Gopher Track & Field/Cross Country Announces 2012 Recruiting Class

Go Gophers! This is Matt Bingle's first recruiting class as director of women's track & field/cross country.
Go Gophers!
This is Matt Bingle's first recruiting class as director of women's track & field/cross country.
Go Gophers!

April 25, 2012

The Golden Gopher women's track & field/cross country team is excited to announce its class of 2012 signees. Minnesota will add 15 student-athletes to its roster for next season.

"This group of new freshmen is going to add great depth to the solid young team that we already have on campus," director of track & field/cross country Matt Bingle said. "We believe that a lot of these student-athletes will be able to help us right away as freshmen, and we cannot wait to get them to campus in the fall."

MEET THE NEW GOLDEN GOPHERS:

Caitlin Dillon (Germantown, Wis.): Dillon will join both the cross country and track teams after a great high school career in Wisconsin.  A four-time individual state qualifier in cross country as well as a solid mid-distance runner on the track, Dillon has a lifetime best of 5:09 in the mile and anchored a state runner-up 4x800-meter relay as a freshman.

Assistant coach Sarah Hesser on Caitlin Dillon: "We are thrilled that Caitlin has chosen Minnesota to continue her academic and athletic career. We really believe that Caitlin is only scratching the surface of her running ability and we look forward to helping her develop throughout her career here."

Cami Gilson (Arrowhead, Wis.): Gilson joins a pole vault group that has produced two 14-foot vaulters in the past three years.  With a high school personal record of 12-6', Gilson will join the Gophers with a similar high school resume to two-time Gopher All-American Sam Sonnenberg. Gilson will be an immediate impact performer who has the ability to compete at the Big Ten level as a freshman.

Assistant coach Caroline White on Cami Gilson: "Cami is dynamic, in personality and athletically, and will be able to contribute to the team right away. She's spunky and fearless. You can't ask for much more than that for a pole vaulter. I can't wait to start working with Cami in the fall."

Angie Guenther (White Bear Lake, Minn.): Guenther has been one of Minnesota's top prep discus throwers for the past two years.  Primarily a discus thrower, she has a PR of 140-6 and was the state runner-up as a junior. She also has a personal best of 38-6 3/4 in the shot put. At Minnesota, Guenther will also throw the javelin and the hammer.

Assistant coach Lynne Anderson on Angie Guenther: "We are very excited to have Angie stay in Minnesota for her athletic and academic future.  Angie will add great depth to the discus crew. She will also begin training for the javelin and hammer. Angie is one of the toughest competitors we have recruited in a long time."

Erin Hawkins (Des Moines, Iowa):  Hawkins is one of the top sprinters in the Midwest and the coaching staff is thrilled to add her to a young sprint group that qualified for the NCAA Championships last spring in the 4x100m.  She will help the Gophers right away in the 100, 200, 400, and sprint relays. The coaches believe the sky is the limit for what Hawkins can accomplish in her career as a Gopher.

Bingle on Erin Hawkins: "I am very excited about the addition of Erin to our program.  She is a
great developing sprinter who has lot of room to continue to improve. She has already run great times, and I feel as though she will continue to develop once she gets to Minnesota. She is a great young lady who will fit into our sprint group nicely and should have an immediate impact for us."

Haley Johnson (Plymouth, Wis.):  Johnson has been one of the top distance runners in the state of Wisconsin for the last four years.  Last year's state runner-up in the 3200m, she has PRs of 10:53 in the 3200m, 5:01 in the 1,600m, and 14:28 for 4,000m cross country. Johnson will join a cross country group that has qualified for the last seven NCAA championships, and she has the ability to impact right away as a freshman.

Hesser on Haley Johnson: "We have been watching Haley at the high school level for a long time and could not be more excited that she has chosen Minnesota. Haley has been remarkably consistent in her improvements from year to year, and we are confident that growth will continue as a Gopher. She will add great depth to our cross country group as well as our long distance group on the track."

Kailee Kamps (Belmont, Wis.): Kamps is one of the best all-around athletes in the incoming freshman class. A Wisconsin state runner-up in the shot put and discus as a junior, she was also on her team's 4x200m relay team that qualified for the state meet. With PRs of 138- 8 in the discus and 43-7 1/2 in the shot put, Kamps will throw the discus at Minnesota as well as the javelin and hammer.

Anderson on Kailee Kamps: "Kailee will come in with a lot of discus background after all her success at the Wisconsin state meet. She is a great athlete and we are excited to start her training for the javelin and hammer when she arrives at Minnesota."  

Autumn Miller (Roscoe, Ill.):  Miller comes to Minnesota from Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Ill. While she has solid PRs in the shot put and discus, where she really impresses is in the hammer throw. Most throwers come to the college level with no experience in the hammer, but Miller has been throwing the hammer for two years already and has shown a knack for the event.  She will likely throw the weight indoors and the hammer outdoors for the Gophers.

Anderson on Autumn Miller: "Autumn is so unique in that she will be coming into the program having thrown the hammer at the high school level. That will be a huge advantage in her development as a thrower. She will also continue to pursue the shot and discus. "

Jamie Piepenburg (Alexandria, Minn.): Piepenburg comes to Minnesota as one of the most decorated and consistent distance runners in the state of Minnesota in the past five years. She has been in the top three of the state cross country meet for the past four years, capping a brilliant high school career with a runner-up finish in a PR 14:04 as a senior. Piepenburg also holds a cross country PR of 18:02 for 5,000m, just missing a trip to the Foot Locker national meet this past fall. On the track, Piepenburg is just as impressive with PRs of 10:41 and 4:58. She was last year's Minnesota state champion in the 3,200m and runner-up at 1,600m.

Hesser on Jamie Piepenburg: "Our No. 1 priority every year is to keep the top Minnesota runners in the state, and Jamie is one of the very best in recent memory. She has been amazingly consistent and has dropped time every year. We believe that Jamie will follow in a long line of Minnesota preps to stay in state and experience great success at the Big Ten and national level."

Audra Winter (Manitowoc, Wis.): Winter was last year's state champion in the long jump at 17-5 3/4 and was state runner-up in the high jump (5-6), 100m (12.56), and the 200m (25.36). A versatile multi-event athlete, she will train for the pentathlon and heptathlon. Winter joins a young multi-event group and has the ability to compete at the Big Ten level immediately as a freshman.

Bingle on Audra Winter:
"I am very excited to add a student-athlete like Audra to the program.  She has been successful in high school in so many events and sports that we feel like she will fit in well with a young group of multi-event athletes. Audra is also a great student who will have a lot of success in the classroom at Minnesota as well."

Haylie Zenner (Fergus Falls, Minn.): Zenner comes to Minnesota as one of the best mid-distance runners in state history. A three-time Minnesota state champion at 800m, she has personal bests of 2:12.13 at that distance and 56.94 at 400m. Zenner shows great range with a cross country PR of 14:46 this past fall. She follows in the footsteps of Minnesota 800 stars like Heather Dorniden and Gabriele Anderson who went on to have amazing success at the Big Ten and NCAA level.

Hesser on Haylie Zenner: "Haylie has been one of our top recruiting priorities for the last three years. We always look for athletes with great speed and good range. Haylie has shown that she has the wheels to compete in the Big Ten right away in the mid-distances, but also has the mental and physical toughness to run good cross country.  There are very few athletes like that in the country and we are thrilled to have kept her in Minnesota."

Also signing Acceptance of Admission letters to Minnesota are: 

Melissa Cabak (Plymouth, Minn.): Cabak will join the distance group at Minnesota after qualifying for the 2011 cross country state meet as an individual for Robbinsdale Armstrong High School.  A longer distance runner, Cabak will move up to the 5,000 and eventually the 10,000m on the track throughout her career at Minnesota.

Hesser on Melissa Cabak: "We are excited about Melissa's potential to develop over the longer distances. A solid cross country performer in high school, Melissa has a lot of upside to develop once she is surrounded by quality teammates. Melissa is also the definition of a `student-athlete,' as she will enroll in the College of Science and Engineering to study engineering."

Kat Keller (New Richmond, Wis.): A consistent top-10 performer in the state of Wisconsin in the 100m and 200m, Keller will add depth to a young sprint corps. With PRs of 12.12 in the 100m and 24.95 in the 200m, she has a bright future in the short sprints and will help on the relays.

Bingle on Kat Keller: "I am very excited that Kat has committed to coming to Minnesota. She is a good sprinter with range to run the 100, 200, and 400, and to hopefully help us on the relays. She brings a hard-working attitude to the program which is what I love to see as a coach."

Taylor Mikkalson (Mantorville, Minn.): Mikkalson has been one of the top Minnesota distance runners in class A for the last three years.  The Minnesota state champion in the 1,600m as a sophomore, Mikkalson holds a PR of 5:09 in the mile and 11:06 in the 3200m.  A consistent 800m performer, she has helped her team win the state 4x800 title as a freshman and then achieve runner-up honors as a junior.  Kasson-Mantorville does not have cross country, so Mikkalson will be making her cross country debut as a Gopher next fall.

Hesser on Taylor Mikkalson: "Taylor has a lot of potential as she gets more experience as a runner. She has proven she can compete with the state's best while playing volleyball in the fall and winter. Once she is able to focus on running all year round, I think Taylor has the ability to compete for a top spot on our team. We are excited to watch her develop over the years as a Gopher."

Jessica Powers (Lake Mills, Wis.): Powers is a great all-around athlete with a high school specialty in the high jump. The state runner-up as a sophomore, Powers has a PR of 5-3. At Minnesota, she will likely train as a multi-event athlete in the pentathlon and heptathlon.

Bingle on Jessica Powers: "We are really looking forward to having Jessica come to Minnesota. She has had a good amount of success in the high jump at the high school level and we feel like she can develop into a Big Ten-caliber high jumper over her career at Minnesota."

Kate Shelerud (Esko, Minn.): Shelerud was the Minnesota state champion in the 800m as a sophomore with a PR of 2:15.59. A star soccer player in the fall, she is an all-around athlete with a lot of potential once she focuses on running all year round. Another athlete with a good mix of speed and endurance, Shelerud will add to the depth of the middle distance group at Minnesota.  

Hesser on Kate Shelerud: "We have gotten to know Kate the last two summers at our summer camps and she is one of the greatest kids we have ever recruited. She is a natural born leader and has a lot of talent on top of that. We are very excited to get Kate to Minnesota and see what she can do when she has consistent training and a great training group around her."

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