Youth National Championships
• Placed second in Women’s Single at the Canadian Henley
• Placed third in Women’s Single at 2015 Youth National Championships
• Finished seventh in Women’s Double at 2015 Junior World Championships

“I am very excited to be attending the University of Virginia next year. It is everything that I have been looking for and is a place known for its prestigious academics and strong crew team. The coaches are amazing along with a supportive group of girls. From the moment I walked on Grounds, I knew UVA was the place for me.”

Gabby Swann
5-0 Coxswain
Virginia Beach, Va. – Norfolk Academy
Hampton Roads Rowing Club
Coaches: Aubrey Shinofield, Roberto Hansen, Debbie Grell and Dan Garbutt
Parents: Tres and Heather Swann

• Varsity team captain coxed Women’s Varsity Eight to first place in Eastern Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Regionals
• Received silver medal in the National French Speaking Competition

“I chose UVA because I want to be in an environment where there will always be someone better than me, both athletically and academically. I want to be the best I can be and UVA is the place that will push me to do just that.”

Lizzie Trull
Wellesley, Mass. – Noble and Greenough School
Noble and Greenough School & Cambridge Boat Club
Coaches: Blair Crawford, Lizzy Boyle, Boris Kusturic
Parents: Cindy and David Trull

• Placed fourth at the 2015 NEIRA Championships in the Noble’s Four
• Placed 18th at the 2015 Head of the Charles Regatta in Noble’s Four
• Won silver medal in the quad at 2015 Club Nationals for CBC
• Won silver in the Women’s Four at the 2015 Canadian Henley for CBC
• Received highest academic honors at Noble and Greenough School
• Earned ISL honorable mention honors in cross country in 2014
• Swam competitively for Bernal’s Gators (USA team) and Wellesley Swim Association (Club team)

“I fell in love with the Grounds, the University’s academic offerings, and the enthusiasm of the women’s crew team. I immediately knew that the Virginia rowers and coaches are both competitive and supportive, and I am incredibly excited to start rowing with them in the fall.”

Carrie Wentzel
San Anselmo, Calif. – The Branson School
Marin Rowing Association
Coach: Sandy Armstrong
Parents: Jochen and Laurie Wentzel

• Novice Rower of the Year in 2015
• Placed first in Women’s Four at Southwest Regional Championships
• Max Preps All-American and All-State volleyball player

“I chose to be a part of the University of Virginia community because of its virtuous values, animated school spirit and inspiring culture. The combination of its outstanding academics and athletics makes me very excited to be a Cavalier!”

Reilly White
Wyckoff, N.J. – Ramapo High School
City Island Rowing
Coach: Guy Monseair
Parents: Donna & Jim White

• City Island Rowing Team Captain
• Completed two half-marathons
• Four-year varsity basketball letterwinner

“I chose UVA because of its cohesive community. The people I have met on campus and on the rowing team embody a level of excellence that is contagious. I’m so excited to be a part of a university that sets the bar high for both academics and athletics.”

Maria Zeris
5-0 Coxswain
Moorestown, N.J. – Merion Mercy Academy
Coaches: Mike Brown, Tony Mattson and Tom French
Parents: James and Aimee Zeris

• Two-time captain coxed the Varsity Lightweight Eight to second and third place finishes at the Philadelphia City Championships
• Earned second and fourth place finishes at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta
• Coxed team to third and fourth place finishes at SRAA Nationals
• Coxed team to a win at the US Rowing Mid-Atlantic Junior Districts

“As a coxswain, I believe that I am always a student of the sport, and that there will always be more to learn. In my opinion, there is no better place or coaching staff in the country to further my knowledge of rowing. Additionally, surrounding myself with the best athletes can only make me a better athlete myself. I fell in love with the team and their dedication and drive to achieve their best. On top of that, when I came on my visit, I felt a sense of family among the team. UVA is one of the most elite academic universities in the world, and I love the school spirit and the feeling of home that I get in Charlottesville!”

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