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Track & Field Signs Twelve During Early Signing

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Nov. 28, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State cross country and track & field head coach John Gondak has announced the signing of 12 future Nittany Lions who have all submitted a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period.

“With our early signing class, once again Penn State cross country and track & field has made the commitment to have a well-balanced program across all event areas,” said head coach John Gondak.

“We have some of the best athletes from not only Pennsylvania – but from around North America who will start with us in the fall,” Gondak continued. “For the women, this might be, top-to-bottom, one of the best recruiting classes we have had when you look at all of the events we have covered.  Each of these athletes has the ability to come in and be competitive at the Big Ten level and NCAA level right away. It is very exciting! For the men, we do not graduate many athletes from this year’s team, so we didn’t have many holes to fill.  The athletes we have coming in, like the women, are incredibly talented – one of the top long jump athletes in the country, one of the top sprinters in the country and one of the top distance runners in the country – with two of these three being Pennsylvania recruits.”

The 2016 recruiting class includes seven student-athletes from Pennsylvania as well as one from Canada, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York each.

Madison Smith | Hometown: New Oxford, Pa. | High School: New Oxford High School
Event: Javelin 
Personal Best(s): 147’ Javelin 

Highlights: Smith placed third in the Javelin at the Pennsylvania State Championships

Coach MacKay on Madison: “I am very happy that Madison chose Penn State over some other opportunities she was pursuing. Madison is a talented athlete that is still excelling at three sports in high school. Madison has yet to put a focus on training for track & field in a year round basis, so this will be a fun project for me to guide. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to work with such a well-balanced athlete and develop her into a Big Ten and national level javelin thrower”




Brooke-Lynn Williams | Hometown: Norton, Mass. | High School: Norton High School
Event: 55m, 60m, 100m, 200m, 300m
Personal Best(s): 6.87 (55m), 7.42 (60m), 11.89 (100m), 24.24 (200m), 40.60 (300m)

Highlights: Williams was both the 2016 Massachusetts State Champion and 2016 New England Champion in the 55-meters and 100-meters.

Coach Tucker on Brooke-Lynn: “I have been impressed with Brooke since last indoor season, after talking with her this summer and realizing she didn't have a huge training back ground I was sold. Her upside as a student-athlete is huge.  It also helps that Brooke has been a Nittany Lion since birth.  Her dad played for Joe Paterno in the 1980's and won a National Championship.  I told her and her family when we started the recruiting process I wanted recruits that want Penn State, this is important to the success of our team.  She's going to be a good one and she's always wanted to be at Penn State.”


Victoria Tachinski | Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba | High School: Vincent Massey Collegiate
Event: 200m/400m/800m
Personal Best(s): 24.4 (200m), 53.38 | (400m), 2:03.58 (800m)

Highlights: Tachinski was the 2016 New Balance Nationals Champion in the 800-meters, 2016 IAAF U-20 World Championships Bronze Medalist in the 4x400-meter relay and sixth-place finisher in the 800-meters. She holds the Canadian U-18 outdoor 800-meter record and is the national youth record holder in the 300-meters, 400-meters and 800-meters.

Coach Gondak on Tachinski: “We are thrilled to have Victoria join our program and bring her amazing talents to Happy Valley.  We formed a great relationship during the recruiting process with her, her family and her coach, Andy Tough; it is going to be fun to all work together to help her continue to grow as a student and athlete.  She will be able to help us from the 200-meters through 800-meters and on relays.  Her performances in the 400-meters, 600-meters and 800-meters are already at an NCAA Championship level and she only just finished her junior year in high school!”


Alison Willingmyre | Hometown: Wernersville, Pa. | High School: Wilson High School
Event: 1600m, 3200m, 5k
Personal Best(s): 1600m - 4:56.81, 3200m - 10:47.02, 5k (XC) 18:01

Highlights: Willingmyre is a four-time Pennsylvania AAA State cross country qualifier .

Coach Reckart on Willingmyre: “We are thrilled to have Alison joining us next year in the Blue and White. She has valuable experience competing at the championship level, both on the cross country course and on the track. We strongly believe that she will add great depth to our team and we love the passion that she has for the sport. Growing up in a Nittany Lion home, Alison cannot wait to represent Penn State!”


Ben Bumgarner | Hometown: Waynesburg, Pa. | High School: Waynesburg Central High School
Event: 1600m, 3200m, 5k
Personal Best(s): 4:23.15 (1600m), 9:26.04 (3200m), 15:41 (5k)

Highlights: Bumgarner was the 2016 Pennsylvania AA cross country state champion.  

Coach Reckart on Bumgarner: “Ben is a great addition to our program and will make a strong impact on our cross country team after winning the PA AA State Title this past fall. He is extremely underdeveloped and we are looking forward to seeing what he is truly capable of achieving over the next couple of years.  He has made significant progress since just last season and we believe that this is simply the beginning of a great career as a Penn Stater.”


William Henderson | Hometown: Baltimore, Md. | High School: Baltimore Polytechnic High School

Event: 55m, 55mhh, 100m, Long Jump
Personal Best(s): 6.40 (55m), 7.50 (55mH), 10.82 (100m),  24’-08.5” (Long Jump)

Highlights: Henderson was the Maryland Indoor State Champion in the 55-meters and Outdoor State Champion in the long jump. He was also the runner up at the 2016 New Balance Indoor National meet.

Coach Kelly on Henderson: “William is one of the best track athletes in the country. He is nationally ranked in the sprints, hurdles, and long jump. William will be a force to be reckoned with at the Big Ten and NCAA levels. He is a multiple time state champion and placed second in the long jump at the indoor high school national meet. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this talented young man.”


Jack Zimmerman | Hometown: Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. | High School: Briarcliff High School
Event: Hammer, Weight Throw, Shot Put
Personal Best(s): 187’-9” Hammer, 65’-2.75” Weight, 58’-5.5” Shot Put

Highlights: Zimmerman finished third and fourth at the New York State Championships in the shot put and weight throw, respectively. He went on to place 11th in the weight throw at the New Balance Nationals meet.

Coach MacKay on Zimmerman: “Jack is the type of kid that this program strives upon and I’m looking forward to developing him in the shot put and hammer throw. Jack brings to the table a hard work ethic as well as a passion for training and the sport. With three underclassmen as training partners, he will fit in well with the group and should flourish with the technical guidance. Jack has only had limited guidance in both the shot put and hammer throw with regards to technical development; he will flourish in our program.”


Terrance Laird | Hometown: Coatesville, Pa. | High School: Coatesville High School
Event: 100m/200m
Personal Best(s): 10.45 (100m), 21.27 (200m)

Highlights: Laird finished second in the 200-meters at the 2016 Pennsylvania State Championships. He was also the 2016 AAU Junior Olympic Champion in the 100-meters

Coach Tucker on Laird: “Keeping the best athletes in State are a priority for us at Penn State. Terrance is the best sprinter in the state and I am excited about working with him.  He came to track camp this summer and was able to use some of the things he learned to with the 100-meters at the AAU Junior Olympics.  Terrance is not just a 100-meter sprinter, his range goes from 100-meters to 400-meters - and like Michael Timpson - he could end up being top-five and/or the school record holder from the 60-meters to the 400-meters!  He's going to be exciting to watch.”


Thomas Bojalad | Hometown: St. Mary’s, Pa. | High School: St Mary’s Area High School
Event: Discus, Shotput
Personal Best(s):  178’-7” Discus, 58’-2” Shot Put

Highlights: At the 2015 Pennsylvania State Championships Bojalad finished fifth in the shot put. He went on to place third and fourth, respectively, in the discus and shot put at the Pennsylvania State Outdoor Championship.

Coach MacKay on Bojalad: “Tom is a great in state talent and I’m very pleased to have signed him. Tom is a student of the sport, and has a thirst for technical knowledge and an understanding of the sport. My priority is to gain the interest of the in state talent and develop them into Big Ten and national caliber athletes at Penn State. Tom will have a great senior season and I look forward to guiding him through the next four years of his journey.”


Alexa Parks | Hometown: Kintnersville, Pa. | High School: Palisades High School
Event: High Jump
Personal Best: 5’-9” High Jump

Highlights: Parks placed third in the high jump at the 2016 Pennsylvania State Championships.

Coach Spence on Parks: “Alexa will bring a lot of energy and excitement to the Nittany Lions Jumps core. Alexa will also add excitement and passion to an already successful jump group. I am very excited and looking forward to big things from Alexa.”


Katie Jones | Hometown: South Williamsport, Pa. | High School: South Williamsport High school
Event: Pole Vault
Personal Best(s): 13’4.5” Pole Vault

Highlights: Jones was both the Indoor and Outdoor Pennsylvania State Champion in the pole vault. She finished third at the New Balance Indoor National meet and took second-place at the New Balance Outdoor National meet.

Coach Kelly on Jones: “I am extremely excited to welcome Katie to Penn State. She will make an instant impact in the Big Ten and the NCAA. Katie is a fierce competitor which is evidenced by her performances at the National meets and her multiple state titles. She is incredibly motivated and I look forward to helping her achieve her goals.”


Audra Koopman | Hometown: Fort Collins, Co. | High School: Fort Collins High School
Event: Long Jump
Personal Best(s): 19’-8.5” Long Jump

Highlights: Koopman placed first at the 2016 Colorado State Outdoor Championships in the Long Jump

Coach Spence on Koopman: “Audra will bring a high level of athleticism to add to our already outstanding jumps and sprints group. Her versatility as an athlete will help our team become even more successful. Audra is an exceptional talented athlete that will do well in our program. The combining of her toughness, talent, and natural ability will be a good receipt for success on the conference and national level.”

For more information on Penn State Track and Field visit or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.



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