Feb. 19, 2010
Jeanette Bolden has announced the signing of 11 student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent for women's track and field. Joining the Bruins in the fall are Kimberly Conner, Nicole Hood, Natasha Kolbo, Meghan Marvin, Amber Murakami, Alexandria Oliver, Paisley Pettway, Tamara Purpura, Melissa Skiba, Ida Storm and Sierra Vega. The class includes seven distance runners, two jumpers and one thrower. "We are extremely excited about this year's signing class," said Bolden. "All of these women will help give our team a lot of depth and we are excited to welcome them to UCLA."
Storm is a thrower from Sweden who posted a top hammer mark in 2009 of199-11. She is the Swedish Junior Record holder in the event and, if an American, would be the top returning high school hammer thrower in the U.S.
"Ida is a gifted athlete with a huge level of potential," said throws coach Mike Maynard. "Her physical attributes (6-2.50), along with her exceptional athleticism make her likely to become a dominant force in the NCAA hammer throw in the future. She is extremely personable and was a great fit with the whole team. We are very excited to add Ida to our women's throws squad."
Conner (Laguna Niguel, CA/Dana Hills HS) is a local Orange Country product who specializes in the heptathlon. In 2009, Conner had top marks of 17-6 in the long jump, 5-4 in the high jump and 14.79 in the 100m hurdles. Conner is also an honors student at Dana Hills HS.
Hood hails from Walnut Creek, CA (Carondelet HS) and is a cross country/distance runner. She has a prep best of 4:56 in the 1600m.
"Nicole brings speed, toughness and a lot of untapped potential to our squad, said long distance coach Forest Braden. "Her work ethic and talent will develop her into a very good collegiate runner. She is a great addition to the team!" into UCLA with many accolades. She will help us get to the top and stay there."
Murakami is set to join her sister Shannon, a junior on the UCLA track and field team in the fall. Amber (Saugus HS) comes to UCLA as a heralded distance recruit who should make an immediate impact on the women's squad. She currently ranks ninth in the U.S. in the prep indoor 2-mile (11:15.98). In 2009, she had top times of 2:16.0 in the 800m, 5:09.5 in the 1600m and 10:47 in the 3200m. She led Saugus to a second-place team finish at the Nike Cross Nationals in 2009.
"Amber was a scoring member of four cross country team titles with Saugas HS," added Braden. "She will be reunited with her sister Shannon to provide a formidable sister duo. Amber is on pace to have her best track season to date. She is a big time competitor who has competed at the highest level so far and will continue to improve and help us for years to come."
Skiba is another distance star from California (Oak Park HS). Last outdoor season, she had a top 1600m time of 5:00.65 and is the top senior in the 3200m (10:31.26). The senior won the 2008 CIF-Southern Section Division III cross country and 2009 Division III 3,200-meter run titles.
Skiba was runner-up at the Division III state cross country championships the past two years and was sixth in the 3,200 at the 2009 state track meet. She won the 3,200 at the Masters Meet last spring.
"Melissa is a huge addition to the team," said Braden. "She is a franchise type athlete who will make an immediate impact on the cross country team and on the track.
"I am very excited about the entire recruiting class," added Braden. "These young women are many of the best in California and, thus in the country, and will make us nationally competitive for a long time to come. Our destiny is in our hands and I feel confident that with the leadership on the team presently and the addition of quality young women coming in next year that we will be able to vie for a Pac-10 title in cross country immediately. This is a great group and we look forward to coaching them for the next four or five years."
Purpura is a middle distance runner from San Francisco, CA (Lowell HS). Last season, she had a top 800m time of 2:10.75 (4th-best as a junior in CA).
Vega (Foothill HS/Santa Ana, CA) was 13th at the 2009 Footlocker Cross Country West Championships (18:46). She had top times of 5:11.14 in the 1600m and 10:50.22 in the 3200m.
Pettway is a distance runner from Long Beach Millikan HS (Long Beach, CA). She is the top California senior heading into the 2010 outdoor season in the 800m and ranked 18th nationally in 2009 (2:08.57). So far this indoor season, Pettway has a top 800m time of 2:14.66.
Marvin is a distance runner from Clovis HS (Clovis, CA). In 2009, she had a top outdoor 3200m time of 10:56.2 and was a Footlocker finalist.
"I am exited about the recruits for next year women's team," said middle distance coach Johnny Gray. "Paisley Pettway finished third in the 800m at the CA State meet last year to two seniors! That makes her a clear favorite this year. Also, we have Tamara who was fifth in that same race in which she and Paisely were the only 11th graders competing. That gives UCLA the No. 1 and No. 2 returning 800m runners in the state. Also signing was Sierra, a top notch miler and two miler from Foothill High School. She is coached by Bruin alum miler Christin Cushing Murry. Last but not least we have Meghan from up north. She is a top notch mid-distance, cross country runner. I really look forward to adding this group of recruits to our young core of girls we already have!"
Kolbo is a pole vaulter/jumper from Arroyo Grande, CA (St. Joseph's HS) with a top vault of 11-6. She is also a long jumper with a top mark of 17-1.50.
Oliver is a jumper from Manasses, VA (St. John's College Prep HS) with a top mark of 18-10.