BUFFALO, NY – Seven student-athletes signed their NLI on Wednesday to join the UB Bulls Track & Field/Cross Country Team. UB track and field now have 9 members in the class of 2020 after they had two athletes sign in November.
This group of athletes will add depth to a competitive squad within the MAC and NCAA Division I. They bring success from the jumps, sprints, mid-distance, and distance events at the high school level. Seven of the student-athletes went to high school in the Empire State, while one comes from Canada.
Juliana Basla (Liverpool High School, Liverpool, NY)
Basla was successful during her high school career as she was a state finalist in the 1,500 meter run and in cross country. She was also named to the All Section 3 team for her accomplishments. Her personal-best marks are 5:04.62 in the mile and 2:58.88 in the 1,000 meter run. During her time at UB, Basla intends to major in exercise xcience as she hopes to work in the field of physical therapy in the future.
Coach Mitchell says, "Juliana is one of New York's rising stars in distance running. She will add to the depth and strength of the developing women's distance program at UB. Her potential is unlimited."
Samantha Hjelmar (Burnt-Hills Ballston Lake High School, Glenville, NY)
Hjelmar brings experience and success to UB after performing well in the high jump at Burnt-Hills Ballston Lake High School. Her best mark in the high jump is currently 5' 6.5". She qualified for the High School National Championship, was a New York State finalist, and three-time Section 2 champion in the high jump. Academically, Hjelmar intends to focus on the area of exercise science throughout her time at UB.
Coach Esler says, "Sam has built herself up as an exceptionally consistent jumper for a high school competitor. She will fit in perfectly with our program's high academic standards and add competitive depth to our explosive women's jump core. We're very lucky to have someone of Sam's character join our program as she will no doubt have a major impact on our team."
Nicole Leo (Binghamton High School, Binghamton, NY)
Leo will add depth and speed to Buffalo's already competitive middle distance group. The two-time Section four champion was a state finalist in the 600m and ran personal best marks of 57.58 in the 400m and 1:36.59 in the 600m events. She intends to study psychology at UB.
Coach Mitchell says, "Nicole is a very strong 400m runner and developing into a 400m/800m runner. She will join the UB program and continue the strength of our middle distance dominance. Her potential is sky-high, and she will fit into the UB family perfectly."
Sydney March (North Rockland High School, Tomkins Cove, NY)
While studying business administration, March has the potential to be one of the best hurdlers to compete at UB. She will focus primarily on the indoor 400m and the 400 meter hurdles. March ranks third in the 600m across all of New York with a time of 1:33.20 and has a strong time of 58.64 in the 400m dash.
Coach Mitchell says, "Sydney is an exceptional student-athlete. Her versatility is her strength as she has great speed in the 200m and 400m, and strength to run 800m. This is exactly the characteristics we look for in our 400 hurdles. She will following the footsteps of UB 400 hurdles greats Donna Jeanty (2013), and Anna Holmes (2011). She comes from a great family, and brings passion and commitment to her academics and athletics"
Gabrielle Robens (Saratoga Springs High School, Saratoga Springs, NY)
Robens will run on the cross country team and in distance events during the track season. Her personal-best marks are 10:08.11 in the 3,000m and 4:43.68 in the 1,500m events. She intends to study Biological Sciences at UB.
Coach Mitchell says, "Gabby comes from one of the distance powerhouse programs in New York State. She has competed at the Nike Cross Country National Championships, and brings in excellent experience from the highest level. She is also very committed to academic excellence, and fits right into the UB distance family."
Sylvia Russell (J. Clarke Richardson School, Ajax, Ontario)
Russell comes to UB from Canada after a successful tenure at J. Clarke Richardson School in Ajax, Ontario. She placed 13th at the OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association) tournament.
Coach Mitchell says, "Sylvia brings an incredible drive and passion for the sport, along with a great sense of balance and commitment to her academics. Athletically, Sylvia will add to the strong depth we are developing with our Women's Distance Program, and continue our pipeline of the top-Canadian recruits. She is a rising steeple chase star, and has incredible strength in cross country. Her strong family relationship, along with friendly outgoing personality will be a perfect fit for the UB family"
Connor Spiegel (Webster Thomas High School, Webster, NY)
Spiegel is an accomplished jumper that focuses primarily on the high jump. His best mark in the high jump is 6' 6". He placed fourth at the High School Indoor National Championships and was a state finalist in the event.
Coach Esler says, "Connor is one of New York State's premiere male high jumpers. He is exactly the kind of guy we work to bring in to increase the level of our program. Connor comes from a great family and has an exceptional academic background. He will join a core of UB jumpers with a tradition of excellence and will find amazing success at UB."