By Ray Hamill — The College of the Redwoods track and field team is on the rise, both in numbers and stature, and that is in large part due to a recent co-recruiting drive initiated by the school’s athletic department.
This week, CR’s track and field and cross country head coach Reed Elmore announced the addition of six H-DNL standouts who have committed to join the Corsairs this year, with as many as four or five more expected in the coming days.
And the common thread with many of these new recruits is that they are two-sport athletes who will play for multiple teams at the community college.
“We’re trying to co-recruit as much as possible,” Elmore said.
Athletes like McKinleyville’s Hope Kibby, who will play basketball and run cross country at CR, and Del Norte’s Sam Cowan, who will play soccer and run sprints, are the latest to commit to compete for the Corsairs, with some football players and track field athletes from both Arcata and McKinleyville expected to commit in the coming days.
Elmore sees it as a win-win-win situation, benefitting multiple teams as well as the student athletes.
And he believes it is a growing trend, with larger numbers of local student athletes seeing the benefits of studying at and competing for the Corsairs, something that has been particularly noticeable recently in men’s and women’s basketball and softball.
“We have a new wave of local talent that want to stay here and come out to compete,” said Elmore, who sees the “free tuition” as a big part of it. “More and more it’s happening. I think people are starting to see CR as a great alternative to leaving the area, while saving money.”
Other locals, such as Fortuna’s Riley Timmerman and Emma Coleman, Eureka’s Dimitri Stefanakis and Hoopa’s Aidan Mendes, each also have recently committed to compete in track and field for the Corsairs.
“Our numbers are up,” the coach said. “And we’re still working on some more.”
Part of the recruiting success has been the Corsairs’ ability to change what Elmore sees as an antiquated view of the CR track and field and cross country programs.
“I think some people see CR as high school part two,” he said. “Some kids want to leave, I get that. It’s a huge growth experience, but if they stay and we can provide them with good coaching, then they can still leave and go to the next level.
“CR is a great environment for improving and it’s not high school part two. Some of the guys we’re running against are Olympians. We compete against Stanford and Division-I schools, and all the NAIA schools in Oregon, it’s not what people think.
“And at the same time we try to maintain that local feel.”
Elmore expects the Corsairs to be very competitive in track and field next spring, particularly in one area.
“Our sprint program, on paper right now, we’re looking at being absolutely outstanding,” he said. “And we’ve got a good mix of local kids and kids from out of the area.”
Eric Wright, who coaches the throwers and is the program’s recruitment coordinator, has played a pivotal role in the recent recruitment drive.
“He’s done a bang up job for us,” Elmore said of his assistant.