MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) – Northern Michigan University Women's Swimming and Diving has 10 new athletes joining them for the 2019-2020 season. The women's team welcomes divers Ellie Gunderson and Amanda Baird and swimmers Maria Arakelian, Meritxell Font Cantarero, Julianna Engesser, Francesca Gastrow, Jenna Joerger, Lauren Melendez, Michaela Nelson and Pilar Perello.
Gunderson is the reigning Minnesota High School state champion in 1-meter diving. She comes from Totino-Grace High School in Columbus, Minnesota is also a member of the Outback Diving Team.
Amanda Baird comes to the team from Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California. She claimed the Nevada State Championship as a sophomore in 2016 prior to moving to California. She is also a USA Diving National Qualifier and an AAU All-American in the 1-meter, 3-meter and Platform diving events.
Maria Arakelian has NCAA Qualifying times in the 500 and 1000-yard Freestyle races. From Livonia, Michigan and Livonia-Stevenson High School, Arakelian has also posted Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference A Finals times in the 200 (1:53.3), 500 (4:58.9), 1000 (10:12.5) and 1650-yard (17:20.7) freestyle events during her high school and club career.
Meritxell Font-Cantarero hails from Girona, Spain and swims for Club GEIEG. She won the women's 200-meter butterfly in the Spanish Junior National Long Course Championships and was second in the 100 fly. Her times in those events match NCAA qualifying times as well as placed her in the A Finals of the GLIAC Championships. Font-Cantarero also looks to score points in the IM events and be an integral part of Wildcat relays.
Julianna Engesser joins the squad from St. Charles North High School in South Elgin, Illinois. A member of the Club SC Aquatics Club Team as well as St. Charles North Water Polo team, her times in the 50 (24.03) and 100-yard Freestyle (52.5) would place her in the A Finals of the GLIAC Championships and make her a likely contributor on the Wildcat's top relays. She's will also compete in the100-yard backstroke with her best time of 57.5.
Attending Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wisconsin and swimming for Elmsbrook Swim Club, Francesca Gastrow, will add depth to the Wildcats distance group. She has posted times that would place her in the GLIAC A Final in the 200 (1:53.9), 500 (5:03.9) and 400 IM (4:34.64). She will also compete for points in the1000 free (10:33.9) and 200 IM (2:09.6). Gastrow, who plans to major in mathematics, has an older sister, Gianna, who is a member of the NMU Women's Golf team.
Jenna Joerger enters her collegiate career coming off a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard IM in the Minnesota High School state championships (2:04.52). Attending Eagan High School in Eagan, Minnesota, her times in both IM, the 100 butterfly (56.89) and the 100 backstroke (57.66) would place her in the GLIAC A Finals and she will be a strong relay contributor as well. Joerger swims for Blackline Aquatics Club team.
Joining the Wildcats from El Paso, Texas is butterfly specialist Lauren Melendez. The Eastwood High School swimmer will bolster the team's depth in the 100 (58.4) and 200 butterfly (2:14.1) races as well as the contributing points in the 200 and 400 IM events.
Multi-sport athlete Michaela Nelson from Sun Prairie, WI, who swims and runs for Sun Prairie High School and also swims with the McFarland Spartan Sharks club, will make an immediate impact for the Wildcat women in middle distance freestyle events and relays. She has strong 100 (52.5, 51.9 relay split) and 200 (1:54.9) freestyle times that would have earned her a spot in the GLIAC A final this year. In addition, Nelson has solid 200 IM (2:07.59) that would have made the top heat and her 100 butterfly (58.37) or 400 IM (4:36.6) will score points in the GLIAC meet as well.
Lastly, Pilar Perello, comes to the Wildcats from Club Natacio Palma in Mallorca, Spain. Perello will add to the middle distance events as she has times of 51.8, 1:50.1 and 4:55.9 in the 100-200-500 freestyle events respectively. The 200 and 500 times would have been invited and scored at this year's NCAA championships. In addition to strengthening the Wildcat relays, Perello has GLIAC A final times in the 200 backstroke (2:03.42) and 200 IM (2:05.2).
This talented crop of newcomers will be eyed to fill the gap for a squad that graduates 11 seniors.