EDWARDSVILLE, ILL. – SIUE Track and Field Head Coach Kareem Jackson made the Prairie State a priority with the latest group joining the Cougars next season.
Haley Briggs (Argenta), Ladonna Caston (Riverdale), and Kirby Hale (Springfield) all have been prep standouts in Illinois. Jackson said each will fit into SIUE's roster well.
Briggs, who competed for Argenta-Oreana High School, will compete for the Cougars in the distance events and cross country. As a freshman, she placed ninth at the Class A state cross country championships and eighth in the 3,200-meter run at the Class A outdoor track and field championships.
"She had injuries over her next two seasons but stuck with it and had a determined and successful senior campaign," said Jackson. "Haley will benefit greatly from being able to train with teammates as she didn't have that in high school." Briggs, whose twin sisters Stacey and Stephanie previously competed for SIUE, finished among the top 50 her senior season at the state cross country meet and among the top 20 in the 3,200 at the state track and field meet.
Caston, who ran for Thornton High School, was the Class 3A state champion in the 100 hurdles and a finalist in the 300 hurdles. Recruited by Big Ten schools Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan State, Caston chose SIUE to continue her track and field career. She has personal bests of 14.17 (100 hurdles) and 44.20 (300 hurdles).
"Ladonna is a self-motivated athlete and a great student. She is very explosive and will continue to get better as she gets stronger and more powerful," said Jackson. "She runs her best when everything is on the line. She will have an opportunity to grow and develop running with our already very talented hurdle group at SIUE."
Hale, of Springfield High School, also joins the Cougars in the distance events and cross country. A four-time All-State cross country runner, Hale placed third at the 2010 and 2011 state meet and led her team to a state championship in 2009 with a fourth-place finish.
"Kirby has had a very successful high school career, and we are pleased she will be continuing her success at this level," said Jackson.
Hale's personal best was a 17:19 at the state meet course at Detweiler Park in Peoria. A two-time conference Runner of the Year in 2008 and 2009, she was a regional champion in 2009 and a sectional champion in 2011. Hale also holds personal bests of 2:21.37 (800) and 5:21.52 (1,600) in track and field.
"What we are most excited about with our incoming class is their attitude and love of competition. They chose SIUE to make a statement as we enter the Ohio Valley Conference and the Division I era. They already have a strong connection to each other and the team," added Jackson. "They are a talented and fun group."