The athletics department will be hanging up their running shoes following the 2017-2018 men and women’s cross country and track and field seasons. The track and field programs have been at the college for 32 years and the cross country programs for 30 years.
Athletic director Carl Heinrich said that the decision to cut the programs was difficult but the other programs will benefit from the discontinuance.
“[President] Dr. Sopcich has always said he would rather have a smaller amount of programs do well than try to piecemeal a lot of things together so I think that’s probably the fairest way to say why the programs got cut,” Heinrich said.
Although the programs are coming to an end, the current freshmen still have the chance to compete for the college next year though the recruits will have just one year as a Cavalier.
“We’re going to honor all of the freshmen that received scholarships this year and still provide them an opportunity to compete next year,” Heinrich said. “We’re going to still afford the opportunity to those we’ve offered scholarships with the understanding we’re only going to do that for a year and if they would like to be released and go compete for another school we will certainly honor their will to do that.”
Freshman sprinter Ciara Thuston said that she’s had a good experience with the team but has some reservations about next season.
“After finding out about the program ending, I was mad,” Thuston said. “I still have a year here and with the program ending it’s harder to recruit good athletes for next season so we won’t really have a full team next year.”
Although sophomore Kyle Kieborz is finishing his last year with the track team, he’s surprised by the decision and found out through a team text message.
“I found out over a GroupMe message from Coach Bloemker and I couldn’t really believe it,” Kieborz said. “It’s something I didn’t see coming at all and I don’t think that anyone did.”
Freshman Malaya Williamson has enjoyed her time with teammates and coaches and will return for her sophomore campaign.
“I’ve had a really good experience here, our coaches, especially coach Groves, have helped us a lot and our team is like a family,” Williamson said. “We all help each other in workouts and try to encourage each other as much as we can.”
Heinrich said that the current men’s cross country coach Katherine Bloemker will take over both cross country teams next season and the college is still in negotiations with current assistant track and field coach Phil Groves to take over the program.