The Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) women’s track and field team has only been in existence for four years. However, with a diverse roster and competitive skill, the Penmen are sprinting into what could be its best season.
In 2015, Head Coach Lex Butler saw a job opening at SNHU for a head coaching position of a track and field program. Butler, who had been coaching at the University of Colorado for 10 years, eagerly jumped at this amazing opportunity.
“I was looking for a new challenge. I saw the position of head coach starting a program, which is something that isn’t done every day.” Butler said.
At its starting mark in 2015, track and field was only offered at the club level, but was offered as an outdoor program in 2016. Finally, in 2017, track and field saw the start of its indoor and outdoor teams. Plus, in February of last year, SNHU opened its doors to a brand new state-of-the-art track and field facility located at Penmen Stadium.
However, with every new program comes new challenges, and for the women’s track and field team, it was getting on the map. Attracting the attention of recruits was a tough business.
“Nobody in the New England area knew that we had a track program,” Butler said. “So, we weren’t under anyone’s radar.”
Although, the program has taken off the past couple years. The freshman recruitment status grew from only five or six freshmen to 14 who joined the team this season.
SNHU’s women’s track and field team is fitting in well amongst the rest of the NE10 Conference. The NE10 predicted SNHU to finish in last place in 2016, which was its first competitive outdoor season, and again in 2017. Yet, it prevailed both years, finishing at ninth place in 2016 and seventh place in 2017.
“We have exceeded initial expectations. We’ve continually gotten better each and every year,” said Butler.
In addition to these feats, the women’s track and field team fostered an all-American athlete along with several conference champions at the outdoor level. This year, the team has potential for more individual champions as well. This includes Ashley Elder, who is currently ranked 10th in the nation and will be competing in nationals with an opportunity to become an all-American athlete.
Going forward, Butler hopes to continue the improvement shown in the last few years and growth of the program.
“We need to have confidence to go forward and build that culture of aiming toward being a championship team. We have our eyes set at the top.”
While the 2018-2019 indoor season is approaching the finish line, the team is still going at full speed. Looking to break into the top half of the conference, the team is staying focused, continuing training and improving with each meet. Indoor conference championships are set to take place the weekend of February 16 at Smith College, hosted by American International College (AIC).
As outdoor season approaches, Butler aspires to bring the team down to Florida for a few meets in the warm weather over spring break. In addition, the team will have three home meets beginning in April, including the Penmen Relay which will house 500 to 600 athletes.
The team will also be hosting the outdoor NE10 Conference Track and Field Championships on May 3 and 4 at Penmen Stadium. Be sure to come out and support!