ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville cross country and track and field head coach Jesse Norman has announced his incoming recruiting class for the 2014-15 year. This year’s signees includes 10 student-athletes, six men and four women.


“This is a class that fills some needs for our program.  During the past year, we focused on the long sprints and distance side of the program. This class represents that focus,” stated Norman. “We added a lot of North Carolina talent with some out-of-state signees from Ohio, Florida and Colorado.


“On the men’s side, we add student-athletes who we feel can step in right away and have the potential to score points and push our current student-athletes,” added Norman. “On the women’s side, we add some up-front presence to replace some of our graduating student-athletes.  We feel that with this class, along with our walk-ons, we will continue on the path to becoming a regular contender within the Big South Conference.”


Heading up the men’s signees is freshman distance runner Chilton Birdwhitsell. He hails from Raleigh and will transfer from Western State College (Colo.). Birdwhitsell attended Middle Creek HS in Apex.


“Chilton is joining us as a transfer this upcoming fall.  While at Western State College he redshirted the entire year,” commented Norman. “We believe that he is someone that will be able to come in and help to strengthen our distance group and be able to provide help in multiple events.”


Distance runner Jared Buddington will be on Asheville’s cross country and track and field roster. He comes to the mountains from Cedar Ridge HS in Chapel Hill.


“Jared is joining us from the Chapel Hill area,” commented Norman. “He is someone who will be looked at to come in and contribute his freshman year in cross country and the longer distances during the track season."


Asheville native Zach Dolllinger joins the Bulldog track and field program this fall. He enjoyed a standout career at T.C. Roberson HS.


“Zach is a local product from Roberson. We are excited about Zach and believe that he will be a great addition to our growing middle distance squad,” declared Norman. “We are excited about his potential and the depth that he will add to our men’s squad.”


Another North Carolina product, David Hager, enjoyed a standout middle distance career at Woodlawn School in Davidson.


“David is the fastest miler that we have signed during my time here at UNC Asheville,” explained Norman. “We feel that with his limited training background he will be able to make some huge fitness gains over the next two years to become a stand-out middle distance runner in the Big South Conference.”


Sprinter Joe McNamara comes to Asheville via Bishop McGuinness HS in Winston-Salem.


“Joe is someone whom we feel will be able to come in and contribute on the sprint squad immediately,” stated Norman. “We believe in the long term that Joe’s best events will be the 200 and 400 meters.”


The final men’s signee is middle distance runner Sergeneno Rankin from South Plantation HS in Sunrise, Fla.


“Sergeneno is from Florida and is looking to become a standout middle distance athlete,” stated Norman. “He is someone that we are excited about getting and his potential upside.  Sergeneno is the fastest 800-meter student-athlete we have signed since Sam Maynard.  Like Sam we believe that he can go on to become an All-Conference performer in the 800.  He ended up finishing as the eight-best 800 runner in the state of Florida as a senior.”


The women’s signees are headed up by local product Casey Greenwalt from Roberson. The middle distance runner enjoyed a great career for the Lady Rams.


“The coaching staff is excited about Casey joining the program,” declared Norman. "During her senior year, she developed into one of the top middle distance athletes in the state of North Carolina. Casey was an All-American this past year in the distance medley relay.  We feel that with her abilities in a wide range of events that she will be someone that can fill multiple needs on the team and compete in multiple events at the conference level.”


Maddie Lowe will be a part of both the cross country and track and field squads this year. She attended Northwest Cabarrus HS in Concord.


"Maddie is someone that can add depth to both the cross country program and with the middle distance program,” said Norman. “She’ll be looked at to help deepen the 1,500-meter to 3,000-meter events for us in the Big South Conference.”


Colorado native Phoebe Schneider is a distance runner from Rock Canyon HS in Lone Tree.


"Phoebe is one of the most exciting prospects we have signed recently,” explained Norman. “She has competed as a figure skater at the regional and national level.  Phoebe just took up competitive running a couple years ago and appears to have a tremendous upside.”


The final signee is sprinter Tara Thompson from Westerville South HS in Columbus, Ohio.


“Tara hails from Ohio and continues our trend of recruiting student-athletes from that state,” commented Norman. “We are excited to add someone of her ability to our growing stable of long sprinters and feel that she is someone that will be able to come in and push our current student-athletes.”