MINNEAPOLIS – University of Minnesota director of women’s track & field and cross country Matt Bingle is pleased to announce the addition of eight student-athletes who have signed with the Golden Gophers for the 2018-19 season.
The newest class of Gophers includes Libby Halbmaier, Julia Hayes, Hannah Morris, Natasha Schaffer, Emily Stendel, Kayla Vogt, Natalie Windels, and Amira Young.
“As a whole, this class really fits with what our mission was this year,” Bingle said. “We knew we wanted to get better on the track. Last year’s class was a lot of field event kids, so this year we wanted to focus more on the track, and we feel like the individuals we have added will help us there.
“The big thing about this class is that it fits our culture. The truly do love Minnesota, and they fit well within our team. They are all good people of high character. They match the values and character of our team, and that is important to us. They are a blue-collar group that’s willing to work hard.”
Libby Halbmaier, Mid-Distance, Minnetonka High School (Minnetonka, Minn.)
Libby Halbmaier joins the Gophers as a standout middle-distance runner from Minnetonka High School. Most recently, Halbmaier finished 20th at the Minnesota Class AA Cross Country State Championship and 27th at the Nike Cross Country Hartland Regional, running 18:08 for the 5K course. On the track, Halbmaier begins her senior season after running on Minnetonka’s state and conference runner-up 4x800-meter relay team as a junior in 2017. She has career-best times of 2:12.22 for the 800m, 5:03.68 for the 1600m and 11:01.64 for the 3200m.
Hopkins on Halbmaier: Libby fits right in with the Minnesota recruits we signed last year. She is a middle-distance runner who has the ability to run great cross country as well. We are looking forward to adding her to our young middle-distance group and watching her develop in to a Big Ten level athlete both on the track and on the course.
Julia Hayes, Hurdles/Multi-Events, Irondale High School (Mounds View, Minn.)
Julia Hayes comes to the University of Minnesota from Irondale High School where she specializes in hurdles and jumps. As a junior last spring, Hayes was the state runner-up in the 100m hurdles and placed ninth in the 300m hurdles at the 2017 Minnesota Class AA Track & Field State Championship. She anchored Irondale's state champion 4x400m relay team as a sophomore as well. She enters her senior year already owning three top-nine state championship finishes in both the 100m hurdles and the 300m hurdles. Hayes has career-best times of 43.43 for the 300m hurdles and 14.39 for the 100m hurdles.
Bingle on Hayes: Julia loves the sport. She’s very committed to being great. She’s had a great career so far and has done a lot of different things. We’re excited to be recruiting her as an athlete, and we’ll put her where she can be the best at the Big Ten level. She has a lot of potential in several areas at this point. She’s an unbelievable kid and loves the University of Minnesota. Her heart is definitely in Minnesota, and we’re really happy to have her join our program.
Hannah Morris, Long Jump, Bloom Township High School (Chicago Heights, Ill.)
Hannah Morris joins the Gophers as a standout long jumper from Bloom Township High School in Chicago. Most recently, Morris jumped 19-09.5 during the 2017 indoor season and went on to finish as the long jump state runner-up at the 2017 IHSA 3A Girls State Track & Field Championship as a junior last spring after winning the long jump state title as a sophomore. Morris is a three-time state qualifier in the long jump, having placed eighth as a freshman as well. She competed at the 2016 New Balance Nationals Outdoor as a sophomore, where she placed fourth in long jump with a mark of 20-01.75.
Bingle on Morris: Hannah is one of the best long jumpers in the country. We’re excited to have her as part of our program. She really fit in with our culture. The team really enjoyed her, and she really fit with who we are and what we want to do. She has a ton of potential. Unfortunately, she was hurt most of the outdoor season last year but still managed to compete well. I really enjoy her, and I think she really wants to be great.
Natasha Schaffer, Triple Jump, Prairie Ridge High School (Crystal Lake, Ill.)
Natasha Schaffer comes to the University of Minnesota as a triple jump specialist out of Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, Ill. Most recently, she placed third in triple jump with a mark of 38-10 at the 2017 IHSA 3A Girls State Track & Field Championship as a junior last spring. She also was seventh in triple jump at the state meet as a sophomore. Schaffer begins her senior season as the defending Fox Valley Conference champion in both long jump and triple jump. She competed at the 2016 New Balance Nationals Outdoor as a sophomore, where she placed 11th in triple jump.
Bingle on Schaffer: We’re pleased to welcome Natasha to our program. She comes from a good family. She really wanted to be at Minnesota, and she just loves the U. Natasha has a lot of potential to build on the success she’s already had in the triple jump, and we’re excited to see what she can do.
Emily Stendel, Throws, Jefferson High School (Jefferson, Wis.)
Emily Stendel joins the Gophers from Jefferson High School where she is a standout thrower in both the discus and the shot put. Most recently, Stendel won the discus with a personal best throw of 147-11 and placed fifth in the shot put at the 2017 WIAA D2 State Track & Field Championships as a junior last spring. She begins her senior year as the defending Rock Valley Conference champion in both the shot put and discus. As a sophomore, Stendel placed eighth in the discus and 15th in the shot put to help Jefferson High School to the WIAA D2 team state title as well.
Miller on Stendel: We are extremely excited to add an athlete like Emily to our program. We set out to find a discus thrower in this recruiting class, and we rated her the No. 1 girl in the Midwest. On top of that, she fits our program in many ways – a great student, a leader, and a multi-sport athlete, and she comes from a great family. Emily comes from a great program where they value team success, just like we do. I am very much looking forward to working with Emily and seeing her continue her individual and team success here at Minnesota.
Kayla Vogt, Sprints, Arrowhead High School (Hartland, Wis.)
Kayla Vogt comes to the University of Minnesota as a sprinter from Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wis. Most recently, Vogt placed fourth in the 400m dash in a personal best time of 56.08 seconds at the 2017 WIAA Division I State Track & Field Championships. She also led off Arrowhead's state runner-up 4x400m relay team and anchored the Warhawks' third-place 4x800m relay team as a junior at the state meet last spring. She enters her senior season with seven top-eight finishes at the state meet, including three appearances in the 4x400m relay, with back-to-back runner-up showings as a sophomore and junior, and three appearances in the 4x800m relay.
Bingle on Vogt: We’re excited about Kayla’s potential. We recruited her as a 400m-600m-800m athlete. We feel like she’ll really blossom once she gets into our system. She’s another individual who is just a great fit with our culture. She has a lot of potential to improve; she’s willing to do the work to be great.
Natalie Windels, Hurdles, Eagan High School (Eagan, Minn.)
Natalie Windels joins the Gophers as a standout hurdler from Eagan High School. Windels begins her senior year as Minnesota’s defending state champion in the 300m hurdles after winning the state title at the 2017 Minnesota Class AA State Track & Field Championship as a junior. She already has 10 top-nine showings at the Minnesota state meet, including appearances in the 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles, long jump and 4x400m relay. Windels has career-best times of 60.99 for the 400m hurdles, 42.91 for the 300m hurdles, and 14.44 for the 100m hurdles.
Bingle on Windels: We recruited Natalie as a 400m hurdler. She’s the best 300m hurdler in the state of Minnesota. We had a good connection with her; she knows several people already on the team. She was really committed to being at the U after being recruited by lots of Power 5 schools in the Midwest. We feel that she has a ton of potential, and she is just a great worker.
Amira Young, Sprints, Whitney Young High School (Chicago, Ill.)
Amira Young joins the Gophers as a sprinter from Whitney Young High School in Chicago. She begins her senior season as the back-to-back defending state champion in the 100m dash after winning titles at the IHSA 3A Girls State Track & Field Championships as a junior and sophomore; she took third in the 100m at the state meet as a freshman. Young is also a two-time state qualifier in the 200m dash, most recently placing third as a junior after winning the state title as a sophomore. She has career-best times of 11.73 for the 100m dash and 23.96 for the 200m dash.
Bingle on Young: We’re super excited about Amira. We had a great connection with her and her family. She is a high character individual who we really felt could help us. She has the ability to run the 100m up to the 400m. Her dad ran at Illinois, so running is in her blood. She fits our vision for our team both short term and long term.
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