VIDEO: Tyler Stepp Interview
VIDEO: Luke Greer Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Luke Greer (Abington, Northhampton, United Kingdom) became the first Carson-Newman men's cross country runner this decade to qualify for the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships held in Evansville, Ind. on Nov. 18 at 12:30 p.m.
"I'm really excited," Greer said, "It's my first experience going to nationals, I'm looking to get involved with some really great runners and seeing how I match up against them."
This will be the second 10-kilometer race that Greer has competed in this season, the first was at the Southeast Regional Championship.
"The best guys in the country are going to be there," Carson-Newman cross country coach Tyler Stepp said. "Luke is going to be with a lot of tough runners who know how to get it done. We are going to tell Luke not to change anything and to go out and race."
Greer, is the first runner on either the men's or women's cross country teams to advance passed the Southeast Regional since Aubrey Morris accomplished the feat three times from 2006-2008. Ryan Althaus was the last male runner to make it to National Championships during the 2005 season. Althaus, finished in 79th place with a time of 34:09.
So, far this season Greer has finished in the top-five of every meet he has competed in. The senior started out the 2017 season by picking up three-consecutive victories at the Tusculum Open, Asheville Cross Country Invitational and the Allen and Phyllis Morgan Invitational-Battle at Mossy Creek.
Greer, finished second at the South Atlantic Conference Championships. The native of the United Kingdom was just 11-seconds behind Queens University (N.C.) runner Tom Bains. At the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships Greer finished in fourth place, behind fellow SAC runner Nick Kipkemei of Queens. In each race this season he has set new personal records in the five-kilometer distance (15:10.0), eight-kilometer distance (24:39.21) and the ten-kilometer distance (31:35.44).
Greer, will join Mason Hazel of Anderson (S.C.) as the only two-individual runners to come out of the SAC. Hazel finished right behind Greer in fifth place at the Southeast Regional. Fellow conference foe and 2017 SAC Champions the Queens Royals were the only SAC school to qualify as a team for the 2017 National Championships. Last season, the SAC had two schools qualify for the National Championship meet. Mars Hill finished in 29th place, while Queens finished in 31st place just above Concord.
The top-40 runners at the meet will be receive All-American honors recognition. At the Southeast Regional meet, Greer ran a time of 31:35.44. That time would have put Greer in 54th place in last year's National Championship race.
"It would mean a ton," Stepp responded. "Anytime you can be a first anything, especially an All-American. Luke has been so special for this program and has been special all year for us."
If Greer were to be named an All-American this weekend he would become the first Eagle runner to receive the honor since Carson-Newman made the jump to Division-II in 1994. Raymond Farmer was the last Eagle cross country runner to be named an All-American during the 1989 season. Carson-Newman was still an NAIA school during the 1989 season.
"Just to make history would be really good." Greer replied, "I've a good season so far and that would just put the icing on the cake."
David Jones of Mars Hill was the top-finisher from the SAC last season. Jones finished the 10-kilometer course in 32:53.7 which was good enough for 138th place. Lee University runner Harold Smith was the top-finisher from a Tennessee school with an 81st place finish.
2016 National Champions Adams State will look to headline the field of competitors in the 2017 race. The Grizzlies are 12-time National Champions and have not finished outside of the top-two since the 2007 racing season. Other top teams in the field are 2015 National Champions Colorado School of Mines and 2016 runner-up Grand Valley State.
The last time the Cross Country Championships were held at the Angel Mounds course was at the end of the 2009 season. Adams State took home both the men's and women's titles in that particular season.
Live coverage of the National Championships will be provided by FloTrack and will cost 20 dollars to view the event. A link to the website can be found by clicking here http://bit.ly/2eLey4B Live, results of the event can be found online at http://www.ncaa.com/sports/cross-country-men/d2 as always a full recap of the event can be found online at cneagles.com.