MORAGA, Calif. -- Saint Mary's College has added a NCAA Division I intercollegiate outdoor men and women's track program effective for the upcoming 2012 spring season, Director of Athletics Mark Orr announced today.
The Saint Mary's track program will focus on middle and long distance events. There will be a primary emphasis on providing opportunities for student-athletes to qualify and compete for NCAA championships and maximize year-round training opportunities.
"I am very pleased that we are able to provide additional competitive opportunities for our distance athletes by the addition of a track program," said Orr. "Under the leadership of Marty Kinsey, the additional schedule and practice dates will enable our program to be more competitive in cross country an enhanced student-athlete experience."
Institutions that sponsor track are required to compete in a minimum of six official competitions per season with at least 14 student-athletes. In the past, Saint Mary's competed in various local and regional competitions as part of its non-traditional season and was limited to a maximum of five events during the spring season. However, because track was not an official sport at SMC, competitors were not eligible to qualify for NCAA championship competition, even if they registered a qualifying time.
"This is a major boost to our program," said Kinsey. "As a former team member and, now, as head coach, I am very happy for all the work Mark Orr has done to make this a reality. The support provided to the cross country program over the past few years has been tremendous and we are getting closer and closer to being on equal footing with the rest of the West Coast Conference. It's a great time to be a Gael."
With track as a sponsored sport, Saint Mary's athletes will be able to train during the entire school year and compete in upwards of eighteen events throughout the year. "Without Track, the overall development of our athletes was somewhat hindered. We are now able to compete and train at the same level as our peers within the WCC," added Kinsey.
The Gaels will kick off their inaugural track season on March 3rd at the Kim Dyst Invitational, hosted by CSU Stanislaus. The Gaels will use the invitational to compete directly against longtime Bay Area rival Santa Clara in a scored dual meet.