Sports

Back in the running - Olympic College returns with distance track this spring.

Starting from left, Taylor Person, Brenden Schruhl, Andrew Crock and Jeremy Delicino practice for the Olympic College distance track team Monday at Bremerton Memorial Stadium. The Rangers are fielding their first track and cross-country teams in 30 years. This year also marks the inaugural seasons for women’s cross-country and track.  - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Starting from left, Taylor Person, Brenden Schruhl, Andrew Crock and Jeremy Delicino practice for the Olympic College distance track team Monday at Bremerton Memorial Stadium. The Rangers are fielding their first track and cross-country teams in 30 years. This year also marks the inaugural seasons for women’s cross-country and track.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

Andrew Crock wouldn’t be a student at Olympic College if not for its track program.

The freshman admitted during practice Monday that getting a full time job was his only option after graduating from South Kitsap High School last year, as he didn’t have enough money to afford college tuition.

That changed when Olympic College reinstated cross-country and track in 2010.

“The whole reason I’m here right now at the college was for track,” said Crock, whose cross-country and band scholarships help pay for his schooling. “I never really saw myself going to college but when the coaches saw me last year, they convinced me.”

Crock, a former cross-country and track standout with the Wolves, can now earn a degree and compete on the men’s distance track team, the school’s first since 1981. The women are running for the first time in Olympic College’s 65-year history.

The programs were originally stripped from the school due to cutbacks. Track was cut in 1981, cross-country was cut in 1978.

Credit for bringing the sport back to Olympic College is given to former Olympic High School track and field assistant coach Daryl Schruhl and Athletic Director Barry Janusch.

Schruhl, a 1976 graduate of Olympic College and current cross-country coach, said Monday that he wanted to restart the programs because he wanted students to have the same chances  he had.

“The bottom line was to resurrect these programs at the college, so for me personally, I’ve achieved my goal,” he added. “The rest of this is just fun time now that we’ve successfully brought it back for the kids.”

Schruhl began discussions with Janusch two years ago. When cross-country was approved last fall, it allowed the athletic department to also bring back track so the same athletes could run in the spring. Cross-country meets are in the fall.

Having track allows the school to attract more and higher quality athletes because the students know they will run in the fall and spring, Janusch said Tuesday.

The school did not receive any additional funding to bring back cross country and track. The teams’ resurrection was helped with fundraisers by the school and its coaches. The Rangers, which are part of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, schedule their events in the Puget Sound area to save on travel costs.

The track team currently competes in field events, such as the high jump and triple jump, but it’s possible the program will be limited to only distance competitions next year to save money, Janusch said. In addition, the school is allowed to give 15 quarters worth of scholarships to both the men’s and women’s cross country teams. However, there are no available scholarships for the distance track squad. That could change in the future depending on funding, Janusch added.

Schruhl is working with two assistant coaches, Bob Summers and Lloyd Pugh.  All coaches are on paid salaries. Summers is a member of the Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Pugh, a longtime track coach at Bremerton and South Kitsap high schools, also joined the staff this year.

The team currently includes 17 men and women, a comfortable turnout rate for Schruhl. The Rangers head coach said more athletes will cost the program more money.

“We’re trying to be thrifty and efficient,” he added.

Despite fielding a small team, members of the distance track squad are enjoying their time with the sport’s rebirth at Olympic College.

Freshman Taylor Person joined the team after competing in track at a Department of Defense school in Naples, Italy. Person has lived in Bremerton for eight months, and said running for the Rangers’ first female team in school history gives her a sense of belonging to a campus.

“There are so many people that come here and aren’t involved in any groups, but having track changes that,” she said.

Crock, meanwhile, said that earning a spot on the track team has sparked his interest in engineering.

“I never knew what I wanted to do with my life,” he added. “I’m really into the engineering program here and running track, and it all came together so it gets me eager for next year.”

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