Arkansas State coach Jim Patchell was having a recent conversation with the school’s legendary track coach, Guy Kochel, who was recounting the recruitment of Al Joyner (1984 Olympian, our early story mentioning Joyner).
To make the story short, Kochel basically said Joyner called and said he was coming. That was it.
“I was thinking ‘why can’t something like that happen to us?’ ” said Patchell, an Arkansas State grad who has rebuilt the pride and tradition of A-State track as he enters his fifth year in Jonesboro.
It looks like history has a chance of repeating itself.
Patchell found out less than 24 hours that one of the top two-sport athletes was about to transfer to Arkansas State. Cameron Echols-Luper, who played football and ran track at TCU, enrolled in school last week and plans to compete in both sports for the Red Wolves.
In football Echols-Luper will have to sit a season before playing but will be eligible to compete for the A-State track team this year.
“I guess it is kinda like Christmas,’’ said Patchell. “He helps us in the long jump and in the 200. He’s pretty good. He’s not quite as good as Rolfe (Pienaar) but they are pretty close. Those two make a pretty good 1-2.”
Pienaar finished third at the NCAA meet while Echols-Luper was ninth. Both athletes will be juniors this season.
“We knew who he was. We saw him at the nationals and we had seen him at different meets. He will, along with four or five other newcomers, certainly will make our team better. He’s a pretty good addition.
“He can run a leg on our relays, and score points at nationals too. It’s pretty nice. I’m looking forward to having him. He obviously is a pretty good piece.”
Patchell said the Red Wolves have added about 30 newcomers to the teams and while the men’s team will be dominated by freshmen and sophomores expect it to be strong. Ace spring Jaylon Bacon is back along with Oklahoma State transfer Itamar Levi, a weight thrower from Israel, and Sam Bell, the son of A-State track legend Ear Bell.
Other transfers of note are Samone Thompson from Illinois and Spaniard Andrea Perez.
“I think we have a chance to be pretty good again,’’ said Patchell.