Milwaukee Opens 2011 Track & Field Season Saturday In Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's and women's track and field teams get their 2011 seasons underway Saturday, heading to Madison, Wis., for the Badger Track Classic.
Panthers Have Sights Set On Remaining At Top Of Horizon League
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's track and field team has resided at, or near, the top of the Horizon league for the last 14 years and the Panthers have no interest in conceding that position.
In fact, over the last 17 league indoor and outdoor championship meets, Milwaukee has won nine championships and been runner-up eight times. If you go back to 1997, a span of 27 championship meets, the Panthers have been in the top two 26 times with an unprecedented 14 titles.
To maintain such a prolonged stretch of success, head coach Pete Corfeld and his staff has done a tremendous job of developing young talent into experienced leaders and 2011 should be no different.
Milwaukee lost 33 individual championships in three student-athletes alone after last season with the graduation of sprinter Kelsey Conrad (school-record 16 individual titles), multi-event competitor Jenni Parish (9) and jumper Beth Zimmerman (8).
What the Panthers do return is 19 letterwinners from last season's squad that swept the Horizon League's indoor and outdoor crowns for the fourth time in team history.
Kaufmann is coming off a championship in the 400m at the outdoor championships last season and has been a key member of award-winning relays throughout her career. She is the only experienced Panthers returning in the sprints category, as she is joined by a pair of freshmen in Simbi Laaro and Lauren Grant.
Laaro focused on the shorter sprints at Green Bay Southwest High School, running at the state meet in the 100m all four years. She also competed at the meet in the long jump as a senior. Grant, meanwhile, ran with a state-champion and state runner-up 4x400m relay in her career, while running a school record in the 400m of 57.02.
The sprints group could be bolstered by some overlap from a strong hurdling corps, led by junior Calanetta Burrows and sophomore Chia Okonkwo. Burrows' specialty is the 400m hurdles, where she has one championship and an all-league second-team award. She has also competed in the 400m.
Okonkwo had a standout rookie season in 2010, earning all-league second-team awards as runner-up in the 60m hurdles indoors and the 100m hurdles outdoors. She is fourth in school history with her Klotsche Center record 60m time of 8.96 and is second in school history in the 100m hurdles (14.26). Away from the hurdles, Okonkwo also helped the 4x100m relay to a school record and league championship.
Asia Cheeks joins the sprint and hurdle groups after a standout career at nearby Brown Deer High School. She was a four-year all-state qualifier, capping her prep career with runner-up finishes at the Wisconsin State Championships in the 100m hurdles and 4x100m relay. She won a state relay title as a freshman.
Corfeld returns three runners in the 800m, including a pair coming off strong cross country campaigns. Senior Tanaiya Fisher and juniors Kristi Schuette and Erika Hanson make up an experienced group. Fisher was an all-league second-team performer at the league cross country championships, while Schuette had a breakout season and emerged as the team's No. 3 runner.
Fisher is the most experienced of the group, consistently improving in the 800m throughout her career. Last season, she lowered her career-best time in the event to 2:15.47 during the outdoor season. She is also a member of the school-record distance medley relays, both indoor and outdoor, while owning a pair of all-league awards with the DMR.
Schuette will look to build on her strong cross country season to continue her improvement in track. She joined Fisher on the school-record DMR outdoors and was also on the DMR indoors that took second at the league meet. She had a PR of 2:18.33 in the 800m outdoors last season.
Hanson can run in both the 400m and 800m events, but focused on the shorter distance in 2010. She finished third in the event at the league meet outdoors, posting the 10th-best time in school history (57.49). As a freshman, she took second in the 800m indoors and third outdoors. As a part of relays, she has claimed five all-league awards, including two championships.
Junior Shannon Brown also returns, providing depth in both the 800m and distance events. Last season, she had the team's third-best 800m time (2:20.64) and ran with the distance medley relay that took second at the league indoor championship meet.
The distance corps looks to be in good shape as sophomore Elise Sigg and senior Abbie Zaspel return to lead the group. Sigg is coming off a standout freshman season in 2010 and a tremendous sophomore cross country campaign in the fall. Meanwhile, Zaspel has been near the top of the league in the distance events throughout her career.
Sigg was the team's top distance runner in each event last season and earned all-league second-team honors as runner-up outdoors in the 10,000m. She posted the program's sixth-best 5000m time (17:33.54) and eighth-best 3000m time (10:08.57) indoors before running 17:20.10 (fifth in school history) in the 5000m and 36:07.70 (sixth) in the 10,000m outdoors. During cross country, she won four races before excelling in the post-season. Sigg took third at the league meet and earned all-region honors in 20th place at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship.
Zaspel has earned three all-league awards in cross country, including a pair of first-team selections, and returns for her final year of eligibility in track. She ran the 10th-best 5000m time in school history last season (17:20.10) and was a part of the runner-up distance medley relay indoors. She also took second in the 10,000m at the 2009 outdoor league meet after leading the league with a time of 36:04.57, which is fifth in school history.
Sophomore Julia Bernstein heads a list of newcomers that will compete for Milwaukee in the distance events this season. She transferred from nearby UW-Parkside after competing with the Rangers as a freshman. She competed in the 3000m at the league meet and had a PR of 10:53.01 in the event. At Glenview South High School in Illinois, she was an all-area selection.
Freshmen Carissa Schneiter, Adriana Gutierrez and Katy Koch got their first taste of collegiate action in the fall during cross country and will look to use that experience to get off to good starts in track. Schneiter was a consistent top-seven runner on the team, while Gutierrez also figured in the top seven for much of the same. Koch got experience in five meets during the season. Another freshman, Taylor Koehling, also joins the distance mix out of Burlington High School.
Milwaukee's group of jumpers is one source of strength in the field events, as senior Reigna Pierce returns after redshirting 2010. She joins sophomores Samia Taylor and Erika Suchla, who each posted strong rookie campaigns last season. The Panthers will look to replace the production of Zimmerman in the long and triple jumps, but Corfeld and his staff continue to have the tremendous depth in the events that has become the hallmark of the UWM jumping corps.
During Pierce's last season in 2009, she was in the top two of both the long and triple jump events at both the indoor and outdoor league meets, winning the outdoor triple jump event. She sits third in school history in the triple jump, both indoors (39-6) and outdoors (39-4 1/2). In the long jump, she is ninth outdoors with a career-best jump of 18-10 3/4.
Taylor had as good of a freshman campaign as you could ask for. She was the first Panther woman in school history to clear 40 feet in the triple jump when she broke the school mark by nearly a foot indoors (40-9 1/2). Outdoors, she was the league's Field Newcomer of the Year and posted the second-best triple jump in school history (40-2 3/4). At the league's outdoor meet, she was second to Zimmerman in the triple jump and earned all-league second-team honors.
Suchla gave Milwaukee a third legitimate competitor in the triple jump and will do so again in 2011. She is also in the top five on the school's outdoor triple jump and is eighth indoors. Her best outdoor distance was 38-2 3/4 (fifth all-time), while she leapt 37-5 1/4 indoors. She scored in both triple jump events and showed well in the long jump events in 2010.
Freshman Casey Griebel joins the group this season and will have the chance to cut her teeth with a talented group. She was a state-qualifier in the long jump at Waterford Union High School in Wisconsin and earned all-county honors in both the long and triple jump events.
The jumps are not UWM's only source of depth, as four Panthers return in the pole vault, led by senior Erin Havener. Havener also redshirted 2010, but has been perfect in the event over the first three years of her career. She has swept league titles at the indoor and outdoor meets all three years and has broken league records five times. Her height of 12-7 1/2 from the 2009 outdoor meet is a school and league mark. Meanwhile, she is second in school history in the event indoors with a height of 12-4 1/2.
Sophomore Sarah Finer and juniors Courtney Fisher and Chantel McConville also return and are all among the program's top seven in either the indoor or outdoor event. Finer had the best season in Havener's absence, taking second at the indoor league meet. She is fifth in school history indoors (11-7 3/4) and tied with Fisher for seventh outdoors (11-3 3/4).
Fisher took third in the pole vault at both the indoor and outdoor meets and is seventh in school history indoors (11-6 1/2) in addition to her standing outdoors. McConville, who is also one of the team's top returning high jumpers, broke out in the outdoor season with a height of 11-9 3/4, which is fourth all-time, and was fourth in the event at both league meets.
Senior Amy Magnuson joins the group as a transfer from Division II Minnesota State. She will provide added depth and senior leadership to the group after spending her first three seasons at MSU.
McConville and junior Ashlee Mongoven headline the high jumpers, while the event will get added support from the group of combined event athletes. McConville was fourth in the event at both league meets, while Mongoven tied for sixth in the event outdoors.
The combined events group of juniors Shelby Schaal, Laura Hamel and freshman Moriah Myles each had strong showings in 2010. This season, the group will look to compete at the top of the Horizon League, as well as provide depth in the individual events that make up the pentathlon and heptathlon.
Schaal was runner-up to Parish in the pentathlon indoors, but was able to redshirt the outdoor season after competing in just one event. The indoor season was a big one for Schaal, as she posted the second-best pentathlon score in school history (3,488 points) and was second on the team in the event, as well as the high jump, and third in the long jump. And, in just one meet outdoors, she cleared 5-4 1/2 in the high jump to pace the team and post the seventh-best height in school history. Schaal will also provide depth in the sprint hurdles.
Myles had a strong first season in a Panther uniform. She posted the fifth-best heptathlon score in school history (4,414) and the sixth-best score in the pentathlon (3,056). She also took third in the heptathlon outdoors. In addition to her combined events, she also added depth in the shot put, where she was second on the team both indoors and outdoors. Her PR in the event was over 39 feet during the indoor season.
Hamel has been a consistent scorer in the high jump over her first two seasons, while also scoring in the heptathlon last season. As a sophomore, she tied for fourth in the high jump and took eighth in the pentathlon at the indoor meet. Outdoors, she was sixth in the heptathlon and eighth in the high jump.
The throws will be hurt by the departure of graduated senior Jamie Woods. But UWM returns sophomore Brittney Alsum and adds a freshman in Nancy Harmon. Woods left ranked among the top four in each throwing event and the record holder in two events (weight throw, hammer throw).
Alsum excelled in the discus as a freshman in 2010, posting the third-best throw in school history (142-3). She also saw improvement in each of her other events as the season progressed. Harmon comes to Milwaukee from Skokie, Ill., where she set school records at Niles North High School in the shot put and discus throw.