Kentucky Christian Athletics continue to expand. The Knights have welcomed several new sports including its newest addition, track and field.
The team will be led by KCU’s cross country coach Charles Wentz.
“Getting a track program shows that our school backs us and that we are serious about the program. We are growing. Not just from a team perspective, we are growing as a university,” said Wentz.
Wentz will be assisted by Connor Flynn and Todd Eastham.
Flynn will be the assistant distance coach and recruiting coordinator.
“He comes from a pretty good program at Shawnee State as an alum. He is just passionate about running and knows a lot of local coaches. People know him from road races and just being around the sport. We are excited to have him,” said Wentz.
Eastham, who has had success as a throwing coach in Greenup County, will help to establish a strong group of throwers at KCU in the upcoming seasons. Eastham still competes as a USTF senior and is a KCU alumni.
“He is really passionate about the throws and has done well with private lessons at the high school level. He has a great rapport in the area. He is a great guy and he mirrors the mission statement that we want to coach,” said Wentz
Wentz will be adding a graduate assistant to his staff in the near future to assist with sprints, jumps and hurdles.
“We want to run a balanced program, sprints, jumps, throws, hurdles, distance. We are looking to be good in all events. So, we aren’t going to throw all our money into one area,” said Wentz.
He and his staff have a big task to tackle since this is KCU’s first track program.
“It is going to take a lot of time management and a lot of learning. There has never been track and field here before. We think we know what we aim to do, but we all need to learn time management and how to be flexible for sure,” said Wentz.
Wentz’ main goal for the 2020 season is to see the team buy in and to establish themselves among the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
“This first year is letting people see what we are about and letting them know we are here. We are trying to have some success and build upon that success,” said Wentz. “As we move into the Appalachian Athletic Conference, we aim to be a serious contender across all sports. We want to make an impact immediately at the conference level. And if we can qualify an individual athlete to the national meet or have conference champion in something, that would be great too.”
The team has signed 30 athletes for its inaugural 2020 season including two cross country runners from last year’s 2018 team, Thomas Breeze and Josh Watkins.
“They (Breeze and Watkins) were troopers last year. They bought in and went to a bunch of meets, just us and the cold. We are looking to build around some of their leadership,” said Wentz.
Wentz has added several local runners such as James Overholser from Bath County and Kaylee Lewis from East Carter. Overholser ran a 4:58 in the 1600 meter and a 10:40 in the 3200 meter at the KHSAA State Track meet. Lewis qualified to the KHSAA State meet in both pole vault and high jump. She has a personal best of 4-10 in the high jump and hit a personal best of 8-00 in pole vault at the state meet.
Evan Leist will join the Knights’ program from just over the Ohio border. Running for Eastern-Beaver, Leist finished sixth in the 1600 meter run at the OHSAA Division III State meet with a time of 4:25.19.
Jordan Hatten joins the women’s program from Spring Valley, West Virginia. She will be competing in several events next season for the Lady Knights. She has a personal best of 5-0 in the high jump and 15-02.75 in the long jump. She has run the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash and 400 meter dash.
“We are bringing in kids that have been successful at state levels and regional levels across all events. It’s going to be an exciting year,” said Wentz.
Of the 30 track and field athletes, 11 of them will be competing in cross county as well as track and field. Wentz aims to have a full team for both the men’s and women’s cross country programs.
“Being able to score in cross country is a huge thing being a distance person for us. We are wanting to keep the ball rolling in growing this program as time goes on,” said Wentz.
The KCU cross country and track and field teams will begin training this upcoming fall. The Cross Country program will compete in their first meet Sept. 6 at the West Virginia Tech Golden Bear Classic in Beckley, W.Va. The KCU track schedule has yet to be determined.