* Jahnelle Saunders (left), Tiffani Rae Pittman and Morgan Williams are among elite-level talent headed to HBCU programs in 2021
By Garrett Zatlin - MileSplit Recruitin Correspondent
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When it comes to track and field recruiting at the high school level, it feels like we talk about a variety of different athletes regardless of event, geographic location or which college they commit to.
With February being Black History Month, though, we felt it a perfect time to highlight a few Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have recently landed some notable high school talents.
This list is not exhaustive and features mostly female recruits, though nonetheless these recruits will give their new homes some exciting firepower in the near future. If you have a recruiting story worth sharing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amanda Kinloch, North Miami (FL)
College: North Carolina A&T
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It should come as no surprise that a powerhouse track program in the NCAA was able to land one of the nation's best hurdles recruits from the Class of 2021.
Kinloch is an accomplished hurdles ace, boasting incredibly strong personal bests 14.06 (100H), 41.92 (300H) and 1:01.11 (400H) -- the former two marks coming this past summer.
In fact, those two personal bests and her 2020 seasonal best of 1:04.45 in the 400 meter hurdles this past spring/summer gave Kinloch national rankings of US No. 14 (100H), US No. 2 (300H) and US No. 9 (400H).
The pandemic may have altered and limited certain athletes from competing, but North Carolina A&T has an athlete with serious upside, not to mention a a dynamic hurdler who has also shown off her versatility in the 400 meters where she has a personal best of 57.90.
Morgan Williams, Union Catholic (NJ)
College: Hampton University
Hampton University just landed an underrated half-miler who could end up developing into an incredibly valuable talent. The Big South Conference is more competitive than some people realize, which is why Williams will be such a valuable addition to a Hampton program that is aiming to stay near the top of the conference like they have over the past few years.
Williams owns a strong personal best of 2:14 for 800 meters -- a highlight that's not an outlier. In fact, she has run under 2:20 in the 800 meters 11 different times throughout her indoor and outdoor career, with her next fastest performance being a 2:15.
That's some valuable consistency, especially for someone who didn't have a 2020 outdoor track season and has only raced once (in the 1,000 meters) this winter.
The Hampton Pirates didn't just land someone with a proven resume featuring consistently fast times. They landed someone who likely still has room to improve when given enough opportunities to actually compete.
Jahnelle Saunders, Bethel (VA)
College: Hampton University
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Whether it's the jumps, hurdles, sprints, throws or relays, Saunders is an extremely versatile athlete who likely has the aptitude to be a multis star at the collegiate level.
So Hampton University has acquired an individual who will have the potential to compete at the NCAA Championship level at some juncture over her career.
She owns personal best indoor marks of 19-0.25 in the long jump, 5-8.5 in the high jump and 35-5.5 in the triple jump, to go along with a 55mH best of 8.16 and respectable marks in the long sprints.
Outdoors, Saunders is on the cusp of breaking 14 seconds in the 100mH, with a wind-legal personal record of 14.19, while she also has cleared 5-7 in the high jump, going 19-5.5w in the long jump and scored 4,208 in the heptathlon.
That multis mark ranked No. 1 in Virginia over the 2019 outdoor season and No. 44 in the country. Still, Saunders ceiling is much higher.
Given the collegiate focus that will largely zone in on some of Saunders' strength, there's a strong chance she excels at a very high level at Hampton.
Tiffani Rae Pittman, Bullis School (MD)
College: Howard University
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The Howard Bison are getting an all-around sprints weapon on their roster at the beginning of the 2021 academic year. Rae Pittman has credentials which suggest that she'll be competitive in a variety of different events.
While sometimes overlooked given the success of her Bullis teammates, Rae Pittman was still within the top 100 in the nation during the 2020 indoor track season in a variety of events. She was ranked at US No. 71 in the 55m dash (7.20), US No. 81 in the 200m (24.98) and US No. 39 in the 300m (39.82)
What's even crazier is that only her 300m time was a PR. Rae Pittman's personal best marks in the 55m dash and the 200m dash are 7.12 and 24.79 seconds, respectively.
Those marks cover a heavy portion of the sprint spectrum, although the Maryland native is arguably just as good in the 60m dash and the 400m.
Overall, Howard is getting someone with a ton of range, top marks, experience with a top-tier high school program and who still has room to grow. On paper, that's everything you could want in a recruit.
Inara Shell, Friends' Central (PA)
College: Morgan State University
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Admittedly, certain schools like North Carolina A&T, Howard and Hampton feel like they have more track and field name recognition than Morgan State.
That, however, hasn't stopped the Bears of Baltimore, Maryland, from landing one of the nation's better jumpers. So far this season, Shell currently sits at US No. 52 in the long-jump with a seasonal best mark of 18-0.
That, however, isn't even her personal best, which actually sits at an eye-catching 18-11.5 from the spring of 2019. In fact, she jumped that far twice within five weeks of each other.
When you pair that PR with a personal best of 39-2.25 in the triple jump, you begin to realize that Shell is a true dual threat in the horizontal jumps.
The future Morgan State athlete has been able to post top marks over 18-0 for the past few years and has shown some nice versatility between the long and triple jump. With experience at New Balance Nationals also on her resume, it's hard to dislike what this Pennsylvania native brings to the table.
Honoring Black Track and Field History:
- The Complete MileSplit Training Plan Series Unlocked
- A Throwback To Sydney McLaughlin's Prep Days
- North Carolina A&T Is Quickly Becoming An HBCU Powerhouse
- A Throwback To Brandon Miller's Stellar Prep Career
- Inside Recruiting series page
- Where are they now: All-time sub-4 HS milers
- Four Class of 2022 girls athletes with special distinctions
- Four Class of 2022 boys athletes with special distinctions
- North Carolina A&T is developing into a HBCU power
- Three boys recruits with high ceilings
- Three girls recruits with special talent in the throws
- This BYU coach is building a strong recruiting reputation
- These high school stars could be the breakout stars of 2022
- Four Class of 2022 recruits who stand out in a big way
- Three big unanswered questions in NCAA recruiting
- The Class of 2020 made their NCAA debuts
- Three underrated girls signings that are good program fits
- College predictions for these Class of 2022 juniors
- Just how underrated is Baylor's women's recruiting class
- MileSplit U: Analysis on currently unsigned girls recruits
- MileSplit U: Three takeaways from still unsigned top 50 boys recruits
- The five biggest winners in recruiting from a wild 2020
- Three girls who have made big improvements recently
- Three boys who have made big improvements recently
- Looking at which programs signed 800m talents
- Digging Deeper Into Alabama's Signing Classes
- These standout athletes are heading to D2 programs next fall
- NAU's women's program is getting closer to building NCAA contender