Redbird Track & Field and Cross Country Sign Eight for 2013-14
Feb. 14, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State men’s and women’s track & field and cross country teams signed eight student-athletes to National Letters of Intent (NLI) to continue their academic and athletic careers at Illinois State, as announced by head track & field coach Elvis Forde Thursday.
Coach Forde is excited about what this group can bring to the table, as they enter into their first year in a Redbird uniform.
“This is a pretty solid group overall,” Forde said. “When cross country starts off well, it spins off to the rest of the team as the track season starts. When we look at who we have returning, these individuals will be a good mix and add to the depth of the team. We as a coaching staff feel very confident with this group, even though it is early in our recruiting. We are excited to see how they adapt in their first year. This was definitely a good start to our recruiting for the year.”
The 2013 Illinois State recruiting class includes: Jeff Bajema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Kenowa Hills); Marcelo Burbano (Chicago, Ill./Lane Tech); Ally Christiani (Toronto, Ontario/Loretto Abbey); Jesse Hahne (Danville, Ill./Schlarman Academy); Brendan Hoskins (Heyworth, Ill./University); Morgan Keller (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows); Haley Verbeke (Moline, Ill./Moline Senior); and Rayanne Wright (Ashkum, Ill./Central)
Jeff Bajema | Grand Rapids, Mich. | Kenowa Hills
Bajema inks his NLI after having a stellar cross country season in the fall. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native posted 10 first-place finishes, including a career- and season-best time of 15:15.8 in the 5,000-meter race at the Portage Invitational (Oct. 6). The four-time Michigan state qualifier posted his best finish this past fall, turning in a 5,000-meter time of 15:21.1 for fifth place. At the 2012 Foot Locker Midwest Region Championships, Bajema finished 17th with a time of 15:23, against the best of the best in the region.
On the track, Bajema holds personal-best times of 1:59.70, 4:26.34 and 9:27.45 in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, respectively. He is a two-time state qualifier, placing as high as ninth this past spring in the 3,200-meter run, with a time of 9:34.76.
Throughout his career at Kenowa Hills, Bajema was a six-time all-conference honoree, two-time conference champion, regional champion and a two-time all-state performer. He is also a member of the National Honor Society.
Coach Forde on Bajema. . .
Marcelo Burbano | Chicago, Ill. | Lane Tech
Burbano signs his NLI after three solid years running for Kris Roof at Lane Tech College Prep school in Chicago, Ill. Throughout his tenure with the Indians, Burbano was a two-time state qualifier, finishing as high as first at the 2012 IHSA 3A State Track & Field Finals in the 4x800-meter relay, with a time of 7:47.42. The Chicago, Ill., native holds personal-best times of 4:29.36 and 9:33.61 in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, and holds a career-best three-mile time of 14:50.78.
He is a three-time conference champion and a junior national qualifier in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, after running a career-best 6:19.32 to win the 2012 Midwest Distance Festival. At the 2012 USA Track & Field Junior National Championships, Burbano finished 17th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:06.31.
Coach Forde on Burbano. . .
Ally Christiani | Toronto, Ontario | Loretto Abbey
Christiani signs her NLI after running under the banner of Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School and Phoenix Athletics Association in Toronto, Ontario. During her tenure, Christiani was a five-time Toronto District Catholic Athletics Association (TDCAA) Champion in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, combined. In July, she won a gold medal at the 2012 Canadian Junior Track & Field Championships in the 400-meter dash, turning in time of 55.82, after setting a career-best time of 55.44 in the preliminary heat. At the same meet, she finished 8th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.85. As a result, she was ranked the No. 2 Canadian Youth Girls 400-meter runner.
She is a three-time qualifier for the Ontario Federation of School Athletics Associations (OFSSA) Championships, placing as high as second in the 400-meter dash in 2011. She was named the 2011 Outstanding Track & Field Athlete of the Year and a three-time member of the Loretto Abbey Honor Roll.
Coach Ford on Christiani. . .
Jesse Hahne | Danville, Ill. | Schlarman Academy
Hahne inks his NLI after running for Tyler Overstreet of Schlarman Academy. The Danville, Ill., native helped his team to back-to-back Vermillion Valley Conference cross country championships and posted a sixth-place finish at the 2012 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class A Boys Cross Country Championships, running a three-mile time of 15:03, just one second shy of his personal-best time of 15:02. At the 5,000-meter distance, Hahne holds a personal-best time of 16:01.
On the track, he is a three-time state qualifier in the 3,200-meter run and a state qualifier in the 1,600-meter run. In 2012, he posted his highest finish on the track at the IHSA Class A Boys State Track & Field Championships, finishing 10th in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:11.84. He holds personal-best times of 9:42.19 and 4:31.00 in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs, respectively. Indoors at the 2012 Illinois Prep Top Times, Hahne ran to a second-place finish in the 3,200-meter run with a lifetime-best time of 9:36.48.
Coach Forde on Hahne. .
Brendan Hoskins | Heyworth, Ill. | University
Hoskins signs his NLI after running for University High School in Normal, Ill. He is a three-time state qualifier in cross country, finishing as high as 20th at the 2012 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class AA Boys State Cross Country Championships with a career-best three-mile time of 14:57.
On the track, Hoskins is a state qualifier in the 4X800-meter relay, where the squad turned in a time of 8:03.73 in the prelims. He holds personal-best times of 4:39.20 and 10:03.92 in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, respectively.
Coach Forde on Hoskins. . .
Keller inks her NLI, after competing the last three years for coach Steven Henry at Rolling Meadows High School in Rolling Meadows, Ill. A three-time state qualifier in the throws, Keller holds career-best marks of 43-05.25 (13.24m) and 140-04 (42.78m) in the shot put and discus throws, respectively.
At the 2011 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class AAA Girls State Track & Field Championships, Keller posted her highest finish, taking third in the shot put with a mark of 43-05.25 (13.24m), only to follow with a sixth-place finish in the discus with a mark of 124-09 (38.02m). In 2012, she worked herself up to a fourth-place finish at the state meet in the discus, her highest in the event, with a throw of 128-02 (39.08m).
Coach Forde on Keller. . .
Haley Verbeke | Moline, Ill. | Moline Senior
Verbeke signs her NLI after running for coach Tauwon Taylor at Moline Senior High School. In cross country, Verbeke is a four-time state qualifier, finishing as high as 35th her freshman year with a time of 18:12. She would better that time in 2012, running a personal-best time of 17:28 at the state meet, hosted at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill., for 39th place.
On the track, Verbeke is a three-time state qualifier in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, finishing as high as 19th at the state meet. She holds a personal-best mile time of 5:19, set April 9, 2012, and a career-best time of 11:13 in the two-mile, set May 15, 2010. In 2011, she ran a leg on the fifth-place finishing 4X800-meter relay squad that finished with a time of 10:32.37 at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class AAA Girls Track & Field Championships.
Coach Forde on Verbeke. . .
Rayanne Wright | Ashkum, Ill. | Central
Wright inks her NLI after a successful junior campaign at Central High School, in which she was crowned the 2012 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class A Girls State Champion in the 400-meter dash, running a personal-best time of 56.94. She was the first girl’s state track champion in school history. If that wasn’t enough, she came back in the 200-meter dash to finish fifth in the prelims at the same meet with another personal-best time of 26.75. The two-time state qualifier also holds a personal-best time of 16.9 in the 100-meter hurdles.
Coach Forde on Wright. . .
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