July 22, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Coming off one of the best years in recent memory, the Tulane track and field and cross country program has announced its signing class for the upcoming season, adding a total of ten athletes to the Green Wave family.
Mary Carson Pitts (Memphis, Tenn.), Sara Kebede (San Clemente, Calif.), Taylor Potts (Fishers, Ind.), Emma Staisloff (Severna, Md.), Allison Wegner (Birmingham, Mich.), Katharine Smiley (Danville, Calif.) and Dominique Hever (Dallas, Texas)will all don the Olive and Blue during the next year for the Green Wave on the women's side. Three men in Anthony Taylor (River Ridge, La.), Kade Kistner (New Braunfels, Texas) and Andrew Martz (Wheaton, Ill.) have also committed to joining Tulane.
"I feel really good about this recruiting class," stated Tulane director of track and field Eric Peterson. "We've made it a priority for us to strengthen our team in every event and area. With the quality of athletes that we have coming in for the upcoming season proves that we are really strengthening our roster. `Potential' is the broad theme that we are encouraged by. We have a lot of athletes who have achieved success at a high level during their high school careers, but we really feel like everyone in this class is finishing their high school careers on a high note, and looking forward with a lot of enthusiasm and optimism."
There is a nice mixture of talent in the incoming class, with Pitts and Staisloff (pole vault), Potts (throws), Hever (sprints and hurdles) and Smiley, Kebede and Wegner (middle distance) all starring in different fields during their high school careers. Taylor (throws), Martz (distance) and Kistner (middle distance) all come from different backgrounds, as well.
Taylor - from John Curtis High School - is one of the top throwers in the entire nation. Taylor has captured four LHSAA shot put titles and one LHSAA discus title. His career best in the shot put was a toss of 18.59 meters (61' 0"), while his career best discus throw was 49.98 meters (164' 0"). Taylor also placed fourth in the shot put during the 2013 New Balance Indoor National Championships. Taylor was a part of six straight LHSAA Track and Field Championship teams.
Pitts is one of the finest pole vaulters to come out of the state of Tennessee in the history of high school track and field. As a member of the Hutchinson School's track and field program, Pitts shattered the Tennessee state pole vaulting record with a jump of 3.83 meters (12' 7") at the Houston Invitational track meet in mid-April. Just a week prior to that, she had set the original record with a jump of 3.73 meters (12' 3"). The vaulter owns the four top marks in state history in the pole vault.
In addition to Pitts, Staisloff is another pole vaulter that Tulane will be able to throw into the mix. During her senior season at Severna Park Senior High School, she captured the Maryland State Championship during the outdoor season with a jump of 3.50 meters (11' 6"). She placed third in the pole vault during the indoor state championships.
The duo will join a stable of incredible pole vaulters at Tulane - including All-American rising junior Merritt Van Meter - where she will be tutored by one of the finest coaches in the business in Doug Fraley.
"Pitts has just a ton of potential," added Peterson. "She was very competitive within the state of Tennessee, and it was nice to see her really climb the national rankings. She had a very successful senior year. Emma also had a tremendous season in Maryland. With the recent success of our pole vaulters over the last two years, we are very committed to building what I hope will become the best pole vaulting program in the nation. We spoke at length with both Mary and Emma about that, and it got both of them very fired up. To know that is the direction we want to go, and to know that we have two athletes coming in who are ready for that challenge, shows that they are competitive and committed to excellence."
Potts will work closely with throws coach Gary England at Tulane, where the Green Wave program hopes she will succeed as a world-class shot putter. With no current female student-athletes on the Tulane roster competing solely in the shot put, Potts could establish herself in an area in which Tulane hasn't had tremendous success as of late. At Anderson High School, Potts tossed a career-best 13.04 meter (42' 9.75") at the IHSAA State Finals in late May. That throw would place her in the top five in Tulane history.
Potts is the daughter of former ULM and Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens running back Roosevelt Potts.
"We feel that Taylor is not only an athlete who is accomplished, but is one that has a ton of potential," said Peterson. "We are really excited about her."
Kebede, from San Clemente High, is one of the better mid-distance runners to come out of the state of California. She is a very versatile athlete, having competed in the 800 meters, 4 x 400 meter relay, the 4 x 800 meter relay, the distance medley, the 5,000 meter run and the 3 mile run during her high school career. At Tulane, she will focus on distance running and the mile.
In addition to her athletic prowess, Kebede - an Ethiopian-American - founded Shoes for Sheba, an organization that collects shoes for shipment to Ethiopia.
Wegner mostly competed in the 5,000 meters during her time at Birmingham Seaholm High School. During each season, she shaved a significant amount of time off her previous best, culminating in a personal best of 19:19.00 in the event.
Smiley starred in the 1,600 meters, the one mile and the distance medley at Monte Vista High School. She ran a personal best 5:11.30 in the 1,600 meters during her senior outdoor campaign.
Kistner has been an exceptional middle distance runner during his tenure at New Braunfels High School. While he competed in short distances as well as long ones, he'll strictly focus on the latter, where he flourished in high school. He set a personal best in the 1,600 meters at the Texas Relays in late March with a time of 4:19.46.
Martz competed at Wheaton High School in the 1,000, 1,600 and 3,200 meter races. He posted a time of 10:56.30 in the 3,200 meter run during his freshman year of high school before focusing on the 1,000 meter and 1,600 meter races throughout the remainder of his high school career.
Kebede, Hever, Wegner and Smiley - along with Martz and Kistner - will all compete for the Tulane cross country team, as well as the track team.
"These athletes will come in and make an immediate impact of our cross-country program," stated Peterson. "On the women's side, we are going to have some upperclassmen leadership with Paige Callahan. However, I feel confident that these three women will be able to step into the program and contribute right away. It's exciting for me as the coach, and I know that they are excited, as well. Tulane will be known in the future as the middle distance and distance powerhouse in the nation. We are poised to spend a lot of time and resources into building this area."
Hever is the lone hurdler in the class. Out of Ursuline Academy in Dallas, she recently placed second in the TAPPS State Track and Field Championships in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 15.25. She ran a career-best 14.96 in the event just a few weeks prior to the state meet. Upon her arrival to the Uptown campus, Hever will work closely with sprint and hurdles coach Hasani Roseby to work on the 400 meter hurdle event.
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