David Freeze: Gotta Run

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 12, 2017

Track and Field Returns to Catawba College

Catawba College had a men’s track and field team for most of the years from 1927 to 1987. There has never been a women’s team. But recruiting is now underway for the resumption of the men’s team and the debut of the women’s team during the spring of 2018. Cross Country head coach Jason Bryan, who will head up the new track and field program, said, “It is perfect timing with cross country and the school growing. Track will allow us to be more competitive because now we can recruit the athletes who want to race year- round.”

Bryan added, “It will be a 2-3 year process, an implementation period. Having track and field again at Catawba will be very exciting. We already have plenty of interest from sprinters and jumpers and lots of NC kids. Things are going in the right direction.”

Current cross country athletes will compete in track events this spring but a full indoor and outdoor program should be in place by spring, 2018.

While track and field athletes can officially sign to attend Catawba in April, Bryan won’t be sure exactly which athletes will be in Salisbury until classes start in August. Catawba will use a local high school track to practice some field events and sprinters will combine workouts at the high school and at Catawba’s Shuford Stadium track. The home track is not regulation in length and doesn’t have enough lanes.

Catawba will be joining Newberry and Tusculum as other SAC schools that will begin competing in track and field in 2018. Bryan said, “It will make the SAC a legitimate conference in track and for the first time, we will have a conference indoor championship. Of the 12 current teams in the conference, only Brevard, Wingate and Lenoir Rhyne have outdoor facilities and Brevard is leaving.”

For the foreseeable future, Catawba won’t host a home meet but Bryan says that there are plenty of invitationals at other schools. He said, “Our athletes will be able to connect training to meets. It is hard for kids to stay motivated in the spring when they are only pointing toward cross country in the fall. They will now be able to practice pushing their bodies year- round.” Football, soccer and other campus athletes will be considered for the new track teams on a case by case basis.

High school track and field has the highest participation level for girls and only football is more popular for boys. Bryan said, “I am glad that track and field is finally happening. We want to compete at a high level across the board.” Bryan will hire assistant coaches as the team roster grows.

“I ran an Anderson University in Anderson, SC, a school that is very similar to Catawba and is now in our conference. I was team captain both my junior and senior year and on the only conference championship team in school history. I came to Catawba for the opportunity to be head coach and somewhat start from scratch. There was plenty of potential that just needed some attention. I wanted to take this on and it has been a fun ride so far,” said Bryan.

The local racing season will continue to ramp up toward a busy spring with the popular Will Run for Food 5K held at Centenary United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 25th. Proceeds go toward packaging thousands of dehydrated meals that the church assembles later in the year for shipment to impoverished areas, both in the United States and abroad. It is the first 5K of the racing season and follows a very gently rolling course near the church. More information on this and upcoming running events can be found at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org

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