O'Neill Inks 8 Golden Bears for Cal Women's Crew

Nov. 20, 2009

BERKELEY - California head coach Dave O'Neill announced an impressive group of eight recruits who signed National Letters of Intent this past week. The incoming class features three athletes from Lake Natoma's Capital Crew - Agatha Nowinski (Sacramento, Calif.), Megan Ryan (Fair Oaks, Calif.) and Greer Uu (Gold River, Calif.), and San Francisco Bay Area product Michelle Leason (Mill Valley, Calif.). Southern California recruits include Madeline Hearst (San Diego) and Danielle Riggs (Las Flores, Calif.). Allison DeClercq (Grosse Point Park, Mich.) comes from the Detroit area, and Rosie Popa (Toorak, Victoria, Australia) is O'Neill's first recruit from Australia.

Since the 2010 Cal squad has 10 team members in their final year of eligibility, O'Neill sees this incoming class as critical to continuing the program's success. He believes the incoming class exceeds expectations.

'We have a terrific group of seniors who have really raised the standards of what it means to be on our team,' O'Neill said. 'So, it was really important to identify and bring in recruits who understand the values and attitude of our team and university. We absolutely did this. This group has proven success, small boats skills, power and a ton of potential for improvement.'

In addition to the eight recruits signed recruits, O'Neill added that a number of prospects have verbally committed, and he expects the class to grow through the spring. He credits assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Sarah Puddicombe for her effort and abilities.

'Cal is a special place, and it requires a certain person to excel, both academically and athletically, in Berkeley,' O'Neill said. 'Sarah has done a great job. I'm impressed with this group of signees and look forward to working with the entire class for years to come.'

Here is a look at the eight recruits:

Allison DeClercq, Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., Detroit B.C.
DeClercq is an accomplished sculler, and her small boat skills impressed O'Neill and his staff. She has been active in the USRowing junior development system since the summer of 2007. She placed second at the 2009 USRowing Youth Invitational Regatta. In October, DeClercq won the Head of the Charles Regatta in the youth double sculls.

'We are really glad Allison has chosen to come to Cal,' O'Neill said. 'She has proven her speed in the small boats, and this skill will be important as she steps up to the next level.'

Madeline Hearst, San Diego, San Diego R.C.
O'Neill describes Hearst as a skilled rower who has a terrific future at Cal. Her San Diego Rowing Club four won a bronze medal at the USRowing Youth Invite.

'Madeline is a technically sound rower who has a great future ahead,' O'Neill said. 'She is exactly the type of person who excels in our program. I'm looking forward to working with her in the years to come, and she'll play an important role on our team.'

Michelle Leason, Mill Valley, Calif., Marin R.A.
Leason began rowing with the Marin Rowing Association in her freshman year of high school and has had tremendous success. Her eight has won back-to-back national championships. She stroked the 2008 Marin varsity and rowed in the 6 seat in the undefeated 2009 crew. Leason joins her 2009 teammates Chelsea Lucas, Erica Rippe, Caroline Rosetti and Hailey Wunsch, who are now freshmen at Cal. Leason and Cal sophomore Charlotte Palmer were teammates on the 2008 Marin crew.

'I'm thrilled Michelle is coming to Cal,' O'Neill said. 'She's made a positive impression on everyone she's raced and worked with, and she knows how to win. She's a talented rower, fierce competitor and wonderful person. We've been tracking her progress for years, so it's great to make it official that she's a Golden Bear.'

Agatha Nowinski, Sacramento, Calif., Capital Crew
Nowinski was the first of the three Lake Natoma Capital Crew recruits to commit to Cal. O'Neill describes Nowinski as a hard worker and tough racer. She made the final at the Youth Invite in the W2- last May. She was invited to the 2009 USRowing junior selection camp and earned a spot on the High Performance Team that toured and competed in Germany.

'Agatha looks to be more than ready to put in the required work to become really successful on our team,' O'Neill said. 'She is doing some great things on her junior team, and I can't wait to work with her. She's a strong athlete with a determined attitude that doesn't quit.'

Rosie Popa, Toorak, Victoria, Australia, Banks R.C.
Popa is an accomplished rower in both sculling and sweep at the state and national level in Australia. She is a dual citizen of Australia and the United States, and both her parents (Sue and Ion) won medals in rowing at the 1984 Olympics. A versatile and powerful rower, Popa will have an immediate role and lasting impact on the team.

'Rosie has had success in every type of boat, she rows both sides and can sit in nearly any seat,' O'Neill said. 'She has the skill, power and, most importantly, attitude to be successful at Cal and beyond. Her personality is a perfect fit for Cal and our team, and I am very happy she's coming to Berkeley.'

Danielle Riggs, Las Flores, Calif., Newport Aquatic Center
A standout volleyball player and rower, Riggs recently began rowing at Newport Aquatic Center and made an immediate impression. Although new to the sport, O'Neill believes Riggs will be very successful in rowing.

'The two most important keys to success in rowing are the right attitude and natural athletic ability, and Danielle certainly has both,' he said. 'She has a positive spirit and a terrific work ethic, and I expect she'll thrive in our sport and on our team.'

Megan Ryan, Fair Oaks, Calif., Capital Crew
A veteran of the Cal junior camps, Ryan is a four-year rower with Capital Crew and will come to Cal as a skilled, strong and motivated athlete. Although undersized by some standards, O'Neill believes Ryan makes up for this perceived deficiency with heart and determination.

'It's been good to see Megan row and compete,' he said. 'She's been the stroke of a very good crew at Capital, and she rows well. Most importantly, she's tough, strong and has the personality to go even further.'

Greer Uu, Gold River, Calif., Capital Crew
O'Neill sees tremendous potential in Uu, the winner of the 2009 Golden State Indoor Rowing Championships. Uu was invited to the 2009 USRowing Junior Selection Camp and later competed in Germany with the High Performance Team. A powerful rower with a mindset for continued success, Uu has impressed the Cal coaching staff with her attitude and work ethic.

'Greer is a great kid and is heading for greatness,' O'Neill said. 'She's a worker and will do everything necessary to succeed. She also has the personality to push and inspire her teammates, and that's an important quality we look for in recruits.'

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