According to a Shorter University press release:
When the Hawks and Lady Hawks, fresh off a pair of top six finishes at the NAIA Outdoor National Championship in which 17 athletes earned All-America honors, begin to tune up for the 2010-11 season, they will be joined by 20 newcomers who make up the most heralded recruiting class the team has ever seen.
"Without question, it's the most decorated class we've had coming in and we haven't had this large of a class in three years," Byrd said about the 11 men and nine women who have the potential to take the team to even higher achievements, all due, he points out, to the hard work put into the recruiting process by assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Rochelle Black.
"Rochelle did a great job organizing how we were going to put together our recruiting class," Byrd said. "He went after and got the athletes we wanted."
"We're excited about the talent we brought in this year," said Black. "With this class added to the strong team we have coming back, we feel that we can build even more on the success we've had at the conference and national level."
Since track and field was added to the list of Shorter sports in 2006, the Hawks and Lady Hawks have excelled mightily.
The men have won three straight Mid-South Conference championships while the women have captured two straight conference titles. The teams have produced more than 50 All-Americans and two national champions - Montagious Brown won the 2008 indoor high jump national championship and Justyna Mudy has won two straight 3,000-meter steeplechase titles in addition to a 5,000-meter run crown in 2010.
Those two standouts are back this year along with the overall nucleus of both squads. Take into account the addition of 11 new Hawks (nine are freshmen and two are transfers) and nine Lady Hawks (six freshmen and three transfers) and Shorter has only added more weapons to its already well-rounded arsenal.
The Hawks didn't have to go far to find a talented athlete to join an already top-notch group of hurdlers.
Trebor Holmes of Rockmart heads up the men's recruiting class having closed out his career with the Yellow Jackets winning the Class AA State 110-hurdles championship this year. He has been clocked in the event at 14.57 seconds.
"A local talent that we had our eye on early for the jumps," Black said of Holmes, who also competes in the long jump where he has sailed 23-6. "He is also a good addition to the hurdle group."
Braylon Williams out of Walton High in Marietta, Richie Wilson from Groves High in Pooler, and Trez Haley of Elbert County High in Elberton add to the depth of Shorter's leapers.
Williams comes to Shorter ready to join Brown in the high jump pit and while at Walton, proved he could hold his own having cleared the bar at 7-feet. Williams was a two-time Class AAAAA State runner-up in the event.
"Montagious Brown is a senior now, and we're fortunate now to have two 7-foot high jumpers at our school," Black said. "We're now in a position to have to guys on the podium at nationals, which is big points in the team competition."
Wilson made a splash in the long jump pit this year as the runner-up at this year's Class AAAAA state meet and has a personal-best mark of 24-5.
"Richie has to be one of the nicest gentlemen we've had walk into our offices," Black said. "His maturity alone sold us, his leaping ability was an added bonus."
Airtime is the trademark of Haley, who was third at the 2009 Class AAA state meet in the triple jump (47-3), has gone 22-7 in the long jump and can also make the transition to high jump.
"Trez now allows us to have all three jumps covered," said Black. "As one of the best triple jumpers in Georgia, he'll secure points at the conference level, and be looked at as another national qualifier in the future."
Shorter brought in throwers Robert Harvey of Dacula and Bruce Boydstun of East Limestone High in Athens, Ala., to solidify its threat in the field and provide weight support.
At Dacula High, Harvey won this year's Class AAAAA shot put championship (59-6) and placed fifth in the state in the discus (155-4), while Boydstun was the Class AAAAA runner-up in Alabama in the shot (50-11.75).
"With Joe Chisholm lost to graduation, Robert came at the right time," Black said of Harvey. "His abilities will help our team greatly and Bruce is another good thrower to go with Robert. He'll be playing football as well, so we know he'll be ready for the spring."
The remaining three freshmen recruits come to Shorter blessed with the same skill - speed.
Ready to step in and produce points for the Hawks is Mallery Richardson of McEachern High in Powder Springs, who was the 2010 Region 5-AAAAA champion in the 200 (21.86); 400 specialist (49.43) Larry Martinez of Collins Hill High in Suwanee; and Octavious Johnson from Redan High in Stone Mountain who has posted a 22.45 in the 200.
"Our sprints group is shaping up nicely," Black said, noting that all three will join an already fast set of sprinters and benefit from being around the Hawks' already proven veterans.
Rounding out the incoming class are two sophomore transfers who have already established themselves this past year as freshmen runners at Kennesaw State; Travis Benton and Adika Smith, both that were key sprinters for the NCAA Div. I Owls in the Atlantic Sun Conference Outdoor Championship.
Benton, who prepped at Redan High where he was a two-time state Class AAAAA runner-up in the 100 and also region champion in the 200, made a quick impact at Kennesaw State last year finishing as the Atlantic Sun runner-up in both events with respective low times of 10.58 and 21.30.
"Travis is an accomplished Division I athlete, and will strengthen our sprint group," said Black. "[Shorter upperclassmen] Shaun Kennedy and Albert Huntley are All-Americans in the sprints, and Travis looks to be on course to do the same."
Smith, who hails from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., was right behind Benton in the conference finals of the 200 where he finished third. While he has been timed with a 21.2 in the 200, Smith also has blazing speed in the 400 where his best is a 48.6.
"Adika is a hard worker," Black said. "As a good threat in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes, we'll look for him to score valuable points at the conference and potentially, the national level."
The Lady Hawks have added more quality to an already stellar lineup and, more importantly, some much needed depth in numbers thanks to the addition of six incoming freshmen and three transfers.
Freshman Dominique Hoskins, who was a standout at Westerville Central High in Westerville, Ohio, gives the Lady Hawks an added 400 threat. Hoskins comes to Shorter as the prep district champion in the event (56.31).
"[Shorter current All-American] Ashlie Stewartson will have another person pushing her around the track this year," Black said of Hoskins. "Dominique gives us more quality bodies, so our ladies won't have to run so many events."
A pair of freshmen are teaming up to give Shorter its first heptathlete signees, with Mikiala Houseworth of Alcovy High in Covington and Mariah Freeman from Rockledge (Fla.) High ready to tag team the track and the jumping pits.
Houseworth made her prep mark as a high jumper (5-2), where she claimed a third place finish at the Class AAAA state meet, while Freeman excelled in the high jump (5-0) and the 100 hurdles (15.01), posting a third place finish in the latter in the Florida AA state meet.
"They'll be asked to do a lot of events throughout the season," said Black, who pointed out that former Shorter standout Caitlin Brush, who just missed competing at the national meet in the multi-event, was lost to graduation following the 2010 season. "We expect these two young ladies to continue where she left off."
The remaining three incoming freshman will use their legs to help the Lady Hawks this season - Jasmine Jackson from Mt. Zion-Carroll High in Carrollton, who has a time of 12.6 in the 100 and finished seventh in the Class A state meet; Tanisha Dyess of Redan High in Stone Mountain, a Class AAAAA state champion in the 400 (55.4); and Chantelle Deacon from Canada, a solid middle-distance 800 threat (2:20).
"Jackson came in and found us here at Shorter," Black said of the sprinter. "She'll have junior Brittany Sewell to work with, and we can expect to see her contribute in our All-American 4x100 meter relay team."
Black feels that Dyess is, "another talented 400 meter runner for our already talented ladies. Tanisha gives us the opportunity to have multiple women ranked in the top 10 nationally."
Black believes that the 4x800 relay team has a great chance to earn a high national ranking when Deacon joins the squad.
"Our 4x800 meter relay has won the conference title in each of the past two years," the coach said. "Chantelle will be a good addition to the middle distance group. She'll come in and train with Justyna Mudy and Sarah Massey, which can only prove beneficial to the team."
Shorter's women will welcome three transfers whose talent will cover a wide range of events for the Lady Hawks.
After a strong collegiate start at Bethune-Cookman, Vanderlyn Watts comes to Shorter where she will be a force to reckon with in the 400 (57.5) and the 100 hurdles (15.4).
"Vanderlyn comes in as [three-time conference champion] Jessica Coons is preparing to graduate," said Black. "We're confident that Vanderlyn will succeed here, and her abilities will be well utilized."
Tamala Daley, who prepped at Redan High and transfers to the Lady Hawks from South Carolina State University, also has a fast personal-best time in the 100 hurdlers (14.88) and is a former State Class AAAAA champion in both the long jump (19-3) and triple jump (40-2).
"Tamala is a threat in both jumps at the national level," Black noted. "She has the capability to win both the jumps, and she has the drive to do so."
Capping the new recruiting class is Santana Lowery, who ran for St. Louis Community College last year after making a name for herself in her home of Starkville, Miss., as the state AAAAA champion in the 100 (11.3), 200 (23.6) and the 400.
"Santana's times speak for themselves," said Black. "Having her here gives us a talent that can improve our team by leaps and bounds. With Santana coming on board, we have a shot at a national championship."