Track team expands its roster

Diana Levy, Staff Writer

The Francis Marion University (FMU) track team has added three new members this season.

Mark Bluman, the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field team, said the track team pushed to recruit new members this year. Signs were hung up around campus to make students aware of the team, and they also recruited athletes by “word of mouth.”

Bluman said both he and the team members are looking forward to having new members Mark Holden, Exzavien Bligen and Tiffany Croft on the squad.

Bluman said the experience of Croft, who competed in high school and at Wingate for the past two years, will be beneficial to the team.

“Croft will be the veteran presence for the sprinters,” Bluman said.

For Croft, track is a way of life, not just a sport in which she competes.

“Track is what I do, no matter where I am,” Croft said.

Along with Holden and Bligen, Croft will be competing in the 100m and 200m races. Croft ran a time of 12.97 seconds for the 100 meter race and a time of 27.19 seconds for the 200 meter race.

Bluman said he appreciated the excitement Holden and Bilgen have shown in learning more about how to become better sprinters.

“Holden and Bligen are new to the sport and are eager to learn and get faster,” Bluman said.

According to Bluman, said there are other athletes interested in joining the team who are “tying up some loose ends” with eligibility issues and paperwork.

FMU’s track team also anticipates being recognized as an official conference sport by the Peach Belt Conference (PBC)

Cross country and track competitions are slightly different than sports like basketball and soccer. The conference sponsors a championship at the end of the season that teams can enter, depending on how many athletes are on their team. In track, each team needs to have 14 members in order to compete.

Bluman explained most of his attention has shifted from track to cross country.

“As we hadn’t had an opportunity to compete for a conference championship, all the support and priority was shifted to cross country,” Bluman said.

The track team is composed mostly of middle and long distance runners who are also involved with cross country. FMU will soon be without the services of senior high jumper and four-year member Tyler Waters.

Bluman said Waters’ absence will be felt on the team.

“Waters will be graduating, so he’ll leave a huge void,” Bluman said.

The track team has not always been a team of runners, however. In the past there have been high jumpers and throwers that added diversity to the team.

Along with diversity, Bluman said unity is important to team. He said there is harmony but it is hard to build an idea of unity when everyone is competing in different events.

Justin Koehn, sophomore biology major, said the bond that he forms with his fellow teammates on the club is unique.

Koehn also said a certain “brotherhood” is created from running so many miles together.

For anyone interested in joining the track or cross country team, contact Mark Bluman at or at 661-1239.