As each new piece is added, the excitement of building a new college sports program grows exponentially.
The recent addition of a state champion like Mason Simmons will accelerate the development of the first-ever track & field program at Grand Canyon University.
New head coach Tom Flood put together a limited schedule this spring that focused on cross country, but the new school year should bring a full complement of student-athletes to compete for the college in the indoor program in the winter and the outdoor program next spring.
The new track program will bring the number of sports programs at the Christian-based school in Phoenix to 22, which the school promotes as the largest intercollegiate athletics program in Arizona.
Simmons competed at Liberty High School in Peoria, where he won the 4A-II state titles in shot put and discus. He’s a two-time state discus champion, a 17-time individual champion, and an eight-time qualifier for State.
His resume also includes 11 firsts in the USA Track & Field state championships, nine in the USATF state Junior Olympics, and seven in the USATF national Junior Olympics.
“He is a versatile athlete and has the ability to score a lot of points in our conference,” says Flood, who came to GCU from Colorado State where he coached the sprints, hurdles, relays, and horizontal jumps. He feels Simmons has the potential to be an All-American in the discus as early as his freshman year.
The local high schools have been particularly good to Flood as he assembles his first field of athletes. At the beginning of the summer he picked up commitments from Precious Amukamara and Mikio Bain.
Both are coming via Glendale Community College, but Amukamara attended Apollo HS in Glendale and Bain is a graduate of Raymond S. Kellis HS, also in Glendale.
Amukamara was a great acquisition because she covers four events all by herself. She was a 4A-I state champion in 2006 in the 800m, took the state title in the 400m in 2007, and finished in third place in the long jump in 2008. She also runs the 200m, which she ran in NJCAA Region 1 competition and finished third.
Bain brings help in the sprints. A 4A-II state runner-up in the 100m, he also took third place in the 200m a couple of years ago. Last year, he was a NJCAA national qualifier in the 60m and 200m.
Although he’s coming from Colorado, Coach Flood is comfortable with recruiting in Arizona because he has roots here. He built a sprints/hurdles program at Sunnyslope High School and was a triple jumper and long jumper at Arizona State when he competed in college.
Now he’s counting on home-grown talent to lay the foundation for his new program at GCU.