HPU Women’s Cross Country Adds Eight Recruits

HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point University women’s cross country team has added eight recruits for the 2012 season, head coach Mike Esposito announced on Wednesday. HPU is defending Big South champ in women’s cross country. The eight additions will also compete in track & field for the Panthers.

“We’re really excited about this group and the depth we are adding for this fall,” said Esposito. “These girls were attracted by the chance to win and we think they will put us in a position to compete at the top of the conference for seasons to come. With this team dynamic, we will be able to establish a tradition of competing for Big South Championships every year.”

Rebecca Baldinger hails from Massapequa, N.Y., and attended Massapequa High School, where she competed in track & field for four years and cross country for two years. She helped her team to two country championships and 2010 marked the first time Massapequa won its league, division, conference and county. She was an All-Conference honoree in track & field and set a career best of 2:19.70 in the 800-meter while placing second in the Massapequa Chief Invitational in May. She also has career bests of 5:06 in the 1,500-meter and 11:03 in the 3,000-meter.

Sarah Bode is from Fisherville, Ky., and attends Louisville Collegiate. She brings career bests of 5:33.99 in the 1,600-meter and 11:32.60 in the 3,200-meter. This spring, Bode was runner-up in the 3,200-meter at the Region 3A meet and placed third in the 3,200-meter at the state championship. She placed fourth in the 2011 Kentucky state championship, earning All-State honors. She was also a member of the swim team.

Katie Farina attended Western Albemarle High School in Crozet, Va., where she competed in cross country and track & field for four years. She earned All-State honors three times in the indoor 1,000-meter and four times as part of Western Albemarle’s 4×800 relay team. She has earned multiple All-District and All-Region honors. Farina has run career bests of 2:19.25 in the 800-meter, 3:04.04 in the 1,000-meter and 5:21.75 in the 1,600-meter. This May, Farina won the 800-meter and was part of the winning 4×800 relay team at the district championship.

From Massapequa, N.Y., on Long Island, Lauren Lavoro joins the Panthers for 2012-13. She ran for St. Anthony’s for three years and is competing for Massapequa High School this season. In 2010, Lavoro ran a career-best 10:08.47 to place second in the 3,000-meter in the New York City Championship. She also has career bests of 2:22 in the 800-meter and 4:46 in the 1,500-meter. Lavoro was acknowledged as St. Anthony’s cross country and winter track MVP and has competed in the 4×800 relay and distance medley relay at the Penn Relays.

Erika Peoples attended Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., where she was a three-time All-State honoree in cross country. She placed fourth in the state cross country championship, helping her team to the team title last fall. At the Tennessee state championship last weekend, Peoples ran a career-best 5:06.66 to place fifth in the 1,600-meter and took seventh in the 3,200-meter. The week before at the sectional championship, Peoples set a career best of 11:17.30 to place third in the 3,200-meter and placed fourth in the 1,600-meter.

The Panthers add Anna Pickett out of Schenectady, N.Y. She attends Guilderland High School and recently set a career best of 4:47.93 to place fifth in the 1,500-meter at the Suburban Council Championship. A team captain, Pickett earned several team awards and helped lead her team to four third-place finishes at the sectional cross country meet. Her team qualified for three New York State Federation championships.

Lindsey Siska joins the Panthers from Salem High School in Salem, Va., where she was an All-State honoree in cross country in 2011. She placed third in the region championship and 11th in the state championship. Siska ran a career-best 18:32 for the 5K in the Footlocker South Championship at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, N.C., in 2011. She also has career bests of 3:06 in the 1,000-meter and 5:16 in the 1,600-meter and has been an All-District and All-Region honoree in track & field.

Finally, HPU adds Julia Zautcke of Little Chute High School in Little Chute, Wisc. Zautcke brings career bests of 2:25 in the 800-meter, 5:25 in the 1,600-meter and 11:26 in the 3,200-meter. She was honored as an All-Conference first-team member twice and a third-team member twice in track & field. She placed fifth in the 3,200-meter at the state championship her sophomore year and helped her team conference and region championships in track & field in 2011.

The eight newcomers join nine returners from last year’s Big South title-winning team. Those returners include rising juniors Kayleigh Perry and Audrey Malloy, who finished third and fifth, respectively, at the conference championship in 2011. The Panthers won the meet with 33 points to best two-time defending champ Liberty, which scored 59.