(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
BOZEMAN – The Montana State track and field program opened its National Letter of Intent Signing Period with five student-athletes committing to join the women's team in the fall of 2021.
Erica Cavalheiro (Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil), Natalie McCormick (Bozeman), Riley Moore (Bozeman) and Madeline Minutelli (La Mesa, Calif.) each signed NLIs over the past week. Anna Trudnowski (Butte) has been accepted to Montana State and has submitted her housing deposit.
"In an entirely atypical year with the recruiting process, the coaching staff has done a great job of adding five women's student-athletes to our team that can make immediate contributions," said Lyle Weese, Montana State's director of track and field and cross country.
"We are graduating a number of women's distance runners so we feel fortunate to have already signed three women's distance runners that can step in and contribute right away."
McCormick and Moore each join the Bobcat women's program from Bozeman High School where they helped lead the Hawks to a MHSA Class AA state cross country title for the 13th time in 14 years.
McCormick has been a contributor for the Bozeman cross country team all four years of her prep career. This past season, she completed four individual runner-up performances before taking 13th overall at the Class AA Championships. Her best finish at the state meet came as a junior when she took ninth while her sophomore season featured her personal-best time on a 5-kilometer course of 18 minutes, 39.5 seconds. As a freshman, McCormick placed first in three events and also finished a career-best fifth at the Nike Northwest Regional Championships with a time of 19.18.8.
McCormick has also competed two seasons of track and field for the Hawks. As a sophomore in 2019 she finished fifth in the 1,600 (5:05.36) and seventh in the 3,200 at the Class AA Track and Field Championships. She participated in the Arcadia Invitational held in California that spring and completed her personal-best time of 11:00.33 in the 1,600. Her freshman year was highlighted by an eighth-place showing at the state meet in the 3,200 and a total of six top-three individual finishes.
Moore was a contributor for the Hawks' cross country program for two seasons. Her top finish at the Class AA meet was a 10th-place showing as a sophomore in 2018. She also earned first place in one event that year and took a career-best 74th overall at the Nike Regional Championships. As a junior, Moore had three top-10 showings which included her 5K personal best time of 18:49.6 during the season. She didn't compete as a junior due to injury.
Moore has appeared in one season at the varsity level in track and field. As a sophomore in 2019, she finished the season with ninth-place finishes in the 1,600 (5:13.65) and the 3,200 (11:25.59) at the Class AA Championships. Riley's sibling, Alex, is a member of MSU's women's team.
"Natalie and Riley have been high performing distance runners for Bozeman High and we have had very good success with Bozeman athletes adjusting and performing well at Montana State," Weese said. "Natalie had an outstanding sophomore track season and has been a strong performer in cross country. Riley started competing in cross country and track only as a sophomore and has shown great ability in a relatively short time frame."
Minutelli has been a three-year standout in cross country for Grossmont High School. Minutelli advanced to the CIF State Cross Country Championships as a junior, finishing 56th overall in a time of 18:48.5. She would improve on her personal-best time a month later in the Foot Locker West Regionals by setting a new best mark of 18:29.5. Minutelli earned eighth first-place showings over the course of her prep career in cross country, including a personal-high second place at her team's conference meet. She was one of Grossmont's top runners in all three San Diego CIF Cross Country Championships she appeared in.
Minutelli has also participated in track and field for two seasons. She completed 10 first-place finishes combined in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 as a sophomore in 2019. She earned a personal-best mark of 11:16.14 in the 3,200 en route to a fourth-place showing at the CIF San Diego Section Finals. She claimed conference titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 that same season. She also set lifetime bests in the 800 (2:21.67) and the 1,600 (5:13.18) as a sophomore.
"Madeline has improved every year of her high school career," Weese said. "Even with her junior track and senior cross country seasons canceled, Madeline has been training and hitting personal bests in practice which is a testament to her level of commitment."
Cavalheiro joins the Bobcats' sprints group as one of the best 400-meter runners from her continent. Her most recent notable competition came during the summer of 2018 where she competed in both the South American U18 Championships and the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics.
Cavalheiro opened her summer at the South American U18 Championships by earning a silver medal in the 400 – narrowly missing a first-place time by less than two tenths of a second – was a member of Brazil's silver medal 4x100 relay squad, while also earning gold on her country's mixed 8x300 relay group. She eventually competed in the 400 at the Summer Youth Olympics that same October. Her two stage times of 55.60 and 55.43 seconds combined for a total 1:51.03 mark, good for fourth overall and less than a second out of a podium appearance. Her all-time lifetime bests include a 24.77 mark in the 200 and 54.86 mark in the 400.
"Erica is Brazil's number 1 ranked U20 400m runner," said MSU sprints coach Jay Turner. "Not only will she be a conference finalist and medal contender from day one, she will also team with our other outstanding young 400 meter runners to form what could be a potentially devastating 4x400 meter relay."
Trudnowski is set to join Montana State's jumps group. She's competed two seasons as a member of Butte's track and field program. Trudnowski advanced to the MHSA Class AA Track and Field Championships in five events as a sophomore in 2019, finishing an individual high second in the high jump and also took fifth in the 300 hurdles. She also made an appearance at the state meet as a freshman. She's participated in multiple areas for the Bulldogs including sprint and hurdle events, the high jump, long jump, triple jump and on relay squads.
Trudnowski also has experience in cross country at Butte. She ran two seasons for the Bulldogs and made an appearance at the MHSA Class AA State Championships as a freshman.
"Anna is hard-working, positive, and has shown that she knows what it takes to be successful, both academically and athletically," said MSU jumps coach Dustin Cichosz. "We are excited to be adding one of the top returning multi-event track athletes from Montana to our program and feel that she will be competitive in the high jump and as a multi."