Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Robert McKinney
Eastern New Mexico University will return to intercollegiate competition in outdoor track and field during the 2002-03 academic year, ENMU President Dr. Steven Gamble announced today, bringing the Greyhounds and the Zias back into action in a sport that has been historically strong at ENMU. The men's and women's track and field teams will compete in NCAA Division II and the Lone Star Conference.
"Within the New Mexico and West Texas area, there are some talented track and field
athletes who right now do not have the opportunity of a Division II program," Dr. Gamble said.
"Track was a strength at our institution in the 1970's and 1980's, and we want to reach those heights again."
Eastern New Mexico has an outstanding history in outdoor track and field, with National
Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) men's national titles in 1974 and 1976. The ENMU men also placed second three times in indoor track (1973, 1975, 1976) and two times in outdoor track (1973 and 1975). ENMU won a pair of NAIA men's cross country titles in 1973 and 1974.
Eastern's school records remain impressive today. Mike Boit, a world-class miler, set several ENMU records, including a 3:54.8 mile and an 800-meter run in 1.43.8, both in 1975. He ran a record 1:45.1 split on the anchor leg of the sprint medley relay team that set a school record at 3:15.5 for the third fastest time in the world during 1973. Boit also anchored the distance medley relay, earning a 3:59.6 split as the Greyhounds established a school record at 9:44.2 in 1973.
Other impressive ENMU records include Rex Maddaford's 3-mile run (13:22.2) and indoor
2-mile run (8:28.6) in 1970, as well as Phillip Ndoo's 6-mile run (28:07.6) in 1974. In 1980,
Mike King ran the 110 high hurdles in 13.8 seconds and the 400 intermediate hurdles in 50.1 seconds. Dennis Williams completed a marathon in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 18 seconds for another record. J.O. Amoah set records in the long jump (25'11") and the triple jump (52'11"). Boit ran for Kenya in the Summer Olympics, while Amoah competed in the Summer Olympics for Ghana.
The addition of men's and women's outdoor track and field will give ENMU 5 men's sports
and 6 women's sports competing at the NCAA Division II level. NCAA regulations will soon
require member colleges and universities to offer at least 10 sports (5 men's and 5 women's or 4 men's and 6 women's). Eastern also competes in men's and women's rodeo, governed by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). Although ENMU has a strong tradition in track and field, the Greyhounds and the Zias have not competed in the sport at the intercollegiate level since 1986.
ENMU's administrative leaders also hope the return of men's and women's track and field
will be an important component of the university's efforts to increase enrollment. Eastern typically enrolls about 3,600 students each year.
"A college education is about opportunity, and the track and field program will provide an
opportunity for students to come to Eastern who otherwise wouldn't have come," Dr. Gamble said.
"I just think that it (track and field) should really help enrollment," Interim Athletic Director
Mike Maguire commented, "It's another addition for the athletic department, and we have a great tradition in the sport. It's an all-around good thing for the university."
Eastern's revitalized track and field program will compete against some of the strongest
teams in NCAA Division II such as Lone Star Conference powers Abilene Christian University, Angelo State University and Tarleton State University. ACU has been a national contender in both men's and women's track and field for a long time.
"I think its's a good thing for our track and field teams to be in the LSC," Maguire said.
"Our athletes are going to get to go against some of the top performers in the nation."
The ENMU men's and women's outdoor track and field teams will be guided by Head Coach Eric Boll, who will also continue in his previous capacity as defensive secondary coach for the ENMU football team. Greg LaSage, who joined ENMU as a graduate assistant baseball coach in 2000-01, will become a full-time member of the coaching staff as head men's and women's cross country coach. He will continue his duties as pitching coach for the baseball team. Fred Miller, a graduate assistant coach for cross country this past fall, will remain with the cross country team next season, and will assistant Boll during the track and field season in 2003. Miller's duties also include helping both head coaches with recruiting this spring.
Boll and LaSage each have previous head coaching experience. Boll was head men's and
women's track and field coach at Wayne State College (Nebr.) for one year (1997-98) and at Sul Ross State University for two years (1994-95, 1995-96). LaSage was head women's cross country coach at Lamar Community College for three years (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99).