John Brown University’s track and field team had their first meet of the semester on February 10. Allika Pearson made waves in the Sooner Athletic Conference as she qualified for nationals in the 5,000 meter.
While track and field is relatively new territory for JBU, it was a JBU sport before 1976. Despite such a long drought in the universities’ track and field program, JBU has picked up right where they left off some 44 years ago.
Scott Schochler, coach of the cross-country program, took over coaching of the new track and field program as well. This is Schochler’s seventh year as head men’s and women’s cross-country coach and his first as track and field head coach.
Schochler believes that the new program could draw in several students considering coming to JBU. “Next year we should have about 45 to 50 athletes on the track team between distance and sprinters. You’re going to start seeing more and more athletes on campus involved with our program. Along with that, we are going to start hosting meets next year at our facilities,” Schochler said. “This is going to allow JBU students, facility members, members of the community, and ultimately track fans in general to come watch our student athletes excel in their God-given talents. Hopefully, this can also be a way to connect people to our program in general.”
Schochler said he would love for there to be more of a fanbase for the team. “We love having a fan section at track meets, and I know that it’s encouraging for our athletes to have friends, family, and community come out to support them,” Schochler said. “Another thing—that I almost see as more important—is encouraging our athletes, ask them how their season is going, what they’re doing in training and how they see that paying off.”
The track and field team finished up their inaugural indoor season on February 14 and 15 at the Pittsburg State Gorilla Classic. The team now looks toward the outdoor season which will kick off on March 14 at the Central Arkansas Spring Opener in Conway, AR. Although the track and field portion of JBU sports is new and exciting, coach Schochler and other members of the team like Allika Pearson and Ben Martin are poised to succeed because of their already stellar showing in the cross-country program. As recently as last year, both students represented JBU at the 2018 NAIA National Championships. If their success in cross-country is any indicator, Pearson and Martin are ready to lead this new team to a rewarding year.
Photo courtesy of JBU Athletics