May 28, 2002
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Eight high school seniors have signed National Letters of Intent to attend Washington State University and compete for the Cougar Track & Field team, Head Coach Rick Sloan announced Tuesday. Five of the eight recruit signees are from the state of Washington and three are nationally ranked by Track & Field News.
The signees, their events and hometowns are: Tyson Byers, pole vault, Spokane, Wash.; Martin Boston, long jump and triple jump, Hayward, Calif.; Ben Hampton, triple jump, Kennewick, Wash.; Nicole Hatcher, sprinter, Kennewick, Wash.; Robin Mikesh, high jump, Sumner, Wash.; Cameron Neel, thrower, Woodinville, Wash.; Diana Pickler, heptathlon, Sachse, Texas; and Julie Pickler, heptathlon, Sachse, Texas.
Byers is a three-time boy's pole vault champion in the Washington state 4A level who is currently ranked second nationally with his 17-feet, 1-inch clearance. Last weekend Byers, a high school All-American from University High, claimed his third state pole vault title with a clearance at 17-0.
"Tyson has taken off in the later portion of his senior year," Sloan said. "I know Coach Kris Grimes is very excited about working with Tyson and helping him develop to be one of the greatest pole vaulters in Cougar history."
Diana and Julie Pickler are All-American heptathletes from Rowlett High, in Sachse, Texas, just outside of Dallas. Diana Pickler was the top-ranked heptathlete in 2001 while her sister Julie was ranked third. Both were members of the US Junior National Team and both were 2002 Indoor National Scholastic Sports Foundation All-Americans in the heptathlon.
Diana Pickler was the 2001 Junior Olympic National Heptathlon Champion and her 5,365 points broke WSU's Ellannee Richardson's 1998 prep record of 5,104 points. Diana was the 2001 Texas state 5A 100m hurdles champion (13.75 seconds) and was the runner-up this season (13.71w). Her best 100m hurdles time of 13.76 is ranked fourth nationally but she tops the national chart in the 300m hurdles with a time of 41.17 seconds.
Julie Pickler's 5,147 points ranks third among junior heptathlon totals. She placed third in the 100m hurdles at the Texas state 5A meet with a time of 13.79w, but her non-wind-aided time of 13.93 is ranked seventh best nationally. Julie is also ranked 12th nationally in the long jump with a leap of 19-4 indoors although she was the state long jump runner-up in 2001 with a distance of 19-6 3/4.
"Both Julie and Diana will have an immediate impact on our program," Sloan said. "They should come in and do very well at the Pac-10 and NCAA levels as freshmen. We are excited to have them work with Ellannee Richardson and Whitney Evans next year. They not only give us the hurdles and long jump but they also have the ability to run on a 4x400m relay and they have outstanding potential in the intermediate hurdles. Both are very gifted and they have been very well-coached throughout their high school career. We're really looking forward to the levels of contributions they can make in competitions for our team."
Robin Mikesh will graduate from Auburn Riverside High after winning the Washington state 4A girl's high jump title three consecutive times. She cleared 5-6 to win last weekend at Tacoma but has a personal-best of 5-8. Mikesh also finished eighth in the 100m hurdles after clocking in at 15.69 seconds in the final and 15.63 in the prelims. She is a WSU Academic Achievement Award and WSU Scholar in Residence Award winner. Mikesh was the South Puget Sound League Field Athlete of the Year. Her prep GPA of 3.82 assisted Riverside High in receiving the Washington state 4A academic team championship for girls track and field.
"Robin is a very strong, very athletic jumper," Sloan said. "She also did a great job in the high hurdles at the state meet. Her primary event at WSU will be the high jump. Jumping with Whitney Evans and Briana Willis will be a big help to her here; to be able to bring her along to be an outstanding competitor at the Pac-10 and hopefully the NCAA level."
Martin Boston attends James Logan High in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Hayward, Calif., where he excelled in basketball and track. He is the nephew of Ralph Boston who medalled in three consecutive Olympic long jumps - gold (1960), silver (1964), bronze (1968). Martin Boston has soared to personal-bests of 48-feet in the triple jump and 23-6 3/4 in the long jump. He participated in the USATF Elite Men's Developmental Camp and at the Junior Olympics.
"After watching Martin jump in both indoor and outdoor competition during his senior year, we think he has a tremendous potential for development," Sloan said. "We think he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he's capable of doing."
Kennewick's Southridge High will have two alumni competing as freshman on the Cougar track team. Ben Hampton is the state 4A boy's triple jump champion with a personal-best leap of 48-0 and finished seventh in the high jump last weekend clearing the bar at 6-2 although he has cleared 6-4. At the same state meet, Nicole Hatcher placed third in both 100m (12.43) and 200m (25.52) dashes. She finished second in both dashes as a junior running 12.04 in the 100m and 25.11 in the 200m. Hatcher was also a relay team member in 2002 as the 4x100m relay finished third (48.55) and the 4x200m relay was fourth (1:43.37) at the state meet.
Cameron Neel, at 6-7, 270 pounds, has a large presence on the throwing circles at Woodinville High. At the Washington state 4A championships last weekend, Neel placed fourth in the shot put (56-5 1/2) and sixth in the discus (162-7). He was the shot put winner at the 2002 Cougar Invitational meet (55-9).
"We still have a handful of athletes that we are trying to get committed to Washington State and if we can tie down a few of these loose ends, we are going to have a very, very strong recruiting class," Sloan said. "Certainly the people we have already signed up are going to make an immediate impact on our track and field program. We are very excited about the future of Cougar track and field."