HIGH POINT, N.C. – High Point University women’s cross country head coach Jenna Wrieden announced Tuesday that Kelly Hayes and Lona Williams will join the Panthers’ roster beginning this fall.
The duo of student-athletes also will compete for HPU in distance events during the indoor & outdoor track campaigns.
“Kelly and Lona are perfect additions to our program,” Wrieden said. “They both value being part of and contributing to a supportive team environment. They embody the type of student-athlete that chooses High Point University and understand the work ethic needed to be competitive at a high level.”
Hayes hails from Pearl River, N.Y., where she captured the state title in the 2000m steeplechase in 2014. She also earned All-America honors as a junior as a part of Pearl River’s distance medley relay team at the National Scholastic Sports Foundation New Balance Outdoor Track & Field National Championship in Greensboro. A two-time all-state selection, Hayes received all-league, Rockland County and Section 1 honors eight times during her track career.
A three-time all-state selection in cross country, Hayes garnered first team all-state honors as a senior in 2013 after finishing second at the state championship. Hayes also garnered first team all-league, Rockland County and Section 1 accolades from 2011-2013.
An accomplished athlete on some of the grandest stages in amateur track & field, finished fifth in the prestigious Millrose Mile at the annual Millrose Games in 2014 and participated in the mile run at the internationally renowned Penn Relays in 2013 and 2014.
Hayes owns personal bests of 6:48.58 in the 2000m steeplechase, 9:57.30 in the 3000m, 4:54.10 in the one mile run, 4:32.23 in the 1500m and 2:13.90 in the 800m.
“Kelly made a decision to come to High Point University because she trusted her instinct and knows she will be successful here,” Wrieden said. “She had other options at bigger, more traditional schools, but ultimately decided she wanted to go to a place where she could truly help the program thrive. She leaves high school with a national-leading mark in the 2000m steeplechase, and I think she has a lot of room to grow in that event. She’s gritty and a competitor that can take risks. The group we have now is ready for a teammate like her.”
Williams, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, competed for Hardin Valley Academy during a successful high school cross country career in which she earned first team all-Knoxville Interscholastic League (KIL) honors and second-team all-region accolades in 2012.
As a member of the track team’s 4x800m relay squad, Williams was a two-time all-region and all-state selection while also earning all-KIL accolades from 2012-14. She also was a three-time all-KIL pick in the 800m run. She holds Hardin Valley school records in the 800m run, 4x800m relay (indoor and outdoor) and distance medley relay (indoor and outdoor).
Williams owns personal bests of 20:06 in the 5000m (cross country) and 2:20 in the 800m.
“Lona has specialized in the mid-distance events in high school, and I’m excited to see what she can do as she moves up in distance,” Wrieden said. “She comes to us from a good high school program and has the right mindset to be a strong team player capable of reaching her goals. She’s willing to put in the work and willing to learn, which ultimately will allow her to achieve great things here at HPU.”
The High Point University women’s cross country team kicks off the 2014 season on Sept. 5 at the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.