April 19, 2017

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MARTIN, Tenn. –
 The University of Tennessee at Martin cross country/track and field head coach Peter Dalton has announced the addition of 17 athletes to the squad’s 2017 signing class. The Skyhawks welcome 10 athletes from outside the state of Tennessee while adding seven from the Volunteer State.

UT Martin looks forward to the addition of Summer Pierson (Yorkville, Ill.), Ashley Bryja (Chicago, Ill.), Brian Kiprop (Eldoret, Kenya), Poncherella Leonard (Bainbridge, Ga.), Andrew Dodson (Huntsville, Ala.), Tyreke Sapp (Houston, Texas) Will Oglesby (Madison, Ala.), Lenny Baumann (Bradley, Ill.), Josiah Smith (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Hunter Watkins (Paducah, Ky.) to make up the squad’s out-of-state 2017 signing class. Rounding out a stellar class are a handful of Tennessee’s most talented athletes in Jessica Smith (Memphis), Daniel Smith (Murfreesboro), Kewan Slaton (Memphis), Luke McNair (Bartlett), Jhon Wes Walker (Covington), Timothy Dye (Murfreesboro) and Leomar Perez (Murfreesboro).

“With the addition of men’s indoor and outdoor track and field combined with the success we’ve experienced during the cross country season, the Skyhawks are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with” said Dalton. “This group of talented and smart athletes saw the teams’ recent success, understood the vision for the program and wanted to be a part of the success. We’re excited to welcome these determined athletes to the Skyhawk track and cross country squads.”

Summer Pierson, Yorkville, Ill. (Yorkville HS)

Pierson joins the Skyhawks as a transfer student after a glittering high school career highlighted by a third place showing at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational. A four-time Illinois state champion and two-time all-state honoree, Pierson will make an immediate impact within the tight-knit Skyhawk pack. Prep times include a 10:46 for the 3,200 meters, along with a mile personal record of 5:13. Continuing her success at the next level, Pierson blazed a 10:08 3k during the indoor season and went on to an impressive 5k personal record of 17:25 recently.  

Ashley Bryja, Chicago, Ill. (Mother McAuley HS)

Bryja brings a wealth of experience and accolades to the team. She was a four-time GCAC All-Conference selection while being named the 2016-2017 GCAC Athlete of the Year during the cross country season. Bryja boasts personal records of 0.59 for 400 meters along with 2:19 for 800 meters on the track. In addition to her track exploits she possess a cross country three-mile time of 18:14. Bryja, a 2016 USATF Junior Olympic All-American is one-to-watch.

Jessica Smith, Memphis, Tenn. (Central HS)

Jessica Smith hails from Central High School in Memphis and has compete at a high level in AAU Nationals on the track. Her personal records of 12.9 (100m) and 26.3 (200m) propelled her to multiple state championships. Her ability will be sure to add depth to a growing and rapidly improving Skyhawk sprint squad.

Brian Kiprop, Eldoret, Kenya (St. Francis Kimuron Secondary School)

Kiprop comes from St. Francis Kimuron Secondary School where he was the provincial champion and has a personal record of 14:53 for 5k. Kiprop’s cross country success led to a track PR of 8:34 for 3k during the track season. Along with his athletic accolades, Brian intends to study business.

Poncherella Leonard, Bainbridge, Ga. (Bainbridge HS)

Leonard joins the Skyhawks with stellar prep times in the mile (4:22) and two-mile (9:33). His range in distance is impressive, but his pure speed of 1:57.8 for 800 meters is a sign of more to come. Leonard has also ran impressive on the roads with a 15:33 best for 5k. Leonard is an athletic superstar with strong academics and will add depth and talent to the team.

Andrew Dodson, Huntsville, Ala. (Huntsville HS) 

Dodson comes from Huntsville High School where he was runner-up at the 7A Sectional meet and has a personal record of 15:53 for 5k. Dodson’s youthful cross country has led to a track PR of 9:34 for two-miles during the 2017 indoor season and is sure to lead to more success at the college level with great emphasis on his strengths and talents. Along with his athletic accolades, Dodson is a honor roll student and a member of the honors society.

Tyreke Sapp, Houston, Texas (Cypress Springs HS)

Sapp joins the Skyhawks with the ability and determination to make an immediate impact at the next level for the track team. With personal records of 22.1 for 200 meters and 48.9 for 400 meters, Tyreke has all the attributes of a top-class athlete and was top-100 nationally as a junior. A multiple regional champion and state qualifier, Sapp will be a game-changer in the OVC conference and beyond

Will Oglesby, Madison, Ala. (Madison Academy)

Oglesby comes from Madison Academy where he won two consecutive cross country regional championships. Recently taking top-honors at the Metro XC Championships, Oglesby will be a great asset to the Skyhawk squad. On the track, Oglesby is an Alabama state champion in the two-mile where he possesses a PR time of 9:44.

Kewan Slaton, Memphis, Tenn. (Arlington HS)

Slaton is a Memphis native with a tremendous ability in the sprints. With personal records of 22.6 for 200 meters and 49.6 for 400 meters, Slaton will add depth and experience to the squad. A decorated high school, and state-qualifiers in numerous events, with college experience, the transfer will lead the youthful Skyhawk squad.

Lenny Baumann, Bradley, Ill. (Bradley-Bourbonnais HS)  

Baumann comes from Bradley-Bourbonnais High School where he was a two-time Illinois state cross country qualifier. Baumann was also named to the Southwest Suburban All-Conference team twice during his stellar high school season. Named team captain for both track and cross country while at Bradley-Bourbonnais, he possesses impressive 15:26 personal three-mile record. He has all the elements to excel at the college level.  

Daniel Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Oakland HS)  

Daniel Smith comes from Oakland High School with an impressive track and cross country pedigree. A state finalist in the mile during the 2016 outdoor season, Smith holds a personal record of 4:20 along with a two-mile time of 9:49. He recently finished his senior cross country season by winning the 4-AAA Region Championships and earning all-state honors with a 12th place finish. He is an honors student and holds a 4.0 GPA.   

Josiah Smith,  Fayetteville, Ga. (Henry County HS)

Josiah Smith is a native of Georgia and has represented his state at the highest level at the AAU Junior Olympics in the sprints. With personal records of 22.37 for 200 meters and 11.00 for 100 meters Smith will add depth and experience to the squad. A decorated high school and state-qualifiers in numerous events, his potential will flourish as part of the Skyhawk squad.

Luke McNair, Bartlett, Tenn. (Bartlett HS) 

McNair is the reigning AAA Region 7 Champion. With personal records of 15:57 for 5k cross country along with track times of 9:38 for two-mile and 4:25 for the mile, McNair is one to watch. In addition to his records, McNair claimed top-spot in the mile and two-mile at the recent AAA Section 4 Track Championships. In the classroom, he is an accomplish student with multiple accolades and honors.

Jhon-Wes Walker, Covington, Tenn. (Covington HS)

Speedster Walker is a talented mid-distance specialist with an 800 meter personal record of 1:57.5. In addition to his speed, Walker has qualified for the state cross country championships on numerous occasions. The rare combination of strength and speed will serve him well at the college level where his capacity for success will be evident.

Timothy Dye, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Riverdale HS)

Dye finished his senior cross country season by finishing runner-up at the 4-AAA Region Championships. Hailing from Riverdale High School, Dye has a personal record of 16:11 for 5k. With developing speed on the track, Dye recently saw success during the limited indoor season and will be a force to be reckoned with during his senior season.

Hunter Watkins, Paducah, Ky. (Paducah Tilghman HS)

Watkins joins the Skyhawk as a decorated Kentucky state champion. The 2016 400-meter champion with a personal record of 49.5, is a talent with even greater potential at the college level. A gifted student and honor recipient in the classroom, Watkins is a well-rounded student-athlete that is sure to be an asset to the track program.   

Leomar Perez, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Oakland HS)

Perez joins his brother and current team member Leonel from Oakland High School. Perez is a member of the 4-AAA Sectional and Regional cross country championship team and has a personal record of 17:14. Perez will contribute to the team in the classroom and on the track with his speed and talent.

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