TRAVERSE CITY — Joshua Jaymes thought he found a new home.
That home quickly crumbled when Central Michigan University announced earlier this week that the Chippewas eliminated their men’s track and field program as a cost-saving measure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was kind of shocked at first,” Jaymes said. “Now I’m just looking at my options.”
Those options include staying at CMU as a student only, or re-opening his recruitment. Among his other possible destinations is Saginaw Valley State University.
After not competing much the last two seasons because of injuries and then the pandemic, the Traverse City Central runner was able to latch on to a preferred walk-on spot with Central Michigan, along with Trojans teammate Nathan Pataky. TC Central coach John Lober recommended both Jaymes and Pataky to the Chippewas.
"It came out of left field," Pataky said. "I wasn't expecting that."
Pataky said he's re-opening his recruitment and considering Saginaw Valley as well.
Jaymes won four of five 300-meter hurdles races as a junior before a muscle strain impacted his season and led to other injuries to an ankle and his back.
“I was extremely happy,” Jaymes said. “I’ve always been ready to showcase my talent, but something always comes up. Coach (Lober) knew I’d be a good fit because he knew my work ethic and how driven I am.”
CMU’s decision leave Jaymes re-evaluating his options, including possibly exploring a future in baseball, where he was a standout in travel ball, since it conflicted with high school track season. The left-handed pitcher and switch-hitting center fielder aims to major in athletic training, physical therapy or sports medicine wherever he ends up.
“That kid is true blue,” Lober said. “I talked to him in driving rain and he said, ‘Well, it was kind of wet, but I got my workout in.’”
Pataky finished no lower than fourth in any 100-meter race last season, and ran the second leg of a TC Central 400-meter relay team that won six of 11 races, including the Ken Bell Invitational, Graves/Swayze Relays and Record-Eagle/John Lober Honor Roll Meet.
“Nathan has really come on,” Lober said. “He’s the fastest kid in the school. “The biggest thing with not having a season is these kids didn’t have the chance to make their mark. The whole thing is kind of sad.”
The cuts drop the Chippewas from 18 sponsored athletic teams to 16, exactly the threshold to remain in the Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision. CMU is the first school in the state to cut athletic programs, although many around the country have trimmed from their athletic offerings in recent months as revenues shrunk drastically from the pandemic’s financial impact.
Central had 36 student-athletes on the men’s track teams. Athletic director Michael Alford said scholarships for players on the teams, including incoming freshmen set to begin classes in the fall, will be honored. Two full-time coaching assistants were also eliminated.