April 30, 2012
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Cristina Bassani, Emily Claire Campbell, Jessica Shepard, Ali Smith, Mackenzie Thornton will join the Rams for the fall swimming & diving season Head Coach Chris Woodard announced Monday. They will join Erica Stock, Bailey Williamson, Felicia Gilson, Paige Greely and Ariana Milone in the class of 2016.
Bassani will add to the team her considerable talents in the breaststroke events, as well as sprint freestyle. Bassani swam for University of Denver Hilltoppers (TOPS). TOPS is a USA Swimming Gold Medal team, ranked 14th in the country for team performance, and 2011 Western Region Sectional Champions. In 2011 and 2012, Bassani received USA Swimming academic all-American award in recognition for her academic achievements.
"Cristina is just coming into her own, but she comes with a great technical background and plenty of potential," Woodard said. "We're excited to have her on board, lending even more depth to our solid breaststroke corps."
Campbell has a short trip to make for college, coming from Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins. Campbell was a key piece in Fossil Ridge's first ever Colorado State High School Championship. Campbell will add her considerable talents to the team in the freestyle sprints and backstroke events. She was awarded Front Range League Swimming Athlete of the Year in 2012 and made all-American times in 200 Medley Relay and 400 Free Relay in the same year.
"Emily is coming off one of those story book years," Woodard said. "If she continues to make moves in her sprint free and backstroke events, she will be heavily relied on in the future."
Shepard comes to CSU fresh off being awarded Texas State Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year. Shepard joins Breann Fuller and Yana Garvey in the Backstroke events with times that rival the 2011-12 top times in the 100 and 200 Backstroke. At the 2012 state championships, Shepard broke the state record in the 100 Backstroke and hopes to continue breaking records as a Ram.
"Jessica rebounded from a tough junior year and progressed all season long in all her events," Woodard said. "The hope is that she is just scratching the surface at this point. If so, she will be a major player in the Mountain West."
Smith, hot off of five consecutive Southeastern Swimming Championships (3 Long Course, 2 Short Course) with Vestavia Hills High School from 2008 to 2010, brings power to CSU in the butterfly and distance freestyle events. A star on her high school team, Smith earned most valuable player and was team captain her junior and senior years. Smith was also a LSC Championship finalist past five years.
"Ali displayed all the attributes we were looking for during her recruitment. Great attitude, character and discipline," Woodard said. "If the fit is right, she will add some much needed toughness in our fly events."
Thornton comes from Marcus high school where she dominated the backstroke events. She was a Canadian Nationals Qualifier in the 100 and 200 Backstroke and a Texas 5A State Qualifier. Thornton has stayed busy in the pool and out and received recognition for her academic achievements with the Scholastic all-American award. CSU pulls in another athlete at the top of their high school team, with 2011 and 2012 MVP Thornton, a four-year letter winner.
"Mackenzie has the determination and the extensive training background to be able to carve out a niche for herself," Woodard said. "If her work pays off, she can be a key piece in our drive to climb the Mountain West rankings."