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It was only just over a week ago that the College of Southern Maryland’s athletic programs grew by one.

Christopher Tuttle, who led the women’s cross country team last year for its inaugural season, is proud to say that the door is wide open now for men, with his hope of having at least five men on the first team.

“We’re just getting out there now. We already have many males that are interested in running,” Tuttle said. “In terms of talking to local high school coaches, everyone’s really excited about the program. It will be run as two separate teams, but essentially we’ll practice at the same time. The training is pretty similar. They’ll go to the same meets. The men will run an 8K where the women will run a 5K.”

The cross country programs at CSM competes in Division I of the National Junior College Athletic Association and Tuttle is excited about the future and the two teams.

Tuttle said he received many inquiries from male students regarding a team.

In a recent press release, Tuttle said, “Cross country is a great addition for us at CSM because it helps instill a high work ethic in our student-athletes. Having been a competitive runner myself, I know the discipline it takes to be a collegiate runner carries over into the classroom.”

Tuttle has spoken with 2012 North Point High School graduate Christopher Jones, twin brother of Patrick Jones, both local standout runners within the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.

Christopher is considering joining the men’s program.

“I spoke with Chris today and we got the paperwork process started,” Tuttle said. “I’m hoping his brother stays local as well, but we’re not sure just yet.

“Chris had great times. He’s a committed runner and it helps to have local talent that’s familiar with the area. He’s running a 4:20 mile and a 9:30 two-mile and for the division that we’re in he should fit in really well and content right away.”

Christopher made the All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference team all four years of his high school career and was named All-SMAC Most Outstanding Player in his junior year.

Tuttle said he’s hoping Patrick will also take an invested interest in competing for the Hawks as well. Patrick made the All-SMAC team during his last three years of high school at North Point.

“I haven’t made my final decision, but the CSM program looks promising.” Christopher said via Facebook.

Tuttle said the Jones’ have the commitment it takes to excel in the men’s program at CSM.

Josh Trice, a teacher at Thomas Stone High School, will assist Tuttle as he did last year during the women’s history making first season. Trice is a former CSM student and an ultramarathon runner. He’s currently training for his first 100-miler.

Tuttle said he’s excited to have Peyton Reynolds (Thomas Stone) and Jackie Clark (St. Mary’s Ryken) back on board this year for the women’s team.

“Jackie in particular just went down four minutes from her 5K time,” Tuttle said. “She broke 19 minutes. She’s doing very well. She’s expected to go to a four-year college next year with a scholarship.”

Tuttle will be giving out a six-week practice schedule to prepare runners for an Aug. 1 workout that serves as the first official workout session of the upcoming season.

The cross country programs are open to students of all interest levels who are enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits. Students can take advantage of a study hall throughout the season.

For more information on men’s cross country, contact Tuttle at ctuttle@csmd.edu or athletic coordinator Nick Williams at NWilliams1@csmd.edu. For more information on the college’s athletic programs, go to www.csmd.edu/Athletics.

tshowalter@somdnews.com