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Wildcats track and field bringing big crop of recruits

Emerson Keenan

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Thirteen of the 15 incoming recruits for the Chico State men's track and field team. In the middle of them is the new athlete's mantra: respect, optimism and discipline. Photo Courtesy Oliver Hanf

Losing 17 seniors doesn’t happen every day. When it does, it can really hurt a team.

Chico State men’s track and field coach, Oliver Hanf, came prepared by bringing in a fresh class of 15 athletes to replenish the loss. Of the 15 athletes that joined the men’s track and field team, there are eight transfers and seven freshmen.

“We brought in a big crew last year, but we had an added sense of urgency last season, knowing that the seniors will not be with the team the next year,” Hanf said. “So I can’t complain. Fifteen is more that I thought we would get.”

Leading the pack is Phillip Bailey, a transfer decathlete from Riverside Community College. He was the gold medalist in the decathlon, where he scored 6,873 points at the Southern California Championships Decathlon and led the college to its third straight junior college title.

“He is the real deal, very physically gifted and totally on board,” Hanf said. “I am very confident he’s going to take his game to a real high level and add to our multi-event legacy.”

Something that has helped Hanf with recruiting are the acquisitions of Robert Nooney, the women’s track and field head coach, and Brian Beeman, the assistant women’s track and field coach.

“We link our coaching tactics and last year we were all in the same office,” Hanf said. “We went back and forth daily on our recruits and try to work together on it.”

The team doesn’t start track meets until February, but the recruiting process is something coaches must address during all parts of the year.

“We try to separate ourselves from other schools,” Hanf said. “For example, we send Christmas cards to our recruits and wish them happy birthday. When recruits come up for visits, we’ve had them meet President Zingg.”

On the women’s side, Nooney brought 15 recruits for his first recruiting class while being a coach at Chico State.

“It started a little later than I wanted to,” Nooney said. “I’ve got a great class though, a very versatile group of athletes and we pretty much covered all event areas. They’re young but we empower young students here to do well and be champions. We saw that last year with Brooke Whitburn, who was a national qualifier as a freshman in the long jump.”

During the first week of school, the new men’s track and field athletes came up with a definition for what a successful teammate is.

“It started in pairs, then we got it down to three words which were: respect, discipline and optimism,” Hanf said. “They want to build on the successful tradition and they admire the success of the past, but they also want to add to it in the future.”

Chance Keenan can be reached at [email protected] or @chancelikelance on Twitter.

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Wildcats track and field bringing big crop of recruits