West Valley’s Sudduth signs to run at Lane College in Oregon

04/18/2015 12:28

FAIRBANKS—Track and field, said Charles Sudduth, is the sport in which he’s least experienced. It’s the sport, though, in which he will compete in college. 

The West Valley High School senior signed a junior college National Letter of Intent with Lane College, of Eugene, Oregon, during a ceremony on Tuesday afternoon in the West Valley library.

“I just saw myself going the farthest in track with my career,” Sudduth said before a throng of West Valley friends, teammates, classmates, administrators, teachers and coaches. Sudduth was joined at a table by his mother, Jeannette Berry; his father, Charles Sudduth Sr.; and Milo Griffin, West Valley’s head track and field coach for six seasons.

Sudduth, during his school years, has played quarterback and cornerback for the Wolfpack football team, and he was a guard on West Valley’s boys basketball team, which, this past season, captured the title in the Mid Alaska Conference Tournament and placed fourth in the Class 4A state tournament in Anchorage. Sudduth also was an All-MAC honoree.

He’ll focus on one sport when he becomes a student-athlete at Lane, a member of Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges.

Winning the 4A boys 100-meter dash final in last year’s state track and field meet at Dimond High School in Anchorage helped persuade Sudduth to compete in track and field in college.

“It made me realize that maybe I can go on to the next level and be successful if I work hard,” Sudduth said.

“... Winning a title made me realize I have a chance to compete at the next level,’’ added Sudduth, who won the boys 100 and anchored West Valley’s winning boys 4x100 relay last weekend in the Big C Relays at The Dome in Anchorage.

Sudduth also received interest from track and field programs at four-year colleges. Among the group were Southern Utah, an NCAA Division I program;  D-II  schools Colorado-Colorado Springs, Humboldt (California) State, South Dakota School of Mines, and Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals Alaska Anchorage and Saint Martin’s, of Lacey, Washington. 

He decided on Lane, where’s he also going to work for an associate degree in exercise science. 

Griffin said he thought it was a good program which could help Sudduth develop as a college sprinter.

“If he went to a four-year school, he’d have to perform right away. As a freshman, he needs to progress slower than that,’’ said Griffin, who has coached track and field, boys basketball and tennis during a 35-year career in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

“He’s not going to be that kind of guy that’s going to go right in there (four-year school) and do what they want want him to do,’’ Griffin added. “ He’s got some developing to do and he knows that, but he’s willing to do that. So I think it’s perfect that he goes to a small school first and then branch out.”

 Sudduth and his mother visited the Lane campus two weeks ago, and Sudduth spoke to some of his future teammates about the Titans track and field program.

“They really like the coaching and the way everybody competes in practice,’’ he said, “and the way everybody just keeps their grades up so they can transfer and go on to better four-year schools.”

 Lane is located close to the University of Oregon, one of the most storied track and field programs in D-I history.

“The coach down there (Lane) was really nice and he has connections to Oregon, and he went there and ran,” Sudduth said. “That had something to do with it.”

 Lane’s track and field team also competes in multi-team meets during the regular season that include programs from four-year schools, including some D-I squads. The Titans have been in eight meets this season, which started in early March.

“Everybody in college is good, so it’s going to be great competition and practice all the time,’’ Sudduth said. “You’re going to have people with a lot more experience that will be able to help you, and help you develop.”

During those meets, coaches from four-year schools scout junior college athletes as potential recruits.

 “He (Sudduth) wants to seen by those other schools and that (meets) will give him that exposure,’’ Griffin said.

Sudduth also liked that Lane captured the last two NWAACC men’s track and field championships.

“Seeing that they’re successful must mean they’re putting out some very good kids and everybody there is progressing while they’re there,’’ he said.