Bears Sign 13 Marquee Athletes
Dec. 11, 2003
BERKELEY, Calif. -The Cal track & field program took another important step last month, towards restoring its rich tradition in the sport. During the November signing period, the Golden Bears nabbed one of the top recruiting classes in the conference, bolstering a roster that was already full of young talent. Track & Field Director Chris Huffins and his staff signed a formidable all-around class of 13 athletes, comprised of eight men and five women.
The men's list is led by one of the most versatile throwers in the state of Washington's prep history. Nate Rolfe, the 2003 Golden West Champion in the discus, enters his final prep season as the No. 1 rated hammer thrower in the country. Through his first three high school seasons, Rolfe has PR's of 194 feet in the discus, 218 feet in the hammer and 68 feet in the weight throw.
The Bears made a major statement by shoring up one of their weaker areas, the middle distance events, by signing Alex and Andrew McClary - also from the state of Washington. The twins, from Shelton High School, finished 1-2 at the state championship meet, clocking times of 1:50.99 and 151.78, respectively, in the 800 meters. Alex returns this spring possessing the top prep mark in the country, while Andrew's times are also among the nation's best. The two will also be asked to step up to the 1500 and possibly contribute in the steeplechase.
Also in the distances, Cal deepened its roster by luring Sean Carey and Steven Pottey into the fold. Carey, from nearby Albany High School, was the CIF North Coast Section Champion in the 800, posting a 2003 best of 1:53.74. Pottey, from Galena High School in Reno, Nev., was the state champion in the 1600 and the state runner-up in cross country last season.
Huffins picked up two outstanding multi-event athletes in Rashad Nunnally and Steven Conrad, as well. Nunnally is currently 'the state's top sprinter-jumper combo athlete,' according to Huffins. The Sacramento, Calif., product was victorious at the Sacramento Meet of Champions in 2003, stretching out a jump of 24'2'. He also has been clocked at 10.66 in the 100 meters in his career.
Steven Conrad, who Cal assistant coach and multi-event guru Ed Miller calls, 'The best decathlete prospect to ever be recruited by Cal,' has potential across the board. Entering his senior season, Conrad has 100, 200, and 400 PR's of 10.84, 21.82, 49.72, respectively. He was a California state finalist in the long jump at 23-6.5 and has run 39.0 in the 300 hurdles, while throwing the shot over 45 feet.
Chad Smith rounds out the Bears' stellar recruiting class on the men's side. Smith from University High School in Irvine, Calif., comes into 2004 as one of the front runners for the California state title. He has been measured out at 160'10' in the discus and 58'7' in the shot put.
The athletes that Huffins and his staff signed on the women's side are just as impressive, highlighted by sprinter Chanda Picott and thrower Emilee Strot.
Huffins has high aspirations for Picott, stating, 'She will be an immediate force in the Pac-10 conference.' The senior, from historic Long Beach Poly High School, was a member of two national record-setting relay teams last spring. In a season that saw Picott and her teammates rewrite the history books in the 800 and 1600 meter relays, she also had individual success clocking 11.63 and 24.32 in the 100 and 200 meters.
Strot, yet another outstanding recruit from the Pacific Northwest, was the Oregon state champ in the discus and the shot. During the 2003 outdoor season, Strot recorded PR's of 141' 0' in the discus and 44'1' in the shot. Under the tutelage of Cal assistant coach and Canadian national record holder Jennifer Joyce, Strot seems destined for greatness as a Golden Bear.
Brook Turner comes to Cal by way of Ohio. The nearly six-foot Turner is the back-to-back champion of the Buckeye state. She has run consistently around 54.0 in the 400 meters throughout her career. 'She should make an immediate impact in our conference next season,' Huffins said.
Tifani Grimes and Katie Morgan conclude one of the conference's best recruiting classes.
Grimes, whose father is one of the all-times greats in the hurdles here at Cal, comes to Berkeley to make her own legacy. She enters the 2004 outdoor season as one of the top 5 heptathletes in the country. This past summer she placed second in her age group at the Junior Olympics in the high jump and has cleared 5'8' several times in her career.
Morgan is a national top 5 returner in the pole vault at 12'10'. She is also the 2002 and 2003 Arizona state champion in the event and has finished within the top-7 at the Golden West Invitational the last two seasons. Morgan has also cleared 5'6' in the high jump in her career.
Huffins is very excited about the talent in his 2004 class, which he feels will enhance the program and take it to new heights.
'This is one of the best early signing classes we have ever had,' he said. 'We have certainly improved our team with athletes that can make immediate impacts. With the addition of this class, we have made a giant step toward becoming one of the top teams in the conference and a top 20 team nationally.'
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