John Krueger, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
BATESVILLE – Lyon College has announced that it will lift the moratorium on its men’s and women’s cross country programs and restart them in the fall of 2017, seven years after suspending those programs, Director of Athletics Kevin Jenkins stated Monday.
Lyon has begun a nation-wide search for a new head coach for the programs and hopes to name the leader by mid-February, Jenkins said. The coach will then be looking to fill squads of 12 student-athletes on both the men’s and women’s teams and compete for the American Midwest Conference championship in November.
“One of the reasons we placed a moratorium on the programs is because there was a lack of teams in the TranSouth Athletic Conference,” Jenkins explained. “We were a member of that conference in 2009, but there were only four men’s teams and four women’s teams and we were the only conference member from Arkansas.
“But a lot has changed since then. We’re now a member of the very strong American Midwest Conference and there were 10 men’s teams and 11 women’s teams this past fall. There are also both men’s and women’s teams from (AMC members) Central Baptist College and Williams Baptist College in Arkansas. The AMC also hosted the NAIA National Championships as well, indicating the conference’s commitment to excellence in this sport, to go along with the other 16 championship sports.
American Midwest Conference schools who currently sponsor men’s and women’s cross country include Freed-Hardeman University in Tennessee, Lindenwood University at Belleville in Illinois and Columbia College, Hannibal-LaGrange University, Missouri Baptist University, Park University, St. Louis College of Pharmacy and William Woods University in Missouri, in addition to CBC and WBC in Arkansas. Stephens College, an all-women’s college, also competes in the AMC.
Only Harris-Stowe State University and Lyon were AMC members who did not field cross country squads in 2016.
“(Lyon) is very excited about the return of cross country to our fast-growing athletics programs here,” Jenkins added. “Our goal is to have 24 student-athletes on these squads and to begin challenging for an AMC championship next fall.
“Cross country is a sport that we feel we will now have an excellent opportunity to recruit some outstanding student-athletes. And because it is more of an individual sport, it won’t take long to begin challenging for a conference title.”
In the fall of 2016, 89 men competed for the AMC men’s championship’s eight kilometer race, with Columbia claiming the team title for the third straight year and William Woods placing second. Both teams qualified for the NAIA Meet held in Elsah, Ill. There were 77 conference runners in the women’s five kilometer race. Missouri Baptist won it’s first-ever AMC title, with Park placing second. Both teams advanced to the national championships.
The reinstatement of the two cross country teams, in addition to restarting football and beginning men’s and women’s wrestling programs in the past three years, will bring the number of intercollegiate sports sponsored by Lyon to 14.