Director of Athletics Jackie Slaats made the exciting announcement Tuesday that Lake Forest College will be adding men's and women's indoor and outdoor track to its slate of varsity programs. The teams are set to begin competing in 2017-18.
The focus of the programs will be on the mid-distance and distance events (400 meters to 10,000 meters) and Dan Simpson, the head coach of the Forester men's and women's cross country programs, will also lead the track teams. Lake Forest, one of 10 schools competing in the Midwest Conference, joins a recent trend of more than 30 NCAA Division I, II, and III distance-only track programs around the country. Forester fans will find the new track rosters comprised of cross country runners and others who specialize in track events. The team will compete in at least five indoor and six outdoor meets, including the MWC Indoor and Outdoor Championships, and be eligible to qualify for NCAA Division III Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
"We are extremely excited to add a distance track program at the College," stated Slaats. "With the College's strong academic and athletic tradition, our beautiful lakefront location and vibrant running community, and excellent coaches focused entirely on distance events year-round, Lake Forest will be a very attractive option for many of the nation's best and brightest college-bound runners. The program addition will be positive for the College's enrollment and also enhance the success of cross country."
Forester cross country has experienced significant growth and improvement in Simpson's five years with the program. A total of 40 men and women earned varsity letters in 2016, compared to just 24 the year prior to his arrival. He has led the Lake Forest men to a pair of third-place finishes at the Midwest Conference Championship Meet and the women climbed to fourth in the standings this past fall. Both squads were eighth in the league in 2011. Simpson's runners have also been consistently successful in the classroom, earning 41 Academic All-MWC awards in his first four years and his women's teams have posted the department's highest grade point average the last three semesters.
"I could not be more proud of what Coach Simpson has done with our cross country programs," commented Slaats. "His efforts as a recruiter and developer of talent have made the decision to add track an obvious choice and I am confident the track program will achieve immediate success under his direction."
"I want to thank Jackie Slaats, the Lake Forest administration, and the donors who have made this addition possible," began Simpson. "I am thrilled about what this will do for current runners at the College and I am anxious to reach out to successful high school student-athletes who would thrive academically at the College but may not have considered us in the past without indoor and outdoor varsity track opportunities. The ability to train and compete year-round will enable our runners to maximize their potential and also allow us to achieve the level of cross country program excellence we envision."
Lake Forest has not offered track as a varsity sport since discontinuing the program in 1973. Track and field at the College dates all the way back to the mid-1890s with its most recent conference affiliation coming in the 1950s and 1960s as a member of the College Conference of Illinois. The College has sponsored track as a club sport since the late 1990s and will continue to do so this spring.
For more information about the men's and women's track or cross country programs, contact head coach Dan Simpson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 847-735-6142.
Lake Forest College is a national liberal arts institution located 30 miles north of downtown Chicago. The College has more than 1,500 students representing 44 states and 71 countries. The Princeton Review recently ranked Lake Forest 17th in the nation for happiest students and 18th for best athletic facilities. For more information, visit www.lakeforest.edu.