By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WITH this being his final year in high school at Providence Academy in Arkansas, JP Rutherford has decided to concentrate solely on track and field as he prepares to secure a division one athletic scholarship.
Rutherford, at 6-feet, 3-inches, was also a star forward of the Patriots’ basketball team at Providence Academy.
But his father, Peter Rutherford, said he decided to allow his 17-year-old son to just focus on track and field where they feel there is more of an upside for him to excel.
“They will let him run pure track and with this being his last year in high school and from the offers he’s gotten so far, they have put him in an elite training programme in Arkansas, just to get his times down,” the older Rutherford said.
“He will be running indoors for the first time this year because he was always focusing on basketball and then running track. Normally because of basketball, he only got to run track for about a month.”
Rutherford Jr, the state champion for the 100 and 200m for Providence Academy, is expected to concentrate more on the 200/400m double rather than the 100/200m combo this year. Back in Arkansas since he spent a few weeks home in the Bahamas over the summer break, Rutherford Jr has already began training with the Power Up Track Club in Rogers, Arkansas, that is headed by Mike Trexler.
“I did basketball and track for the past three years, but I believe I have a better opportunity to get a scholarship than basketball,” said Rutherford, a 17-year-old former student of St Augustine’s College. “So I decided to just focus on track this year.”
This season, the ACC state champion in both sprints events for the past three years said he aims to lower his personal best of 11.00 seconds in the 100m and 22.1 in the 200m as he closes out his high school career.
“Our team may be a bit smaller than last year because we lost our key athletes to graduation,” Rutherford noted. “So I expect to emerge as a leader on the team and be an example for the others to follow.”
Although it’s just high school, Rutherford said the level of competition is extremely high and that is because a lot of the athletes want to be recruited to attend the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
While he has been looked at by the scouts from the University of Arkansas, Rutherford said if he doesn’t sign with them, he just wants to ensure that he secures a D1 scholarship so that he can pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer in the future.
The Patriots’ head track coach is Ben Witcher. However, Austin Bivens, who previously coached the basketball team, is no longer at Providence Academy and has been replaced by Paul Maes.