Head Track and Field Joe Piane

Track & Field Program Unveils 2006-07 Incoming Freshman Class

July 28, 2006

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame head track & field coach Joe Piane announced Friday that 36 student-athletes have received letters of admission and will enroll at the University in the fall of 2006, while also continuing their athletic careers with the Irish. This year’s freshman class includes eight sprinters (four men/four women), 17 distance runners (12 men/five women — some of whom also will compete on the Notre Dame cross country teams), six jumpers (three men/three women) and five throwers (two men/three women). The Irish track & field Class of 2010 also features student-athletes from 19 different states as well as one foreign country (Hungary).

“This is an exceptionally well-rounded class that features talented individuals from all parts of the country, as well as overseas,” Piane said. “It’s a credit to the abilities of our entire staff, especially (assistant coaches) Tim (Connelly), John (Millar), Scott (Winsor) and B.J. (Linnenbrink), that we have been able to attract this strong group of student-athletes to Notre Dame. Each of these young men and women have been top performers, both on the track and in the classroom, during their high school careers, and we look forward to the many contributions they will make to our program during the next four years.”

Here’s a thumbnail look at each of the student-athletes who will join the Notre Dame track & field program for the 2006-07 season (a complete roster of the new additions follows this release):

Jeff Farnell (Oak Brook, Ill./Montini Catholic HS)
— Won four crowns at 2005 Illinois Class A outdoor state championships (100, 200, 400 relay, 800 relay) … was ranked among top 40 100-meter sprinters and top 15 200-meter sprinters in nation (according to DyeStat and Track & Field News) at end of 2004-05 season … named Men’s Outstanding Performer from Illinois (teams from Iowa and Wisconsin also competed) at the 2005 Iowa Association of Track Coaches (IATC) Senior Spotlight Meet in Cedar Falls, Iowa; set new meet records in both the 100 meters (10.51) and 200 meters (21.03) en route to winning four titles at the meet (two individual/two relay) … was originally slated to attend U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. … was high school classmate of current Notre Dame sophomore-to-be Charlie Hilding.

Mitch Gillespie (Huntington Beach, Calif./Marina HS) — Top 400-meter mark of 51.5 (hand-timed) during 2006 season … helped Marina HS win 800-meter relay (rated division) at 2006 Arcadia Invitational, running third leg as team edged out Las Vegas HS unit that included incoming Irish freshman football player Jashaad Gaines.

Lindsey Hough (Harlan, Iowa/Harlan Community HS) — Earned Iowa Class 3A all-state honors as member of three relay teams at Harlan Community HS (1,600, sprint medley, distance medley) … also earned elite class all-state honors past two seasons as part of back-to-back state champion HCHS 1,600-meter relay unit, which posted second-fastest time in state history for all classes and a new Class 3A standard in 2006 (3:54.15) … anchored 1,600-meter relay that won title at prestigious Drake Relays in 2005 … also was all-state in 400-meter dash as a junior.

Michael Lewis (Houston, Texas/St. Pius X HS) — Two-time 110-meter hurdle state champion (2005, 2006) at Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Class 6A outdoor meet; set state record (15.75) in 2005, only to break it with a mark of 15.56 in 2006 … personal-best time of 15.22 came at this year’s district meet, which Lewis also won.

Balazs Molnar (Dunaujvaros, Hungary) — Member of Hungarian National Team … was fourth in 400-meter hurdles at 2005 European Junior Championships (51.38) …also Hungarian Junior National Champion in 400 meters (47.88) and 400 hurdles (51.99)

Mary Clare Rodriguez (Austin, Texas/St. Michael’s Academy) — Won district 400-meter title in 2006 (59.29) … anchored St. Michael’s Academy 1,600-meter relay team to fifth-place finish this year at prestigious Texas Relays … also a standout basketball player, who was a Class 6A first-team all-state pick in 2006 and led team to TAPPS 6A state championship game.

Joanna Schultz (Holmen, Wis./Holmen HS) — Became first prep athlete (male or female) in 111-year history of Wisconsin state championship ever to win outdoor state titles in two events (200m, 400m) in each of her four high school seasons — she also never lost a race at either distance during her prep career … owns Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) outdoor state meet record in 400 meters (55.81 as freshman in 2003 — second-fastest in state history and quickest ever at metric distance) … top 200-meter time of 24.78 is ninth-best in state history … also ran 100 meters during season (best mark was 12.44).

Samantha Williams (Los Altos, Calif./St. Francis HS) — Member of two relay teams that set school records in 2006 (3200m – 9:49.7; distance medley – 12:59.17) … was ranked among the top Central Coast Section runners this year in 400 meters and 800 meters, while also competing on the 400- and 1,600-meter relays (anchoring the latter to berth in ’06 state meet) … will focus on the 400 at Notre Dame … finished fourth in 400m at CCS outdoor meet, missing state qualification by one-hundredth of a second (57.24).

Blake Choplin (Kansas City, Mo./Oak Park HS)
— Won 800-meter title at 2006 Missouri Class 4 outdoor state championships in 1:53.29, breaking a 25-year-old school record and logging the fastest time in the state this year …’06 first-team all-metro selection by Kansas City Star … took second in 800 meters (1:55.38) at this year’s Kansas Relays …placed third in 800 meters (1:54.17) at 2005 Missouri outdoor state championships … also ran cross country at Oak Park HS, finishing 43rd at 2005 Missouri state championships (17:11.15 for 5K) … finished 13th at 2005 Kansas City Metro Cross Country Championships (17:00.61 for 5K).

Cameron Eckert (Markle, Ind./Norwell HS) — Anchored Norwell HS 3,200-meter relay unit to third-place finish at Indiana outdoor state championships (school-record 7:45.24 – seventh-fastest in state meet history) … also competed at state championships in 400 meters (2006) and 800 meters (2005).

Terrence Egan (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Fordham Prep) — Led off Fordham Prep’s distance medley relay that won title at 2006 National Scholastic Indoor Championships (10:14.68 – time set Catholic schools state record) …also part of Fordham Prep’s 3,200-meter relay that won school’s fifth consecutive title at famed Millrose Games in 2006 and also finished second at ’06 NSIC meet … covered 1,200 meters in 3:08 during ’06 season.

Lindsey Ferguson (Greenfield Center, N.Y./Saratoga Springs HS) — Three-time top-30 finisher at FootLocker National Cross Country Championships (placed 22nd in 2005) … holds national high school record in 2,000-meter steeplechase (6:36.37), a mark she has set and re-broken several times in past year … also led off SSHS four-mile relay team that set national indoor high school record in 2005 (19:59.24) … ranked among national leaders during 2006 indoor season for several events, including the 1,500 meters (seventh – 4:51.18), mile (10th – 4:52.58), 3,000 meters (second – 9:42.55; fastest on a banked track) and two miles (fifth – 10:29.16) … took third in high school mile at famed Millrose Games in 2006 (her third consecutive appearance at event) … finished as ’06 state runner-up in 3,000-meter run … won title at ’05 Brown Cross Country Invitational (18:14) … placed third at ’05 New York state cross country championships (17:39.57 for 5K), helping team win state title (its 14th in past 17 seasons) … also member of 2004 Nike Team National Cross Country Champions and ’05 national runner-up.

Brock Hagerman (Markleville, Ind./Pendleton Heights HS) — Won 2005 Indiana state cross country title (15:13.2 for 5K) on same LaVern Gibson Course in Terre Haute that has regularly hosted NCAA Championships (will do so again this fall) … finished third at FootLocker Midwest Cross Country Regional … covered 1,600 meters in 4:12.24 (among national top 30) and 3,200 meters in 9:12.07 during his senior season (latter mark came in runner-up finish at Indiana outdoor state championships) … three-time all-state selection at 3,200 meters … winner of Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Maas Mental Attitude Award following ’05 state meet.

Jack Howard (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville HS) — Led off Libertyville HS 3,200-meter relay squad that finished seventh (school-record 7:46.57) in very fast final at Illinois Class AA outdoor state championship; top eight finishers in race all ranked among 35 quickest times in nation for 2006 … ran 1:57.5 for 800 meters and 50.8 seconds for 400 meters during junior season (2004-05).

Greg Kiley (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Saratoga Springs HS) — Member of 2005 Nike Team National Cross Country Champions (was team’s No. 2 individual finisher with 11th-place showing) … won high school mile at ’06 Yale Classic … finished third in high school mile at famed Millrose Games … won ’06 New York indoor state title at 1,600 meters (4:16.50) … third-team all-state cross country selection in 2005 … classmate of incoming Irish freshman distance runner Lindsey Ferguson.

Bryan Lein (Stewartsville, N.J./Phillipsburg HS) — Two-time Skyland Conference outdoor champion at 800 and 1,600 meters … clocked a 1,600-meter time of 4:19.38 en route to fourth-place finish at 2006 Loucks Games in New York … ran 1:55.7 for 800 meters, 3:06.1 for 1,200 meters and 4:20.16 for mile as a junior (2004-05).

Kenny Minogue (Louisville, Ky./Trinity HS) — Won 800-meter crown (personal-best 1:55.77) at 2006 Kentucky Class 3A outdoor state meet after a runner-up performance in same race the year before … undefeated in 800 vs. rest of Kentucky during senior season … also ran cross country at Trinity … finished 13th at ’05 Mideast Regional Cross Country Championships … took 11th at 2005 Kentucky State High School Association (KHSAA) Class 3A Cross Country Championships … ran personal-best 16:18.55 over 5K at 2005 Lexington Catholic Invitational.

Jim Notwell (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington HS) — Placed fourth in 800 meters (1:53.50) at 2006 Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) outdoor state meet … two-time OHSAA regional 800-meter champion (1:54.50 in 2006) … also ran 1,600 meters in 4:24.20 as a senior.

Maria Analisa Sandoval (Los Alamos, N.M./Los Alamos HS) — qualified for ’06 New Mexico Class 4A outdoor state championships in 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters — finished fifth in 3,200 (12:19.09) and eighth in other two races … father Anthony competed at Stanford and later won 1980 U.S. Olympic marathon trials, but did not compete at Moscow Olympics due to American-led boycott … sister Marisa is a rising sophomore on track and cross country teams at Washington State.

Molly Sullivan (Elmhurst, Ill./York HS) — Had fourth-fastest indoor times in state at both 800 meters (2:17.24) and 1,600 meters (5:08.14) as a senior … during final outdoor season, ranked ninth in state at both 800 meters (2:16.14) and 1,600 meters (5:08.64) … won outdoor 800-meter sectional title in 2006 … three-time qualifier for Illinois Class 2A outdoor state championships in 800-meter run (best finish was fifth in 2004) … took seventh in outdoor mile at Midwest Distance Gala in 2005.

Beth Tacl (St. Cloud, Minn./Cathedral HS) — Placed in top 20 (twice in top 10) at Minnesota Class A state cross country championships all four prep seasons (best finish was second as sophomore in 2003) … four-time top-seven finisher in 3,200 meters at Class A outdoor state championships (best finish was third in ’03) … fastest 3,200 time of senior year (11:11.2) was seventh-best in state … accomplished two-sport athlete who also excelled in nordic (cross country) skiing during high school career — finished fourth in 5K freestyle state finals in 2003.

Dominique Taylor (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) — Won 800-meter sectional title as a senior (ran 2:19 in prelims) after placing third during her junior campaign … finished fourth at ’06 regionals (2:20.55), just missing advancement to state finals … also placed fourth in 1,600-meter run at sectionals as a sophomore in 2004 … advanced to ’05 cross country regionals after eighth-place sectional showing (16:55 for 5K).

Matt Tieuli (Upton, Mass./St. John’s HS) — Four-time cross country all-star selection by Worcester Telegram & Gazette … won 2005 Massachusetts Central State Cross Country Championships (14:47.8 for 2.9 miles) … father Alan is managing editor of IrishEyes magazine which covers Notre Dame athletics.

Jake Walker (Ellwood City, Pa./Ellwood City HS) — Had nation’s fourth-quickest indoor 3,000-meter time as senior (8:30.35 on banked track) … clocked 2006 season-best and personal-best outdoor 3,000-meter time of 8:21.94 (10th-fastest in nation) on way to third-place outing at Penn Relays … also logged 3,200-meter time of 9:04.31 en route to title at ’06 Pennsylvania Class 2A outdoor championships (missed state record by 22-hundredths of a second) … top indoor mile time of 2006 season was 4:18.86 (second-best in state) … finished fourth at ’05 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) 2A cross country championships (16:14 for 5K) … placed 13th at 2005 FootLocker Northeast Cross Country Regional (15.53.6) … all-state selection in both track (1,600 and 3,200 meters) and cross country.

Tommy Walton (Fort Collins, Colo./Mountain View HS) — Placed third at Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Class 4A Cross Country Championships (16:12.4 for 5K) … covered 800 meters in 1:56.6 as a junior (2005) … finished fourth in 1,600 meters at ’05 Colorado 4A outdoor state meet.

Rikkilynn London (Lakeside, Ariz./Blue Ridge HS)
— Honorable mention all-state selection by Arizona Republic as a senior … top pole vault clearance was 10-7 upon winning ’06 Arizona Class 3A outdoor state title … also won 2006 Class 3A state title in 300-meter hurdles and took third in 100-meter hurdles at same state meet … chosen as Gates Millennium Scholar.

Jim Merchun (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral HS) — Pole vaulter with top clearance of 14-6 at 2006 Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) outdoor state championships where he placed ninth … took second at ’06 regionals with 14-foot height … best indoor clearance of senior year was 14-3 (sixth in state).

Jaime Minor (Tucson, Ariz./Canyon del Oro HS) — Will compete in horizontal (triple/long) jumps at Notre Dame … best TJ mark was 38-5, while top LJ distance was 18-4 … two-time state champion in triple jump … earned first-team all-Southern Arizona honors and was named Athlete of the Year as a senior by Arizona Daily Star … named first-team all-star and Co-Athlete of the Year as a junior (2005) by Tucson Citizen.

Eric Quick (Bakersfield, Calif./Liberty HS) — Slated to compete in horizontal jumps at Notre Dame … top high school triple jump mark was 48-10 (indoors) and best long jump distance was 23-4 (outdoors), both achieved during 2006 season … TJ distance also was among top 10 indoor marks in nation for 2006 … three-time first-team all-area selection by Bakersfield Californian.

Michelle Ripple (Littleton, Colo./Arapahoe HS) — First-team all-state pole vaulter as a senior by Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News … won 2006 Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Class 5A outdoor state title with personal-best 12-0 clearance.

Matt Schipper (Leo, Ind./Bishop Dwenger HS) — top clearance in pole vault was 15-6 (outdoors) during prep career … finished fourth at 2006 Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) outdoor state meet … older brothers Andrew and Ryan both were All-Americans in the event at Division III entity Rose-Hulman.

Julia Avila (Bakersfield, Calif./South HS)
— Ranked among top 20 in state in shot put as a senior (top throw of 41-3 3/4) … won shot put in girls’ seeded division (40-6 3/4) at 2005 Mount SAC Relays … also threw the discus during her prep career (best mark: 120-1) … one of six female national finalists for ’05 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award (won California state honor) … three-sport standout at South HS, who also competed in volleyball and soccer for the Rebels … awarded Mayor’s Trophy for combined athletic, academic and civic excellence by Bakersfield-area high school student-athlete.

Brandon Drenon (Pearland, Texas/Pearland HS) — Placed sixth in discus throw (166-2) at 2006 Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 5A outdoor state championships … second in shot put (section B – 54-8) at ’06 Texas Relays … two-sport star at Pearland HS, also playing football for the Oilers.

Jaclyn Espinoza (Keizer, Ore./Regis HS) — Outstanding in both the discus and shot put … won seven Oregon Class 2A state titles during her prep career … earned four consecutive discus crowns (first Oregon high school female ever to win four championships in same throwing event) and three shot put titles … best prep marks were 158-1 in the discus (2006 Oregon Class 2A state meet, setting new record for that competition) and 44-5 in the shot put (’06 Oregon-Washington Meet of Champions) … discus mark (158-1) also was good for sixth-best in the nation for 2006 campaign … named 2005 all-region Athlete of the Year by Salem Statesman Journal … also a two-time second-team all-state selection in basketball.

Elise Knutzen (Seattle, Wash./Nathan Hale HS) — Specialized in the javelin, with top distance of 140-0 during her senior year … won 2006 Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Class 3A javelin title (138-4) by more than 16 feet over nearest competitor.

Lee Kunz III (Wheat Ridge, Colo./Columbine HS) — Won discus title (164-6) at 2006 Liberty Bell Invitational … finished third in discus (158-8) at ’06 Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Class 5A state championships … honorable mention all-state selection in discus by Denver Post … father Lee Jr. won a national title in the discus while at Colorado’s Wheat Ridge HS, before becoming standout linebacker at Nebraska who went on to play three seasons with the NFL’s Chicago Bears (1979-81).

— ND —

2006-07 Notre Dame Men’s Track & Field Incoming Freshman Class Roster

Name Event Hometown High School
Blake Choplin Distance Kansas City, Mo. Oak Park
Brandon Drenon Throws Pearland, Texas Pearland
Cameron Eckert Distance Markle, Ind. Norwell
Terrence Egan Distance Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Fordham Prep
Jeff Farnell Sprints Oak Brook, Ill. Montini Catholic
Mitch Gillespie Sprints Huntington Beach, Calif. Marina
Brock Hagerman Distance Markleville, Ind. Pendleton Heights
Jack Howard Distance Libertyville, Ill. Libertyville
Greg Kiley Distance Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Saratoga Springs
Lee Kunz III Throws Wheat Ridge, Colo. Columbine
Bryan Lein Distance Stewartsville, N.J. Phillipsburg
Michael Lewis Sprints Houston, Texas St. Pius X
Jim Merchun Jumps Carmel, Ind. Cathedral
Kenny Minogue Distance Louisville, Ky. Trinity
Balazs Molnar Sprints Dunaujvaros, Hungary
Jim Notwell Distance Upper Arlington, Ohio Upper Arlington
Eric Quick Jumps Bakersfield, Calif. Liberty
Matt Schipper Jumps Leo, Ind. Bishop Dwenger
Matt Tieuli Distance Upton, Mass. St. John’s
Jake Walker Distance Ellwood City, Pa. Ellwood City
Tommy Walton Distance Fort Collins, Colo. Mountain View

2006-07 Notre Dame Women’s Track & Field Incoming Freshman Class Roster

Name Event Hometown High School
Julia Avila Throws Bakersfield, Calif. South
Jaclyn Espinoza Throws Keizer, Ore. Regis
Lindsey Ferguson Distance Greenfield Center, N.Y. Saratoga Springs
Lindsey Hough Sprints Harlan, Iowa Harlan Community
Elise Knutzen Throws Seattle, Wash. Nathan Hale
Rikkilynn London Jumps Lakeside, Ariz. Blue Ridge
Jaime Minor Jumps Tucson, Ariz. Canyon del Oro
Michelle Ripple Jumps Littleton, Colo. Arapahoe
Mary Clare Rodriguez Sprints Austin, Texas St. Michael’s Academy
Maria Analisa Sandoval Distance Los Alamos, N.M. Los Alamos
Joanna Schultz Sprints Holmen, Wis. Holmen
Molly Sullivan Distance Elmhurst, Ill. York
Beth Tacl Distance St. Cloud, Minn. Cathedral
Dominique Taylor Distance Gary, Ind. West Side
Samantha Williams Sprints Los Altos, Calif. St. Francis

NOTE: Some distance runners also may compete in cross country.