Newcomers Expected to Make Impact for Track and Field

Jan. 17, 2007

When the UCF women's track and field team makes its 2007 season debut at the Florida Intercollegiate in Gainesville on Jan. 13, the lineup will feature six newcomers who bring impressive credentials to their respective events.

"This is without a doubt our best recruiting class ever," said head coach Marcia Mansur-Wentworth, who is in her 13th year at the helm. "We had a slow start, but there was an avalanche of talent coming our way toward the end. Everything seemed to fall into place. There are a lot of impact athletes on this team."

On the track, the Golden Knights welcome transfer Sadé Nero and freshmen Feyisara Adaramola, Jenny Clausen and Carley Dart.

Nero is a four-time state competitor from Miami Northwestern Senior High School and transfer from LSU, who was a finalist in the 400m at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championship during her freshman season. In addition to running that event for the Golden Knights, she also will lend her experience to the 4x400m relay team that placed third at the 2006 Conference USA Outdoor Championship.

"Sadé's experience at LSU gives her an edge because she knows what it takes to be competitive at the college level," said Mansur-Wentworth. "She has tremendous talent. We're looking forward to seeing some good things come from her."

A freshman from the Bronx, Adaramola was ranked among the DyeStat Elite - a website dedicated to high school track and field. She has post indoor bests of 7.07 in the 55m, 24.85 in the 200m and 39.79 in the 300m during her final season at Trevor Day School. As a junior, Adaramola qualified for the USA Track and Field Nationals in the 200m and was a National Scholastic finalist in the event.

"Unlike a lot of freshmen, Fey brings a great deal of indoor experience," explained Mansur-Wentworth. "Like Sadé, Fey is very talented but will need to get use to the tough competition at the college level."

Clausen was also a standout in regional and national races during her years at Jackson Memorial High School. Her personal-best time of 17:34.40 in the 5,000m last spring helped her achieve a ranking of seventh in the nation among high school women by Track and Field News. Her high school experience translated well onto the collegiate cross country trails as she earned C-USA all-conference honors in the fall of 2006 and posted the school's fifth best times in both the 5K and 6K races.

"Jenny has a solid foundation to build on after very successful cross country season," said Mansur-Wenworth. "She came to college as a specialist in the 5,000m and 3,000m. She is dedicated and has the perfect mind set to focus on those distances as her goals."

Although Dart missed the cross country season due to injury, she is prepared to go the distance - the middle distance - for the Golden Knights this spring. The Whitby, Ontario native owns gold medals in both the 400m and 800m from the International Meet of Champions and was a provincial champion in both events.

"Both Jenny and Carley have indoor experience, but Carley's specialty is the middle distances. She has unlimited potential and a great running form. I don't think she has even scratched the surface of what she can accomplish," said Mansur-Wentworth.

Despite losing eight-time all-conference honoree Tiffany Roebuck to graduation, the Golden Knights added two local standouts to the throwing lineup in freshmen LaKendra Thames and Jessica Francis.

Thames joins UCF from West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Fla. She owned the top marks in the state in the shot put and the discus last spring as she won the 2006 Metro Conference Championship in both events. In 2005, she won the state title in the discus.

Francis, meanwhile, had the third-best marks in the state in the shot put and the discus a year ago as a member of the Boone High School team. During her senior year, she claimed the state championship in the discus and took fourth in the shot put.

Like classmate Adaramola, both Thames and Francis were featured in the DyeState Elite rankings.

"LaKendra and Jessica are phenomenal athletes. They come to us with better marks than any thrower we have ever recruited and they are also both very coachable," said Mansur-Wentworth. "They were both enthusiastic about taking on the challenge of training at the collegiate level. Jessica told us that she can't wait to see how much the workouts will help her marks. That is just the kind of athlete these two are."

With such a wealth of talent and experience, there is no doubt that these athletes will make significant contributions throughout the season and tally valuable points when the conference championship is on the line during both the indoor and outdoor season.

"The C-USA Championships were a wake up call for all the athletes last year. The returning athletes know what to expect now and how they can make themselves more competitive. Mediocrity is not our goal," said Mansur-Wentworth. "The newcomers will really help us raise the bar all of the events."