Siena will add indoor and outdoor track for the 2015-2016 academic year, but the focus will not be on winning team championships.
The Saints will join the MAAC and compete at Division I with a roster made up of current and incoming cross country runners under men’s and women’s cross country head coach John Kenworthy. The four teams (men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor) will compete strictly in mid-distance and distance events.
The goal of the track program is not to develop a new powerhouse, but to build an existing program.
“We have a cross country program that we’re looking to compete at a higher level and advance the program,” Kenworthy said Tuesday. “The best way that we could do it was adding track and not participate in anything below what we consider mid-distance, the 800, the mile, and not doing anything in the field because those athletes wouldn’t be helping us develop a cross country program.”
According to Kenworthy, Siena will be one of several teams in the conference focusing on mid-distance and distance events. Others include Canisius, Iona and Marist.
“Canisius is a program that we used as sort of a model, because they just did this process two years ago,” Kenworthy said. “Our goal, in terms of specifically those seasons, is to compete against those types of schools.”
With the new additions, Siena will field 22 Division I teams, nine men’s and 13 women’s. This is the first expansion of the college’s athletic programs since water polo was added in April 2001 for the 2002 season.
The new programs will improve the college’s cross country program, while also bumping Siena’s enrollment, officials said. They added the new programs through the NCAA sports sponsorship revenue distribution, which provide external funds to support all student-athletes on campus.
Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Jason Rich recognizes the added costs these teams will bring to the college’s athletic program, but believes the additional money will help finance the teams.
“We’re confident that the money that comes in from that will be able to cover the budgets for those programs, so [team members] can have a quality student-athlete experience,” Rich said. “It’s basically extending the cross country season to a year-round program, where a lot of student athletes will be competing in all three seasons, and certainly we’ll support it like any other Division I sport.”
Kenworthy sees the addition of these four new teams as something that will benefit not only the running programs and the athletic department, but the college as well.
“I think it’s exciting for us to open up the options for our recruiting and get the best athletes possible and the best students at Siena,” Kenworthy said. “I think being able to add students to our roster and expand our roster with really high-level student athletes is something the school as a whole can benefit from.”
According to Rich, Siena will not host an indoor or outdoor track meet this season. The teams will have a regional and national schedule.
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Categories: College Sports, Sports