OXFORD, Ohio - Miami University head women's cross country/track and field coach Kelly Phillips has announced the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent Wednesday. Lauren Hoover, Alexus Jimson-Miller, McKenna Kiple, Katie Nixdorf and Hope Turner became the newest RedHawks after signing their NLI and will begin helping Miami compete for championships during the 2013-14 season.
Three of the five signees hail from Illinois (Jimson-Miller, Kiple and Turner) while Hoover and Nixdorf are Ohio natives. Hoover and Kiple are distance runners who will also run cross country for the RedHawks while Jimson-Miller is a sprinter and hurdler, Nixdorf is a high jumper and Turner is a pole vaulter.
Hoover, a native of Hilliard, Ohio, is the younger sister of current sophomore distance/cross country runner Jess Hoover. A product of Hilliard Davidson High School, the younger Hoover is a three-time state qualifier in both cross country and track while earning four letters in both sports, serving as captain for each team this year. This past fall she posted her best cross country time of 18:21 while placing 15th at the Ohio State Cross Country meet to earn All-Ohio honors and lead the Wildcats to a fifth-place team finish. Hoover earned First-Team All-Ohio Capital Conference and Academic All-Ohio her final three years and was an all-district selection all four years. In track, she finished fourth at the state meet as a junior in the 1600m to earn All-Ohio while posting a top time of 5:01 and winning conference, district and regional titles in the event. Hoover posted a top 800m time of 2:16 while also winning the district meet in the 800m as a junior. She helped HDHS to an OCC league title as a freshman and team district titles the past two seasons.
"Next year we should be more of a veteran team on the distance side and will be looking to get that MAC title back (in cross country). With the addition of Hilliard Davidson's star miler, the cross country team is shaping up to not only be a MAC contender but to start making some noise on the national scene as well," Phillips said.
Jimson-Miller comes to Oxford from Danville, Ill. where she ran the 100m hurdles, the 200m dash and the 400m dash at Danville High School. As a junior last year, she won four events at the Big 12 Conference meet, capturing the 200m dash, 400m dash, 100m hurdles and triple jump league crowns. She clocked a personal-best 100m hurdles time of 14.17 and a personal-best 24.71 in the 200m dash, both of which are the second-best times ever by a runner from the area. Jimson-Miller clocked the times at the News-Gazette Honor Roll meet while winning both events, as well as helping Danville win the 400m relay. She ranked third entering the state meet in Class 3A in the 100m hurdles (14.45), as well. Jimson-Miller also plays volleyball and basketball, as she is averaging 12.4 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 3.7 steals per game for the Vikings so far this season, leading them to a 17-9 record.
"This is just the beginning, but what an exciting beginning it is. With the talented Diona Graves and Layne Baggett graduating we had some very good shoes to fill and Coach Etelman did a tremendous job finding some great talent," Phillips said. "Alexus is not only a top 20 hurdler in the U.S., but she is so versatile that she will be able to help us in short and long sprints, hurdles, and relays. She has tremendous talent and will come in, in a position to make an immediate impact."
Kiple hails from Wheaton, Ill., where she attended Warrensville South High School. She is a four-time letterwinner in both cross country and track, serving as captain on each team as a senior. She was a four-time all-conference selection in cross country and a three-time all-state performer, helping the Tigers finish in the top three at the state meet three times. Kiple boasts school-record times of 17:04 in the three mile, when she placed 11th at the state cross country meet, and 2:14 in the 800m. An eight-time academic all-conference selection, she has earned All-DuPage Valley Conference in track twice, also earning all-state twice after setting a state record while anchoring the 4x800m relay in the state meet, finishing second in the state as a sophomore. Kiple's father, John, played football at Michigan State.
"McKenna is an 800m star and will not only add some depth to the mid-distance group, but should be someone that can make an impact as a freshman at the conference level," Phillips said.
Nixdorf is a native of Canton, Ohio, where she attended Canton Central Catholic High School. A four-year letterwinner in track, soccer and basketball, the 5-foot-10 jumper posted a personal-best leap of 5-5 last year as a junior while garnering All-Ohio honors as a sophomore and junior. She helped her team to district titles in 2011 and 2012 and took third at the 2012 state meet in the 4x200m relay. Nixdorf also qualified for the Junior Olympics National Championship in Houston in 2012, tying for 13th. In soccer, she received All-Ohio honors as a junior and senior, scoring 14 goals this past season, while she's averaging 11.5 points per game in basketball so far this season. Nixdorf's brother, Corey, currently attends Miami and is a member of the class of 2015.
"Katie is not only a great high jumper but a star basketball and soccer player as well," added Phillips.
Turner, a vaulter from Naperville, Ill., is a four-year letterwinner in track at Naperville North High School, serving as captain as a senior. She cleared a personal-best 11-6 last year and is a three-time state qualifier. She finished ninth in the pole vault at last year's Illinois state meet to earn All-Illinois accolades. The 5-foot-6 Turner also throws the discus and competed for two years in gymnastics. She is a three-time academic all-conference selection, as well. Her parents both attended Miami, as her mother, Colleen ('87), was a cheerleader while her father, Mark ('86), played football for the Redskins and went on to play for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League.
"Hope is the daughter of a former football player during the Tim Rose years. She will add to some of the depth with our vaulters," Phillips said. "All five of these girls are not just track athletes, but very good students as well and have plans of going pre-med, pre-law, and business tracks while at Miami. This is just the beginning; we are looking to have 6-8 more commits within the next four weeks, but this is a fantastic start for sure."