March 2, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame cross country and track and field head coach Joe Piane announced Tuesday that six student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers with the Fighting Irish beginning in the fall 2010.
Distance runner Walter Schafer (Centennial, Colo./Cherry Creek) made his commitment to the men's squad, while distance runners Meghan Ryan (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Warde), McKinzie Schulz (Lisle, Ill./Benet Academy) and Kelly Curran (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington Central Catholic), as well as sprinter Michelle Brown (Tabernacle, N.J./Seneca) and jumper Kelly Burke (Cranford, N.J./Cranford) committed to the Irish women's squad during the current signing period.
Schafer made his way to the national stage by competing at the Foot Locker Nationals and finishing second in the men's junior race at the USA Track and Field Cross Country Championships. The Centennial, Colo., native, along with former Irish standouts Molly Huddle and Patrick Smyth, will represent Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 28 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Ryan comes to Notre Dame after finishing fifth in the mile at the 2009 Nike Outdoor National Championships. A 2009 Foot Locker national cross country finalist, the Fairfield, Conn., product finished second at the 2009 Connecticut state cross country championships, before earning the state 1600-meter crown. She also was the New England runner-up in the 1600 meters.
Schulz has made a name for herself on both the national and international track scenes. The Lisle, Ill., native represented the United States at the 2009 IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy, competing in the 2000-meter steeplechase. Schulz won the 2009 Illinois state 800-meter title and was runner-up to current Irish freshman Rebecca Tracy in the 1600-meter event.
A two-sport standout at Bloomington Central Catholic, Curran won back-to-back individual cross country championships in 2008 and 2009, and finished in the top-five in four different events to lead her team to the Illinois Class A state track championship. The 2009 Illinois Wendy's High School Heisman Award winner also is a member of Bloomington Central Catholic's girls' basketball squad that is currently ranked No. 1 in Illinois Class A.
Brown has been a fixture on the national scene throughout her junior career and broke onto the international landscape after winning the silver medal at the World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy in July 2009. The six-time New Jersey state champion earned All-America status after finishing third at the both the Nike Indoor and Outdoor Nationals and is currently ranked third among U.S. juniors. The Tabernacle, N.J. product holds personal bests of 52.91 in the 400 meters and 24.17 in the 200-meter dash.
Burke will add her name to the list of Irish jumpers when she joins the women's squad in the fall. The Cranford, N.J. native won the New Jersey Meet of Champions title with a triple jump of 39-5 and was crowned the New Jersey Group 2 Champion after clearing 12-0 in the pole vault.