Head Coach Brant Tolsma announced that seven student-athletes have signed to attend Liberty University for the 2016-17 academic year.
On the heels of another successful season for Liberty track & field, head coach Brant Tolsma announced that seven student-athletes have signed to attend Liberty University for the 2016-17 academic year.
The group includes men's signees Markus Ballengee (decathlon), Jacob Burke (high jump), Jahquez Durham (sprints), Caleb Hart (javelin) and Ashton King (long jump/sprints) and the female duo of Katie Dodson (hurdles) and Brooke Turner (mid-distance).
"Once again we are excited to see the athletes that the Lord is leading to Liberty," stated Liberty Track & Field/Cross Country Head Coach Brant Tolsma. "They come at a time of great excitement and eager anticipation of an even greater impact through Liberty track & field. Liberty is prepared to offer them opportunities for outstanding educational and athletic experiences and I look forward to seeing them all thrive in the unique environment of Liberty. They bring a wide range of experience and I trust that the best is yet to come."
The seven student-athletes will join previously announced women's signees Tanner Ealum, Jaiden Mulder, Brittany Small and Valerie Wierenga as new members of Liberty's 2016-17 track & field/cross country program.
Men's Signees Markus Ballengee (Moneta, Va.) – The most local of Liberty's new track & field signees, Ballengee graduated from Staunton River High School, about 30 miles southwest of Lynchburg. He was a two-time Virginia 3A state champion in the high jump (2015 indoor and 2016 indoor) and captured the 110 hurdles title at the 2016 outdoor state meet. Ballengee scored a total of 51 points at the 2016 Virginia 3A indoor and outdoor state championships, helping Staunton River place fourth at both meets. Indoors, Ballengee finished first in the high jump, second in the 55 hurdles, fourth in both the long jump and triple jump and sixth in the 4 x 200 relay. At the 2016 outdoor state meet, Ballengee won the 110 hurdles, finished third in the triple jump, fifth in the high jump, seventh in the 300 hurdles and eighth in the 4 x 400 relay. His top marks include 7.67 in the 55 hurdles, 14.45 in the 110 hurdles, 6-4 in the high jump and 45-8.5 in the triple jump.
Jacob Burke (Radford, Va.) – Burke swept the 2016 Virginia indoor (1A/2A) and outdoor (1A) state high jump titles as a senior at Radford High School. His outdoor winning height of 6-5 equaled both his personal best and the meet record. Burke previously finished third in the Virginia 1A outdoor high jump final as a sophomore and second as a junior.
Jahquez Durham (Deltona, Fla.) – Durham captured four Florida 1A state championships during his time at The First Academy, highlighted by a 400 title as a senior in a personal-best time of 47.74 seconds. Durham was also part of three state championship-winning relay teams, including both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 in 2014 and the 4 x 100 in 2015. Most recently, Durham led off for the runner-up 4 x 400 relay team at the 2016 Golden South meet, which clocked 3:09.31. Durham's other personal-best efforts include 10.69 in the 100 and 21.64 in the 200.
Caleb Hart (Allendale, N.J.) – Hart captured a New Jersey state title in the javelin as a junior at Hawthorne Christian Academy in 2014, throwing a personal-best 189-10. Hart, who also played both basketball and soccer for the Defenders, finished fourth in the state javelin competition as a sophomore and third as a freshman.
Ashton King (Christiansburg, Va.) – King was a two-sport star (track & field and baseball) at Christiansburg High School. He won the long jump at the 2016 Virginia 3A outdoor state meet, while placing seventh in the 200 and eighth in the 4 x 100 relay. Earlier in the year, King placed third in the 55 and long jump at the 2016 Virginia 3A indoor state championship. King was the 2015 3A indoor and outdoor long jump runner-up and helped Christiansburg capture the 2014 3A indoor boys' track & field team title. His top marks include 23-2 in the long jump and 6.60 in the 55-meter dash.
Women's Signees Katie Dodson (Oxford, Pa.) – Dodson closed out her time at Oxford High School with a fifth-place finish in the 100 hurdles at the 2016 Pennsylvania AAA state meet. She had previously placed eighth in the event as a sophomore and sixth as a junior. Dodson, who also competed in field hockey, owns personal bests of 9.23 (60 hurdles), 14.26 (100 hurdles) and 46.15 (300 hurdles).
Brooke Turner (Waynesville, N.C.) – Turner displayed impressive range during her time at Tuscola High School, placing third at the 2016 North Carolina indoor state meet in the 500 meters and also clocking a 19:26 5K in cross country. In between, she posted seven top-four finishes at the state meet in the 800 and 1,600 during her career. Turner's top times include 2:13.85 for the 800 and 4:59.94 for the mile.
Updates on Previous Signees Tanner Ealum (Anchorage, Alaska) – Ealum won four events at the 2016 Alaska state meet, including the 100 (12.22), 200 (24.76), 400 (55.56) and 4 x 400 relay (55.3 split). Ealum helped Anchorage Christian rally from a 50-meter deficit to win the 4 x 400 relay.
Brittany Small (Salisbury, N.C.) – As a senior, Small was the North Carolina 3A high jump runner-up, both indoors and outdoors.
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