The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma recently announced the launch of the university's first-ever track and field program for men and women beginning in 2018. USAO is the ninth Sooner Athletic Conference team to offer track and field, joining Wayland Baptist University, Texas Wesleyan University, Bacone College, Central Christian College, Southwestern Christian University, Oklahoma City University, St. Gregory's University and Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
The addition of men's and women's track and field increases the number of sport offerings at USAO to 11, joining baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's golf, men's and women's cross country, volleyball and softball.
"The addition of track and field is a big step forward for Drover athletics as a whole," USAO Athletic Director Brisco McPherson said. "Our goal is to create a nationally-competitive track and field program while strengthening the overall diversity of the university."
USAO cross country coach Sid Hudson will serve in the dual role as head coach for both track and field programs while continuing his lead role in cross country.
"This is something we have been working toward for years. I am very excited that we are able to make this announcement," Hudson said. "It benefits USAO in so many ways by opening the door to recruit student-athletes that we would not have had the chance to in the past."
The addition of the track programs give the Drover cross country teams an added advantage moving forward. Several current cross country runners have lengthy track backgrounds in high school and have expressed a strong desire to compete in the spring sport.
"The addition of track and field will make our cross country program better," Hudson said. "It will help our team to stay active and focused year-round. This will help our teams to keep on building without having to wait until fall to compete. The future is bright for both programs."
Hudson said his goal is to have USAO athletes compete in wide variety of specialties including sprints, distance, jumping and throwing events. Typical track and field meets have 21 different events in which competition is sponsored.
Hudson has brought on renowned track coaches Conor Holt and Benjamin Denton to help him with building the team
Holt, who coached most recently at Oklahoma City University, was a three-time NAIA National Cross Country Coach of the Year and led the Stars to the NAIA Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Under Holt, the OCU track programs were also among the best in NAIA. The men placed second while the women finished ninth in the 2016 NAIA Program of the Year standings, which combined the national team results from cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field.
Denton, who worked previously at OCU with Holt, will oversee the field jumping and throwing athletes and serve as the recruiting coordinator for the track and field team. A 2010 graduate of McPherson College, Denton ran both cross country and track and field. He later worked at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City as an assistant football coach, followed by two years as a cross country assistant where he helped guide the men's team to their first state appearance in over a decade.