Women's Track & Field Starts 2012 Season Saturday
Junior Samia Taylor

Junior Samia Taylor

Jan. 13, 2012

MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's and women's track and field teams kick off the 2012 season Saturday when they head to Carthage College for the Carthage Invitational.

2012 Women's Track & Field Season Preview

Success is something that has gone hand-in-hand with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's track and field team.

For the past 15 seasons, the Panthers have finished at, or near, the top of the standings every time. In fact, outside of one third-place finish, Milwaukee has finished first or second in both the indoor and outdoor championships every time.

With two more league titles added to the Panthers' name in 2011, making it four in a row and five of the last six, UWM is continuing its storied success and looking like it is the team to beat again this season.

"We're very excited to start the new season," Milwaukee head coach Pete Corfeld said. "Obviously we're happy about last year's success, but that's just motivation for us to continue to get better and to keep training and working hard day in and day out."

Sprints were one of the deepest events for UWM in 2011. While this year's team looks young on paper, it is very experienced on the track.

Sophomore Simbi Laaro had a tremendous freshman season, highlighted by taking first in the 60m at the indoor meet. Despite being more of a hurdler, Chiamaka Okonkwo also had an impressive showing in sprints last year, competing at the league championships in the 200m in indoor and the 100m in outdoor. Sophomore Lauren Grant also had did well, taking fifth in the 400m in indoor at the league meet before redshirting the outdoor season.

While the Panthers have plenty of talent returning, they are also bringing in quite a few new faces in this event. Ashley Brusveen, Chelsea Maxey, Erin McCauley and Laurel Raye all join the team and look to make an impact in their first year on campus.



Middle Distance
Seniors Kristi Schuette and Erika Hanson have anchored the middle-distance events for three years and 2012 should be no different. Schuette took fifth in the 800m at the indoor championships and seventh at the league's outdoor meet. Meanwhile, Hanson finished third in the 400m at the outdoor championships and competed in the event during indoor, as well.

Joining the duo will be freshman Dana Clausen. The Racine native had an impressive high school campaign and competed in the 400m and 800m at the state meet during her time at Racine Horlick High School.

One year ago, you could argue this category was the strongest for Milwaukee. But, as is often the case in college sports, the Panthers lost quite a few of their top performers from last season but still should compete at the highest of levels this year.

Shannon Brown returns to lead the group. The senior competed in the 800m at the league championships in both seasons. She also finished 10th in the 1500m in the outdoor league meet.

Joining Brown is a handful of women ready to compete. Adriana Gutierrez, Katy Koch and Carissa Schneiter all redshirted last season and look to get in on the action. Also joining the Black and Gold are freshmen Claira Himmel, Annette Lemanski, Rosemary Mueller, Emily Schaal and transfer Emily Hamilton.

After looking at the roster, one might guess hurdles are not a strong suit for UWM just because of lack of numbers. Guess again. Senior Calanetta Burrows and Okonkwo provide solid leadership and experience. Burrows had a great junior campaign, taking fourth in the 400m hurdles in the league. Okonkwo finished runner-up in the 60m hurdles at the indoor league championships before capturing the same result in the 100m hurdles at the outdoor league meet.

Joining the group are freshmen Maxey and McCauley. McCauley went to state in the 300m hurdles all four years in high school, while Maxey accomplished the same feat in multiple events and took third this past summer in the USATF Junior Olympic Regional Championships in the 100m hurdles.

Last year proved to be a record-breaking one for the relay groups at Milwaukee. With little turnover and a majority of the participants from the various events returning, this season should prove no different for Corfeld's team.

Hanson, Schuette and Brown return after setting the school record and finishing runner-up in the league in the distance medley relay during the indoor season. Hanson also is joined with returners Burrows and Grant as part of the 4x400m relay team that set a new league indoor record last year.

In outdoor, Burrows, Hanson and Schuette all return from a first-place showing at the league meet in the 4x400m relay, while the entire 4x100m relay team that took third also returns.

While UWM loses one of its best jumpers in program history in Reigna Pierce, it still has one of its best jumpers in program history in Samia Taylor. Taylor had a truly special season last year, going all the way to the NCAA Championships in triple jump. The sophomore finished 18th at the national meet, shattering the school and league records along the way, and became the first NCAA Division-I All-American in team history.

Joining Taylor in distance jumps is classmate Erika Suchla, who competed in the triple jump and long jump in both indoor and outdoor league meets.

At high jump, seniors Laura Hamel and Ashlee Mongoven and junior Chantel McConville all return after strong showings one year ago highlighted by Hamel and Mongoven's second and third-place finishes at the league indoor meet.

Senior Courtney Fisher and junior Sarah Finer join McConville at pole vault. All three competed in the event at both league championships.

Brittany Alsum and Nancy Harmon are the key returners in the throwing events. Both had tremendous seasons one year ago, competing in every event at the league meet. They both also etched their names on the top-10 all-time records lists in nearly every event, with Harmon setting the new school record in hammer throw.

Senior Shelby Schaal returns as the top performer in javelin, taking third at the league meet last year.

Combined Events Shelby Schaal also is one of the two key returners in the combined events. Along with Hamel, the duo bolsters the most dynamic event. Hamel finished third in both the pentathlon and heptathlon, while Schaal took the top spot in the heptathlon at the league meet and scored the second-most points in school history earlier in the season.

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