Liberty Track & Field and Cross Country Head Coach Brant Tolsma announced on Tuesday that 15 student-athletes have signed to attend Liberty University for the 2014-15 academic year. The signees, which include nine men's athletes and six women's competitors, hail from 10 different states and Canada. The group features six mid-distance/distance runners and a trio of pole vaulters. "We are excited about this new group of athletes who have chosen to join us in our unique mission to honor the Lord Jesus Christ in Division I track & field," noted Tolsma. "They bring not only new talent and potential but also hearts that we believe will contribute to the spirit of the team. They arrive in a time of great blessing and opportunity at Liberty and we look forward to seeing what each one will accomplish in their years here and beyond."
Women's Signees Holly Arey (Hanover, Pa.) – Arey's best event during her time at South Western Senior High School was the discus. She placed fourth in the Pennsylvania AAA state meet as a junior and eighth as a senior. Arey, who owns a personal best of 135-6, also finished 10th in the 2014 Penn Relays discus competition. Her other personal-best marks include 38-9.5 in the shot put and 112-9 in the javelin.
Olivia Behymer (New Richmond, Ohio) – Behymer specialized in the 400-meter dash at New Richmond High School, earning a trio of top-six state finishes in the event. She placed sixth at the Ohio Division II state meet in the 400 as a freshman, fifth as a junior and fourth as a senior. The three-time Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference Runner of the Year boasts a 400 personal-best time of 56.14.
Mariel Finger (Dallas, N.C.) – A graduate of North Gaston High School, Finger made rapid improvement in the pole vault after picking up the event at the end of her sophomore year. As a junior, she placed fourth at the North Carolina 3A indoor and outdoor state meets. This season, Finger cleared 12-0 for the first time while claiming the indoor state title and placing second outdoors.
Dasiana Larson (Garner, Iowa) – Larson excelled in the shot put at Garner-Hayfield/Ventura High School, reaching a personal best of 43-4.5. As a junior, Larson was the shot put champion at both the Iowa 2A state meet and the Drake Relays. This season, she finished as the Drake Relays shot put runner-up and took third place at the state championship.
Audrey Rabe (Newbury, Ohio) – Rabe displayed promise in the pole vault early in her career at West Geauga High School, clearing 10-6 for 10th place at the Ohio Division I state meet as a sophomore. She really came into her own in 2014, however, placing third at both the indoor and outdoor state meets. Rabe sailed over 11-9 indoors and 12-3 outdoors during her successful senior campaign.
Erin Zappia (Wheaton, Ill.) – Zappia excelled in the high jump as a senior at Wheaton-Warrenville South High School, clearing 5-8 during the indoor season and 5-7 outdoors. She placed ninth in the high jump at the 2014 Illinois 3A state meet.
Men's Signees Andrew Crowell (Asheville, N.C.) – Crowell finished his career at Enka High School with a bang, speeding to an 800 personal-best time of 1:54.93 for third place at the 2014 North Carolina 3A state meet. As a junior, Crowell finished fourth at the 3A state meet at 1,600 meters, posting a time of 4:24.74.
Cameron Francis (Midlothian, Va.) – Francis is the first athlete from Veritas School in Richmond ever to sign with a Division I school. Coached by former Flame Parker Spencer, Francis fared well as a senior. He helped Veritas win VISAA state titles in cross country and the outdoor 4 x 800 relay. Francis posted a 1,600 time of 4:19.27 during the season and finished third at the state meet in the event for the third consecutive year. He then punctuated his high school career by coming in 13th in the 2K steeplechase at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals with a personal-best 6:15.16 clocking.
Graham Hansel (Powassan, Ontario, Canada) – Hansel was both a cross country and track & field standout at West Ferris Secondary School. He earned a trio of top-three finishes at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) Cross Country Championships, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2013. Hansel came in eighth at the 2012 Canada Junior Cross Country Championships, serving as the first alternate for the World Junior Cross Country Championships. On the track, the two-time Britt Jessup Memorial Award specialized in the 2K steeplechase. He finished third at the 2013 OFSAA meet in a personal-best steeplechase time of 5:50.26 and also clocked 8:33.35 for the open 3K.
Jeff Jacobs (Stillwell, Kan.) – A graduate of Blue Valley High School, Jacobs placed seventh at the 2013 Kansas state meet in the 300 hurdles. He improved his 300 hurdles time to 39.91 as a senior before seeing his season cut short due to injury. Jacobs' other top marks include 8.67 for the 60 hurdles, 15.80 for the 110 hurdles and 51.51 for the indoor 400.
Darrel Jones (Monroe, N.Y.) – Jones triple jumped over 50 feet twice as a senior at Monroe-Woodbury High School. He sailed out to a wind-aided 50-2.5 for second place at the Penn Relays and then reached a wind-aided 50-4.75 for his first outdoor state title. Jones, who was a two-time indoor state triple jump champion in New York, recently finished third in the triple jump at the 2014 New Balance Outdoor Nationals, jumping 48-4.5 into a headwind. Jones also long jumps, with a top mark of 22-6.5.
Jeremy Miekley (Sound Beach, N.Y.) – Miekley opened his senior year at Miller Place High School with a 10th-place finish at the New York Class B state cross country meet. On the track, he qualified for the state championship with a personal-best 3K steeplechase time of 9:32.93. Miekley also crossed the line 17th in the 2K steeple at the 2014 New Balance Outdoor Nationals in a personal-best 6:20.43.
Louis Paone (Maramora, N.J.) – Part of a successful distance running program at Ocean City High School, Paone placed 10th in the 1,600 at the 2014 New Jersey Group 3 state meet in a personal-best 4:20.42. He also owns times of 9:37.27 in the indoor two-mile and 9:55.32 in the 3K steeplechase.
Caleb Wakeley (Glenshaw, Pa.) – Competing for Shaler Area High School, Wakeley came in 25th in the 2011 Pennsylvania AAA state cross country meet and took 40th place in 2013. Wakeley, who owns a track personal best of 9:27.88 in the 3,200, came in 18th in the Pennsylvania AAA state 3,200 final as a senior.
Carson Waters (St. Petersburg Beach, Fla.) – Waters, from Osceola High School, pole vaulted a personal-best 15-6 to win the regional title this season. He then went on to place fifth at the Florida 3A state championship for the second year in a row.
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