Sprouse kicks off revived PSC cross country with 3 KHS grads
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - It was recently announced that former Potomac State women’s soccer coach Mark Sprouse had returned to the campus, this time to resurrect the cross country program which was discontinued after the 2018 season.
Sprouse is hard at work getting the program up and running, and what better way to start things off than with the first batch of recruits. Sprouse didn’t have to look very far - no further than Keyser in fact, to find his first three runners.
In a signing ceremony held at Keyser High School on Thursday, Claire Del Signore, Darius Redman, and Cortney Butts, all three products of the KHS cross country program, committed to the Potomac State cross country program.
Claire Del Signore is a current senior at KHS, both Darius Redman and Cortney Butts are 2020 graduates of Keyser High School and are currently enrolled as freshmen at Potomac State.
“These are the first three I’ve signed. I’ve got plans in the works for more, but this is the nucleus and it’s a good nucleus,” Sprouse stated.
“I think Claire, who is at Keyser, has a big upside. She didn’t run in 2019, but she did in 2020, and I look for a lot of improvement in her times. I think she has a potential there that hasn’t been tapped. Nothing against her coach here, but with the maturity and the age, I think if she can stay healthy, she’ll be quite a runner,” Sprouse detailed.
“We’ve got Darius, who has got a lot of leadership qualities, he’s got the right attitude, and I envision him even improving on his high school times. He’s going to be one heck of a competitor and we are so blessed to have him among our first signees,” Sprouse stated.
“Cortney is already up at Potomac State so I don’t know how many years I’ll have her, but I’ll have her at least this once. She’s a proven runner at Keyser in 2019, so she’ll be a little rusty and will have to get that out. But, she has excellent character, comes well recommended, and so she’ll give us 100 percent,” Sprouse opined.
These three are just the start. The wheels are in motion for more signees in the coming days and weeks, they too will come from the local and/or regional area.
“Next week, we hope to be signing three more from a local high school, and I’m meeting with someone today from another local high school, so I’m hoping we’ll sign them very soon,” Sprouse explained.
According to Sprouse, “This is a great region for cross-country, and I think it has a lot more potential. If people see that running cross country can help with their college money, that maybe we’ll see more coming out for cross-country and then maybe I’ll have more at Potomac State.”
One thing that will help build the program is the ability for the program to offer scholarship money, something that really hasn’t been an option in the past.
“It’s great, I coached soccer at Potomac State for 15 years, and only one year did I have any scholarships. But, for 14, I didn’t have any. So, this, it’s got an upside and a downside, but more of an upside. To be able to help the family out and help the student out, it’s great. Sometimes it comes down to an issue of do I work or play sports, well, this can help out,” Sprouse detailed.
According to Sprouse, “We really want to build a winning culture there, where not only will we have students competing at a high level, but also where we’ll have students that just want to run. So, we want to make it easier for that to happen.”
For their part, all three signees are excited to hit the ground running, and to be part of building that winning culture.
“I have ran for Keyser for two years, running my sophomore and senior years. Keyser cross country has prepared me by pretty much showing me what to expect at the college level,” Claire Del Signore stated. “I think it will be different knowing there will be more challenges and tougher competition. I’ve very excited about this opportunity.”
“I ran cross country at Keyser since my freshman year, actually I started in the eighth grade. I think Keyser got my mind right to run every day, physically and mentally, just getting me ready for the next level,” Darius Redman stated. “The competition will be tough, with people running crazy times. I am grateful for this opportunity. I have always wanted to go to the next level in sports, I just have to put the work in now.”
“I ran cross country at Keyser all four years. Competing and running for those four years have prepared me for the distance,” Cortney Butts stated. “I think competing in college will be a little harder because I’m studying more things. But, I’m very grateful to have this opportunity because I love running.”
Mark Sprouse has big plans for the Potomac State cross country program, and those plans in part involve tapping into local area as a good source of student athletes. With the signing of these three on Thursday, he’s off to a good start.