Deborrah Blackburn helped lead her Edwardsville High School track and field team to an IHSA Class 3A State Championship in 2012 and a runner-up finish in 2013.
EDWARDSVILLE – Eight newcomers will join the SIUE women’s track and field program beginning with the 2014-2015 season.
Head coach Eileen McAllister has announced the addition of Deborrah Blackburn, Ivory Cassell, Brittney Gibbs, Aleasha Jones, Jacqueline Landuyt, LaCresha Linton, Brittany Thomas and Elizabeth Virgil.
“Our 2014 class is tremendous. We will be able to compete at a high level in more events,” McAllister said. “The added depth will foster more intra-team competition for relay and individual spots and allow more event specialization.”
Deborrah Blackburn, Edwardsville
About Deborrah: Four-year letter winner in track and field and three-time letter winner in basketball at Edwardsville High School. Helped lead her Edwardsville High School track and field team to an IHSA Class 3A State Championship in 2012 and a runner-up finish in 2013. McAllister: “We haven’t had a true high-jump only specialist on the women’s side since I have been here. We’re excited to keep local talent and continue to strengthen the bond with Edwardsville. I think Deborrah will take off with exposure to specialized coaching from Coach Chamov.”
Ivory Cassell, Chicago
Events: Jumps and sprints
About Ivory: Competed in four years of track and field and two years of cross country at Bloom Township, winning three conference titles in track.
McAllister: “Ivory will primarily be a jumper for us but also is equipped to impact the sprint relays. She possesses a lot of natural speed and power. She will benefit greatly by having a specialized jumps coach to focus on technique. I’m excited to watch her development in Coach Chamov’s system.”
Brittney Gibbs, Ontario, Canada
About Brittney: Holds the outdoor triple jump and outdoor long jump record at Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute. She enjoyed a strong prep career, and is slated to join the Cougars as a jumps specialist.
McAllister: “Brittney has only been jumping for two seasons and has had very promising results. Her background in gymnastics and cheerleading have helped tremendously. She has long legs, great range of motion, and spatial awareness. We are delighted to welcome her from Canada.”
Aleasha Jones, O’Fallon, Ill.
About Aleasha: Four-year letter winner in track and field at O’Fallon High School. Comes from a strong tradition of 4x400m relay teams, culminating in fourth place at the 2014 IHSA 3A State Championship. McAllister: “Aleasha is just beginning to tap her potential. Used mostly on relays in high school and a late bloomer, she is under the radar. She won’t be a secret for long with her talent. Aleasha will focus on the 200, 400, and relays. We are thrilled to keep a local talent in the area. “
Jacqueline Landuyt, Greenfield, Ind.
About Jacqueline: Three-time state qualifier in the discus at Greenfield-Central High School in Indiana, and a two-time conference champion.
McAllister: “Jacqueline is an all-around athlete with terrific size. She’s played many sports. She will add immediate depth to the throws. At this point it’s difficult to say in which throwing event she will excel. She will contribute in multiple events, especially under the tutelage of Coach Block. She is very outgoing and appeared right at home on her visit to SIUE.
LaCresha Linton, Rock Island, Ill.
About LaCresha: Competed primarily as a sprinter during her prep career, and compiled eight Illinois state medals.
McAllister: “LeCresha will fill a much-needed area on the team. We haven’t had any true short sprinters in a number of years. She comes from a great program and understands what it takes to be part of a championship team. She has a lot of experience in both open and relay sprint events.”
Brittany Thomas, Chicago
About Brittany: Ran in the sprints group alongside fellow SIUE recruit Ivory Cassell at Bloom Township. Claimed third place in the 200-meter dash and fifth place in the 100-meter dash at the 2014 IHSA 3A State Championship.
McAllister: “Brittany is an extremely talented sprinter. Her work ethic is what sets her apart. She understands and embraces the rigorous work necessary to compete at this level. A true short sprinter, Brittany will fill a void on our current team in the 60-, 100-, 200-meter dashes, and relays. This will allow our other athletes to focus on their primary events.”
Elizabeth Virgl, Wahoo, Neb.
About Elizabeth: Hammer throw specialist with a bevy of experience in the event competing in the hammer throw at the Junior Olympic Nationals twice.
McAllister: “Lizzie is from Nebraska and also has experience with the hammer throw; both aspects add to the diversity of our program. A lot of high school programs don’t have the hammer throw. She has been able to figure things out on her own in the hammer throw and it is a bonus that not a lot of high school athletes get.”
“There is no question, our team will be more competitive,” McAllister added. “Most importantly, these young women embody the important intangibles, like altruism, grit, passion and accountability. I am thrilled with the coaching staff’s hard work recruiting and I am eager to start working with these talented athletes.”