Head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey announced the addition of five state champions to the 2012-13 recruiting class.
Feb. 13, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois women's head track and field coach Tonja Buford-Bailey announced the addition of five talented student-athletes to the 2012-13 recruiting class including the addition of the No. 1 sprinter in the country along with a state record holder in the hurdles, two state champion distance runners and a state champion in the pole vault. "I am most proud of this class because for the most part we managed to keep the best Illinois runners in the state and focused on recruiting really good kids in the Midwest," Buford-Bailey said.
Morolake Akinosun (Aurora, Ill.) is a two-time AAU Junior Olympic National Champion through her junior year of high school. She also has the No. 1 ranking in the 2012 recruiting class in both the 100m and 200m with times of 11.42 and 23.49 respectively. Akinosun's 200m time is the current national 17-18 age group record. Along with her individual successes, Akinosun was part of the 4x100 team that set the national record at the AAU National Championships.
"Morolake is a very talented athlete who will bring a bright spot to our short sprints group," Buford-Bailey said. "She is versatile enough to run the 100, 200, 400 and both relays. It's very exciting to have the number one United States recruit signed to our program."
"Morolake is an extremely hard worker and always reaches for perfection to achieve her goals," Aurora Flyers Track Club coach Tom Boatright said. "She has a driving side to reach the next level and whatever coach asked her to do she will do it. She has the same traits as other top athletes that I have coached possess. She has what it takes to be a top contender in the Big Ten and the NCAA level."
Jenn DeBellis (Vancouver, WA.) won the Washington state championship in the pole vault and holds the state meet pole vault record at 12" 6'. She also holds the regional, district and school pole vault records. Along with pole vault, DeBellis is also the Washington State Gymnastics Champion and 2012 State Athlete of the Year.
"Jen will add even more depth to our pole vault group," Buford-Bailey said. "With the recent success of Richartz and Eitzen, we believe that Jen will be able to fit right in and have the same kind of success early in her collegiate career."
Amanda Fox (Naperville, Ill.) was the 2011 Illinois crosscountry Gatorade Athlete of the Year after winning the state cross country championships. Along with her state championship, Fox also was the 2011 NXN Midwest cross country champion and placed ninth at the NXN Cross Country Nationals. As the individual cross country champion, Fox recorded the second fastest time in Illinois history. She is currently ranked sixth in the nation in the 2012 class by Dyestat Elite Rankings and ninth by the Milesplit XC Super 50 Rankings. She set seven new meet and course records during the 2011 cross country season.
"Amanda will bring the most balance to our team in the longer distance events and cross country," Buford-Bailey said. "She has an amazing cross country season by winning the state title and by competing well nationally to be named Gatorade Illinois Cross Country Runner of the year."
"I am proud of everything Amanda has accomplished over the past four years," Naperville Central track coach Aislinn Hicks said. "She's made a great decision in choosing the University of Illinois. She will have the opportunity to run for a great program and represent her home state throughout the Big Ten. As an Illini, Amanda will also have the opportunities to improve and grow as a competitive runner and get an amazing education."
Lindsey Rakosnik (Lombard, Ill.) was the 2011 USTAF National Junior Olympic 1500m Champion as well as being the 2011 Illinois 800m state champion. Rakosnik improved her track career each year as she placed sixth in the 400m as a freshman and became the 2010 Illinois state runner-up her sophomore year. Along with the previous accomplishments, Rakosnik placed seventh at the 2011 Cross Country State Championships and holds conference, sectional and school records in multiple events.
"Lindsey is one of the most dedicated athletes I've ever met," Buford-Bailey said. "She is a diamond in the rough right now and she is only a little over a year into competing in the distance events. She has a very bright future as a middle distance runner and will run cross country."
"We are very pleased that Lindsey has decided to stay in-state and become a student-athlete at the University of Illinois," Glenbard East head girls track and field coach Joe Latala said. "Her amazing work ethic and drive to succeed in all works of life will serve her well at the Division I level."
Elexis Fuller-Stewart (Milwaukee, Wis.) is a very talented and versatile athlete who will contribute in many different events for the Fighting Illini. She can run the 100H, 100m, 200m and 4X100 relay. Fuller-Stewart is currently the Wisconsin state record-holder in the 100m hurdles (13.89) and placed second at the state meet in the 200m with a time of 24.08. She ran a time of 11.74 in the 100m at the AAU Junior Olympic meet in New Orleans and ran the first leg on the record-setting 4x100 team that won a Wisconsin state title.
"Elexis is very versatile and will immediately add to our young group of short hurdles," Buford-Bailey said. "She can also run the short sprints and the 4x100. She is an inexperienced runner but was on a very competitive high school team and knows how to compete at a high level."
PROFILES ON THE NEWEST ILLINI
Morolake Akinosun // Sprints // Aurora, Ill. // Waubonsie Valley HS
• 2-time AAU Junior Olympic National Champion
• 100m: 11.42 #1 in the USA class of 2012
• 200m: 23.49 #1 in the USA class of 2012 (17-18 age group record)
• 4x100 team set national record at AAU National Championships
Jenn DeBellis // Pole Vault // Vancouver, Wa. // Columbia River HS
• Washington State Champion Pole Vaulter
• Holds State Meet pole vault record at 12-6
• Also holds regional, district and school pole vault record
• Washington State Gymnastics Champion
• 2012 State Athlete of the Year
Amanda Fox // Distance // Naperville, Ill. // Naperville Central HS
• 2011 Illinois XC Gatorade Athlete of the Year
• 9th at NXN Cross Country Nationals
• Ranked 6th in USA in 2012 Class by Dyestat Elite Rankings and #9 by Milesplit XC Super 50 Rankings
• 2011 Illinois State Cross Country Champion - 2nd fastest time in Illinois History
• 2011 NXN Midwest Cross Country Champion
• Set 7 new meet and course records in 2011 Cross Country Season
Lindsey Rakosnik // Distance // Lombard, Ill. // Glenbard East HS
• 2011 USATF National Junior Olympic 1500m Champion
• 2011 Illinois 800m State Champion
• 2010 Illinois State Runner-Up in 400m
• 2009 Illinois 6th place in 400m as freshman
• 2011 Illinois Cross Country State Championship 7th place finish
Elexis Fuller-Stewart // Sprints/Hurdles // Milwaukee, Wis. // Bradley Technical HS
• Can run the 100H, 100m, 200m, 4x100 relay
• Wisconsin state record-holder in 100m hurdles (13.89)
• Placed second at the State Meet in the 200m (24.08)
• Ran 11.74 in the 100m at the AAU Junior Olympic meet in New Orleans
• Ran the 1st leg on the record-setting 4x100 that won the State Title