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    Wildcats Announce 10 Newcomers for 2012 Season

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM April Likhite assembled a highly accomplished group of 10 runners for her 2012 freshman recruiting class.
    April Likhite assembled a highly accomplished group of 10 runners for her 2012 freshman recruiting class.

    Feb. 7, 2012

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern head cross country coach April Likhite announced today (Feb. 7) the 10 members of her 2012 incoming freshman class, a group that draws on six states and adds to a roster that returns many of its top performers from a successful 2011 campaign.

    "We are thrilled to announce and welcome to our program this year's recruiting class and their families.," Likhite said. "With three individuals experienced at the national level, this group should add the depth that will enable us to climb the ranks not only at the conference level, but regionally and nationally. Along with talent, these young women bring to our program the quality characteristics that we feel are necessary to be successful Northwestern student-athletes."

    A Wisconsin native, Likhite continued her trend of strong recruiting in the Midwest, with three newcomers from Illinois, two each from Indiana and Wisconsin, and one each from Iowa, Michigan and Texas. Seven served as team captains in high school, the same number which achieved all-state status during their respective high school careers.

    The 10 members of the 2012 freshman class are listed below, followed by their complete bios:

    Northwestern's 2012 Recruiting Class
    AthleteHt.HometownHigh School
    Mallory Abel5'5"St. Charles, Ill.St. Charles East
    Jessie Baloga5'4"Grand Rapids, Mich.East Grand Rapids
    Elena Barham5'4"Madison, Wis.West High School
    Erica Grubbs5'5"Davenport, IowaAssumption
    Allison Jacobsen5'7"Carmel, Ind.Carmel
    Allison Naval5'3"Southlake, TexasCarroll Senior
    Megan O'Brien5'10"Homer Glen, Ill.Lockport
    Niki Rhyan5'6"Plymouth, Wis.Plymouth Comprehensive
    Rachel Weathered5'9"Naperville, Ill.Naperville North
    Renee Wellman5'4"Carmel, Ind.Carmel

    Mallory Abel
    St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East

    High School: Two-time all-conference performer and the 2009 Upstate Eight Conference cross country champion ... Three-time Kane County all-area selection ... 2011 team MVP ... Helped St. Charles East to third-place 3A state finish in 2008 and 2011 ... Team captain ... Also a three-time all-conference performer in track ... 2012 Illinois State Scholar and a three-time Academic All-Conference honoree.

    Personal: Born Mallory Jordan Abel ... Daughter of JoAnn and Steve Abel ... Chose Northwestern over Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan State ... Future major is undecided.

    Jessie Baloga
    Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids

    High School: Achieved all-conference and all-state status all four years of her cross country career ... Named team's Most Outstanding Freshman and later in her career the team MVP ... Helped East Grand Rapids with three state championships in her career (2008, 2009, 2011) ... Cross country team captain ... Also a three-time all-conference and all-state performer in track ... Member of state champion 4x800-meter relay team and helped set school records in 4x800 and 4x400 events ... Three-time Academic All-State and member of National Honor Society.

    Personal: Born Jessica Corey Baloga ... Daughter of Amy Williams and Mark Baloga ... Chose Northwestern over Michigan ... Plans on majoring in environmental science.

    Elena Barham
    Madison, Wis./West High School

    High School: Four-year letterwinner in cross country and track ... Two-time first-team All-Big Eight Conference performer who earned second-team all-state (2011) and honorable mention all-state honors (2010) in her career ... Cross country runner-up in Big Eight Conference as a senior ... Placed second in her conference in 3,200-meter race as a junior ... Career-best times include 18:49 in cross country (5K) and 11:21 in two-mile track event ... Team took third in the state in 2011 and sixth in 2010 and won a sectional championship all four years of her career ... Missed portion of junior year track season due to injury ... Academic All-State honoree and National Honor Society member.

    Personal: Born Elena Frances Barham ... Daughter of Mary and Brad Barham ... Chose Northwestern over Minnesota and Wisconsin ... Plans to major in political science.

    Erica Grubbs
    Davenport, Iowa/Assumption

    High School: Three-time qualifier to the Iowa state championships both as an individual and with her team, Assumption ... Two-time medalist and all-state performer ... Named honorable mention all-area by Quad City Times ... Team placed second (2011), seventh (2010) and sixth (2009) during her career ... Also ran four years of track, reaching the state championships three times and placing in the top 10 of the 1,500-meter and 4x800-meter events ... Track team was state runner-up in 2011 ... Team captain in cross country and track as well as volleyball ... Student Council president and member of National Honor Society.

    Personal: Born Erica Renée Grubbs ... Daughter of Kelli and Steve Grubbs ... In high school, also a Junior Rotarian and a qualifier for the National Forensic League national competition ... Chose Northwestern over the University of Iowa ... Plans on majoring in economics and international studies.

    Allison Jacobsen
    Carmel, Ind./Carmel

    High School: Lettered all four years in cross country and track ... Three-time IATCC All-State performer, twice being named to second team, and two-time IHSAA All-State runner ... Personal-best 5K cross country time of 18:32 ... Member of three state championship-winning teams, finishing as a runner-up in 2009 ... Team placed fifth at 2011 Nike Cross Country Nationals ... Also an all-state performer in the 3,200, placing sixth as a junior in 2011 ... Helped Team Indiana win the MidEast Meet of Champions ... National Honor Society member and Academic All-State honoree in cross country and track.

    Personal: Born Allison Grace Jacobsen ... Daughter of Katie and John Jacobsen ... Middle school and high school teammate of fellow Northwestern recruit Renee Wellman ... Chose Northwestern over Butler, Purdue and Penn ... Plans to major in economics.

    Allison Naval
    Southlake, Texas/Carroll Senior

    High School: Four-year letterwinner in cross country ... Member of 5A Texas Cross Country state championship-winning team in 2011 ... Team placed third in the state from 2008-10 and won 5A Region 1 and District 7 championships all four years of her career ... Placed seventh and eighth at 2011 District and Regional meets, respectively ... All-state Team honorable mention and Texas Girls Coaches Association all-star alternate ... Career-best cross country 5K time is 18:21 ... Member of National Honor Society.

    Personal: Born Allison C. Naval ... Daughter of Ron Naval and Marguerite Copel ... Grandmother (class of 1954) and great aunt (class of 1948) each attended Northwestern ... Chose Northwestern over Trinity University, Baylor, Washington University and Tufts ... Plans on majoring in biology (pre-med).

    Megan O'Brien
    Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport

    High School: Lettered all four years in cross country and track, earning all-state honors in cross country three times ... Placed as high as fifth in the IHSA 3A state cross country meet and twice placed 15th ... Also a two-time all-state performer in track, taking fourth and eighth in the 3,200 in 2010 and 2011, respectively ... Team captain in both sports and a three-time MVP of her cross country team ... Holds the indoor (11:06) and outdoor (10:46) Lockport school records for the 3,200 ... Member of National Honor Society.

    Personal: Born Megan Ryan O'Brien ... Daughter of Therese and Tom O'Brien ... Chose Northwestern over Alabama, Butler, Ole Miss and Loyola Marymount ... Competed against Wildcat teammates Lexie Goldsmith and Mallory Abel in high school ... Major at Northwestern is undecided.

    Niki Rhyan
    Plymouth, Wis./Plymouth Comprehensive

    High School: Four-year letterwinner in cross country and track, qualifying for state cross country meet all four years with a personal-best 4K time of 15:00 ... First-team All-Eastern Wisconsin Conference performer, winning both conference and sectional championships ... Also an all-area honoree in cross country ... Cross country team won sectional and conference championships ... Named team MVP in cross country and track ... Two-sport captain ... State medalist in 1,600-meter race with a time of 5:04 ... Also lettered in Nordic cross country skiing ... Class valedictorian and National Honor Society member.

    Personal: Born Nicola Erin Rhyan ... Daughter of Karen and Mark Rhyan ... Finished in the top 25 percent of the field in the American Birkebeiner Kortelopet, a 23-kilometer cross country ski race ... Chose Northwestern over Notre Dame and Wisconsin ... Major is undecided.

    Rachel Weathered
    Naperville, Ill./Naperville North

    High School: Ran three seasons of varsity cross country at Naperville North, missing her sophomore year due to injury ... Team captain in cross country and track ... Helped her cross country squad to a place third in the state of Illinois in 2011, taking 52nd overall in the state meet ... Team also was regional and sectional champion in 2011 ... Member of school-record-setting 4x400 indoor team ... Season-best indoor times included 5:12 1,600-meter and 2:20 800-meter ... Academic All-Conference in both cross country and track ... National Honor Society member.

    Personal: Born Rachel Kate Weathered ... Daughter of Brian and Karyn Weathered ... Chose Northwestern over Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue ... Plans to major in biomedical engineering.

    Renee Wellman
    Carmel, Ind./Carmel

    High School: Four-year letterwinner in cross country and team captain as a senior ... Three-time all-state performer, two-time semi-state champion, winner of four regional and three sectional individual championships ... Three-time Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference champ ... Placed eighth at 2011 NXN Midwest meet ... Helped Carmel place fifth at 2011 Nike Cross Country Nationals and win three Indiana state championships (2008, 2010-11) ... Team was state runner-up in 2009 ... Career-best 5K cross country time of 17:50 ... Recipient of IHSAA Mental Attitude award ... Competed for Indiana in Mid-East Cross Country all-star meet, leading the Hoosier state to the title ... In track, won indoor state championship in 3,200-meter race and was the state runner-up in outdoor as a junior, running a 10:52.6 ... National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society member ... Academic All-State in cross country and track.

    Personal: Born Renee Hagen Wellman ... Daughter of Patty Hagen and Curt Wellman ... Ran alongside fellow Northwestern cross country recruit Allison Jacobsen since sixth grade ... Plans on majoring in environmental science.


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