Berry College announces track and field expansion plans

Berry College announces track and field expansion plans

ROME, Ga. – It has been more than 30 years since a Berry College had a student-athlete put a shot, or sprinted down the runway with a pole to vault over a bar. With the announcement that Berry College will sponsor a full men's and women's track and field program, however, the past catches up to the present.

"Berry College is excited to announce the decision to sponsor a complete track and field team beginning with the 2015-16 season," said Tom Hart, Berry College's director of athletics. "With the construction of Valhalla moving along as planned, the time is right to take advantage of the new track and throwing areas. The facilities--and the unique attractiveness of Berry College--are bound to draw attention and enthusiasm from those students with a passion for sprints, jumps and throws."

With this announcement, Berry will also begin a national search for a head track and field coach. Those tabbed to assist with the track and field coaching duties include Paul Deaton, Berry's head cross country coach, and Ossie Buchanon, assistant football/jumps coach.

"I would like to thank Coach Deaton for his tireless work to keep the program running and his coordination of recruitment this spring until we name a head coach," said Hart.

In addition to coaches Deaton and Buchanon, Neal West will also assist with the recruitment of student athletes this spring. The search for a head coach for track and field will begin in early March. A new track and field head coach is expected to be in place this summer.

Berry first introduced track and field in 1950 and in 1960 became a charter member of the Georgia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GIAC). The GIAC competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Berry College Track and Field team captured the school's first GIAC championship in 1961. Women's track and field was added in the 1970's.

Both the men's and women's track and field programs were scaled back in 1984. For the past 30 years, members of the cross country teams have continued to compete in distance track events without the company of sprinters, jumpers and throwers. Throughout Berry's competitive track and field years in the NAIA, the college had 30 women's All American performances and 19 men's All American Performances. The Vikings also had 17 women's Academic All-Americans and 20 men's Academic All-Americans.

The Vikings are a member of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) and the NCAA's Division III. Berry College offers 21 intercollegiate athletic teams and has added six intercollegiate sports since 2008.

Anyone interested in learning more about Berry College and the track and field program should contact Coach Deaton at pdeaton@berry.edu.