May 21, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa track and field program announced today that 19 recruits have signed national letters of intent to attend the University of Iowa. Eleven women and eight men will join the Hawkeyes in the fall of 2012.
The nine Hawkeye women include sprinters Shannen Rose Forde, Lisa Gordon, Montayla Holder, Lake Kwaza and Kaitlyn Nelson, distance runners Courtney Martin and Gabrielle Stearnes, high jumper Adetayo Oladele-Ajose, and multi-event athlete Kassidy Ellis.
“I feel like the assistant coaches did a fantastic job of identifying talent and recruiting with a relentless attitude,” said head coach Layne Anderson. “We brought a lot of kids to campus and I think at the end of the day we have what looks like a great class.”
The eight Hawkeye men include distance runners Matt Butler, Michael Hart, Daniel Huff, Neil Flattery, Taylor Soltys and Caleb Wilfong, horizontal jumper Klyvens Delaunay, and sprinter Jonathan Hutchinson.
“I think the recruiting class has shaped up to be a well-rounded and talented class that will allow us to continue the success we’ve had the last two years,” said Iowa director of track and field Larry Wieczorek.
One of the top recruits in the country, Klyvens Delaunay (Claremont, Calif.) will step in to fill the void left by four-time Big Ten Champion Tory Doris. Delaunay owns career best marks of 49-11 in the triple jump and 23-11 in the long jump. His triple jump PR would rank No. 5 in Iowa school history.
“In horizontal jumps area there is no way we could replace what Troy Doris has meant to us,” said Iowa director of recruiting Clive Roberts, “but we think we have a special talent in Klyvens Delaunay. He’s a guy that you know you want to be the face of your team, much like Troy has been for us. Klyvens has great character and talent and we’re going to build off him. He’s very sought after. He’s the third ranked triple jumper in the nation and the best kid in California.”
The Hawkeyes also got a promising young jumper in Shannen Rose Forde (Marietta, Ga.), a 19-2 long jumper that would rank in Iowa’s all-time top 10 if she started today. Rose Forde is also an accomplished prep sprinter and hurdler. She’s a 14-flat 100-meter hurdler and has a career best of 7.69 in the 60 meters.
“We’ve been missing that dominant hurdler for about 2-3 years,” said Roberts, “and I think Shannen Rose Ford kind of takes care of that now. She’s a great athlete, not only in the hurdles, but she’ll add depth right across the board.”
Rose Forde’s versatility will be complemented by Kassidy Ellis (Bakersfield, Calif.). A 4.2 student-athlete at Frontier high school, Ellis will add depth in the high jump (5-4), 100-meter hurdles (14.35) and distance hurdles (300m, 44.1).
“Kassidy Ellis is a young lady having a fantastic senior season,” said Roberts. “She’s going to be a multi-event athlete when she comes in from California. Definitely a kid that comes in and will add tremendous depth to what we want to do in the multi-events.”
Adetayo Oladele-Ajose (Mediapolis, Iowa) will also make an immediate impact in the field events. Her prep PR in the high jump would tie forth 10th all-time at Iowa (5-7). She’s also one of three women joining the Hawkeye program from the state of Iowa. Lisa Gordon (Western Springs, Ill.), Courtney Martin (Ames, Iowa) and Kaitlyn Nelson (West Des Moines, Iowa) will both add depth to the middle and long distance corps.
“One of the things we looked at this year is identify the best kid in Iowa and Kaitlyn Nelson is the best 800 meter senior right now in the state,” said Roberts. “It’s great to be able to get her. She’ll possibly be an 800 and 1,500 meter girl for us down the line. Oladele-Ajose is also a great girl that will develop into a Big Ten performer, and Courtney Nelson and Lisa Gordon are both some of the top all-around runners in the Iowa and Illinois. They each have tremendous potential and will contribute to the track and field and cross country programs.”
Keeping with the versatile theme, the Hawkeyes added Gabrielle Stearnes (Ames, Iowa) to contribute to the middle distance, distance and steeple chase.
“We feel really good about Gabrielle Stearnes,” said Roberts. “She’s a really good 800 and 1500 meter girl, but she’s also ran the 2k steeple, so when she gets in here that could be a key event. She’ll also help tremendously in the cross country season.”
The Hawkeye men also addressed some distance concerns. They landed three in-state recruits – Matt Butler (Bettendorf, Iowa), Michael Hart (West Branch, Iowa) and Daniel Huff (Waverly, Iowa) – and grabbed Taylor Soltys from Illinois (Naperville) and Caleb Wilfong from Missouri (Columbia).
“One of the things I know talking to Coach Wieczorek, especially in the distance, is we needed more bodies,” said Roberts, ” and I think he’s done a fantastic job of adding Caleb Wilfong, Daniel Huff, Taylor Soltys, Matt Butler and Michael Hart. This is by far the toughest distance conference in the nation, but if you don’t have anyone to battle with you’re pretty much just watching the meet. Our goal this year was to reinvent what we’re trying to do in the distance and I think we definitely did that.”
On the other side of the coin, the Hawkeyes are looking to duplicate the success they’ve had in the sprints and hurdles. Neil Flattery is the Iowa state runner-up in the 800 meters, and Jonathan Hutchison (Peoria, Ill.), is considered one of the top combo-sprinters in the state. He won the 2011 state title in the 100 meters and finished runner-up in the 200.
“We’re losing some of our top end kids to graduation in the short sprints and I think Neil Flattery and Jonathan Hutchison are going to come in and immediately do a fantastic job under Coach Woody’s tutelage,” said Roberts.
On the women’s side, Indiana state champion Montayla Holder and two-time Illinois state runner-up Lake Kwaza will add versatility and depth to the Hawkeye hurdles and sprints. Holder (Indianapolis, Ind.) won the Indiana state title in the 400-meter hurdles and Kwaza (Sycamore, Ill.) already has a 100 meter time that would rank among Iowa’s all-time top 10. She’s also an accomplished 200 and 400 meter runner.
“Montayla Holder is one of the hidden gems of this recruiting class,” said Roberts. “She’s very versatile, she’s the state champion in the 400, but she’s also ranked high in the 55-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, and the 100, 200, 400 800 meters. I think she’s a young lady who will come in here and make an immediate impact.
“Lake Kwaza will add great depth to our sprint core. She’ allow us to move some things around because she’s such a versatile athlete. She also has a basketball background and she’s very athletic.”
Gattone (Libertyville, Ill.) and Dakotah Goodell (Williamsburg, Iowa) will join the Hawkeyes’ decorated throws unit. Gattone is a USATF Junior Olympic Region 7 Champion in the javelin and Goodell is a 2011 state discus champion and 2012 runner-up.
“Ali is a great all-around athlete with tremendous work ethic. Ali only threw the javelin in the summer and won her Junior Olympic Region and competed on the national stage. With her attitude and talent, she will will be an asset to the Hawkeye program,” said Iowa throws coach Scott Cappos. “Dakotah is the top thrower in the state of Iowa. She is very talented and has the drive and determination you do not see everyday. She will be a great Hawkeye.”
“I think these are some names you’ll see a lot of going forward,” said Anderson. “It’s a versatile class. We’ve got some jumpers. We have some outstanding multi-event prospects. We’ve got some great sprinters and an overall group we feel can come in and compete right away. There’s some distance individuals that I think will come in and work hard, build strength and over time develop into great distance runners.”
Kassidy Ellis, Bakersfield, Calif. (multi-events)
Shannen Rose Forde, Marietta, Ga. (sprints, hurdles, jumps)
Allison Gattone, Libertyville, Ill. (javelin)
Dakota Goodell, Williamsburg, Iowa (discus/shot put)
Lisa Gordon, Western Spring, Ill. (distance)
Montayla Holder, Indianapolis, Ind. (sprints and hurdles)
Lake Kwaza, Sycamore, Ill. (sprints)
Courtney Martin, Ames, Iowa (distance)
Kaitlyn Nelson, West Des Moines, Iowa (sprints)
Adetayo Oladele-Ajose, Mediapolis, Iowa (high jump)
Gabrielle Stearnes, (Ames, Iowa)
Matt Butler, Bettendorf, Iowa (distance)
Klyvens Delaunay, Claremont, Calif. (jumps)
Michael Hart, West Branch, Iowa (distance)
Daniel Huff, Waverly, Iowa (distance)
Neil Flattery, Fort Dodge, Iowa (sprints)
Jonathan Hutchinson, Peoria, Ill. (sprints)
Taylor Soltys, Naperville, Ill. (distance)
Caleb Wilfong, Columbia, Mo. (distance)