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Husky Track Signs 15 Prep Standouts for 2002-03
Release: 06/26/2002
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June 26, 2002

A total of 15 high school athletes have signed national letters of intent to enroll at the University of Washington and participate in track and field for the Huskies. The list includes eight men and seven women, and does not include those athletes who signed letters of intent in cross-country earlier this year.

"We are very excited about this year's group of incoming student athletes," said Husky assistant coach Greg Metcalf. "We added some strength to our returning group of sprinters and hurdlers."

Nine of the 15 hail from Washington, including 2002 Class 4A state 3,200-meter champion Jesse Fayant (Mead HS, Spokane, Wash.). Fayant also earned the two-mile title at the prestigious Texas Relays, and is the Washington state record holder at 3,000 meters. Expected to compete in both track and cross-country at Washington, Fayant is the reigning Class 4A state cross-country champion, and was the 10th finisher overall at the 2001 Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships.

Fayant will be joined by fellow 3,200-meter state champion Jonathon Hickey (Hanford HS, Richland, Wash.), who captured the class 3A title in May while running 9 minutes and 9 seconds. Hickey also added the state crown in the mile, and owns a personal best of 4 minutes, 14 seconds over that distance. Placing third to Hickey at 3,200 meters was Mikhail Sayenko (Sammamish HS, Bellevue, Wash.), who will team up with his former competitor at Washington this fall.

"Jesse Fayant, John Hickey, and Mike Sayenko are three of the state's finest distance runners," said Metcalf, who as Washington's distance coach will work closely with all three athletes. "They will impact in cross country and on the track in the distance events."

Sprinter Brenton Laws (La Cueva HS, Albuquerque, N.M.) will make sure Washington stays strong at the shorter distances, bringing the speed and talent that propelled him in 2002 to Class 5A state championships at 100- and 200-meters. He is joined by Cameron Hartman (Lakewood HS, Tacoma, Wash.), the Class 2A state runner-up at 400 meters, and Brandon Kirkbride (Corvallis HS, Corvallis, Ore.), a top-five state finisher at 100 meters, each of whom will add to Washington's exciting young sprint corps.

Pole vaulter Eric Dormaier (University HS, Spokane, Wash.), a prep teammate of Husky All-American Brad Walker, owns two top-three state finishes, while fellow field specialist Nicholas Verbon (Mt. Si HS, Fall City, Wash.) earned third at state in the long jump. Verbon also excels in the hurdles, and was the fourth-place finisher in the thrilling 110-meter hurdles final at the 2002 state championship meet in which Husky football signees Shelton Sampson and Nate Robinson finished 1-2.

"Dormaier, who has already jumped 16 feet, will complement Brad Walker nicely in the pole vault, giving us added depth," the coach said. "Verbon is a very versatile athlete who can sprint, hurdle, jump, and carry the relay stick."

Highlighting the women's signees is sprinter Lauran Dignam (Iolani HS, Kaneohe, HI). Dignam was named the most outstanding athlete at the 2002 Hawaii state championship meet after equaling a state record with five gold medals, including individual crowns at 100-, 200- and 400-meters, and relay victories in the 4x100- and 4x400-meter events. Not to be pigeonholed as a sprinter, Dignam also helped Iolani to a state title in cross-country in 2001.

"Lauren Dignam is a super sprinter who does it all from 100 to 400, and will provide a huge boost to our program with the departure to graduation of Shavon Hawkins, Kelsey Sheppard, and LeTesha Moore," Metcalf said.

In Tiffany Zahn (Newberg HS, Newberg, Ore.), the Huskies add one of the Northwests premier throwers. The 2002 Oregon Class 4A state champion in the javelin, Zahn placed second overall in the event Adidas Outdoor National High School Championships.

"Tiffany Zahn is one of the country's best javelin throwers," Metcalf said. "She will add to our rich tradition in the javelin."

Laura Hodgson (North Central HS, Spokane, Wash.), the second-place finisher in the 3,200 meters at the 2002 Washington Class 4A state meet and third place finisher at the 2001 state cross-country championships, teams with Noelani Kaneko (Blanchet HS, Seattle, Wash.), a top-five state finisher at both 1,600 and 3,200 meters in 2002, to round out the Husky distance corps.

Washington also adds a pair of hurdlers to its ranks in Mallory Higgins (Eastlake HS, Bellevue, Wash.), the 2002 Class 4A state runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles, and California product Brynne Steward (Cleveland High School, Reseda, Calif.).

"Laura Hodgson and Noelani Kaneko, two products of the state of Washington, will add to our strength in the distance events and help immediately this cross country season," Metcalf said. "Higgins and Steward run both hurdle events and will have an opportunity to help us immediately as well."

Middle-distance specialist Gaelle Banini (Charles London School, Vancouver, B.C.), who owns outstanding PRs of 56.5 seconds for 400 meters and 2:11 for 800 meters, completes the Huskies? class of 2002-03.

"Gaelle Banini is multi dimesional middle distance athlete with the ability to run 400 or 800 even the 1500, and will complement nicely her fellow canadian Courtney Inman," said Metcalf.

The 15 will report to campus in August.

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