Cross Country/Track & Field Adds 17 Student-Athletes For 2009-10 Campaign

Head Coach Bert Rogers welcomes 17 newcomers to Marquette

May 27, 2009


MILWAUKEE—Marquette University cross country and track and field programs have announced the addition of 17 student-athletes for the 2009-10 academic school year. All 17 athletes have signed either National Letters of Intent or Acceptance of Admission forms, making them eligible for competition starting this fall.

Included in the group are cross country/distance runners Spencer Agnew (Fort Atkinson, Wis.), Connor Callahan (Chesterfield, Mo./DeSmet Jesuit), Anthony Gedwill (Loves Park, Ill./Belvidere North High School), Jack Hackett (Port Washington. Wis./Port Washington High School/Loyola (Ill.) University), Jerry Kerska (Prairie du Sac, Wis./Sauk Prairie High School), Patrick Maag (Lake Oswego, Ore./Portland Jesuit High School), Taylor Peliska (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann High School), Evan Ross (Port Washington, Wis./Port Washington High School), Jack Senefield (Plover, Wis./Steven’s Point Area High School), Molly Arenberg (Mequon, Wis./Homestead High School), Jessa Hackman (North Prairie, Wis./Catholic Memorial High School), Reilly Hall (San Francisco, Calif./Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep) and Christina Sliepka (Oswego, Ill./Oswego High School).

“I’m extremely excited about this group of recruits,” cross country head coach/assistant track coach Mike Nelson said of the group of distance runners.  “These student-athletes are coming into Marquette University with some outstanding athletic resumes.  All of these athletes are difference-makers and they will help us climb the ranks of the ultra-competitive BIG EAST Conference. 



“Each one of them has a tremendous upside and will bring a positive energy to our team atmosphere.  One of my goals this year was to acquire a talented recruiting class with individuals who could help us right away.  Marquette will be hosting the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships in 2009 and I wanted to bring in several athletes who could immediately contribute to our pursuit of a BIG EAST title.”

Also joining the incoming class are track and field athletes Cheldon Brown (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier High School), Chanel Franklin (Milwaukee, Wis./Rufus King High School), Ben Schmitz (Overland Park, Kan./Olathe East High School) and Patrick Stuart (Glasgow, Ky./Barron County High School).

“With our newcomers we have quality athletes who should be able to make an impact right off the bat and allow us to be competitive in the BIG EAST,” said track and field head coach Bert Rogers.



Cross Country

Coach Nelson on each of the new long distance runners:

Spencer Agnew - Fort Atkinson, Wis. (Fort Atkinson High School)

“I really enjoyed recruiting Spencer because of his enthusiasm and excitement for the sport of cross country/track and field.  He’s a true student of the sport and he will be a tremendous asset to our program because of his athletic talents, positive energy, and knowledge of the sport.  Spencer will concentrate on the events ranging from 1,500-5,000 meters and cross country.”   

Media Link

Daily Union Online Q&A with Agnew



Connor Callahan - Chesterfield, Mo. (DeSmet Jesuit High School)

“I have known Connor for almost three years and have always been impressed with his energy and determination.  Connor had an impressive fall, winning several large cross-country invitationals.  He has steadily improved each year and I look for him to continue that trend in college. He should make an immediate impact with our longer distance group.  Connor will concentrate on the events ranging from 3,000-10,000 meters and cross country.”        

Media Link

St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Callahan prior to 2008 state cross country meet



Anthony Gedwill - Loves Park, Ill. (Belvidere North High School)

“Anthony has incredible passion for Marquette Athletics.  I’ve never seen another recruit so excited about becoming a Golden Eagle.  He’ll bring an optimistic leadership style to our team.  He has some untapped potential and I look forward to watching his improvements from year to year. Anthony will concentrate on events ranging from 1,500-5,000 meters and cross country.”



Jack Hackett - Port Washington, Wis. (Port Washington High School)

“Jack will be transferring to Marquette from Loyola (Ill.) University.  He was the 2008 Division I Wisconsin State Champion in the 1,600 meters and the 4x800 meter relay.  He has a world-class stride with a lethal finishing kick.  He also brings experience and leadership to our program.  He’s already had one year of NCAA Division I experience, so he will be able to help the other guys with the adjustment.  Jack will concentrate on events ranging from 800-5,000 meters and cross country.”    



Jerry Kerska - Prairie du Sac, Wis.  (Sauk Prairie High School)

“Jerry has a very impressive understanding of the sport for someone so young.  Our recruiting conversations often turned into advanced discussions on the topic of training distance runners he understands it all.  It’s much easier to coach someone when they appreciate what you’re trying to get done in practice.  Not only does he grasp what we’re trying to do, he also has the physical tools to execute the plan.  Jerry will concentrate on events ranging from the 1,500-5,000 meters and cross country.” 

Media Link

The Sauk Prairie Eagle on Kerska



Patrick Maag - Lake Oswego, Ore.  (Portland Jesuit High School)

“Patrick was a key member of Jesuit’s 2008 cross country state championship run.  His team also qualified for the prestigious Nike Cross Country National Championships, which were held in his backyard at the Nike headquarters. Patrick has two older brothers that compete in cross country/track at the Division I level at Princeton University.  Overall, Patrick has the right blend of talent, experience, and desire to be very successful at Marquette.  Patrick will concentrate on events ranging from 1,500-5,000 meters and cross country.” 

Media Link

Beaverton Valley Times on Maag and his Portland Jesuit squad



Taylor Peliska - Naples, Fla.  (St. John Neumann High School)

“Taylor comes to us from sunny Naples, Florida.  The first question I asked him was if he understood what the winters were like in Wisconsin.  Originally from Ann Arbor, Mich, Taylor knew what he was getting himself into and he can’t wait. He is relatively new to running, although you wouldn’t guess that based on his state championship 1,600 meter run performance in Florida’s 1A division.  My belief is that once Taylor has a group of guys to train with on a regular basis and gets a little more base mileage under him, he’ll be hard to stop.  Taylor will concentrate on events ranging from 1,500-5,000 meters and cross country.” 

Media Link

The News-Press on Peliska winning the Florida Class A state title in the 1,600 meters



Evan Ross - Port Washington, Wis.  (Port Washington High School)

“Evan comes from a very successful high school program which was the Division II state champions in 2007 and third in 2008.  They were also 2008 state champions in Division I in the 4x800-meter relay.  Success breeds success and I wanted to bring in guys who knew how to win.  Evan will make an immediate impact with his talents as a middle distance runner and winning attitude.  He will concentrate on events ranging from 800-1,500 meters and cross country.”



Jack Senefeld - Plover, Wis. (Stevens Point Area Senior High School)

“Jack also comes from a very successful high school program which was the 2008 Boy’s Wisconsin State Cross Country Champions for Division I.  Jack was consistently the best runner on the best team in the state.  Legendary Marquette distance runner Keith Hanson was also from the same high school. Jack vocal leadership style will make an immediate impact and he will concentrate on events ranging from 800-1,500 meters and cross country.”

Media Link

The Wausau Daily Herald named Senefeld as it's Athlete of the Year



Molly Arenberg - Mequon, Wis. (Homestead High School)

“This will be Molly’s first official cross country season with Marquette; however she has had more road racing experience than almost everyone else combined.  Molly recently completed the Boston Marathon in April and the Rock N’ Roll Arizona Marathon before that. Originally an MU soccer player, Molly will bring an athleticism and toughness to her new sport.  She has a tremendous work ethic and I look forward to watching her develop as a runner.  Molly will concentrate on events ranging from 3,000-10,000 meters and cross country.”     



Jessa Hackman - North Prairie, Wis. (Catholic Memorial High School)

“Jessa had a very successfully career at Catholic Memorial High School, qualifying for the Wisconsin State Championships in several events, including the 4x400 and 4x800-meter relays and the 800 meters. Her range is her most impressive athletic attribute because she can run a successful 400-meter dash and has no problem tackling the 4k in cross country.  Jessa will concentrate on events ranging from 800-1,500 meters and cross country.”



Reilly Hall - San Francisco, Calif. (Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep)

“Reilly is coming to Marquette all the way from Northern California and is excited about her transition to the Midwest.  Reilly has had a successful career so far in the middle distance events and while she was originally a competitive soccer player but she found that running was more her passion.  She has only been involved in the sport a few years, so I look for her to make some nice improvements while at Marquette.  Reilly will concentrate on events ranging from 400-1,500 meters and cross country.”



Christina Sliepka - Oswego, Ill. (Oswego High School)

“Christina fits the true definition of the phrase student-athlete.  She chose Marquette because of the great tradition in women’s distance running and the outstanding biomedical sciences program.  Christina earned first-team all-state cross country honors in the ultra-competitive Illinois State Cross Country Championships.  She is not afraid of a challenge as she looks forward to tackling the 10,000-meter run distance on the track.  Christina will concentrate on events ranging from 3,000-10,000 meters and cross country.”

Media Link

The Oswego Ledger-Sentinel on Sliepka's third trip to the state meet


Track & Field

Coach Rogers on Brown, Franklin and Schmitz:

Cheldon Brown - Springfield, Ill. (Lanphier High School)

“Cheldon is a terrific student-athlete in the very sense of the word.  Not only is he a terrific high jumper, he is also a terrific person and student.  He will make a positive impact in all aspects of our team. Cheldon is the best high jump recruit in the modern era of Marquette track and field. He is a three-time state qualifier in the high jump and will contend to win this year’s Illinois Class 2A title.  He won the high jump at the 2009 Prep Top Times meet – the unofficial Illinois indoor state meet and holds a personal best jump of 6 feet, 10 inches. He is a National Honor Society member who plans to study Engineering.”

Media Link

The State Journal-Sentinel on Brown's academic and athletic success



Chanel Franklin – Milwaukee, Wis. (Rufus King High School)
“Chanel is strong student-athlete who I feel is only going to continue to improve.  She comes from a strong program at King, who is perennially in the hunt for the state team title.  Chanel has run mostly sprint relays and has been on several state champion relay teams.  This year King again looks to have three very strong relays and Chanel is a big part of that. At Marquette, Chanel will contribute in the 100 (Personal Best-11.96), 200 and 400-meter sprints as well as the relays.”



Ben Schmitz – Overland Park, Kan. (Olathe East High School)
“Ben comes from one of the best track and field programs in Kansas.  Olathe East was the large school class state champions in 2007 and should contend again this year.  He has been a big part of that success. He placed second in the 800 meters in 2008 and anchored their state champion 4x800-meter relay in 2007.  This year Ben should contend for the state title in the 800 as well at the 4x800.  Ben will help us continue to build a strong tradition in the long sprints and mid-distances."



Associate Head Coach Mike Koenning on Stuart…

Patrick Stuart - Glasgow, Ky. (Barron County High School)
"Patrick is a state champion shot putter from Kentucky.  In college he will throw not only shot put, but will also likely compete in the discus, hammer and weight throw as well.  I think he'll be able to contribute immediately and will look to be a BIG EAST scorer as a freshman.  He has an outstanding understanding of technique and he's proven to be a hard worker in the weight room.  His talents and his personality were both a great fit for our group and we're excited for him to arrive on campus."

Media Link

The Glasgow Times on Stuart's signing and family track and field legacy



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