Jillian Matthew

Jillian Matthew

From Staff Reports

Clayton State adds to cross country team

With the 2011 cross country season on the horizon, Clayton State head coach Mike Mead wrapped up his recruiting class for the Laker women last week with the signing of area product Holly McNorton.

McNorton comes to Clayton State following a cross country and track and field career at nearby Whitewater High School in Fayetteville. She joins fellow newcomers Jessica Smith of Palmdale, Calif., and Maia Kuhnen from Trier, Germany, in this season's women's cross country recruiting class.

"Holly makes a nice addition to our running programs," Mead said. "She brings us added depth in both cross country and track and field. I believe we can bring her further along in both sports and she will be a great student-athlete."

McNorton ran a season-best 22:30 for a 5K during her senior season at Whitewater. However, her career best was during her junior season in 2009, when she ran 21:38. In track and field, McNorton competed mainly in the 800-meter and 3,200-meter runs. Her best time in the 800 meters was 2:46.47 this past spring, while her top time in the 3,200 meters was 13:43 in 2009.

Clayton State opens the season on Sept. 2, with the Laker men competing in the Strut's Season Opener at Jacksonville State. The Laker women run their first meet on Sept. 10 at the Georgia Southwestern Remembrance Run.

TWO ADDITIONS TO TRACK TEAM: Mead filled some key needs for the Lakers this season with the recent signing of Shanel Lewis and Ashley Downer.

Lewis, who will specialize in the hurdles, comes to Clayton State from Jasper County High School in Monticello. Downer is a thrower who joins the Laker program from Elbert County in Elberton.

"I'm pleased that we are able to bring in these two young ladies into our program," Mead said. "Both have competed well at the state level, but did not fully reach their potential. If they are willing to work at it, I believe they can make some big gains in our program."

Lewis competed in track at Jasper County for four seasons, mainly in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. She made it to the Class AA state meet three times in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing fourth in 2008 as a freshman. Her best time in the event was a 48.34. In addition, Lewis also made it to state in 2009 in the 100 meters where she ran a career-best 12.94.

Because of a minor injury before region, Lewis was unable to return to the state meet in her senior season.

Downer was the 2010 state runner-up in the Class AAA discus event. In that meet, she threw her career-best mark of 115-8. In 2011, Downer missed qualifying for the state meet with a season-best mark of 101-2.

MATTHEWS TRANSFERS TO REINHARDT: Former Union Grove soccer player Jillian Matthews has transferred to Reinhardt University for her senior season. The midfielder had played the previous three seasons at LaGrange College. Last season, she played in 18 matches with 16 starts and scored her only goal against Agnes Scott in a conference tournament match.

As a sophomore, she had two goals and three assists. In three seasons at LaGrange, Matthews played in 54 matches with 52 starts.

She joins two freshmen and two other college transfers for the Lady Eagles program, which opens the season Aug. 24 against Truett-McConnell College.

"This is a very important recruiting class for our program," said Reinhardt coach Andy Kaplan, who is starting his 10th year at the helm. "We graduated some very accomplished players last spring. This current group of recruits has the ability to step in immediately and strengthen those areas the departed seniors occupied. I am confident that all of these recruits will contribute to a successful season this year."