Three No. 1 recruits -- Olivia Baker, Elise Cranny, and Harrison Williams -- headline an outstanding 20-member track and field recruiting class as announced by Stanford head coach Chris Miltenberg.
Baker (400 meters), Cranny (mile/1,500), and Williams (decathlon) are the nation's top college prospects in their events and help create a Stanford team that will be extremely balanced, with strong talent across all disciplines.
The women's class: Olivia Baker (Maplewood, N.J.), Maddy Berkson (Providence, R.I.), Elise Cranny (Niwot, Colo.), Michaela Crunkleton Wilson (Tucson, Ariz.), Clare Flanagan (Orno, Minn.), Daryth Gayles (Melbourne, Fla.), Gabrielle Gayles (Melbourne, Fla.), Lena Giger (Highland, Ill.), Claire Howlett (Stamford, Conn.), Taylore Jaques (San Jose), Amber Lewis (Roswell, Ga.), Abbie McNulty (Cumberland, R.I.), Karina Shepard (Dracut, Mass.), and Megan Wilson (Potomac, Md.).
"We feel we've got one of the outstanding women's groups in the country," Miltenberg said. "What's most exciting is the depth from 400 meters to the distances. This is a great group that will excel at the next level."
The men's class of Isaiah Brandt-Sims (Wenatchee, Wash.), Steven Fahy (Carlsbad), Blair Hurlock (Tracy, Calif.), Frank Kurtz (Brentwood, Calif.), Patrick Perrier (O'Fallon, Ill.), and Harrison Williams (Memphis, Tenn.) also has a chance to make an immediate impact.
"We're really excited about this class," Miltenberg said. "It's a smaller class than last year but filled some really important needs for us, especially with Frank Kurtz adding great depth to our 400-meter group and Harrison Williams being one of the top overall athletes in the country who will make an immediate impact in several events. Hurlock, Perrier and Fahy are a perfect fit for us."
Here's a look at each recruit:
Olivia Baker (Maplewood, N.J./Columbia HS): Baker is the No. 1 high school 400 runner in the nation, with a best of 52.71. Baker, a 15-time All-America and nine-time state champion, has been described in the media as "one of the greatest track and field stars in New Jersey history." Last year, she became the first to win four events at the New Jersey Meet of Champions, capturing state titles in the 100, 200, 400, and anchoring the 4x400 relay. She has never lost a high school 400 to anyone from her home state. Baker ran her 400 best at the USATF World Youth trials and advanced to the World Youth Championships in Ukraine where she won silver in the 400 (53.38) and anchored the winning 1,000 relay. Baker is the reigning New Balance Outdoor Nationals 400 champ. At the same meet, she anchored Columbia to a state 4x400 record of 3:40.36, ran on the sprint medley relay that recorded the No. 2 U.S. high school time ever, and anchored a victory in the 4x800 relay. Her bests are 11.64 for 100, 23.95 for 200, and 2:10.41 for 800. The reigning New Jersey Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, Baker has goals of attending medical school and becoming a neurosurgeon.
Elise Cranny (Niwot, Colo./Niwot HS): Stanford's Angell Field & Cobb Track was the site of Cranny's top performance to date, a third-place 4:15.07 in the 1,500 at the 2013 Payton Jordan Invitational while running against professional and collegiate runners. The time stands No. 3 on the all-time high school list, behind only those produced by Mary Cain and Jordan Hasay. It's also equivalent to a 4:35.48 mile, which makes her the No. 1 high school runner in the nation at that distance. Cranny's best mile as a sophomore was 4:58, but she dropped it to 4:40.62 to win the 2013 New Balance Indoor Nationals in what stands as the fifth-fastest high school indoor time ever. In cross country, Cranny broke the previous course record at the Nike Cross Nationals, placing second in 16:53.8 for 5 kilometers (her XC best is 16:45). Cranny's cross country season included a Colorado Class 4A title in a course record and the Nike Cross Southwest Regional title. She was named Colorado Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Last year, she swept the 800 (her best is 2:08.50), 1,600, and 3,200 titles at the 4A state meet to lead Niwot to the team championship. She holds state 4A records in each distance.
Maddy Berkson (Providence, R.I./Classical HS): The versatile Berkson ranks No. 2 in the 800 for her class, with a best of 2:06.67. She is a nine-time Rhode Island state champion and the state outdoor record holder in the 800 (2:08.40) and 1,500 (4:27.92), and holds indoor records in the 400 (56.30) and 800. She captured the 1,000, 1,500, and 3,000 at the 2013 state indoor championships and won the 1,000 New England title. Berkson played soccer her first three falls, but took up cross country as a senior and placed third in the state and eighth in New England. She also has dabbled in the long jump and javelin, creating speculation that the heptathlon could be in her future. Her best long jump of 19-1 was only three inches shy of a 28-year-old state record. Berkson also is a member of Classical High's debating team and chess club.
Michaela Crunkleton Wilson (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic HS): Crunckleton Wilson is one of the most dynamic sprinters in the country, with top-level talent from 100 to 400. She has won five Arizona Division II state titles, including a sweep of all three sprints at the 2013 championships, and 100 and 200 victories as a sophomore. She was a USATF Junior Olympic 100 champ and 200 runner-up in 2011 and 2012 runner-up in the 100. Crunkleton Wilson has bests of 11.66 in the 100, 24.24w in the 200, and 55.41 in the 400.
Clare Flanagan (Orno, Minn./The Blake School): Flanagan is a six-time Minnesota Class A champion, winning four titles in track and two in cross country. She has been a double winner at state in the 1,600 and 3,200 the past two years. In 2013, she ran a personal best 4:48.41 to win the 1,600. Her 2012 season was highlighted by a 10:20.75 for two miles, making Flanagan No. 5 in the U.S. in her class. She achieved that time by placing fifth at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, and earned the same placing in the 3,000.
Daryth Gayles (Melbourne, Fla./Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy): Daryth Gayles joins identical twin sister Gabrielle in Stanford's recruiting class. Gayles won the 2012 Florida 1A state 100 title, teamed with her sister in the winning 4x100 relay, was third in the 200, and fifth in the long jump while helping Holy Trinity to the team victory. She is an AAU national champion in the long jump and holds Holy Trinity records in the 60 (7.63), 100 (11.80), and long jump (19-1¾). Gayles represented the United States at the 2013 Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Puerto Rico, placing third in the 100.
Gabrielle Gayles (Melbourne, Fla./Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy): Gabrielle Gayles, an identical twin of fellow recruit Daryth Gayles, is a three-time Florida 1A state champion. She won the 2013 state 400 title, after runner-up finishes the previous two years, and has been part of two state 4x100 victories. Gayles was sixth at the 2013 U.S. World Youth trials in the 400 and a gold medalist while representing the U.S. at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Puerto Rico. Gayles, the school recordholder in the 200 and 400, has bests of 11.84 (100), 24.12 (200), and 54.65 (400), which she ran while placing third in the young women's division at the 2013 USATF Junior Olympics.
Lena Giger (Highland, Ill./Highland HS): A two-time Illinois 2A state shot put champion, Giger made the U.S. high school list in two events in 2013, with a 48-10 3/4 in the shot put and 161-10 in the hammer throw. Giger is ranked No. 4 in the U.S. for her class in the shot put and No. 8 in the hammer. She won the Golden West Invitational in the hammer and was third in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in the shot put. She has begun 2014 at the same high level, with the No. 3 indoor put in the country, at 48-7 1/2.
Claire Howlett (Stamford, Conn./Westhill HS): Howlett is the reigning Connecticut Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year after a historic 2013 season in which she broke two state records on the same day winning the Open State 1,600 in 4:53.97 and the 3,200 in 10:20.03. The latter time converted to 10:23.63, which ranks her No. 8 in the U.S. in her class. She placed fifth at the 2013 New Balance Outdoor Nationals in the 5,000 (16:45.56) and was second at the Connecticut Open State cross country championships last fall. Howlett also is editor of Westhill's award-winning school newspaper.
Taylore Jaques (San Jose/Presentation HS): A pole vaulter from San Jose's Presentation High, Jaques won the 2012 California state title as a sophomore with a personal best 13-4¼. The mark ranks her No. 4 in the U.S. in her class. Jaques finished fourth in the state as a junior and this year has the opportunity to become the rare athlete to reach four California state finals in a single event. Jaques is No. 2 on the all-time Central Coast Section list, in an area that spans from San Francisco to King City. Her father and coach, former Del Mar-San Jose standout Warren Jaques, also is on an all-time CCS list, standing at No. 55 at 15-1.
Amber Lewis (Roswell, Ga./Roswell HS): Lewis captured three titles at the Georgia Region 5-6A meet last spring before earning three top-five finishes at the 6A state finals: second in the long jump, fourth in the 300 hurdles and fifth in the 100 hurdles. Her 400 hurdles best of 1:00.28 placed her second at the AAU Junior Olympics. Her best 100 hurdles time is 14.09, earned while placing second at the 2013 state 6A Sectional A meet. In 2012, Lewis was a state 5A finalist in both hurdles and went on to win the 400 hurdles at the AAU Club Nationals. She holds the Roswell record in both hurdles, with a best of 43.07 in the 300 hurdles.
Abbie McNulty (Cumberland, R.I./Bishop Feehan HS): McNulty was the 2012 Massachusetts All-State cross country champion and has won two Division III state titles: the 2013 indoor mile and 2012 outdoor two mile. McNulty, who runs for Bishop Feehan High of Attleboro, Mass., won the Eastern Massachusetts Division III state cross country title last fall and went on to finish 25th at the Nike Cross Nationals. She began the 2014 indoor season with a personal record of 10:38.38 in the two mile. Her 3,200 best is 10:28.05 and her fastest mile is 4:58.30.
Karina Shepard (Dracut, Mass./Dracut HS): Shepard, the reigning Massachusetts Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, is ranked No. 3 in the U.S. in the 800 for her class. This year, she has picked up where she left off, running this year's national No. 3 indoor times in the 800 (2:10.68) and 1,000 (2:51.27). Shepard won the Massachusetts All-State championship in the 800 last year and was second at the New England final, running her best time of 2:08.05. Shepard went on to place ninth at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals.
Megan Wilson (Potomac, Md./Sidwell Friends School): In two years of running cross country, Wilson won two District of Columbia titles for Washington's Sidwell Friends School and was named D.C. Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Wilson is a middle distance specialist, posting an 800 best of 2:10.34 at the 2013 New Balance Outdoor Nationals. She won the Emerging Elite mile in the same meet in 4:56.49, clocking a 4:36.93 for 1,500 along the way. Wilson, the defending 800 champion of the Independent School League/Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference, holds school records in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 (10:58.96).
Harrison Williams (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis University School): Williams is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in the decathlon. Williams' best of 7,181 points came from his runner-up finish in the 17-18 USATF Junior Olympic championships and is the best of anyone in the country. He also is ranked No. 4 in the U.S. in the pole vault, with a best of 16-8. Williams won five events at the 2013 Tennessee Division II state championships: the decathlon, 110 high hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles, high jump, and pole vault. He also won the prestigious Arcadia Invitational decathlon and New Balance Outdoor Nationals octathlon. Williams' personal bests are 10.98 (100), 22-2 (long jump), 46-6 (shot put), 6-8 (high jump), 49.82 (400), 14.46 (110 hurdles), 115-5 (discus), 16-8 (pole vault, established last month in Reno), 144-11 (javelin), and 4:41.91 (1,500).
Isaiah Brandt-Sims (Wenatchee, Wash./Wenatchee HS): A running back and wide receiver, Brandt-Sims signed a letter of intent to play football at Stanford, but the sprinter also plans to compete in track and field for the Cardinal. For good reason -- he is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in the indoor 60. Brandt-Sims can make history in the sport this spring as he attempts to become the first sprinter in Washington history to win the 100 and 200 meters four consecutive years in the state's largest classification (4A). His 100 best of 10.48w is matched by a 200 best of 21.24. A sidelight to Brandt-Sims is that he was born premature and weighed only 2 lbs., 6 oz., at birth. Now, he is among the fastest in the country.
Steven Fahy (Carlsbad/La Costa Canyon HS): Fahy is ranked No. 3 in California in the 3,200. Fahy was eighth in the state as a junior, and placed fourth in his section at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in a personal best 9:02.61. Fahy is a two-time CIF-San Diego Section Division II cross country champion and was sixth in the state Division II race last fall. His 1,600 best is 4:13.88.
Blair Hurlock (Tracy/De La Salle HS): Bay Area product Hurlock was the third senior at the 2013 FootLocker cross country nationals and the top Californian, while placing eighth overall in 15:24 on the hilly 5K San Diego course. Hurlock earned a prestigious victory at the 2013 Mt. SAC Team Sweepstakes cross country race and went on to win the North Coast Section Division I title by nearly a minute, covering three miles in 14:30. Hurlock was fourth in the state Division I cross country championship. Hurlock has best track times of 9:11.47 in the 3,200 and 4:15.82 in the 1,600.
Frank Kurtz (Brentwood, Calif./Heritage HS): The East Bay product was fourth in the 400 at the 2013 California state meet, running 47.14. He's now the state's No. 2-ranked quartermiler and No. 8 in the nation. Kurtz set his personal best of 47.03 in winning the 2013 Sacramento Meet of Champions, breaking a 16-year-old meet record. Kurtz has won three North Coast Section Tri-Valley Area individual titles: two in the 400 and one in the 200 (his personal best is 21.44), and was the 400 runner-up at the 2013 NCS Meet of Champions. Stanford's Cobb Track & Angell Field is familiar territory -- Kurtz is a two-time Stanford Invitational winner. He holds school records in the 100 (10.74), 200, and 400.
Patrick Perrier (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon HS): Became O'Fallon High's first state cross country champion when he captured the Illinois 3A state title last fall. Perrier is a two-time finalist at the FootLocker cross country nationals. He ran a 9:03.21 in the 3,200 while placing third in the Illinois 3A state track finals last year and has a mile best of 4:12.27.