UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. - The University of Richmond cross country and track & field teams will welcome a decorated class of 17 student-athletes to campus this fall to continue their academic and athletic careers. The Spiders' incoming class will allow the programs to continue their standard of excellence at both the conference and national levels.
COACH LORI TAYLOR ON
"Once again, we are pleased to welcome a talented group of athletes to our program. These student-athletes cover most of the event areas within our track & field teams and also include several cross country athletes who could impact our team immediately. As we all know, talent is one of the key factors in success at the NCAA level, but it will also require hard work and dedication on the part of these women and men in order for our teams to achieve the goals we've set. The weeks, months and years to come will determine where this class will end up and what they can accomplish. The mark they leave here at UR and beyond is yet to be determined, and our staff looks forward to guiding them as we continue to build upon the momentum our alumni have previously established."
COACH STEVE TAYLOR ON
"Our goal is to produce a winning team each and every year. This includes track & field and cross country All-Americans in addition to achieving the ultimate success in the classroom. We excitedly look to the future as both our men's and women's track & field and cross country teams set the goal of achieving their 11th-consecutive NCAA All-Academic Team honors. Each year our teams look to the A-10 Conference Championships and NCAA Championships as their benchmark. This recruiting class includes a talented group of men and women. As a program, every year we find a remarkable group of recruits who realize all the benefits of attending the University of Richmond to further their athletic and academic careers. We are pleased and excited by the achievements of this year's incoming class and look for them to continue the advancement of our program in achieving our goals."
This past season, the Spider men's and women's cross country squads continued their long-standing tradition of academic excellence by achieving Division I All-Academic status for the 10th-consecutive year. The women's program, paced by A-10 Champion and Academic All-Conference honoree Jill Prentice, closed out the year with a fourth-place finish at the conference meet. The men took seventh at the 2011 conference championship.
The Richmond men's and women's track & field teams are also coming off a year in which they continued their previous record of success. Led by multiple gold medalist and the A-10 Championship's Most Outstanding Performer in graduated senior Nicol Traynor, the Spider women finished seventh at the conference meet. Traynor and classmate Meaghan McGovern, school-record holder in the hammer throw, would go on to compete at the NCAA East Prelims in Jacksonville, where Traynor qualified for June's NCAA Final Round in Des Moines. On the men's side, graduated senior and school-record holder Devin Cassels tallied four top-five showings in the pole vault and joined McGovern on the A-10 Academic All-Conference list. Rising sophomore Matthew Groff capped his season by qualifying for the USA Junior Outdoor Championships in the 1,500 Meters.
Stay updated on all the latest Richmond Track & Field and Cross Country news on RichmondSpiders.com and by accessing Spider Athletics' mobile apps on your Smartphone or tablet. More in-depth coverage can be found by following Head Coach Steve Taylor on Twitter and by reading his blog. The Spiders also have their own Facebook page and have launched their own YouTube Channel as well.
SPIDERS WELCOME INCOMING WOMEN
Mary Allen - Richmond, Va. (John Marshall)
Local sprinting star Allen commences her Richmond career after an illustrious four-year career at nearby John Marshall High School. Her fastest times include 11.98 in the 100 Meters, 24.38 in the 200 Meters, 56.27 in the 400 Meters, 7.20 in the 55 Meters, 40.18 in the 300 Meters and 1:16.52 in the 500 Meters. One of the highlights from Allen's career was a dominant day at the 2011 Jamestown Winter Track & Field Festival, where she crossed the tape first in the 55m, 300m and 500m.
Kelly Bailey - Cream Ridge, N.J. (Peddie School)
A graduate of the Peddie School, Bailey excelled in distance events at the prep level. She earned New Jersey First Team All-Prep honors during each of her four cross country seasons while also captaining the squad and being tabbed Prep Runner of the Year during her final two years. On the track, she earned two state outdoor titles in the 1600 Meters in addition to placing first in both the 1600 Meters and 3200 Meters at the state indoor meet as a senior. Bailey earned three letters in basketball during her high school career as well. She is not the only standout runner in her family, as her brother currently runs for the Air Force Academy.
Sarah Black - Chester Springs, Pa. (Downingtown East)
During her time at Downingtown East, Black clocked in at 1:00 in the 400 Meters, 2:14 in the 800 Meters and 5:14 in the 1600 Meters. A proven leader, she served as captain of her school's cross country, indoor track and outdoor track squads during her senior year. Black was named an All-Area Athlete for outdoor track while also leading her 4x800 Meter relay team to All-State honors in 2011.
Janel Francis - Copiague, N.Y. (Copiague)
Francis, a sprinter and jumper from Long Island, most recently placed second in the long jump at the 2012 New York State Indoor Track Championships. Having notched a personal-best leap of 19'1¼", she also scored a trifecta at the 2011 Suffolk Division II Outdoor Championships with wins in the 100 Meters, 200 Meters and long jump.
Tenley Godfrey - Pawcatuck, Conn. (Baylor School (Tenn.)/
University of Florida)
An accomplished distance specialist, Godfrey comes to Richmond after spending her first collegiate season at the University of Florida. As a high school senior in 2011, she qualified for the Nike National Cross Country meet and subsequently secured a top-50 finish in a field of 200 runners. That same year, Godfrey took second overall at the Tennessee State Cross Country Meet while leading her team to a championship title. No stranger to success at a young age, Godfrey won the New England Division II Independent School Cross Country Championship as a sophomore, with a personal-best of 17:48 at the Southeast Nike Regional Meet. On the track, she has also turned in top outdoor times of 5:13 in the 1600 Meters and 10:55 in the 3200 Meters as well as a mark of 5:13 in the 1600 indoors. During her short stay in Gainesville with the Gators, Godfrey was selected as SEC Women's Freshman Runner of the Week during the cross country season. The Spider newcomer was also a successful swimmer during her prep years, touching in for a personal-best eighth-place finish at the New England Championship.
Jade Gregory - Norfolk, Va. (Norview)
Coming off two consecutive seasons of captaining her Norview track & field program, Gregory most recently captured the 2012 Virginia AAA Eastern Region crown in the 400 Meters. A key member of her school's All-State 4x400 Meter relay squad in 2011, she was named to the individual All-State team that year after placing fifth in the 400m at the VHSL State Outdoor Meet with a personal-best time of 56.64. Gregory was also a mainstay in the 800 Meters in addition to running cross country each fall.
Tara Hanley - Chatham, N.J. (Chatham)
A distance specialist, Hanley ran both cross country and track at Chatham. Fresh off a school-record run of 10:52.94 in the 3200 Meters at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, she would then record a sixth-place finish in the 1600 Meters at the 2012 NJSIAA North II Sectional Meet with a time of 5:04.54.
Amanda Thatcher - Dallas, Texas (Highland Park)
Thatcher's proven success in the hurdles will pay dividends for the Spiders as they look to continue bolstering their sprint corps in the coming seasons. As a senior at Highland Park, she hurdled her way to a district title in the 300 Meter Hurdles to qualify for the Texas Region II Finals. Thatcher's top time of 45.4 in the event came at the conclusion of her final season when the versatile prep star also turned in a personal-best leap of 35'4" in the triple jump.
SPIDERS WELCOME INCOMING MEN
Robert Agaba - Kigali, Rwanda (Lycee De Kigali)
Agaba arrives at Richmond with no formal training as a runner. The untapped talent looks to ultimately return to his native Rwanda as a running coach.
Matthew Barudin - Lawrenceville, Ga. (Brookwood)
A standout distance specialist, Barudin is coming off a senior season that saw him turn in a 10th-place finish at the Georgia 5A State Cross Country Championship with a personal-best time of 16:05.81. The three-year letterwinner would subsequently be selected to the All-Gwinnett County Cross Country Team, Team Georgia Team, 2011 Atlanta Track Club All-Metro Team and the 2011 Georgia All-State 5A Team in 2011. Barudin was equally as successful on the track, pacing his squad to a Georgia 5A State Championship as a senior while in the process finishing fifth in at the state meet in the 3200 Meters and garnering his program's Most Valuable Senior honor. During his senior campaign, Barudin would set personal-bests in the 1600 Meters (4:22.30) and 3200m (9:22.64). He was also a letterwinner on Brookwood's soccer squad as a freshman.
Camden Cassels - Lewisburg, Pa. (Lewisburg Area)
The younger brother of Spider pole vault record holder Devin, Cassels comes to Richmond following a standout career at Lewisburg Area High School. His personal-best marks in the pole vault and javelin are 14'0" and 173'06", respectively. Cassels was also a standout member of his school's football and basketball squads.
Jordan Chavez - Southlake, Texas (Southlake Carroll)
Most recently selected to the 2012 U.S. Junior Mountain Running Team that will compete in Italy this fall, Chavez enjoyed a highly decorated cross country and track career at Southlake Carroll High School outside of Dallas. The three-time team captain made an immediate impact for his squad, earning designation to the All-Sophomore Team at the 2009 Nike South Cross Country Regional and in 2010 garnering All-Region and Texas 5A UIL All-State Team honors. In respect to his top times, Chavez clocked personal-bests of 4:19 in the 1600 Meters, 9:21 in the 3200 Meters and 15:37 in cross country. During his final cross country campaign, he was name Texas All-State, Academic All-State, Nike Cross Nationals Team Runner-Up and received the Nike Cross Nationals Anchor Award for the top fifth man in the nation. The 2011 Carroll "C" Leadership Award winner also led his cross country squad to a Texas 5A UIL State Team Championship after turning in a 10th-place individual finish as a senior.
Connor Dickson - Leola, Pa. (Conestoga Valley)
Dickinson comes to Richmond with a personal-best mark of 1:59.6 in the 800 Meters.
Tim Gruber - Huntersville, N.C. (Cannon School)
Gruber joins the Spiders after earning five varsity letters in both cross country and track at the Cannon School. Named All-State in both sports as a senior, he clocked a 9:37 in the 3200 Meters to win the 2011 CISAA Conference title and would cross the line in 4:29 at the state meet in the 1600 Meters. The two-time All-Charlotte Observer squad member turned in a top time of 15:45 during his cross country career.
Justin Keefe - Newton, Mass. (Newton North)
The Newton North product has been a pillar of consistence over his high school career, earning multiple letters in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track & field. After an appearance at the 2012 New Balance Indoor Nationals, Keefe would go on to clock personal-bests as a senior in the 1600 Meters (4:20.6), 3200 Meters (9:23.74) and 5000 Meters (15:53.98). He finished second in the 3200m at both the MSTCA State Coaches Invitational and MIAA Eastern Division I Outdoor Championships his senior season and would follow suit in the 1600m at the 2012 Bay State League Championship after pacing the field in the race the year before.
Matt McKenna - West Chester, Pa. (Salesianum School,
McKenna commences his collegiate career after being selected Pennsylvania All-State and All-New Castle County during each of his final three prep seasons. The three-time cross country and four-time track & field letterman would improve his finish at the state cross country meet by one spot every year, progressing from third overall in 2009 to the top spot in 2011. McKenna was also named All-Region as a junior for his showing at the Nike Cross Southeast Regional in North Carolina.
Scott Sommers - Sewickley, Pa. (Quaker Valley)
A high school football captain and track & field standout, Sommers will add depth to the Spiders' field corps in the javelin. He is a recipient of the prestigious U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award for displaying courage, poise, self-confidence and leadership both on and off the field.