Director of track and field and cross country Jenny Severns is proud to announce her recruiting class for the upcoming season. This year's class is the largest for the Racers under coach Severns, who will be entering her fifth year with the team. In total, the Racers will bring aboard 23 girls to the squad.
A large recruiting class will add depth to a Racer team that is bringing back plenty of talent both in cross country and on the track.
Severns is proud of her incoming distance group, which will have an immediate impact in all three seasons.
In the mid-distance group, the Racers welcome Emani Griffin, Elizabeth Lay and Felizitas Muller.
Griffin finished in third place at the AAU Jr. Olympics in the 800m. She has a personal-best of 2:15.77 in the event and 5:08.48 in the 1600m. "I am really excited to see where Emani can go in training," said Severns. "She has run some great middle distance times on minimal training. It will be an exciting four years."
Lay is also an 800m runner, with a PR of 2:29. "We have tapped in to St. Louis talent year after year and we are really excited to have Liz represent that area this year. She has such a great attitude and personality. She is going to bring so much to the team in many ways."
Rounding out the mid-distance group is Muller. Muller has been recruited out of Germany where she was an 800m and 1500m runner. She has run PR's of 2:07.99 and 4:36.08 respectively. "I am very excited to have Felizitas as a Racer. She will bring so much to the team in training and competition. I am really excited to see how the middle distance group develops with our current girls and the ones coming in."
Severns has also reached into the well for Kentucky talent to improve her team. Caroline Grogan, Kati Heil and Meagan Smith all will remain in state to join the Racer program.
Grogan is a distance runner from Oldham County, Kentucky. She has run 18:22 for the 5K in cross country and 11:17 on the track for two miles. "We are really excited to have Caroline, said Severns. She should make and immediate impact in cross country and the longer distance events on the track. She is a fighter."
Also coming from Oldham County is Kati Heil. She has personal-bests of 2:23 in the 800m and 19:29 in the 5K. Coach Severns has already called the versatile Heil a "Jack of all trades." "She has run good times in a wide range of events. I can't wait to find her best event and really see where she can go."
Smith is a two-time cross country state champion from Danville, Ky. She is also an AAU National Cross Country Champion and a two-time Kentucky State Track Champion. "Meagan is a competitor and I love that about her. She knows how to get in a race and be aggressive from start to finish. She will be a huge asset to the team." Smith has run everything from the 1600m to the 5K with PR's of 5:15 (1600m), 11:24 (3200m) and 18:35 (5K).
Finishing the distance group are Emily Flaherty and Vallery Korir.
Flaherty has run 11:45 for 3200m and 18:59 for the 5K. Speaking about Flaherty, Severns said, "Emily gets better every season. As a distance runner it is all about consistency over time and Emily has consistently improved year after year."
Korir is another distance runner from overseas. She comes from Kenya and has a history of running success in her family. Her brother, Leonard Korir, is a two-time NCAA Champion at Iona. "Vallery will bring a new perspective to the team that I believe is important. She will help us out in the longer distances and Cross country predominantly." Korir has run everything from the 1500m to the 10K. She has PR's of 4:50 (1500m), 10:27 (3K), 18:40 (5K) and 38:42 (10K at altitude).
Assistant coach Adam Kiesler has added to the record recruiting class, bringing in student-athletes who can contribute right away to the Racer sprints, jumps, throws and hurdle groups.
Olivia Brice, Anna Curlin, Deja Rodgers, Summer Wheeler and Shonte Williams will all add to MSU's young sprint core.
Brice was recruited out of Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis Missouri. According to Kiesler, Brice is, "Someone who predominantly ran relays in high school. We are looking for her to grow and compete in some open events to help this team."
Curlin is a Kentucky State Champion in the 400m dash and will add to the longer sprints. She set PR's of 57.73 in the 400m and 25.66 in the 200m. "We are happy to keep Anna in state as the 2013 400m champion in class 2A," said Kiesler. "She will add depth to an already solid 4x4 group as well as help our long sprints."
Rodgers comes to MSU from Tampa Bay, Florida as a short sprinter. She ran 11.94 in the 100m and 24.85 in the 200m at Middleton High School. Said Kiesler, "Deja will make an immediate impact by helping the team out in the short sprints and both relays outdoors. We are very excited for her to bring her passion here and continue to improve."
Wheeler is another long sprinter remaining in Kentucky. She ran 58.85 in the 400m for Oldham County High School in Buckner, Ky. Kiesler spoke highly of Wheeler, saying, "Summer has proven to be one of the best 400 runners in the state of Kentucky. She has a wide range and will be utilized in many different events."
Completing the incoming sprint group is Shonte Williams. Williams comes from Meade County High School in Brandenburg, Ky. Said Kiesler, "It will be exciting watching Shonte grow in our program. Her excitement and passion to improve is something we look forward to having here."
The Racers have also brought in a number of student-athletes to add to their strong stable of jumpers and hurdlers. Sy'Vone Anderson, Sarah Bindel, Kristen Higgins, Taylor Horton and Taylor McCammon will all be joining the Racers in 2014.
Anderson competed in a number of events for Maryville High School in Maryville, Tennessee. She has shown her versatility with PR's of 38'7" in the triple jump, 15.29 seconds in the 100m hurdlers and 25.51 in the 200m dash. "Sy'Vone has shown to be a very diverse athlete," said Kiesler. "We plan to use her in anything and everything. Every time she reaches a new personal best it still isn't good enough for her."
Bindel is a hurdler out of Chester, Illinois. For Chester High School, Bindel ran in both the 300m and 100m hurdles with personal-best times of 44.88 and 15.5 respectively. Said Kiesler, "Sarah has shown to be a tireless worker. We cannot wait to have that type of athlete as a part of our team. She has become a real student of the sport and is always willing to learn to get better."
Kiesler added another hurdler in Kirsten Higgins from Portage, Michigan. Higgins also ran both the 100m and 300m hurdles for Portage Northern High School with PR's of 15.46 and 45.98 respectively. "We were very fortunate to see Kristin hurdle at a camp in the summer and instantly we knew she had a lot of potential. It will be exciting to watch her grow in the next four years."
Kiesler's only in-state jumps recruit is Taylor Horton from Louisville, Ky. Horton, who competed at Eastern High School, is a high jumper with a PR of 5'2". "Taylor comes to us as a multi-talented student-athlete on and off the track," said Kiesler. "She will also be a member of the Racer Band. We are excited about her future."
Rounding out the jumps is Taylor McCammon from McNamara High School in Kankakee, Ill. McCammon competed in the long jump while also running both the 100m and 60m hurdles. She has a personal-best jump of 18'5" in the long jump and 15.31 100m and 9.18 60m hurdle times. Speaking about the multi-talented McCammon, Kiesler said, "We believe Taylor can come in and help our jumps and hurdles group right away. She will be coming here with lofty goals and we know she will do what it takes to reach them."
MSU's final track recruitment group is the throws. Abbie Lukens and Ashton Shelton make up that ensemble. Both of them hail from the state of Kentucky.
Lukens comes to Murray from Newport Central Catholic in Newport, Ky. She recorded throws of 41'6.5" in the shot put and 119'1" int he discus. "Abbie has shown consistent improvement over her high school career and has turned herself into on of the best all-around throwers in the state of Kentucky," said Kiesler. "We are happy she chose to become a Racer."
Shelton is a Murray native and graduate of Calloway County High School. For the Lakers, Shelton had a personal-best throw of 112'10" in the discus. Kiesler praised her hard work saying, "Ashton has been around the program a lot this year and we couldn't ask for a better person to be joining this team. Literally rain or shine she always wants to work on her craft."