By Bron Wickum in Sports
Clark’s track and field team is the smallest it’s been in four years, and the smallest team in the Northwest Athletic Conference, with 21 members.
The track team lost 15 people from last year and only four of those were due to their last year of eligibility. Head Coach Robert Williams and Associate Head Coach Kristie Brookes took over in June 2014, and recruiting for the next season had passed. Despite the significant roster changes, Clark still had six of its nine women and seven of their 12 men qualify for the NWAC Championships, according to directathletics.com.
“We are out once or twice a week going to high school meets and on the phone all the time with potential recruits,” Brookes said. “The men and women that we have here work super hard and they’re talented.”
One man on the team is freshman qualifier James Breen. He qualified in the 800, 1500 and 5000 meter races and is also on Clark’s relay team.
“I have to give the credit to my coach,” Breen said. “He did most of it. He gave me a lot harder workouts than I’m used to.”
Clark track and field competed in the 2015 NWAC South Region Championship on May 9 at Mount Hood Community College. The men scored 53 points and finished fifth compared to first place Lane Community College’s 309. The women finished last and scored 31 points. Breen finished third in the men’s 1500-meter and scored six points.
“We have a long ways to go still,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to keep the program consistent. That’s the most important thing.”
Freshman Thomas Normandeau was named the NWAC Track & Field Athlete of the Week May 5. Normandeau is the first track athlete from Clark chosen for this honor this year. He ran two races at the Mt. Hood Festival in the 800 (2:00.14) and 1500 meters (3:58.5) to earn the award. Normandeau also broke that 800 meter record the week prior at the Titan Twilight with a run of 1:53.8.
Clark has won an NWAC Championship eight times (seven men, one women) since 1947 and have been runner up six times (five men, one women). Clark has not won an NWAC Championship since the women’s team won in 2003.
Williams said he expects the team to double in numbers next year. He’s also looking at Clark’s past to see what has made the team successful.
“Every time there’s been a coach here that has really wanted to take the time and put in the effort to have a good program, they’ve won, or they’ve been in the top.”