Six recruits will add talent to women's track and field

BY AMY TIFFANY | APRIL 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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Six new Hawkeyes will join the women's track and field team in the 2011-12 season.

Half of the recruits will travel to Iowa from overseas: Two from Germany — Victoria Sack and Mareike Schrulle — and one from South Africa, Annemie Smith. The other three include Khanisha Williams, a native of Burlington who will compete in numerous events. The final two — Kayla Beattie and Maisie Vachuska — hail from Illinois.

Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Clive Roberts said he channels information to the other event coaches, and then they do their own recruiting. Head coach Layne Anderson said the Hawkeyes strive for balance across every event.

"At the end of the day, if you bring good athletes in, it raises the bar of everyone," Roberts said. "Competition also really strengthens us."

Roberts said Iowa's recruiting goal isn't to fill the shoes of graduating seniors but to move the program forward. Sack, a middle-distance runner, competed on the German national team last summer, has a career best time of 55.42 in the 400 meters, and placed third in the 400 at the 2010 German Youth Championships.

"Victoria Sack has the potential to come in and really help us out," Roberts said.

Assistant coach Scott Cappos began the recruiting process with Smith in March 2010 after he received a tip from a South African athlete he coached at Western Michigan. Cappos said he hopes to further develop the South African recruiting pipeline.

"The relationships in recruiting always start with performance, and she's one of the best hammer throwers in the world for her age group," Cappos said. "So it was kind of easy. Once I heard about her and she corresponded with us, I knew she would be a girl who would fit into our program very well."

Smith marks her personal best in the hammer throw at 187 feet, 5 inches. She was the 2010 and 2011 junior and senior hammer-throw champion, and she holds the South African record in the hammer throw. Cappos saw Smith compete at the 2010 world junior championships in Moncton, Canada, and said he thought talking to her in person helped clinch her decision to come to Iowa.

Beattie, from Woodstock, Ill., set the state's record in the three-mile in 2010 with a time of 16:22.00. She placed 12th at the Footlocker National Cross-Country Championships and also has two indoor state records with a time of 10:15.00 in the 3,200 meters and 4:51.00 in the 1,600 meters. Beattie will graduate first in her class of 278 students.

The final two recruits are distance runner Schrulle, from Arnsberg, Germany, and Vachuska, from Chicago, who can run any event from the 400 meters to the three mile.

Anderson said he believes a number of the incoming athletes are ready to step in and be Big Ten contributors immediately, and they will add to the foundation the Hawkeyes have.

"Overall, they'll mesh really well together and with the team," said junior Brooke Eilers, who hosted Beattie on her official visit. She said the Woodstock native seemed like a good fit for the Iowa squad.

"It should be a fun year," she said.

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