PASADENA, Calif. (June 29, 2016) – The Caltech women's cross country and track & field teams welcome seven newcomers for the upcoming 2016-17 seasons.
The class includes:
Nicole Feng (Bethany, Conn. / Amity Regional)
Skye Reese (Concord, N.H. / Concord)
Jena Srikanth (Fresno, Calif. / Clovis North)
Sophie Walton (Emerald Hills, Calif. / Sequoia)
Michelle Zhao (San Diego, Calif. / Canyon Crest Acad.)
Alexa Lauinger (Ortonville, Mich. / Ortonville Brandon)
"This is a large, highly experienced group that instantly makes us significantly better," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "They've already developed a rapport with each other and are eager to team up with the rest of the squad this August."
Maria De Angelis
Santa Barbara, Calif.
De Angelis brings one of the most versatile athletic backgrounds to the squad as a high school lacrosse and club soccer player.
"Maria is passionate about athletics and is enthusiastic about joining the cross country program," Raphelson said.
Bethany, Conn. / Amity Regional H.S.
3mile XC: 21:07
Feng is a two-time competitor at the Southern Connecticut Conference Cross Country Championships, where as a senior she helped her team win its first SCC title since 1999. She received 2015-2016 Scholar Athlete honors from Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
Ortonville, Mich. / Ortonville Brandon H.S.
Discus Throw: 97'2"/29.62m
Shot Put: 32'0"/9.75m
Lauinger enters Caltech as a likely three-sport student-athlete between volleyball, women's basketball and track & field. Both her discus and shot put marks already rank among the Caltech top-10 and are very competitive marks in the SCIAC.
"Alexa is an accomplished thrower who should appear on our top-10 lists quickly and will be competing well on the SCIAC level," Raphelson said. "She's a great athlete and person who is an important addition to our team and the rest of the campus community."
Concord, N.H. / Concord H.S.
5k XC: 20:37
Valedictorian of her class, Reese is another newcomer who has high potential to make major contributions to the Beavers. A multi-sport athlete in high school, she competed for Concord's cross country and track teams for three years.
"Skye is just beginning to come into her own as a distance runner," Raphelson said. "Her eagerness to improve is contagious and she's a great fit for Caltech."
Fresno, Calif. / Clovis North H.S.
5k XC: 18:54
Srikanth is set to make an immediate impact in the distance events at Caltech. She showed steady improvement during her high school career, finishing eighth at the 2015 CIF Central Section cross country championships as a senior, clocking a personal best in the 5k. At the 2015 California state championship, she was the fourth member of her team to cross the finish line, which helped Clovis North earn sixth place for Division I girls.
"There might not be anyone as excited to come to Caltech as Jena," Raphelson said. "We're excited to have someone with her attitude and abilities join us. She's a high-level competitor who has a chance to do great things here."
Emerald Hills, Calif. / Sequoia H.S.
5k XC: 18:57
After not running her junior year due to illness, Walton was quick to bounce back for her senior year. In her final high school cross country season, she earned an Honorable Mention on the All-Mercury News girls' cross country team and finished 66th in the Division I girls race at the 2016 California state championships. Not only was she the first person ever to compete at the state level for her school, but she also became the third fastest female cross country runner in Sequoia's history.
"Sophie really blossomed as a runner during the fall cross country season her senior year," Raphelson said. "She actually edged out Jena at the state championships by .4 seconds. I already value her perspective and I'm eager to work with her over the next four years."
San Diego, Calif. / Canyon Crest Academy
3mile XC: 21:03
Rounding out this talented group is Zhao, who is sure to be a contributor in the distance events. During her freshman and sophomore year, she competed at the California cross country state championships in the Division III girls race. Her senior year, Zhao earned her personal best time over three miles in cross country.
"Michelle is passionate about continuing her improvements as a runner," Raphelson said. "Her high school experience was instructive at an individual and team level and she's ready to contribute to our program."
This group will join the current Beavers who demonstrated significant improvement during last year's cross country and track & field seasons, particularly rising sophomores Melissa Gutierrez (Pico Rivera, Calif. / El Rancho) and Michelle Marasigan (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / James B. Conant). Gutierrez ran the fifth-fastest time in program history at last year's SCIAC Cross Country Multi-Duals meet while Marasigan led the women at the 2015 SCIAC Cross Country Championships and NCAA West Regionals, running the 13th-fastest time in program history