VCU TRACK & FIELD ANNOUNCES NEW STUDENT-ATHLETES

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth University Track & Field program recently announced the addition of 18 new student-athletes to the program for the 2011-12 campaign.

"This recruiting class is a big step forward in the new direction of the track & field program here at VCU," said VCU Head Track & Field Coach Jon Riley. "We are bringing in athletes that will make an impact in the conference, and should make an impact beyond that at ECAC/IC4A and NCAA levels. This is a group of athletes that will be competing at those elite competitions and doing really well."

Here's an inside look at each student-athlete:

WOMEN

KIARA PORTER (Tabb High School – Yorktown, Va.)

Porter was a three-time Virginia Indoor State Champion and four-time Virginia Outdoor State Champion … is a state record holder in the 4x400 meter relay …. two-time AUU National Champion in the 4x400 meter relay with 5Star Summer Track Club … recently broke the Young Women 4x400 meter National Record this summer in New Orleans with 5Star

Coach Riley on Porter: She is a major sprint threat for us. She has amazing times in the 100, 200 and 400, with times that rank her as one of the top 50 high school athletes in the country. Her times from high school competitions would put her in the top three in many of her events in the CAA last year. We feel that she can  help us take that next step in the sprinting events.

ALEXIS STROMAN (Bishop McNamara High School – Cheltenham, Va.)

Competed at Bishop McNamara High School where she was named to the all-county team and Washington Post All-Met … won the WCAC 100 meter and 300 meter hurdles events in 2010 … captured the WCAC 100 meter hurdles championship in 2011 … finished as the runner up in the 100 meter dash … her best time in the 100 meter hurdles ranked as the 46th fastest high school time in the country in the event

Coach Riley on Stroman: She is another hurdler that we are expecting big things out of. She has marks that are pretty close to our school records coming out of high school. We are looking for her to be a great leader and a member of some of our relays. We think she will establish our strength in the hurdles, along with some of the other members of the team.

JAZMINE WRIGHT (Bethel High School – Hampton, Va.)

Ran at Bethel High School where she was a member of the winning 4x400 meter relay team at the 2011 Virginia AAA Indoor State Championship … placed third in the 500 meters at the same competition … was a member of the 4x400 relay team at the 2011 Virginia AAA Outdoor State Championship … placed sixth in the 400 at the same event

Coach Riley on Wright: She comes in with a really great time in the 400, and we are looking to develop her into a strong contributor in the 800 as well. She is working with the cross country team now, and we hope in time she will be strong in the 400, 800 and on the cross country course

SARAH FULGHAM (Thomas Dale High School – Chester, Va.)

A product of Thomas Dale High School where she placed fourth in the long jump at the 2011 Virginia AAA Indoor State Championships … followed that up with a sixth place performance at the 2011 Virginia State Outdoor Championships

Coach Riley on Fulgham: She is a really strong jumper that offers some great championship experience. She will add depth to an area where we have been pretty good in the past and we think she can help us take that next step to be even better in those events.

AMANI HARPER (Churchland High School – Portsmouth, Va.)

Ran at Churchland High School where she competed in the hurdles … holds a personal-best time of 8.65 in the 55 meter hurdles

Coach Riley on Harper: Amani is a hurdler, an event we started to make our presence in the last few years. We feel that she is another athlete that will help us on our quest for a conference championship

NIEMA EAVES (Western Tech High School – Baltimore, Md.

Eaves is a product of Western Tech High School in Maryland, where she won one individual state championship and was a part of two relay championships … Eaves captured the 1A State Outdoor Championship in the 1600 meters, while also contributing in the 4x800 1A state title teams in 2010 and 2011 … Eaves served as the anchor for the 4x800 relay team in 2011, that established a new 1A state record

Coach Riley on Eaves: We look at Niema as our distance runner of the future. She comes to us with some great middle distance strength, and over time we think she could develop into a threat in the middle distance and distance events

KELSEY GRUPP (Western Albemarle High School – Charlottesville, Va.)

Grupp comes to VCU after a successful high school career at Western Albemarle High School … was named  State Champion in the pole vault at the 2011 Virginia AA State Indoor Championships … finished second in the pole vault at the 2011 Virginia AA State Outdoor Championship

Coach Riley on Grupp: Kelsey is a State Championship pole vaulter that gives us the opportunity to make a bigger impact than we have had in the past in that event

CAITLIN BREZINA (Woodbridge High School – Manassas, Va.) 

Brezina is a product of Woodbridge High School where she finished fifth at the 2011 Virginia AAA Outdoor State Championships … placed seventh in the pole vault at the 2011 Virginia AAA Indoor State Championships

Coach Riley on Brezina: Caitlin is a high level pole vaulter that competed at a high level for Woodbridge. She adds some competition in the pole vault on our team

LEAH RICHMOND (Hampton University – Long Beach, Calif.)

Richmond is a transfer from Hampton University and originally from Long Beach Poly High School … was a member of Hampton's 4x400 indoor and outdoor relay teams that captured the MEAC Championship in that event

Coach Riley on Richmond: She has some pretty good personal records and we are looking for her to be a great relay leg. We feel she can be a strong leader, plus offer great individual success in the 400. She has dealt with some injury problems in the past, but we are hoping she can stay healthy and make a big mark in her time here

SHANITA GLENN (North Carolina Central – Culpeper, Va.)

Glenn is a transfer from North Carolina Central, after previously spending time at Eastern View High School … competed six times for N.C. Central during the 2010-11 academic year, four times in indoor meets and two times in outdoor meets

Coach Riley on Glenn: She comes to us from N.C. Central, after being a really good high jumper coming out of high school in Virginia. She adds depth to an event we haven't had a lot of athletes in the past. We look for her to take the reins from the position vacated following Allison Morris' graduation

NICOLE GRASTY (Abington High School - Philadelphia, Pa.)

Competed in the PIAA State Championships in the 100 and 200 finishing in with a best performance of 6th place in the 200 … was all-district in both the 100 and 200 … also competed in the 100 meter dash at the prestigious New Balance Outdoor Nationals meet 

Coach Riley on Grasty: Nicole comes to us with great performances across all 3 sprinting events. She will be a great addition to our sprint squad and relays

MEN

FRANK AFRIYIE (Barton Community College – Alexandria, Va.)

Afriyie is a transfer to VCU after spending two years at Barton Community College … attended high school at T.C. Williams here in Virginia … finished second in the discus at the 2011 NJCAA Outdoor Championships …  came in fourth place in the weight throw at the 2011 NJCAA Indoor Championships … his personal record in the discus ranked 39th in the country among all collegiate divisions in 2011

Coach Riley on Afriyie: He could be one of the best discus throwers to ever compete in the conference. His discuss throw is better than the conference record currently. If you put him in NCAA rankings last year, he would have been the 39th best thrower in the country. We are looking at him to come in and be an immediate impact at the highest level

BRANDON RUFFIN (Oscar Smith High School – Chesapeake, Va.)

Ruffin is a product of Oscar Smith High School where he was the 2011 Virginia AA State Championship runner-up in the shot put and discus ... placed third in the shot put at the 2011 Virginia AAA State Indoor Championships … was the 70th best high school discus thrower in the country

Coach Riley on Ruffin: Brandon is another great thrower. He is the guy, we are looking to follow in the footsteps of what Frank Afriyie is going to do. Frank is there, and has done it. Brandon has the potential to do in four years time what Frank has done, and more

DARIUS VAUGHAN (Indian River High School – Chesapeake, Va.)

Vaughan comes to VCU from Indian River High School after a successful career as a sprinter … finished ninth in the 400 with a personal-best time at the 2011 USATF Club Championships … placed eighth in the 200 and ninth in the 400 at the 2011 Virginia AAA State Championships … placed ninth in the 55 meter dash at the 2011 Virginia AAA Indoor Championships

Coach Riley on Vaughan: Darius is one our non-throwers that we signed this year. He is a guy we are looking to make an impact as a 400 and 200 meter runner and on our relay squads. He will help set up the foundation for continuing the sprint tradition that VCU has had on the men's side

CHRIS SMITH (Clarksville High School – Clarksville, Tenn.)

Smith is a product of Clarksville High School where he was the Tennessee State Champion in the 110 meter hurdles … finished in third place in the triple jump … competed in long jump and 300 meter hurdles

Coach Riley on Smith: Chris will be a dual threat for us as a jumper and hurdler. He has marks in the triple jump that should make him an immediate threat in that event in the CAA and his hurdling prowess gives us added depth in an event we are very young in

GEORGE MOORE (Highland Springs High School – Highland Springs, Va.)

Moore comes to VCU from Highland Springs High School where he captured the Capital District Championship in the triple jump … had a personal record of the 46'7.25 in the event … finished third in the 400 at the Capital District Championship … competed in five additional events at the same meet

Coach Riley on Moore: George was an all around athlete in high school that made great contributions to his team on the track and in the field. With some specialization George could be a dynamic jumper for years to come and a valuable 400 meter runner for us on relays and in the open event


SAM HUSH (Midlothian High School – Midlothian, Va.)

Hush is a product of Midlothian High School where he was named All-District, All-Region and All-State in Cross Country … helped guide his high school team to a Virginia AAA State Championship …competed at the Elite Nike Cross Nationals competition

Coach Riley on Hush: Sam is a premier distance runner with great championship experience as a cross country athlete. We look forward to seeing Sam's growth at the longer collegiate cross country distance and the future impact he will have on the track and in distance events for us

BERHAM MCDOWELL (Sherando High School – Stephens City, Va.)

McDowell comes to VCU after a successful career at Sherando High School … was a state qualifier in the 1000 indoors and the 800 outdoors … his best finish was seventh in the 1000 … set a personal record and took sixth place at the 2011 Southern Track Classic

Coach Riley on McDowell: Berham is a great all around distance athlete with potential from 800 meters to the cross country course who we believe will make an impact in his career both on the track and with our cross country team

KHALID KHAMIS (Henrico High School – Richmond, Va.)

Khamis is a local product out of Henrico High School … was named all-district in the 800 outdoors, 1000 indoors and in cross country … was a state qualifier in the 1000 indoors at the Virginia AAA State Championship … finished third at the 2010 Maymount X-Country Festival

Coach Riley on Khamis: Khalid has the intangibles of an elite athlete and is a raw, untapped distance talent. He should make significant contributions to our cross country team in the fall and in the distance events during the track season

Also joining the squad this year is:

Anthony Hurd

Tyler Holloway

Will Henry

Aaron Canady

Tyree Durr

Ajani Kingslow

Ryan Coles

Matt Earman

Anthony Green

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