The CASC Board of Regents approved the addition of Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country at the Regents meeting on March 28, 2017. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) approval is also in place, therefore the CASC program will begin with the 2017 Fall Semester. CASC will be the first community college in Oklahoma offering cross country.
CASC President Jay Falkner stated, “We are very excited to be able to add this to our athletic programs. We have put much thought and preparation into this decision, and feel it will be a great opportunity for area high school graduates to attend CASC and continue their cross country careers as college athletes.”
President Falkner explained, “The overall expense of supporting this program is much less than other athletic programs we might provide, so it is a wonderful fit for us to offer athletes a place to compete at a price we can afford as an institution.”
Aaron Emberton has been selected to coach the cross country teams. According to Falkner, Emberton is an avid runner, and will be able to provide great coaching and mentoring for the CASC athletes.
Emberton stated, “This is really exciting for our area. We have a running culture embraced here, and we look forward to recruiting talent from high schools in our region.” Emberton explained, “This will be a chance for runners to continue their athletic careers at the college level, and those who become members of our first teams will be setting the pace for those who become Viking runners in the years ahead.”
At the back of the Poteau campus, a cross country trail has been opened up through land donated to the college by the LaFevers family.
President Falkner stated, “We will be able to host some events here in Poteau, and also take our teams to compete at other locations in Oklahoma and surrounding states.”
CASC Athletic Director Randy Graves stated going Division I opens up many opportunities for the athletes in the new CASC program. “We will have more opportunities to compete closer to home by going DI, and we really feel this is an excellent opportunity for us to provide a new athletic program.”
The recruiting effort will begin immediately, and Emberton hopes to have up to 15 on each of the men’s and women’s teams. He shared, “We will offer nine scholarships and six walk-on spots for each team. The scholarships will consist of one-fourth dorm room expense plus a book scholarship.”
Emberton will have an information table at the upcoming CASC Vike Hike for any high school seniors interested in the CASC cross country program. “If potential CASC runners are entered in the Vike Hike on Saturday, April 22nd, I will be glad to get their run time that morning. If not running the Vike Hike, high school athletes are still welcome to come by and visit with me that morning about our new program.” He continued, “I will be trying to get to some regional meets to see area students competing, and will announce at a later time if we need to set up tryouts.”