The Kennesaw State track and field team has landed 16 athletes since the early signing period in November. While most hail from the state of Georgia, the Owls also added a number of skilled international competitors.
“We have a great advantage by being in the state of Georgia,” said Andy Eggerth, the head coach and director of track and field and cross country. “We have plenty of talented kids surrounding us. The athletes put in the hard work, as they are pretty much in season year-round.”
Eggerth said the transition to the United States can be difficult for some international students, but he is excited to welcome hurdler Jessie Zali and jumper Karl Jõeäär. Eggerth hopes they adapt well to the U.S. system and thrive at KSU.
However, the student-athletes aren’t the only ones working hard in the program. Eggerth raves about his coaching staff and how they constantly attend conventions in the offseason to educate themselves on the sport.
The hard work put in by the coaching staff and athletes alike has paid off as the men’s and women’s track and field teams took the ASUN Conference by storm in 2017, winning the indoor and outdoor conference championships. The men’s team also boasts indoor and outdoor conference championships in seven of the last eight years.
“It takes a huge commitment from everyone involved,” Eggerth said. “The entire program certainly has a passion for excellence.”
This is why freshmen Tyler Jones, a jumper from Arabia Mountain High School, was recruited. According to the KSU Owls website, Jones has a strong academic background and is a decorated triple and long jumper at the state level.
Before every season, Eggerth sits down with the new athletes and warns them of the difficult transition from high school to college. He does not think this will be a problem for Jones though.
“Arabia Mountain was a magnet school, so I think I’ll be prepared for the college workload,” Jones said. “Just like coach said, if we don’t get good grades and show up to class on time, we won’t be able to compete on the track.”
Because of Jones’ history of academic success, he plans to take a leadership role within the team to ensure the other freshmen are maintaining their grades.
“School work, then track, then social life,” Jones said. “That’s how it should be. We have a very talented freshmen class, and I think we can be special this year.”
Jones is excited to compete against other college-level athletes and said his biggest goal is to compete for a NCAA championship.
The season does not officially start until October, but Jones has been keeping in shape by training and competing in national events such as the New Balance National and the AAU Orlando Championship.
While the NCAA allows full training in October, the first competition for the track and field teams won’t begin until January 2018 when they travel to Purdue University.