November 22, 2013
Dave Denny, who’s coached the Eagles men’s and women’s cross country teams since their inception in 2010, will be the University’s first head coach in the sport.
For Denny, the decision to add track and field is one he’s been waiting for. It’s been difficult to recruit cross country runners for that program with no track program to complement it in the spring.
“I really want to get this program started,” said Denny, who’s coached cross country and track at the high school level and collegiately in the Kansas City area for more than 30 years. “Not having track has been a hindrance in recruiting for cross country. Cross country and track just go together. We need to get athletes in here who want to do both.”
Denny said he’s in the midst of building a program now, and his intentions are to begin building at the grass roots level – that is, approaching students currently on campus who might want to compete in the sport. He said the plan is to start a track “club” and travel to a few “club-level” meets this spring. If those students show enough interest at the club level, they can be on the team next spring.
Where the team will practice is still up in the air. The athletic department is having discussions with several schools in the surrounding area.
“Practice will probably have to be in the evenings after high school practice is done,” Denny said. “I think there are a lot of possibilities. There are a lot of things you can do with a little imagination.”
Denny said the official team probably won’t get started in earnest until around Christmastime next year. In spring 2015, he anticipates competing in 3-4 meets and in the Heart of America Athletic Conference meet.
“The first thing is to get the numbers in,” said Denny, who hopes to have 20-25 student-athletes on the original roster. “Once we get those, we can start developing the program.
“I’ve been getting a number of phone calls and emails. It’s pretty exciting. It’s going to be a lot of work. But, once we get the cross country and distance program going, I think the rest will just blossom.”
About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.