EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon reached across the continent to sign an impressive list of women’s track and field competitors to National Letters of Intent, Head Coach Robert Johnson announced Thursday.
The 11 high schoolers who signed with the Ducks include the American prep record-holder in the javelin, the national leader in the 60 meters, the top two prep hurdlers in the nation and the Canadian national junior record-holder in both the 200 and 400 meters.
“We could not be happier with this outstanding group of women who have made the commitment to be a part of our program,” said Johnson. “This is a versatile class that fills nearly every event area on our team.
“Our staff did an outstanding job identifying student-athletes who both fit our needs and represent what our track and field and cross country teams are all about. This is a very high-caliber group across the board that will help us carry on our Oregon tradition.”
Haley Crouser of Gresham, Ore., is the name most familiar to TrackTown USA fans. She set the national prep record in the javelin, 181-2, last season and later went on to make the finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Historic Hayward Field, where she finished seventh. Crouser is also arguably the most talented prep athlete in the nation, having claimed state titles in three diverse events - javelin, shot put and 100 meter hurdles - as a junior in 2012. She is the younger sister of current Duck thrower Sam Crouser, and continues the legacy of one of the most storied families in UO track and field history. Her father Dean and uncle Brian were both NCAA throws champions for the Ducks.
But Crouser is not the only national record-holder among the 2013 class. Christian Brennan (Hamilton, Ontario) holds the Canadian junior record in both the 200 (23.43) and 400 (52.12) meters. As a 15 year-old, she claimed the bronze medal in the 400 at the 2011 Canadian national championships against a field of professionals and collegians.
The Ducks should also see an immediate resurgence in the hurdles, having signed the top two returning prep 100 meter hurdlers in Californians Sasha Wallace (Castro Valley) and Jordie Munford (Rancho Cucamonga). Wallace is the top 100 meter hurdler at 13.33 - the ninth-fastest junior time in U.S. history, with Munford just behind her at 13.58. Munford is also the nation’s No. 2 returning 300 meter hurdler at 40.90, while Wallace is the nation’s second-best returning triple jumper at 42-4.75.
The Ducks added another national leader in MaryBeth Sant of Highlands Ranch, Colo. She is currently the national leader in the 60 meters, having timed 7.30 at the Tony Wells Memorial meet last month. That was the fastest time in Colorado state history and 12th all-time among U.S. high schoolers.
Oregon also landed a trio of state middle distance champions in Kansas state record-holder Alli Cash (Shawnee, Kan.), Therese Haiss (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and Nikki Hiltz (Aptos, Calif.). Haiss is the defending Ohio state 800 meter winner with a personal best of 2:08.05. Hiltz claimed the California state title at 1,600 meters in 4:42.45, a mark that ranked third nationally last year. Cash broke a 32 year-old record to win the 2012 Kansas state title in the 1,600 meters (4:52.31).
The Ducks were also able to keep two more of the top talents from within the state of Oregon’s borders at home. Hurdler and jumper Claire Thomas was a four-time state champion for Molalla High School in 2012, while Maggie Schmaedick was the 2012 state 6A cross country runner-up for Eugene’s Sheldon High School.
Oregon rounded out the class by bolstering its throws with the signing of Madeline Middlebrooks of O’Fallon, Mo. She is 10th nationally among returnees for 2013 in the hammer throw.
“We knew at the beginning of the year that we were going to graduate one of the most decorated senior classes in school history,” said Johnson. “We sat down as a staff and came up with a strategic recruiting plan to identify not only the most talented student-athletes but those with great character who we knew would fit within our program and our vision to be a national contender.
“With this class, I believe we brought the best prospects in each event area to the University of Oregon and they will be in a position to carry on the tradition of the incredible senior class that they will be replacing.”
CHRISTIAN BRENNAN, HAMILTON, ONTARIO/SAINT MARY’S CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 100 Meters - 11.77; 200 Meters - 23.43; 400 Meters - 52.12.
Brennan was the silver medalist for Canada at the 2011 World Youth Championships in both the 200 and 400 meters. It was at the 2011 World meet that she set the Canadian youth record in both the 400 meters (52.12).
Her Canadian junior record in the 200 meters (23.43) came at the 2011 Canadian Youth Championship, where she won both the 200 and 400 meters.
Impressively, she won the bronze medal in the 400 meters in 52.49 at the 2011 Canadian senior national championship against a field of collegians and professionals when she was just 15.
Brennan has won three consecutive Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) 400 meter titles for Saint Mary’s and added 100 and 200 meter provincial titles in 2010 and 2011.
ALLI CASH, SHAWNEE, KAN./SHAWEE MISSION WEST HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 1,500 Meters - 4:21.95; Mile - 4:39.98; 3,200 Meters - 10:32.00.
Cash is a nine-time state distance champion for Shawnee Mission West High School. She broke a 32 year-old Kansas state high school record in the 1,600 meters, 4:52.31, at the 2012 state meet where she won four gold medals. She also claimed individual titles in the 800 and 3,200 meters as well as the 3,200 meter relay.
She owns a pair of Kansas state cross country titles (2011-12) and set the 4,000 meter course record at the 2012 Rim Rock Farm High School XC Classic in 13:59.30. She was undefeated in cross country as a senior in 2012.
Cash was named the Kansas Gatorade Runner of the Year in 2012 for both track and field and cross country.
She had the nation’s top time in the mile among high school juniors, 4:39.98, a time that was second overall in the prep ranks.
She placed fourth in the 1,500 meters at the 2012 U.S. Junior National Championships in 4:21.95. Prior to that, Cash took third in the 2012 adidas Dream Mile in 4:39.98.
HALEY CROUSER, GRESHAM, ORE./GRESHAM HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: Javelin - 181-2; Shot Put - 45-11; 100 Meter Hurdles - 14.52.
Arguably, the most talented all-around high school girl’s competitor in the nation, Crouser continues her family’s remarkable legacy with the Ducks.
She is the national high school and American junior record-holder in the javelin at 181-2 at the Aloha Relays last April. It is a mark that would rank third on Oregon’s career javelin list behind only Olympian Rachel Yurkovich (195-7) and Sarah Malone (186-10). Her shot put best of 45-11 also came at the Aloha Relays.
Her remarkable versatility is evidenced by the fact that she won state titles in the javelin, shot put and 100 meter hurdles as a junior for Gresham High School in 2012. She was also fourth in the high jump at the 2012 state meet. Her hurdle PR, 14.52, came in the preliminaries at the state meet.
She went on to win the javelin at the 2012 U.S. Junior Championships and then placed seventh as a high schooler in the javelin at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. She finished 2012 with a 12th place finish at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
She is a five-time state champion overall, having won javelin titles as a freshman in 2010 and a sophomore in 2011, in addition to the three crowns in 2012.
Crouser, who has never lost a high school javelin competition, hails from one of the most storied families in all of University of Oregon athletics.
Crouser’s brother, Sam, is currently a sophomore on the men’s team and was Pac-12 champion and U.S. Olympic Trials silver medalist in the javelin in 2012.
Her father, Dean Crouser, was a three-time NCAA champion for Oregon, winning the shot put and discus in 1982 and the discus in 1983. He was also a five-time All-American, four-time Pac-10 champion (twice each in the shot put and discus) and twice named the Pac-10 track and field athlete of the year (1982-83). Dean Crouser is still the Ducks’ school record holder both in the shot put and discus.
Her uncle, Brian Crouser, is a two-time NCAA javelin champion (1982, 1985) and was a key member of Oregon’s last NCAA outdoor championship team in 1984, where he finished fourth in the javelin at the NCAA meet. Brian Crouser, a 1988 and 1992 Olympian, was also a two-time Pac-10 champion in the javelin (1984-85) and the school record holder at 312-0 using the old implement.
THERESE HAISS, CHAGRIN FALLS, OHIO/SOLON HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 800 Meters - 2:08.05; 1,600 Meters - 4:53.80.
Haiss is the defending Ohio state 800 meter champion and was the 1,600 meter runner-up for Salon High School. Her personal best in the 800 meters, 2:08.05 from the state meet, was second among high school juniors nationally, and 14th overall in the prep ranks.
She also won the state title at 1,600 meters and was the 800 meter runner-up indoors in 2012.
Haiss also has a pair of top-10 state cross country finishes for Solon, with a best of fifth as a junior in 2011.
NIKKI HILTZ, APTOS, CALIF./APTOS HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 800 Meters - 2:09.71; 1,600 Meters - 4:42.45.
Hiltz was the 2012 California state 1,600 meter champion for Aptos High School, winning in a high-school best 4:42.45. That was the third-best time among U.S juniors last year.
She was third in the 1,600 in California as a sophomore in 2011.
In cross country, she placed fifth at the 2010 state meet. Later that year, she placed 17th at the FootLocker XC Nationals.
MADELINE MIDDLEBROOKS, O’FALLON, MO./FORT ZUMWALT WEST HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: Discus - 139-0; Hammer - 149-5; Weight Throw - 47-6.
Middlebrooks is the 10th best returning prep hammer thrower in the nation with a top mark of 149-5 from 2012.
She will also have an impact in the discus, where she has a best throw of 139-0, and the weight throw where her top distance is 47-6.
Middlebrook was a Missouri state scorer in both the discus the shot put for Fort Zumwalt West High School in 2012.
JORDIE MUNFORD, RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIF./ETIWIANDA HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 100 Meters - 11.77; 100 Meter Hurdles - 13.58; 300 Meter Hurdles - 40.90.
Munford is the second-ranked returning 100 meter hurdler at 13.58, trailing only fellow Oregon signee Sasha Wallace, as well as the No. 2 returning 300 meter hurdler. She ran 13.58 in the 100 hurdles and 40.90 in the 300 meter hurdles at the California state meet for Etiwanda High School, finishing as the runner-up in both races.
Munford was also second in California as a sophomore in 2011 (41.90).
MARYBETH SANT, HIGHLANDS RANCH, COLO./VALOR CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 60 Meters - 7.30; 100 Meters - 11.65; 200 Meters - 24.59.
Sant is the top-ranked high school runner nationally in the 60 meters, having run 7.30 seconds at the Tony Wells Memorial meet last month. That was the fastest time in Colorado state history and 12th all-time nationally.
She swept the 100 and 200 meters at the 2012 Colorado state meet for Valor Christian High School. Sant won the 100 in 11.69 and the 200 in 24.65. She ran her 2012 bests in both the 100 (11.65) and 200 (24.59) at the St. Vrain Invitational.
MAGGIE SCHMAEDICK, EUGENE, ORE./SHELDON HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 1,500 Meters - 4:46.75; 5,000 Meters - 17:34.06 (Cross Country).
Schmaedick is the latest local product to sign with the Ducks. She placed second at the 2012 Oregon state 6A cross county meet for Sheldon High School and then went on to finish sixth at the NXN Northwest Region meet.
She also finished fifth in the 3,000 meters at the 2012 state track meet.
CLAIRE THOMAS, MOLALLA, ORE./MOLALLA HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 300 Meter Hurdles - 43.85; Long Jump - 19-1.5.
An athlete with the potential to develop into a combined events performer for the Ducks, Thomas was a four-time state 4A champion for Molalla High School in 2012.
She led all classifications in the 300 meter hurdles (43.85) and the long jump (19-1.5). She also won the 100 meter hurdles and ran on Molalla’s state champion 4x400 meter relay team.
Thomas has won three straight state titles in the 300 meter hurdles.
SASHA WALLACE, CASTRO VALLEY, CALIF./CASTRO VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL
Prep Bests: 60 Meter Hurdles - 8.24; 100 Meter Hurdles - 13.33; 300 Meter Hurdles - 43.37; Triple Jump - 42-4.75.
Wallace was a nationally ranked performer in the hurdles as jumps as a junior in 2012. She had the fastest high school time in in the 100 meter hurdles, a blazing 13.33 that she ran in the California state finals for Holy Names High School. That was the ninth-fastest high school time in U.S. history.
She has continued her success indoors in 2013. She ran 8.24 in the 60 meter hurdles at the UW Invitational on Jan. 26 to take the national lead in the event. That time was the fourth fastest in U.S. high school history and No. 2 all-time for California.
She also won the California state crown in the triple jump. Her best mark, 42-4.75, was the second-best triple jump among high schoolers nationally in 2012 and ranks in the top 10 all-time for the state of California.
Wallace was named the 2012 California Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
She was also the national runner-up in both the triple jump and the 60 meter hurdles at the U.S. Indoor national meet.
Wallace transferred to Castro Valley High School for her senior year.