Panthers Not Content With Top-Two Status in Horizon League
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Jan. 13, 2010) - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's track and field team kicks off its 2010 indoor season at the Badger Quad Saturday, Jan. 16, in Madison, Wis.
The Panthers kick off a new decade after taking first or second at 19 of the 20 Horizon League championship meets in the 2000s.
Milwaukee returns to action Jan. 23, playing host to its first dual meet since 1997 when Marquette makes the trek across town. The meet begins at 10 a.m. with field events at the Klotsche Center.
2010 Women's Track & Field Season Preview
Many teams would be content having established themselves as one of the top two programs in their league. For the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's track and field team, top-two is not good enough.
The Panthers have tasted success with 11 indoor and outdoor Horizon League championships in the last 13 years to their credit. At the 14 league meets in which it has not claimed a title, Milwaukee has taken second place a remarkable 13 times.
With 24 top-two finishes over the last 25 meets, the team knows it can compete for a championship. But, with 11 titles and 13 second-place finishes, the Panthers know they want to turn those numbers around.
Head coach Pete Corfeld and associate head coach Jason Francis once again returns a strong corps of contributors, while adding another talented freshman class. This is a formula that has netted the coach 36 league championships in his career and 36 league coach of the year awards.
Senior Kelsey Conrad is coming off a standout season in 2009 in every sense of the word. She was the league indoor athlete of the year, the outdoor track performer of the meet, won four individual league titles, two relay crowns and broke a pair of school records. She won her titles in the 60m (7.69) and 200m (24.70) indoors and the 100m (11.86) and 200m (24.05) outdoors. Conrad also broke the school indoor 400m record.
She leads the sprint group, which also featured junior Angie Kaufmann and sophomore Katie Duchow last season. Kaufmann was the team's main competitor in the 400m (56.97 indoors, 56.47 outdoors), posting top-five times in school history in the event both indoors and out. In fact, her indoor personal best is third in school history.
Duchow competed primarily in the shorter sprints, qualifying for the finals of the 60m (7.97 PR) and 100m (25.72). She also ran with the league-champion 4x100m relay (46.90).
Milwaukee adds a pair of decorated high school stars to their sprint corps in freshmen Flo Mafany and Chia Okonkwo. Both were four-time state qualifiers in the hurdles and could lend their speed to the sprint events.
In the 800m, sophomore Erika Hanson and junior Tanaiya Fisher lead the way, while senior Laura Ring, a top-10 competitor in school history in the event, redshirted last season. Hanson took second in the event indoors and third outdoors. She also ran with league-champion relays in the distance medley and outdoor 4x400m.
Fisher had a strong sophomore season in 2009, taking third in the indoor 800m (2:21.60) and fourth outdoors (2:16.89). She is also coming off her second-straight all-league second-team performance during the cross country season in the fall. With the steady improvement she has shown as a Panther, the coaching staff sees no reason she can't be competing for all-league honors in the event. She could also prove a consistent scorer in the mile and 1500m.
Ring is a former league champion in the 800m (2:10.46) and has several all-league second-team awards to her credit. She is also third in school history in the event, both indoors and outdoors.
Sophomores Kristi Schuette, Shannon Brown and Beonca Mitchell each got their first taste of collegiate track last season and will look to continue their improvement in their second season. Schuette and Mitchell competed primarily in the 800m, while Brown also ventured into the mile run and 1500m events.
In the longer distance events, the Panthers are in good shape with a senior leader returning in Abbie Zaspel. Freshman Elise Sigg teamed with Zaspel in cross country to form a solid one-two punch. The fall performance of the pair is a good sight to see for UWM, which will be without recently-graduated Holly Nearman. Nearman was a standout distance runner who won the 5000m and 10,000m at the outdoor championships last season.
Zaspel will look to step into Nearman's shoes as the leader in the distance events. She was second in the 10,000m last season and has earned all-league first team honors in cross country the last two seasons. Sigg was right behind Zaspel at the majority of the cross country meets in the fall and also earned an all-league first-team award.
The team has shown plenty of depth in the distance events in years past, but will look to the pair to the duo to lead the team this season. Freshman Megan Gang, another rookie that competed in cross country, could provide Corfeld with the depth he's looking for. She steadily improved throughout her high school career and carried that trend over into her rookie cross country campaign.
Senior Emily Budde, sophomore Calanetta Burrows and freshmen Mafany and Okonkwo form the team's hurdles group. Budde is fifth in school history in the indoor 60m hurdles (9:15), while Burrows enters her second year as the defending league 400m hurdle (1:02.83) champion. Mafany was state runner-up in both the 100m and 300m hurdle events as a prepster in Illinois. Okonkwo was third in the 100m hurdles as a junior and had top-10 finishes as a sophomore and senior.
Budde is one of three seniors that form a strong base of combined event competitors. With Jenni Parish and Kory Olson, the trio has accounted for three league championships and a pair of runner-up finishes in the indoor pentathlon, as well as two title and two second-place finishes in the outdoor heptathlon.
Parish is in the final season of an already tremendous career. To her credit, she appears on the school's all-time top-10 in 10 events, including school records in the pentathlon (3,700), heptathlon (5,021) and outdoor long jump (19-9 1/2). She has won seven league titles and earned all-league second-team honors four times.
In addition to her combined event exploits, Olson also has a league javelin championship (127-7) and all-league second-team award. She redshirted the 2009 outdoor season and will be completing her eligibility with a full 2010 slate.
The combined events also features sophomores Laura Hamel and Shelby Schaal and freshman Moriah Myles. Hamel took seventh in the heptathlon at the league meet last season, but also had a fourth-place showing outdoors and sixth indoors in the high jump. Schaal competed mostly in the hurdles as a freshman, taking third at the league championships in the 400m hurdles (1:03.91).
Myles comes to UWM having qualified for the state meet in Illinois in the long jump, triple jump and 100m hurdles. She competed at state her junior season in all three events.
Parish returns as a top high jumper, but will have some company in the event from sophomore Ashlee Mongoven and freshman Chantel McConville. The younger sister of perennial men's high jump champ Quinn on the men's team, Ashlee was fifth in the event indoors at the league meet, while taking seventh and competing in the long and triple jumps at the outdoor meet.
McConville holds her high school's record in the high jump, as well as the pole vault. She will compete in both events for the Panthers after qualifying for state in both events. As a junior, she tied for fifth in the pole vault.
Senior Erin Havener paces the Milwaukee pole vaulters, having established herself as arguably the top vaulter in league history. The Ashwaubenon, Wis., native has won league titles in the indoor and outdoor pole vault events in each of her first three season. Over the indoor and outdoor events, she has also reset the league record five times. She set the school's outdoor record last season (12-7 1/2) and competed at the NCAA Regional meet for the first time.
Sophomore Courtney Fisher is in her second year at UWM and freshman Sarah Finer will begin her first season with the Panthers. Fisher tied for third at the league's outdoor meet and Finer was a state qualifier as a senior at the same high school that produced Havener.
Arguably the Panthers' strongest field area could be the horizontal jumps, where seniors Beth Zimmerman and Reigna Pierce are among the school's all-time best. Zimmerman sat out 2009 to focus on her studies, but remains the school record-holder in the indoor (39-9 3/4) and outdoor triple jump (39-6 1/2), while sitting second in the indoor long jump (19-5 1/4) and seventh outdoors. She also has a pair of league crowns and six second-team awards on her resume.
Pierce picked up the slack last season, winning the indoor triple jump and taking second in the outdoor triple jump and both long jumps. She is also second to Zimmerman in both triple jump events (39-6 indoors, 39-4 1/2 outdoors), while sitting ninth in the outdoor long jump (18-10 3/4).
Parish has well-documented success in both the long jump and triple jump, while Budde is another scorer in the long jump events. The area gets a boost with the addition of freshmen Samia Taylor and Erika Suchla.
Taylor took fourth at the Wisconsin Division 1 meet in the triple jump and leapt 38-9 in the event for an early-season mark in December. Suchla capped her high school career with a Wisconsin Division 2 championship in the triple jump.
Senior Jamie Woods and freshman Brittany Alsum form Milwaukee's throwing corps. Woods has shown steady improvement through each of her first three seasons in a Panther uniform. Last season, she earned a pair of all-league second team awards in the indoor shot put and the discus throw. She holds the school record in the weight throw (52-8 1/4) and is second in both the discus (142-5) and hammer throw (146-0). She is also fourth in the shot put outdoors (42-6 1/4) and tied for fourth indoors (43-1 1/2).
Alsum was a state runner-up in the discus throw as a junior, one of three appearances at the state meet during her high school career. She also took third as a sophomore and posted a personal-best discus throw of 154-0 in high school.