PRESS RELEASE - Fort Lewis College Director of Athletics Barney Hinkle is pleased to announce a restructuring of its cross country & track programs effective for 2018-19. Men's outdoor track and field will be added, with a track-only focus (no field events) in both programs, and the indoor aspect of the track season will be trimmed. The men's and women's programs will now be consolidated to mirror each other (in both travel and event specialty) in the fall and spring, utilizing resources more effectively to improve quality, retention, and recruiting. The consolidated program structure will allow the men to compete in the spring, send both teams to higher quality races year round, and allow the budget to be used more efficiently.
"Year three of track was a wise time to reassess and readjust and we realized we needed a more sustainable long term approach for our programs given our resources, facilities and staffing, so we reorganized to improve recruitment, retention, and performance," remarked Senior Associate Athletic Director Lynne Andrew.
Additionally, new RMAC championship qualification policies also affected the restructuring. "With the new RMAC rules on meet minimums and qualification and the amount of travel we have because of our location in Durango, we thought it wise (with Indoor and Outdoor Track) to not be on the road eleven of the fifteen weekends of our spring semester. That isn't conducive to the student half of being a student-athlete. The restructure will allow both programs to attend higher quality outdoor meets rather than racing every weekend just to make the indoor season minimums," remarked Head Coach Joshua Coon. "Additionally, since the men were already competing in offseason cross-country, this change allows them to an opportunity for structured practice in the spring and a chance to complete at the Conference Championship."
"I'm excited to streamline these programs and add a men's program," said Coon. "Ultimately, this shows the confidence the college administration has in the culture we are creating in the running events. Restructuring and focusing exclusively on running well and strengthening that aspect of the programs makes sense on many levels-it allows us to capitalize on our strengths, Durango is an endurance town, rather than being spread too thin with regards to both time and resources. (Assistant) Coach Sublett and I are ready to add another dimension to the Skyhawk family and take the team to the next level."
Hinkle explained, "Introducing men's track to our athletics portfolio reflects our program's desire to be fiscally responsible and strong all at once. Every competitive program in the country and nearly every school in the RMAC sponsor men's and women's cross country and track teams, so this addition aligns with the conference's overall direction, and I'm confident Coach Coon will continue the strong distance tradition for our men's and women's teams with this restructuring. In summation, this allows us to increase quality of the women's program, stabilize the men's program, and increase overall efficiency of the XC/Track programs resources."