Recruiting Class Shines Light on Future of UI Track & Field

Nov. 30, 2015

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa track and field program announced Monday that six men and 18 women have committed to join the Hawkeyes in the fall of 2016.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the new additions to our program,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “I believe this is the largest and best recruiting class we have ever had during the early signing period, and there is more to come later this year.


“Our goal at the beginning of the recruiting period was to fill some needs of our program, and we were able to do that and more. We are very excited about the quality and depth we were able to recruit in all event areas.”

The women’s vertical jumps and multi-event groups added depth with the additions of Sydney Collins, Aubrianna Lantrip, Christina MacNab, Megan Tamasovich, Gillian Urycki, and Allison Wahrman. Josh Pelock joins the men’s team as a pole-vaulter, and Akinshe Hill adds depth in the long jump and triple jump.

The middle-distance crew welcomes six new members on the women’s side — Taylor Arco, Amber Decker, Mallory King, Tia Saunders, Hannah Schroeder, and Lindsay Welker; and four student-athletes on the men’s — Charles Guier, Gavin Hoch, Chris Thompson, and Tysen VanDraska.

The new crop of Hawkeyes also includes Erika Hammond (throws), Laulauga Tausaga (throws), Natalie Buss (sprints), Tashee Hargrave (sprints), Carly Donahue (hurdles) and Hannah Schilb (horizontal jumps).

“This recruiting class, along with our current freshman class, shows that the future is very bright at the University of Iowa, and that our track and field and cross country programs will be on the rise to compete for Big Ten team titles and top-10 NCAA finishes,” Woody said. “I am very thankful for all the hard work and tireless effort of our entire coaching staff during this recruiting period.”

A closer look at each future Hawkeye:

Taylor Arco — Middle Distance — Mission Viejo, California (Mission Viejo HS)
Placed seventh at state track and field championships
400 meters: 57.98
800 meters: 2:10.38

Coach Jason Wakenight on Arco: “Taylor is a fighter, plain and simple. Taylor refuses to take no for an answer and competes like a champion. Having been one of the most elite 800-meter runners in the country her sophomore season, Taylor had to fight through some illness her junior year and is on her way back to the top. She is on a mission this season. Her speed is dangerous, and her ceiling is unbelievably high.”

Talia Buss — Sprints — Waukee, Iowa (Waukee HS)
60 meters: 7.58
100 meters: 12.20
200 meters: 24.97

Coach Clive Roberts on Buss: “We want to try to get the best kids out of the state of Iowa, and we did that by getting the best combo sprinter in the state. She has a huge upside with tremendous versatility. We see her running the 100, 200, and 400.”

Sydney Collins — Jumps — Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (Badger HS)
High jump: 5′ 6″

Coach Molly Jones on Collins: “Sydney is the top returning high jumper in the state of Wisconsin, and I could not be more excited for her to join the jumps crew. She brings an enthusiasm and positive energy to the team atmosphere that is contagious. She will add great depth to our young and growing women’s team.”

Amber Decker — Middle Distance — Marion, Iowa (Linn-Mar HS)
Placed fifth at Iowa Class 4A State Meet in 2014, 2015; two-time state champion in 3,200-meter relay and distance medley relay; state runner-up in 1,600-meter relay.
800 meters: 2:14.46

Coach Wakenight on Decker: “Amber is such a special person. I’ve been watching her run for a long time and there isn’t much she can’t do. It would take hours to talk about how talented she is and to count the medals she has racked up over the years at the Iowa state meet. But, I am even more impressed with whom she is as a student, teammate, and competitor; being one of the best mid-distance runners in the state of Iowa is just a bonus.”

Carly Donahue — Hurdles — Pleasant Valley, Iowa (Pleasant Valley HS)
100-meter hurdles: 14.94
400-meter hurdles: 62.23

Coach Woody on Donahue: “Carly was one of the first prospects that we had on campus this fall, and is an athlete that we have been interested in since her sophomore year of high school. She is the top returning 400-meter hurdler in the state of Iowa and currently ranks 28th nationally in her class. Carly is a very diverse athlete competing in both the hurdle events, cross country, and basketball. I believe Carly has the ability to be an immediate impact hurdler in the Big Ten and compete to qualify for the NCAA Championships as a freshman. We are excited to have Carly join the Hawkeye Family and continue our tradition of Great Hurdlers.”

Charles Guier — Long Sprints — Sedalia, Missouri (Smith-Cotton HS)
Finalist in 400 meters at Class 4A State Meet
400 meters: 49.35

Coach Wakenight on Guier: “Charles is going to be a guy that sneaks up on everyone this year. He was one of the best sophomores in the country in the long sprints, but had to work through some injuries as a junior, so he didn’t get to show everyone what he was capable of. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for everyone this spring. He has this intense confidence and he knows what he wants to do on the track. I think being a part of our long sprints and mid-distance program is going to take him to the next level.”

Erika Hammond — Throws — Clinton, Iowa (Clinton HS)
Shot put: 45′ 11″
Discus: 136′ 9″

Coach Andrew Dubs on Hammond: “Erika is the defending state shot put champion in Iowa and one of the top returners in the nation. A very good athlete, Erika is someone who will be a great addition to our throws group and entire team. Her dedication to the sport of track and field and throwing is obvious when you talk to her. Growing up in a family that attended Iowa events, she is an outstanding student-athlete who will be a great competitor for the Hawkeyes in her own right. I can’t wait for Erika to get to campus and have her join our Hawkeye family.”

Tashee Hargrave — Sprints — Naperville, Illinois (Neuqua Valley HS)
400 meters: 56.95

Coach Clive Roberts on Hargrave: “I’m very excited to add Tashee to a great group of quarter milers. It will always be important to have a presence in the 400 meters, and Tashee will add tremendous depth to that area.”

Akinshe Hill — Jumps — Chesapeake, Virginia (Western Branch HS)
Triple jump: 48′ 5″
Long jump: 22′ 9″

Coach Roberts on Hill: “We needed a horizontal jumper and we found a good one with Akinshe Hill. He comes from a powerhouse high school and will be a tremendous addition to our group.”

Gavin Hoch — Hurdles — Lake Forest, Illinois (Lake Forest HS)
Class 3A State Finalist; ranked 25th nationally
300-meter hurdles: 38.02

Coach Wakenight on Hoch: “Gavin is such a raw talent. He just started scratching the surface of his athletic abilities last season and is on the verge of taking another huge step this year. I was impressed with his commitment to academics, and our whole team agreed he would make a great teammate and a great Hawkeye. We pride ourselves on being one of the best hurdle schools in the country and Gavin is definitely going to add to the rich tradition we have in the hurdles. He’s a future All-American wearing black and gold.”

Mallory King — Middle Distance — Davenport, Iowa (Assumption HS)
State runner-up
400 meters: 57.46

Coach Wakenight on King: “Mallory is one of the best long sprinters in the state of Iowa. She is a fantastic student, and running is in her blood. She won the Battle Up Brady in back-to-back years. She was state runner-up in the 400 meters and her cross country team just won the state championship. She has made her mark all over the sport of track and field in Iowa, and is going to be a stellar athlete in our program. She is humble but has this quiet confidence that I love. She is a flat out winner.”

Aubrianna Lantrip — Jumps — Phelps, New York (Midlakes HS)
High jump: 5′ 7″
Long jump: 17′ 2″
Triple jump: 36′ 6″

Coach Jones on Lantrip: “Bri has been a Hawkeye since day one. Her unwavering excitement for becoming a student-athlete at Iowa has been a real pleasure to encounter, and I am really looking forward to seeing what she can do for us in the jumps and possibly the multi-events. She holds school records in four events in track and another three or four in swimming. We are hoping she can add some Big Ten medals to her list of accomplishments.”

Christina MacNab — Jumps — New Lenox, Illinois (Providence Catholic HS)
High jump: 5′ 7″

Coach Jones on MacNab: “What excites me about Christina is that she has a tendency to jump her best at big-time meets. That shows that she is a competitor and something I really look for in future Hawkeyes. I am excited for her to join the growing high jump group to help take us to another level in that event.”

Josh Pelock — Pole Vault — St. Charles, Illinois (St. Charles North HS)
Placed third at the Illinois Class 3A State Meet; ranked 33rd nationally
Pole vault: 15′ 3″

Coach Jones on Pelock: “Josh had a breakout year this year in the pole vault to put him in the top three in one of the toughest and best pole vault states in the country. I am really excited to add him to my growing vault group and see what he is capable of.”

Coach Wakenight on Pelock: “Josh is going to be the X-factor on this team and in this signing class. He is a competitor and has some enormous expectations of himself this spring. I love his confidence and his tenacity. He was in the mix for an individual title last spring at the Illinois state meet. I know he wants to make his mark as a state champ and as one of the elite vaulters in the nation. He is on our radar as one of the key breakthrough performers we added to our roster. He is going after 17 feet, and I can’t wait to see him on the runway.”

Tia Saunders — Middle Distance — Iowa City, Iowa (Iowa City West HS)
Placed fifth at Iowa Class 4A State Meet in 2014 and sixth in 2015; finished 16th at Class 4A State Cross Country Meet
400 meters: 58.21
800 meters: 2:17.88

Coach Wakenight on Saunders: “Tia is such a versatile athlete. She has so many great qualities she brings to the table. I’ve seen her sprint, play soccer at an elite level, run a great cross country race, and go toe-to-toe with the best of the best in the state and win. Tia also has an impeccable record of academic excellence and goes about her business like a pro. I can’t wait to coach her.”

Hannah Schilb — Jumps — St. Charles, Illinois (St. Charles North HS)
Triple jump: 39′ 10″

Coach Roberts on Schilb: “One of the focuses this year was to really revamp our women’s horizontal jumps. Hannah will add tremendous depth to that area.”

Haley Schroeder — Middle Distance — Elkader, Iowa (Central Community HS)
2014 Iowa Class 1A state runner-up; placed fifth at 2015 Iowa Class 1A State Meet; finished fourth at Iowa Class 1A State Cross Country Meet
800 meters: 2:17.10
400 meters: 56 (SPLIT)

Coach Wakenight on Schroeder: “Haley is such a great all-around athlete. She has done everything from finishing runner-up in the 400 meters to a top-five finish at the state meet in cross country. Haley is as tough as nails and has been training on a dirt track for most of her career. She led her team to the state title in cross country this fall and I know she has some big plans for the spring. She is a leader, she’s a winner, and now she’s a Hawkeye.”

Megan Tamasovich — Jumps — Canal Winchester, Ohio (Canal Winchester HS)
High jump: 5′ 6″

Coach Jones on Tamasovich: “Megan has been competing in a variety of sports and events over the years and I am looking forward to her being able to concentrate on track year round. A high jumper who runs cross country shows her willingness to help the team in whatever capacity, in addition to her great work ethic. She will be a huge asset to our jumps program and help provide some quality depth for the women’s program.”

Laulauga Tausaga — Throws — Spring Valley, California (Mount Miguel HS)
Shot put: 48′ 3″
Discus: 156′ 7″

Coach Dubs on Tausaga: “Lagi is one of the top returning all-around throwers in the country. She is an outstanding athlete and brings a passion for throwing that runs deep. Lagi is a great competitor who pushes herself both in training and competitions. She is an all-around wonderful young woman who is driven, determined, and charismatic. She comes from an incredible family that I got know throughout the recruiting process, and we are excited to welcome her and her family to the Hawkeye family.”

Chris Thompson — Long Sprints — Lemont, Illinois (Lemont HS)
Illinois Class 3A State Finalist; ranked 33rd nationally
400 meters: 47.99

Coach Wakenight on Thompson: “Chris is a superstar in the making. He had a breakout junior season. He will be on a mission to establish himself as one of the nation’s best long sprinters and to break 47.0 in the spring. I knew I wanted to coach him since the first day he set foot on campus. Chris is a good student, polite and respectful, and determined to be the best. I’ve felt like he was a Hawkeye since last spring. It’s very satisfying to make it official this fall.”

Gillian Urycki — Jumps/Multi-Event — Metamora, Illinois (Metamora HS)
High jump: 5′ 8″
Long jump: 18′ 5″

Coach Jones on Urycki: “I could not be more excited to have Gill join our jumps and multi-events group. She is a force to be reckoned with in the high jump and long jump, as well as on the volleyball court, but I think there are still a lot of big things ahead for her. The multi-events run in the family, so with Gill leading the charge, that group should make huge strides in the Big Ten and beyond.”

Tysen VanDraska — Middle Distance — Swisher, Iowa (Cedar Rapids Prairie HS)
2015 Iowa Class 4A state runner-up in the 800 and 1,600 meters; Iowa Class 4A state cross country runner-up; placed ninth at Nike Cross Country Heartland Regional
800 meters: 1:54.68
1,600 meters: 4:21.70

Coach Wakenight on VanDraska: “Tysen is such a great addition to our middle-distance group. He is a gritty competitor with a wide range of skills. He had a great cross country season but has his sights set on something special in the 800 meters this outdoor season. Tysen has been one of the best guys in the state of Iowa since his freshman year, but now he wants more; he wants to be the best in the Big Ten. He is so hungry to reach that next level and his toughness is contagious. I love being able to add this guy to the group of mid-distance stars we have.”

Allison Wahrman — Jumps — Carol Springs, Illinois (Glenbard North HS)
Long jump: 18′ 9″
Triple jump: 40′ 3″

Coach Jones on Wahrman: “I am excited to announce Allison as a future Hawkeye. She is not only one of the top triple jumpers in the country, but she also has some great ability in a variety of other events. Her gymnastics background helps her tremendously with great body awareness and strength to help her succeed in whatever she decides to do. I am looking forward to helping her grow and develop over the next four years at the Big Ten and NCAA levels.”

Lindsay Welker — Middle Distance — Terre Haute, Indiana (Terre Haute North Vigo HS)
Three-time Indiana State Finalist
800 meters: 2:12.85
1,600 meters: 5:07.91

Coach Wakenight on Welker: “Lindsay was meant to be a Hawkeye. She is everything I look for in an athlete — mature, determined, and has a huge heart. I think we clicked instantly, and I knew she would be a huge addition to our team. She has been a force in the state of Indiana her entire career, running some stellar mid-distance times. When she drove six hours just to tell me she was going to commit, I was on cloud nine. I am lucky that I get to be her coach.”

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