SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo University head coach Melissa Miller-Mangen has announced the signings of seven student-athletes to join the Lions' men's cross country program in the fall of 2012. The seven incoming athletes include, Michael Walker, Spencer Mathis, David Hill, Matthew Basin, Steven Brown, Valentin Lenz, and Carl Dunne
The seven recruits bring the Lions' roster to 12 male runners, as they join five returners.
"The incoming class is our most talented academically and athletically to date," said Miller-Mangen. "Carl and Valentin are 4.0 students, while Matt, Spencer, David, Mike, Steven possess 3.5 grade-point-averages or higher."
Aside from four local signees in Mathis, Hill, Basin, and Brown, the Lions also sport one recruit from New Jersey, as well as a pair of international student-athletes.
Freshman | Helmholtz Gymnasium Essen (Germany)
A native of Germany, Lenz spent four years running for Helmholtz Gymnasium Essen. Additionally, he competed with the German National Youth team during his senior year, while also earning third-place in the German Triathlon Championships in 2011.
Coach Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "Valentin is a consistent sub 15:30 runner on any course. He is very diligent and disciplined with his training and recently clocked a 33:23 in his first 10K, which is a minute faster than our school record."
Freshman | St Joseph's C.B.S. (Ireland)
A fellow international student-athlete, Dunne attended St. Joseph's C.B.S School in Ireland. He earned fifth-place at the 2010 National Finals and finished with a National Finals First Team selection. Additionally, he earned a ninth-place finish at the 2009 New Balance Ocean State Championships.
Coach Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "Carl adds experience being on the European U-18 team and recently competed in the trail running championships representing Ireland. Carl's also talented on the track with a 4:00 1500M, and 8:52 3000M. He adds speed to contend with the top in the conference and region, while also possessing 10K experience which is contrary to most American high school distance runners."
Freshman | Toms River High School-North
Competing at Toms River High School-North under the tutelage of Jack Boylan and Sean Dowd, Walker enjoyed four letter-winning seasons in varsity track and field. A future Business Administration major, Walker impressed on the course as he earned the Walt Disney Invitational junior varsity individual champion, as well as guiding his squad to the Class-A South Jersey team championship.
Coach Reiber's Thoughts: "Mike brings a lot to the table, he comes from a great track program at Toms River North in New Jersey, and I think that his strength in middle distance events will give him the speed advantage he needs at the end of an 8K race. He has the drive to make an immediate impact on the team both in the classroom and on the field."
Freshman | Wiregrass Ranch High School
Hill spent four seasons running for Wiregrass Ranch High School. The incoming Criminal Justice major was tabbed all-conference as a senior. He also finished 31st with a time of 16:26.86 at the 2011 Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) State Meet.
Coach Miller's Thoughts: "David really came out and competed well at the State Championships, we are counting on him to be a gamer for our championship meets as well."
Coach Reiber's Thoughts: "David comes to Saint Leo from a dominant cross country program in Florida. His experience running at the front of races will allow him to have the easiest adjustment into the SSC, one of the toughest conferences in the country. We don't have to worry about him putting in the training because he is motivated to succeed and should push some of our returners."
Freshman | Wiregrass Ranch High School
A teammate of Hill at Wiregrass Ranch High School, Basin ran varsity cross country as well as track & field for four seasons. His accolades on the course were prominent as he was selected Sunshine Athletic All-Conference, in addition to being named the Coaches Award winner and the team captain.
Coach Reiber's Thoughts: "Matthew is a former teammate of David Hill at Wiregrass. He is an athlete that pushes himself to his limits, and when he learns to not exceed what his body can handle he will make a huge breakthrough."
Freshman | Strawberry Crest High School
A multi-sport star, Mathis made his mark at Strawberry Crest High School. Aside from cross country, Mathis was also a two-time captain of his varsity basketball team. A two-time member of the student-athlete academic honors club, the incoming Sport Business major was named Most Valuable Distance Runner as a senior, in addition to being a Cross Country Leadership Award winner.
Coach Reiber's Thoughts: "Spencer is relatively new to the running world and still has a lot of room to improve. Coming from Strawberry Crest High School as a multi-sport athlete, Spencer will come to Saint Leo and completely focus on running. With the support of his family and our coaching staff I think Spencer could drop a lot of time this year."
Freshman | Wesley Chapel High School
A three-year member of the Wesley Chapel High School varsity track and field squad, he also competed on the cross country team for two seasons. He earned the Most Outstanding Distance Runner accolade as a junior and senior. Brown, is an incoming Sport Business major.
Coach Reiber's Thoughts: "Steven is another athlete that has a lot of potential. He loves running and has been putting in a lot of miles this summer in order to make the impact that he wants to make. His passion for the sport will rub off on anyone who is around him, and that will help push our team to the next level."
The group will hit the course for the first time on August 31 when they travel to Tampa, Fla. to compete in the Early Bird Classic.
For more on the cross country program, visit SaintLeoLions.com.