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Feb 4, 2005

BOULDER - University of Colorado head soccer coach Bill Hempen announced Friday the signing of Centennial State preps Nikki Keller (Arvada) and Caitlin Marquis (Boulder)  to National Letters of Intent while recruited walk-ons Alexis Cousins (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Michelle Wenino (Centennial, Colo.) have signed letters of acceptance to the University, rounding out Hempen's fourth recruiting class at the foot of the Flatirons.


              With the signing of five in-state players, the 2005 roster will feature 15 Centennial State preps.  "We are most excited about the number of Colorado natives that have chosen to play for their State University," said Hempen. "The pride and the love they have for their State and the University of Colorado will, without even kicking a soccer ball, take the Buffs to another level".


ALEXIS COUSINS, 5-6, Midfield, Fort Collins, Colo. (Fort Collins)

Following her junior season Cousins was named the team's most valuable player, first-team all-Northern Conference, Rocky Mountain News All-Colorado, first-team all-state and the Denver Post's 5A Player of the Year after leading the state in assists.  The Lambkins were the 2003 and '04 Northern Conference Champions and the 2004 5A state runners-up, dropping a 1-0 decision to Chatfield in the state title tilt.  Cousins plays club ball for the Colorado Girls Soccer Academy which was the State Cup runners-up in 2004. In the classroom she has been a Colorado High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Academic Team Champion with a 3.5 grade point average her freshman, sophomore and junior years, was a first-team Academic All-State performer as a junior and was Fort Collins' CU Junior of the Year.  Cousins considered attending both the University of Memphis and Wyoming prior to committing to the Buffs.


NIKKI KELLER, 5-6, Midfield/Forward, Arvada, Colo. (Ralston Valley)

Keller and the Ralston Valley Mustangs have won three straight JeffCo League Championships and have reached 4A state quarterfinals round in 2002 and '04 and semifinal play in 2003.  A three-year academic letterwinner, Keller was a second-team all-JeffCo performer as a freshman and first-team all-conference and second-team all-state as a sophomore and junior.  A three-sport athlete at Ralston Valley, Keller is a three-year letterwinner of the Mustangs' 4x100 and 4x200-m relay teams and has run the open 100 and 200 distances.  On the track she was a second-team all-conference runner as a freshman, and first team as a sophomore and junior.  She also ran cross country as a freshman.  Keller also plays for the Colorado Girls Soccer Academy, and coach Rafael Amaya, which were the 2004 State Cup runners-up and reached the regional semifinals in 2001 and '04.  Keller was also recruited by Illinois and Denver, where her twin sister Jessi will play next season.


CAITLIN MARQUIS, 5-8, Defense, Boulder, Colo. (IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.))

Marquis (pronounced mar-kwis) is just the third Boulder native to play soccer at CU, second for Bill Hempen.  Following her freshman season at Fairview, Marquis took her game to the famed IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where she was named the club's best defensive player and earned academic high honors as a junior.  IMG won the 2004 CDL League title in 2004, and was the HC United Tournament finalist (losing to HC 1-0) that same year.  So far in 2005 they have won the Orange Classic in Fort Lauderdale.  Marquis was also recruited by Kentucky and South Carolina.


MICHELLE WENINO, 5-8, Defense, Aurora, Colo. (Smoky Hill)

Wenino (pronounced when-inn-o)has played three seasons at Smoky Hill for coaches Randy Freeman and Betsy Sprafka.  The Buffaloes were the 2003 Centennial League Champions.  She is a Colorado Girls Soccer Academy teammate of future CU classmates Alexis Cousins and Nikki Keller who were all members of the 2004 State Cup runners-up team.  Wenino was a Tulsa (Okla.) All-Tournament team member in 2004 and received the Fair Play Award in '04 State Cup play.  A three-sport, and 10-time letterwinner entering the spring sports seasons at Smoky Hill, Wenino also runs track (200-800-m distances) and cross country as a member of the 2002, '03 and '04 5A state championship teams that finished second at nationals in 2004 in Portland, Ore.  She is also a point guard on the Buffaloes' basketball team (and former CU assistant coach Ron Burgin) that won the 2002 Centennial League Championship.  Off the pitch she was second-team all-league in basketball as a junior, and first-team all city and region in cross country as a senior. An academic honor roll student all four years at Smoky Hill, she also received the all school grade point average award the past six semesters for carrying a better than 3.75 grade point average.  Wenino was also recruited by Northern Colorado, New Mexico and Tulsa.


         The class of 2009 will join 17 returning letterwinners and 10 returning starters, when the Buffs kick off the season Aug. 26 at home against Vanderbilt and two days later take on North Carolina, in Topeka, Kan.


              "Though we return 10 starters that does not necessarily mean there is one spot open. This group challenged the upperclassmen for the right to be in the starting eleven in 2005 the moment they committed to the University of Colorado," concluded Hempen.