SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo University head coach Melissa Miller-Mangen has announced the signings of eight student-athletes to join the Lions' women's cross country program in the fall of 2012. The octet includes Oluwabukola Pereira, Ashleigh Coad, Katie Duffy, Kylie Fagan, Shelby Adams, Christine Hartley, Allison Knipe, and Anet Milian.
The eight recruits bring the Lions' roster to 15 women's runners, as they join seven returners.
"Adding a talented class of eight to an existing squad, which includes All-Sunshine State Conference runner Andrea Maxwell and three seniors, we are looking to make a dent in the rankings again in attempts to break into the top three of the SSC."
Freshman | Epetedo High School
Pereira is a standout runner hailing from Lagos Island, Africa where she competed in multiple track and field, as well as cross country events. Under the tutelage of Abass Ranfu, the incoming International Studies major contested in numerous African Championships, including the Athletics Federation of Nigeria National U-18 Championships, the ECOWAS West Africa Championships, and Junior World Championships.
At the Nigeria national event, Pereira paced the competition with times of 2:14.85 (800m) and 10:05.31 (3000m). Her most impressive accomplishment, however, came at the West Africa Championships as she concluded the national meet with a fourth place showing, clocking in with a time of 16:42.91 in the 5000m event. The race also qualified her for the Junior World Championships which will be held in Barcelona, Spain from July 10-15.
Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "Oluwabukola just completed recent performances this spring of 2:14.85 in the 800m and 16:42.91 in the 5000m. She has a keen front running style and her fitness is sharp right now. She will be competing in the Junior World Championships in July, in Spain. In perspective, according to USA Mile Split rankings, there are only two seniors in the U.S with 5000m times under 17:00 minutes."
Freshman | Oak Grove High School
Coad joins Saint Leo via Oak Grove High School in Missouri. While at Oak Grove, the incoming Criminal Justice major was chosen the team MVP by both the athletes and the coaches. Earning Freshman of the Year honors, she set a personal record in the 5K posting a time of 20:18.
Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "Ashleigh's personal best time of 5:36 in the 1600m and 20:18 for the 5K sharpens our top-five. We have a very important gap to close with our fourth and fifth runners and we are looking to Ashleigh and Kylie to race consistently at their best to make it happen."
Freshman | Citrus High School
Lettering four years in track & field and soccer at Citrus High School, Fagan made the seamless transition to cross country during her senior year. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native excelled in the sport as she earned 'Most Improved', while posting a career-best time of 20:56. Her efforts on the course helped her earn the third-fastest time in the county, and a fifth-place district finish en route to a regional appearance.
Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "Kylie is a hidden talent. She started cross country her senior year after a strong track background and holds a 20:56 PR. Her foot speed and potential will impact our top-five. Her dad was a star distance runner in college as well and it will be great to see the tradition to continue."
Freshman | East Ridge High School
Hartley joins the Lions from East Ridge High School in Clermont, Fla. Under the guidance of Amy Whittie, Hartley made an immediate impact on her squad as she contributed a personal best time of 20:50 in the 5K. She was also a member of the Breakaway Track Club.
Miller-Mangen Thoughts: "Christine also comes from a 5:39 1600m and 20:50 background, making the third freshmen who can potentially close the gap with points. She has more potential than she realizes."
Freshman | Countryside High School
Duffy excelled as a student-athlete at Countryside High School, earning her AA Degree before stepping foot on the Saint Leo campus. A psychology major, Duffy was admitted to the Early College Program, while also being named to the National Honor Society. Additionally, Duffy was inducted into the International Thespian Society as a freshman at Countryside.
Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "Katie just added a recent personal record in the 5K to her resume. She is a go-getter and will definitely be a great asset to the team."
Freshman | New Smyrna Beach High School
Coming to Saint Leo via New Smyrna Beach High School, Adams earned multiple honors during her junior and senior years. As a junior, the incoming Mathematics major earned team captain honors, in addition to the Coaches Award. She also produced top-15 finishes at the Mount Dora and Volusia/Flagler County Invitational. She clocked-in with a personal 5K best time of 21:49 and topped-off her season with an All-County Second Team honor and a New Smyrna Beach All-Scholar Athlete. She equaled her team captain duties for her track and field team as a senior.
Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "Shelby is full of energy and is determined to run a personal record during her freshmen year in college. She is currently at a training camp preparing for fall competition and we are excited that she is a part of our team in the fall."
Freshman | New Milford High School
Outside of Pereira, Knipe is the only signing to not have called Florida home at one point in their running careers. A native of Connecticut, Knipe asserted herself as a team runner who possesses a strong finishing kick. Posting solid times throughout her high school career, Knipe will be valuable member of the team.
Miller-Mangen Thoughts: "Allison is our east coast native this year. She is known for her finishing kick and will fit in well with our squad."
Freshman | South Plantation High School
The sixth Florida signee, Milian joins the Lions from South Plantation High School in Ft. Lauderdale. Under the tutelage of Andre Henry, Milian was named Sun Sentinel All-County Honorable Mention in 2011. Her greatest honor, however, came as she selected South Plantation P.T.S.O. (Parent, Teacher, Student, Organization) Athlete Of The Year. She capped her collegiate career with the Scholar Athlete Award in 2012.
Miller-Mangen's Thoughts: "It would not surprise me if Anet ran a season of personal bests this fall."
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.