In the future, will we talk about the Gopher's women sprinters the way we talk about their middle distance runners now?
The University of Minnesota women's track program, which yesterday announced the addition of ten recruits to the team, adds five talented sprinters to the program known in recent years for its half-milers.
Donning the maroon and gold in 2009 and the future are sprinters Brianna Fernholz of Willmar, Nyoka Giles of Diego Martin, Trinidad, Chim Okoroji of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Kylie Peterson of Apple Valley, and Adrienne Thomas of Adams, North Dakota.
Also new to the team in 2009 will be middle distance runner Heather Brunn of Rogers, thrower DeAnne Hahn of Lakewood, New Jersey, pole vaulter Becca Pikerton of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and distance runner Claire Rindo of Berlin, Wisconsin, and jumper Todea-Kaye Willis of St. Andrew, Jamaica.
In all, five states and three countries are represented in the recruiting class.
“We are very excited about this class of incoming freshmen,” Gopher women's head track coach Matt Bingle said in a media release. “This class includes some great talent that we can't wait to get on campus. We hope these talented athletes will help continue the success that the women have enjoyed over the last few years!"
Fernholz, a Willmar High School graduate, captured all-state honors in the 200-meter dash at the 2008 Minnesota Class AA State Meet. She has also been a member of two all-state relays, the 4x200-meter relay in 2008 and the 4x100-meter relay in 2006. Fernholz is also the reigning Junior Miss Minnesota.
Giles joins the Gophers from the Tranquility Government School in Diego Martin, Trinidad. She is a member of the Trinidad World Junior Team and the Trinidad and Tobago Junior National Team. Giles owns personal bests of 11.75 seconds in the 100 meters, 23.99 in the 200 meters and 54.64 in the 400 meters.
Okoroji is a two-time all-state sprinter from Eau Claire Memorial High School. She placed third in the 100-meter dash as a junior and senior at the Wisconsin Division I State Meet. Her top 100-meters time is 12.09 seconds. She also competed in the 200 meters at state this season.
Peterson helped Apple Valley to a third-place finish as a team at the Minnesota State Meet by winning state titles in the 100 and 200 meters, and running a leg of the champion 4x100-meter relay. Her time of 11.79 seconds in the 100-meter title race was wind-aided, but her prelim time of 11.88 seconds stands as a Minnesota all-class high school record. She ran a time of 24.70 to win the 200 meters. Peterson also won the 100-meter state title in 2007.
Thomas is a state champion sprinter and long jumper from Park River Area High School. Thomas is a two-time North Dakota Division B state titlist in the 400 meters, winning the 2008 title in 57.17 seconds. She added the state title in the 100 meters (12.12) and a runner-up showing in the long jump (18-9 3/4) in her senior season. Thomas owns personal bests of 56.05 in the 400 meters and 19-3 in the long jump.
Brunn comes to the Gophers as a three-time place-winner in the Minnesota Class AA State Meet in the 800 meters, including a third-place finish this spring. Brunn was also a two-time all-conference performer in soccer and played in two state basketball tournaments.
Hahn is a three-time New Jersey state champion shot putter from Brick Township High School. She also captured state runner-up honors in the discus in each of the past two seasons. DeAnne is the younger sister of two-time NCAA wrestling champion and former Gopher, Damion Hahn (1999-04). She owns career-best marks of 47-6 in the shot put and 155-6 in the discus.
Pikerton, a graduate of Dexter High School, is the 2008 Michigan Division 2 champion in the pole vault. She finished 13th in the event at the 2007 Nike Outdoor National and owns a career-best of 12-2.
Rindo is a five-time all-state cross country and track performer from Berlin High School. Rindo posted Wisconsin Division 2 runner-up finishes in both the state cross country meet (14:35.8) and the 1,600-meter run (5:02.28). She was third in the 3,200-meter run as both a junior and senior as well, running a personal-best of 10:48.11 at state this year.
Willis, a graduate of St. Andrews High School for Girls, comes to Minnesota as Jamaica’s top high school long jumper. She owns personal bests of 20-2 in the long jump and 41-7 in the triple jump.