North Texas Track and Field Signs Eight In Early Signing Period

Nov. 19, 2015

DENTON - The North Texas Track and Field program has signed eight student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2016-17 season.

The men's team will welcome two distance runners and a Javelin thrower.

"We have a great group of men joining our program with two arriving in January 2016 and two coming in August 2016," cross country coach Stefanie Slekis said. "This group will make an immediate impact so that our cross country team can compete for another Conference USA championship and continue our quest toward qualifying for the NCAA Championship."

The women's team has signed four distance runners and a hammer thrower.

"I'm really excited to sign four outstanding young women during this early signing period as well as having a transfer join us in January 2016," added Slekis. "They have each competed at a very high level both in cross country and on the track and will immediately make an impact on our cross country team as we strive toward winning our first Conference USA Championship."

Hayden Murphy - Grapevine, TX (Grapevine HS)
Murphy has accumulated nine top 10 finishes in his high school career, including a first place finish at the UIL 5A Region I championship with a time of 15:19.86. Murphy ran a personal best 5k time of 15:20.20 in the McNeil Invitational coming in seventh in 2015. In track, Murphy runs the 1600 meters and the 3200m posting multiple top five finishes in high school. His best time in the 1600m is 4:27.80 at the district 6- 5a meet in 2015. In the same meet, he ran a personal best time in the 3200m at 9:46.50 finishing second.

Coach Slekis on Murphy: "Hayden is an exciting addition to our cross country team after taking off this fall during his senior cross country season. He bested almost all of his 5k and 3 Mile cross country course times from his junior year by 30 seconds or more and improved his finish at the state meet from 43rd in 2014 to third this year. Over the past two years I've emphasized recruiting from the excellent programs we have in Texas and even closer to home in the DFW Metroplex and Hayden is a great addition from a program right in our backyard."

Florian Lussy - Oberdorf, Switzerland
Lussy is a two-time U20 European cross country championship qualifier. In 2013, he won the U20 Swiss National Cross Country championship. He is a 10-time age group champion of central Switzerland in the 800 meters, 1500m and cross country. In 2015, Lussy was the champion in the 800m, 1500m in central Switzerland. His personal best time in a 5000m is 14:37.84 and has a career best time of 3:53.54 in the 1500 meters.

Coach Slekis on Lussy: "Florian will make an immediate impact on our cross country team upon his arrival in August of 2016. He has excellent times on the track from 1500 meters to 5000m and he has experience as a junior at the European Cross Country championship. These experiences should make for a smooth transition to the level of competition in Conference USA and at the NCAA Level. Expect to see him in our Top three along with Mike Lowe and James Coleman next year.

Eeli Ylilehto - Rovaniemi, Finland
Eeli is a track and field athlete from Finland and will compete in the Javelin throw event. In 2015, his personal best Javelin throw was 65.20 meters. In the Conference USA championship last season, 65.20m would have placed Eeli fifth best among all student-athletes in the event. With great height at 6-foot-1, Eeli will look to compete right away in the Javelin event.

Assistant Coach Kelso on Ylilehto: "Eeli is an elite level javelin thrower from Finland, a country with a rich history of great javelin throwing. I am extremely excited for Eeli to join in reigniting the javelin throwing tradition left by the last American to win a medal at the Olympic Games and old rules javelin school record holder, Bill Schmidt."

Angela Gemignani - Arroyo Grande, CA (Arroyo Grande HS)
Gemignani is a two-time California DII state cross country qualifier at Arroyo Grande high school. She helped her team win two straight Pac 8 League team championships (2015, 2014). Gemignani's personal best time in a 5k cross country meet is 18:43. She also competes in the 800 meters with a career best time of 2:13.32 and the 1600m with a personal best time of 5:07.57.

Coach Slekis on Gemignani: "Angela is a big impact player immediately for our women's track and field team with her consistent performances over 800 meters. She first ran a time of 2:13.91 for 800m as a sophomore and her personal best of 2:13.32 would have ranked Angela fourth in Conference USA last year. Look for Angela to also contribute on our cross country team as she has at Arroyo Grande high school competing at the state championship two of the past three years. It is exciting to have Angela coming from a very competitive high school running program in California. California is one of the few states where it is harder to make the state meet in the distance events on the track than in Texas."

Victoria Valka - Conroe, TX (Conroe Oak Ridge)
Valka was third at the 2015 District 16 6A championships running a personal best time of 2:17.10 for 800m. Valka also ran a personal best of 5:13.96 for 1600m during her junior season. In cross country, her best time came at the UIL District 16 6A championship placing 18th with a time of 19:28.46.

Coach Slekis on Victoria Valka: "Tori is a bright and hardworking young lady who will make an impact on the track, cross country course and in the classroom. Her strength currently lies in her mid-distance running on the track over 800 meters and 1500m but I expect her to show great improvement in cross country her freshman year just like Christina Moralez on our team did, who had similar high school track and cross country times."

Kacie Jo Corbin - Katy, TX (Katy Seven Lakes)
Corbin was a four-time UIL 6A state cross country qualifier at Katy Seven Lakes high school. She helped her team win the 2015 UIL 6A region 3 team championship. Corbin has a personal best time of 18:31.69 in the 5k. On the track, her career best time in the 800m is 2:23.54 and has a personal best time of 11:25.76 in the 3200m.

Coach Slekis on Corbin: "Kacie will make an immediate impact on our women's cross country team. She brings great experience with her having competed at the state cross country championship all four years at Katy Seven lakes High School in the biggest school division which was 5A and now 6A. Kacie also has run very strong times on the track like her time of 5:06 in the 1600m last year, which will also set her up with normal improvement to be a Conference finalist on the track as a freshman."

Jennifer White - League City, TX (Clear Falls HS)
White was a 2014 UIL 6A individual state cross country qualifier. She was an all-American in the 3,000 meters at the USATF National Junior Olympic championships in 2015. Her career best time in the 5k is 18:42.40. Also ran the 1600m with a personal best time of 5:25.83 and has a career best time of 11:43.68 in the 3200m.

Coach Slekis on White: "Jennifer is a multi-sport athlete in high school playing varsity cross country, basketball and track which has shown to be a great asset for some of our other student-athletes who have developed the most over their time at North Texas. Jennifer has had great individual success qualifying for the state cross country championships and competing in the USATF Junior Olympic Championships. I'm excited for how much Jennifer will thrive under our detailed distance program and with strong teammates to push her in practice and competition."

Linnea Larsson-Huusko - Upplands Vasby, Sweden
Larsson-Huusko is a track and field athlete from Sweden that will compete in the hammer throw, and discus throw for the Mean Green. Her personal best throw in the shot put is 11.02, career best in the discus throw is 37.54 and has a 50.98 personal best in the hammer throw. Her hammer throw distance would have been sixth best at the outdoor conference championship.

Assistant Coach Kelso on Larsson-Huusko: "Huusko is the type of person to build a throws group around as I look to replace a few very talented seniors. She excels not only in the ring but in the classroom as well. As an extremely talented athlete who has already achieved quick success in the hammer throw, I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to coach Linnea and help her reach her full potential."



North Texas Mean Green