More NCAA All-America honors and Great Northwest Athletic Conference accolades are on the table for UAA athletes after the school announced Friday it is adding indoor track and field.
The Seawolves, who already have men's and women's track teams that are among the nation's best in NCAA Division II, will add indoor track to its lineup in 2013. Combined with UAA's national-caliber men's and women's cross-country running teams, the expansion into indoor track gives the school a full complement of running teams.
UAA will compete in three indoor meets in Seattle in January and February, plus the GNAC championships in Nampa, Idaho, in mid-February. Given UAA's success in outdoor track and field -- the Seawolves racked 10 All-America honors last spring, including Micah Chelimo's national title in the men's 5,000 meters -- it seems certain the program will qualify athletes for the Division II nationals in Cleveland on March 8.
UAA track and cross-country coach Michael Friess, entering his 23rd season at the school, is thrilled about adding an indoor season.
"I just think it's going to help us have increased opportunity for improved performance,'' Friess said. "We're finally a complete program.
"What any athlete wants, and any coach wants, is opportunity, and now we have that.''
Cobb said adding indoor track won't increase expenses because track scholarships are already in place, as is the coaching staff. Also, UAA already rents The Dome for indoor training.
Cobb and Friess said the school's outdoor schedule will be adjusted -- perhaps a meet or two fewer, or smaller traveling squads -- so UAA doesn't add expenses to the overall track and field program.
"We'll figure out how to reorganize and use the same budget,'' Cobb said.
Before Friday's announcement, UAA was the only GNAC school that competed in outdoor track but did not compete in indoor track.
Friess said adding indoor track will only enhance recruiting.
Adding an indoor season will also provide UAA athletes motivation while training in mid-winter, Friess said. In past years, when UAA only competed outdoors, its competitive schedule generally did not begin until late March or early April.
"Competing is substantially more fun than practicing,'' Cobb said. "There's more opportunity not just for academic and athletic awards, but I can't tell you how nice it is to get more competitive opportunities.''
At the GNAC Outdoor Championships last spring, where UAA's women finished second in the team standings and its men claimed third, UAA athletes won 12 events and racked 27 top-3 finishes.
That indicates the Seawolves should fare well indoors.
"We think we're going to make some noise,'' Cobb said.
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Seawolves athletic teams
The addition of indoor track and field gives UAA 13 sports teams. All are NCAA Division II teams except hockey, gymnastics and skiing, which are NCAA Division I teams.
• Men's and women's cross country
• Women's volleyball
• Men's ice hockey
• Men's and women's basketball
• Men's and women's skiing (alpine and cross country)
• Women's gymnastics
• Men's and women's indoor track and field
• Men's and women's outdoor track and field