Athletics Director Robyn Daugherty announced that John Brown University Athletics would be partnering with the Siloam Springs School District to renovate the track by the Siloam Springs Middle School. With the renovation announcement, JBU Athletics announced the launching of its NAIA men’s and women’s intercollegiate track and field program. JBU hasn’t had a track team since the 1980s.
Current cross-country coach Scott Schochler will coach the new track program. Scholer has coached cross country at JBU since 2013, during which he has coached senior Annie Brown to the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, as well as coaching senior Josh Uzelack to three NAIA cross country National Championships. In a press release from JBU, Schochler said, “I am extremely excited and grateful to have the opportunity to bring Track and Field back to JBU and contribute to its legacy. I expect to be competitive from the start because of the ability JBU gives us to draw high-quality student athletes … It is a great time to be a JBU Golden Eagle.”
Schochler will start the recruitment process immediately, starting with the current 28 members of the men’s and women’s cross-country team, where the athletes will be able to participate in both sports. Daugherty said she hopes to recruit 15 new students for the fall of 2019 and have 60 students combined in the two programs by the fall of 2021. “This is an opportunity I have been hoping for since I came to JBU,” Schochler said, “There are some great track and field student-athletes we now have the ability to attract to JBU.”
The track and field program has a decorated history, marked by Roger Vann’s back to back NAIA All-American honors. In 1975 and 1976, Vann ran the marathon for JBU, winning the national title in 1976. The men’s track and field team was active from the 1960s to the 1980s, while the women’s was from the mid 1970s to the 1980s.
When it comes to the renovation, JBU will be funding up to 50 percent of the cost up to $400,000 dollars. The renovation will involve rebuilding the track surface, as well as adding more functional field event space, and a new steeple chase pit area. The partnership gives JBU access to the track for 12 years, unless it needs to be resurfaced before then. Ken Ramey, SSSD Superintendent said the track will benefit students not only from JBU, but the SSSD, as well as other students around Arkansas. “In the future, we can host 5A Conference, State, and Meet of Champions events. The shared use of the track will certainly benefit students from seventh grade through their college years.”
On their partnership, Chip Pollard said he was very excited about the partnership. “We are deeply grateful to Siloam Springs School District for allowing us to enter into this partnership with them,” Pollard said, “This new track will be a great asset to SSSD, JBU and the community of Siloam Springs.”