Nine recruits sign with ACU Track and Field

Local Sports

ABILENE – Abilene Christian Track and Field today announced its 2020 signing class, which is composed of sprinter Jack Marshall, hurdlers Courtney Latham and Cooper Scott, throwers Zoe Burleson and Athan Huelskamp, pole vaulter Kaydi Pursley, and distance runners Maxwel Kiplagat, Cooper Goggans and Gabriel Embree.

ACU’s track and field and cross country programs are both on the rise bolstered by a pair of young and talented rosters. The men’s and women’s cross country teams placed third and fourth, respectively, at last fall’s Southland Conference Championships, while the indoor teams each placed third in Birmingham, Ala.

Profiles of each signee are listed in alphabetical order.

Zoe Burleson
Rock Springs, Texas / Rock Springs HS

Personal Records
Discus: 160′ 0″
Shot Put: 43′ 1/2″

Notable Accomplishments
2019 Track and Field All-Star
Three-time All-State Track and Field honoree (2017-19)
Three-time discus state champion and record holder (2017-19)
Two-time shot put state champion (2017, 2019)
Three-year District MVP (2018-20)

Coach Cook’s Comments
“We are so blessed to have Zoe coming to ACU this year. She is a tremendous student-athlete with equally tremendous character. I am looking forward to great memories that are coming with Zoe. She will be a standout student-athlete and ambassador for ACU!”

Gabriel Embree
Decatur, Texas / Decatur HS

Personal Records
1600m: 4:32
3200m: 9:52
5K: 16:09

Notable Accomplishments
Cross Country All-State
Three-time cross country state qualifier
District 1600m Champion
District and Area 3200 Champion
Cross country and track Academic All-State

Coach Jelen’s Comments
“Gabe has been on our radar as a recruit longer than anyone else in this class. It was clear from his first visit that he is a great fit for our program. He brings a lot athletically, as a true distance runner who will thrive in both XC and track. Gabe is a student of the sport who has a lot to offer our team outside of his athletic abilities.”

Cooper Goggans
Aledo, Texas / Aledo HS

Personal Records
1600m: 4:19.65
3200m: 9:55.80

Notable Accomplishments
Three-year cross country All-District selection (2017-19)
Four-year All-Region honoree (2016-19)
2019 state qualifier and All-District awardee
2018 regional qualifier in the 1600m
Ran 13th fastest mile time in Texas in 2020

Coach Jelen’s Comments
“Coop has so much potential as evidenced by his 4:19 1600m (nine-second PR) in a greatly shortened 2020 outdoor track season. More important than his athletic potential, Coop brings excellent positive energy and leadership potential to our program.”

Athan Huelskamp
Arlington Heights, Ill. / St. Viator HS

Personal Records
Discus: 177′ 6″
Shot Put: 58′ 7.5″

Notable Accomplishments
2020 New Balance Nationals Indoor Qualifier
2019 AAU All-American (shot put and discus)
2019 All-State selection and runner-up (shot put and discus)
2019 sectional and conference champion (shot put and discus)
2018 sectional champion and state qualifier (discus)

Coach Cook’s Comments
“I am so excited for Athan to be coming to ACU and to be able to share his journey here. Athan is an explosive competitor with still so much untapped potential. I know he will flourish and be a great leader and teammate and a blessing to our entire program!”

Maxwel Kiplagat
Iten, Kenya / St. Patrick HS / Vincennes University

Personal Records
3000m Steeplechase: 9:25.31
3000m: 8:34.91

Notable Accomplishments
Took third place at the Region 24 Cross Country Junior College Championships (26:18.0)
2019 NJCAA Indoor Region XII champion in the 1000m (2:38.89) and 3K (9:08.06), and runner-up with the 4x400m relay (3:37.80)
2020 NJCAA runner-up with distance medley relay (10:10.64)
Placed seventh in the 3K steeplechase (9:52.53) and sixth with the 4x800m relay at the 2019 NJCAA Championships

Coach Jelen’s Comments
“An outstanding addition for us to complement his fellow Kenyans currently on our team, Kevin (Kipkosgei) and Denis (Lagat). He is a great fit athletically, academically, and spiritually. Maxwel will be an immediate contributor to our program.”
Courtney Latham
Amarillo, Texas / Amarillo HS

Personal Records
300m Hurdles: 45.32
400m: 58.41
800m: 2:21.42

Notable Accomplishments
Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State and All-Star in the 300m Hurdles
300m Hurdles state qualifier and area champion (2019)
800m regional qualifier (2017)
Cross Country Academic All-State (2019)
AP Scholar (2019)

Coach Rasor’s Comments
“Being a Panhandle kid myself I love it when we can get athletes from that area. I think Courtney is going to be a solid addition to our young 400m hurdle squad. She has distance chops from her time with Amarillo High’s state-qualifying cross country teams, and this will benefit her really well in the 400m hurdles and in the 800m indoors where I think she can compete for points. She’ll be a great training partner for Juila Perry who is also focused on the 800m indoors and 400 hurdles outdoors. Courtney has been involved with FCA in Amarillo and has excellent academics, so I know she is going to be a good fit for our team and ACU.”

Jack Marshall
Brady, Texas / Brady High School

Personal Records
100m: 10.61
200m: 21.36

Notable Accomplishments
Silver medalist in the 200m at state track meet
Five-time regional track champion
Two-time state champion singles (tennis) player
Graduated in top-five percent of class
Tennis, track and football letter winner

Coach Dillard’s Comments
“I’m excited to have Jack join our team. His willingness to work hard and encourage others will be a good addition to our team. Jacks steadfastness to his studies and training will only further our teams’ program in glorifying God at the highest platform we have been given.”

Kaydi Pursley (HS)
Merkel, Texas / Merkel HS

Personal Records
Pole Vault: 12′ 1″
100m Hurdles: 14.54

Notable Accomplishments
2020 TGCA Legacy Team and NCA Top All-American
2019 Track and Field All-State honoree
2019 100m hurdles state finalist (2nd place)
Three-year pole vault regional qualifier
Three-year state qualifier in the 100m hurdles

Coach Bingham’s Comments
“Kaydi is a tremendous overall athlete and will have an immediate impact in the pole vault and hurdles. She is a very bright student athlete who embraces the mission and vision of ACU. She has been very involved in the FCA at Merkel and the Big Country.”

Family
Daughter of Texas Tech pole vaulter, Brit Pursley, and niece to Brad Pursley, who was a national champion (Olympic Alternate) pole vaulter at ACU from 1979-83.

Cooper Scott
Lubbock, Texas / Frenship HS

Personal Records
300m Hurdles: 38.08
110m Hurdles: 14.68

Notable Accomplishments
School record holder in the 300m hurdles
First Team All-District (football)
Academic All-State and All-District (football and track and field)
Football, soccer and track and field letter winner

Coach Rasor’s Comments
“I was excited to get a commitment from Cooper after seeing him run at our February home meet. He was running PR after PR right before the season got shut down and I know he was headed for big time performances in April and May, so I know the best is yet to come for him.

“A West Texas product, Cooper brings an aggressive mentality to the intermediate hurdles that I think will benefit him well on the move up to the 400 Hurdles and Division I track. He has the right mindset and motivation to succeed right away at ACU, and I’m excited for him to join our talented hurdle crew.”

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