Cross Country, Track and Field get three commitments
Missouri State University has received early commitments for the 2007-08 cross country and track and field seasons from a trio of student-athletes. Tara Collins, a sophomore transfer, will join the Bears in January, while two Illinois high school seniors, Nancy Nieto (South Elgin) and Kelsee Viano (Carlinville) have committed to join the Missouri State program next fall.
Collins comes to Missouri State after spending three semesters at Oklahoma Christian University, where she earned NAIA all-America honors in both cross country and indoor track and field as a freshman. She placed 19th at the NAIA national meet with a 5K time of 18:11 and owns an 18:10 personal best. During the indoor track and field season she earned NAIA all-America honors in the 5,000-meters after placing ninth at the NAIA National meet with a time of 17:55.52. Collins redshirted her freshman outdoor season and will compete this spring for the Bears. Collins did her high school running at nearby West Plains High, where she was a member of three straight state championship teams for the Zizzers. Collins earned all-state honors in each of her final three seasons, capped off by a state runner-up finish in 2004.
"Tara already has some experience at the college level and because of her work ethic and a great team-first attitude she should make a quick transition into our program," coach Greg Hipp commented. "I’m excited that Tara’s decided to come to Missouri State now and take her running to new levels."
Nieto will join the Missouri State program after running under Coach Ryan Korn at Streamwood High, where she has been one of Illinois’ top distance runners over the past three seasons. Nieto capped off her senior cross country season by earning all-state accolades, running 17:32.95 for the 3-mile course. Nieto’s state track and field meet accomplishments include finishing sixth at the Illinois AA (Large Class) State meet in the 3200-meters as a sophomore, running 11:06.80. Nieto is the top returning Illinois senior in the 3200-meters for this spring’s track season and her 3200-meter best is believed to be the fastest junior year personal best of any recruit to ever sign with Missouri State.
"Nancy is a great addition to our program," Hipp said. "She’s been a consistent performer at the state level for several years now and her recent cross country performances show she’s ready for another breakthrough. Nancy is very competitive and that attitude will drive her to what it takes to make an immediate impact for us."
Viano has completed her high school running at Carlinville High under coaches Larry Huffman and Mary Lauwerens. Viano has been a consistent performer in Illinois Class A competition, setting her school’s 1600 and 3200-meter records for the first time as a freshman. Viano has been ranked as high as sixth in her division this fall by Ilinoispreptoptimes.com. As a sophomore, Viano took second at the Illinois Class A State meet in the 3200-meters and has been a state qualifier in each of her three years of track and field. She saw her senior cross country season cut short this fall when she stepped into a hole during the first mile of a mid-season race. Despite breaking her fibula, Viano finished that same race with a course record time. Now healthy again Viano will be looking to improve her personal bests of 18:12 for 3-mile cross country, 11:20 for 3200-meters and 5:20 for the 1600-meters.
"Kelsee is a tough competitor and has had a lot of success," Hipp added. "With Kelsee’s enthusiasm and love for the sport she’s going to make huge strides once she joins our training group. Kelsee is the type of girl who can work her way into a major role in our program and in the Missouri Valley Conference."
Missouri State will get the 2007 indoor season off and running on Friday, Jan. 12, at the Arkansas Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.