Nov. 26, 2006
PULLMAN, Wash. - Four swimmers have signed National Letters of Intent with the Washington State University women's swim team, Head Coach Erica Quam announced. The signees are Sierra Burton of Carmel, Calif., Rugile Mileisyte, a native of Kaunas, Lithuania, Erika Roach of San Antonio, Texas and Talor Whitaker of Chesterton, Ind.
"We are incredibly excited about the class that we have signed this fall," said Quam. "They have all done a great job in the classroom, they are versatile athletes, they are talented, and, most importantly, they are excited about racing on our team and have set high standards for their collegiate careers. Each year we have been able to bring in faster athletes to our team and continually raise the standard in our recruiting. This has been critical in our continued development as a program."
During her four years with the Monterey Bay Swim Club, Sierra Burton has broken virtually every club record. Most recently, Burton won nine gold medals and three silvers at the Pacific Swimming Long Course Championships in San Jose, Calif. in August. She also established national top-10 times in the 15-16 age division in five different events. Burton placed third in both the 100 and 200 freestyle swimming for Carmel High School at last year's Central Coast Section championships. Besides Washington State, Burton was heavily recruited by Hawaii, University of the Pacific and USC but chose WSU for the location, the instant chemistry with the coaching staff and the academic possibilities. A scholastic All-American for her work in the classroom, Burton hopes to major in biology at WSU.
"She has a lot of talent and has just begun to tap into her potential," said Quam. "Sierra is one of the top ranked seniors coming out of high school this year in the 100 and 200 freestyles. Sierra is a hard worker, a tough racer, and outstanding student. I believe our program will be just the right fit to keep her improving."
Rugile Mileistye, a backstroke specialist from Kaunas, Lithuania, brings international experience to the Cougar roster. A member of the Lithuanian National Team, Mileistye participated in the European Championships in 2005 where she set two national records. She also competed in the 2006 European Championships in Budapest, Hungary. She has raced in the Lithuanian National Championships and has taken first place each year for the past three years. Mileistye currently lives and trains in the town of Kaunas, Lithuania, the same town as current Cougar swimmer Lina Daugvilaite, and her brother Aurimas plays basketball for the Lithuanian National League.
"We are looking for Rugile to be an immediate contributor to our team next year and challenge for spots on our medley and sprint relays," said Quam.
In 2004, San Antonio, Texas native Erika Roach was named the San Antonio Express News Area Class 4A best 500 freestyler after her performance at the Texas TAPPS Class 4A Regional competition. She qualified for the state championships in the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle, finishing third in the state in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 500 freestyle. Roach qualified for the state competition in the 100 butterfly and the 200 freestyle in 2005, placing third in the state in the 100 butterfly and second in the 200 freestyle. Last year, she was named to the Texas Class 5A All-State team in the 200 and 500 freestyle events. She was a Class 5A district, regional and state champion in the 200 freestyle and a district champion and regional runner-up in the 500 freestyle.
"Erika is a versatile swimmer with an energetic personality," said Quam. "She has made great improvements in her times over the last couple years, and we are excited to see this progress continue. I believe that WSU will give her the overall experience that she is looking for, combining her athletic and academic goals. I know that she will make a great addition to WSU and our team."
Talor Whitaker, a native of Chesterton, Ind., has been named to the Duneland Athletic Conference All-Conference team for the past three consecutive years. As a sophomore, she was a member of the state champion 200 freestyle relay squad and her high school team took sixth place at the state championships. Last season, Whitaker was an individual state champion in the 100 freestyle and took eighth individually in the 200 IM, while the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams were state champions. Whitaker was a Junior National qualifier as well as a U.S. Open qualifier and set four school records. Academically, she has been named a scholar-athlete every year at Chesterton High School.
"Talor will make an immediate impact on our team," said Quam. "She is also ranked as one of the top seniors coming out of high school in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles as well as the 200IM. Talor is not only a great swimmer; she is a class individual and already a recognized leader on her high school and club teams. I am excited about her decision to attend WSU and believe that she will raise the level of those around her in many ways."
The 2006 Cougar swim team currently owns a 5-1 dual meet record, including a victory over archrival Washington, the third victory over the Huskies in program history. WSU will head to Austin, Texas to compete in the Texas Invitational. The three-day invitational begins on Nov. 30.