Harlan County’s Yeary, Joseph join Cumberlands cross country/track program



Harlan County High School senior Matt Yeary signed with the University of the Cumberlands on Monday to continue his track/cross country career in college. Pictured with Yeary are, front row, from left: family members Andrew Yeary, Winston Yeary, Amanda Yeary and Ethan Robinson; back row: HCHS Principal Kathy Napier, HCHS athletic director Eugene Farmer, HCHS coach Ryan Vitatoe, Cumberlands assistant coach Jamen Helton and Tom Vicini.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Harlan County High School senior Daniel Joseph signed with the University of the Cumberlands on Monday to continue his track/cross country career in college. Pictured with Joseph are, front row: his mother, Anita Crider; back row: HCHS athletic director Eugene Farmer, HCHS Principal Kathy Napier, HCHS coach Ryan Vitatoe and Cumberlands assistant coach Jamen Helton. (John Henson)

Two Harlan County High School track/cross country standouts will continue their careers at the University of the Cumberlands. Matt Yeary and Daniel Joseph became the 40th and 41st HCHS cross country/track athletes to sign with a college program in ceremonies Monday at the high school.
The Cumberlands is an NAIA school in the Mid-South Conference and assistant coach Jamen Helton was at HCHS on Monday for the ceremony.
“I know the Cumberlands has a stellar program,” said HCHS coach Ryan Vitatoe. “I think both of these young men will transition easily into the program and will be contributors right away. I’m proud of them both.”
Both Joseph and Yeary competed in three state championship meets in cross country and were part of multiple district championship teams and and a regional runner-up squad.
Yeary was a state medalist in hurdles, finishing seventh in the low hurdles in last year’s state meet and is the school record holder in the 300 low hurdles. He was the 13th in the regional cross country race last fall.
“I think Matt will have an opportunity to come in and help our hurdle crew,” Helton said. “He has a chance to join one of the top hurdle crews in NAIA. We’re ranked seventh nationally, so he has a great opportunity and some great guys to train with.”
“The atmosphere was really nice when I went to visit,” Yeary said. “I feel I can fit in and succeed on the next level there.”
“I’m so proud of Matt. He’s been such an important part of our program during his time at HC and he is so deserving of this opportunity. Without a doubt, he’s one of the best hurdlers in the state of Kentucky, and Cumberlands has gotten an athlete who I feel will be able to step in and be competitive immediately,” Vitatoe said. “Matt has always been an incredible leader in our program. He’s mature, level-headed, and he’ll fit perfectly at the next level. I’m very happy for the opportunity he has earned for himself. I know he will do great.”
Joseph is a member of the school record 4×800 relay team and was among the region’s top cross country runners. He finished sixth in this year’s regional cross country race.
“Daniel has grown so much as an athlete and person during his time in our program, and I’m so proud of him,” Vitatoe said. “I knew when he came out in elementary school that he’d be a very good runner, and he really relished stepping into the number one position this past fall. He did a great job of leading us, and I know he will be just as competitive at the next level. Daniel is a hard worker and I think he will surprise a lot of people this fall. I think he will excel at the next level.”
“Daniel will have a great opportunity,” Helton said. “He will have a chance to make an impact right away with both cross country and track. We’re getting great people, and that’s what our program is all about. We want to bring in great athletes and great individuals.”
“I’ve been talking to the coaches for a while, and I thought the Cumberlands was the best fit for me out of my options,” Joseph said. “It seemed like the best choice for me. There were other options, but I felt Cumberlands provided more.”
Both HCHS seniors are proud of what they have accomplished during their high school careers.
“I think I left a big mark here,” said Joseph, “and I’m happy with that.”
“I feel great about my time here and will miss it, but I feel this is a step I need to take,” said Yeary. “Even though I will hate leaving, I think it will be fun.”