BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University women's track and field teams will use their depth to chase an Ohio Athletic Conference title in 2019.
Head coach Jordan Hill '09, who is in her first year at the helm in Berea, returns 23 letterwinners, nine All-Ohio Athletic Conference performers and one All-American from last year's team that finished fifth at both the 2018 OAC Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Hill also welcomes 16 new faces to the track this winter who will look to have an immediate impact in their respective event groups.
"The team dynamic is very strong right now," Hill said. "We have depth across all event groups for the women, which is something that we have been missing in recent years. We have very talented returners and a lot of young energy, which is going to make this a very exciting season for the women."
After a cross country season that featured the program's first regional title and a bid to the NCAA Championships, the distance group will look to translate that success to the track this season. Junior outdoor All-American Kelly Brennan (Akron/Walsh Jesuit), junior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC performer Bella Pendola (Warsaw/River View), sophomore All-OAC performer Madison Kile (North Canton/Hoover) and sophomore All-OAC performer Hastings Marek (Pataskala/Watkins Memorial) will take the confidence they built in the fall and build on it during track season.
Last year, Brennan earned her first All-America honor in the 800-meter run in just her first trip to an NCAA Track Championship Meet. Meanwhile, the four distance runners have brought home a combined 10 career All-OAC honors in various events and relays.
Freshman distance runner Alyssa Laughner (Howard, Pa./Central Mountain) had a strong showing in her inaugural cross country season as she earned All-Great Lakes Region honors and will look to keep up the pace with her teammates.
Junior Katie Fowler (Mount Vernon) and sophomore sprinter/distance runner Rebecca Penrose (Springfield/Shawnee) were both members of All-OAC relay teams, Fowler in the OAC champion outdoor 4x800-meter relay and Penrose in the third-place indoor distance medley relay.
Rounding out the deep distance crew is senior Hannah Fredriksen (Hamburg, N.Y.), junior Academic All-OAC selection Jordan Dascani (Toledo/Springfield), junior Claire Makowski (Bethel Park, Pa.), junior Academic All-OAC selection Hannah Nagy (Belmont/Linsly), sophomore Molina Otte (Omaha, Neb./Millard West), sophomore Lizzy Gilreath (Mentor), sophomore Megan Vaughn (Amherst/Firelands), sophomore Katlyn Burns (Logan), freshman Jenna Daulbaugh (Minerva), freshman Alexa Smith (North Canton/Jackson), freshman Ellie Templeton (Westlake) and freshman Natalie Vinci (Canton/St. Thomas Aquinas).
Leading the way for the sprinters will be senior All-OAC performer Grace Nemeth (Medina) and sophomore All-OAC performer Ky'leana Allen (Columbus/Bishop Hartley). Nemeth earned her first career All-OAC honor at the indoor conference meet when she finished second in the 200-meter dash. In her freshman campaign, Allen scored primarily on relays and earned an All-OAC accolade as part of that third-place distance medley relay team. Both Nemeth and Allen will help to set the tone and standard for the sprint group this season.
In their first seasons, freshman sprinter Maddy Neitzel (Brunswick) and senior sprinter Rachel Bender (Massillon/Jackson) will hit the ground running and hope to add additional points for the Yellow Jackets. An All-American on the soccer field, Bender will don a different uniform for her final semester at BW while both have bought into the track team culture.
Freshmen Nina Curry (North Olmsted), Heather Guiley (Louisville), Kayla Johnson (Akron/Buchtel) and Maddie Roth (Danville, Pa.) round out the sprinters looking to make an impact in 2019 while freshmen Amanda Milo (Akron/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy), Johnson, Roth, Guiley and Neitzel comprise the hurdle group.
In the field, junior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC thrower Brooke Buckhannon (Collins/Western Reserve) and junior All-OAC thrower Jillian Roberts (Broadview Heights/Brecksville-Broadview Heights) will contend with each other for the top of the conference. Last year, Buckhannon was named Co-Phil Gordon Field Athlete of the Year following the OAC Indoor Championships while the two together frequented the podium for a combined four All-OAC honors.
Freshman thrower McKenzie Burke (Atwater/Waterloo) fits in well with her more experienced teammates in terms of both her talent and work ethic and she will pick up tips from Buckhannon and Roberts along the way.
Other throwers hoping to hit their marks this season are junior Breeanna Karam (Dover), junior Lexi Ripperger (Loveland/Mount Notre Dame) and freshman Alexzandria Strawbridge (Titusville, Pa./Oil City).
In the jumps, senior Academic All-OAC jumper Jessica Edwards (North Versailles, Pa./East Allegheny) will look to be a top scorer in the triple jump. In the high jump, sophomores Stephanie Magvas (Westlake/Magnificat) and Heather Orr (Indianapolis, Ind./Perry Meridian) will look for improved marks from their first collegiate season while senior jumper Abby Weagraff (Cochranton, Pa./Meadville) and sophomore Abby Lewicki (Medina/Highland) will add points in the pole vault.
Freshman sprinter/jumper Madison Dietz (Waynesville) will also use her wide range of talents to leave a mark on the scoresheet this season. Rounding out the rest of the jumps group are sophomore Kail Nicholas (Milwaukee, Wis./University School of Milwaukee), Johnson and Neitzel.
BW kicks off the 2019 indoor season on Saturday, Jan. 19, when the Yellow Jackets compete in the Dave Lehman Open, hosted by Otterbein University inside the Clements Recreation Center. The Yellow Jackets will host the Dr. Taraschke Team Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 26, and the Mid-February Meet on Friday, Feb. 8, during the indoor season and the 50th Sparky Adams Invitational on Saturday, April 20, and the Harrison Dillard Twilight on Friday, May 10, during the outdoor season.
The OAC Indoor Championships will be hosted by Ohio Northern University Feb. 22-23 inside the ONU Sports Center while Otterbein hosts the OAC Outdoor Championships April 26-27 inside Memorial Stadium.