PITTSBURGH, Penn. – Luke Greer catches the eye in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania finishing 8th in the country for Division II at the cross-country National Championships earning the All-American honor.
"The strategy for the day was 'if you fall get back up,'" Carson-Newman cross-country coach Eric Phillips said. "With the course conditions and the competition out here, the course conditions equalized it all. With hills and mud, we knew going into it Luke had what it takes."
At the beginning of the race coming out of the gate, Luke was holding his own around 29th place through the first kilometer. Continuing to put on the pressure, he steadily moved his way up throughout the rest of the race.
"It was exciting," Phillips said. "It's what we've been training for. To see him go out there and execute what we've been working on since August is a dream come true, couldn't be more proud of him."
Greer has been the only men's cross-country runner from Carson-Newman to qualify for the National Championships since 2005 and has done it two years in a row. Last season he finished in 42nd place, narrowly missing the All-American status but used it as motivation for this year. Opening up the season with a win at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational and finishing top-10 every race thereafter, it was clear he was hungry to achieve that goal.
With a time of 32:31.2 and finishing 8th overall in today's race, Greer was again the first runner from the South Atlantic Conference to cross the finish line.
"Very tough race," Greer said of the run. "The course was very muddy, we had to restart, and the start was a bit awkward. I just got up in the top-10 and tried to stick in there, did my best and towards the end I got very tired, but I kept up with the people around me and pushed through to the end. Top-40 was my goal, so, to get top-10 is an unbelievable achievement. I was very relieved crossing that line, happy and overjoyed that I managed to do it."
Greer made history for the Eagles becoming the first cross-country athlete to be named All-American since Carson-Newman moved up to Division II in 1994. The last cross-country Eagle to finish as an All-American was Raymond Farmer in the 1989 season when C-N was still an NAIA school. Earning All-American means Greer's photo will be on display at Carson-Newman on the famed wall for everyone to see.
"It's going to be great to see my smiling face on the wall," Greer chuckled and said. "The moment I came to Carson-Newman that was something I wanted to achieve so now that I've done it, I'm very very happy."
Out of the top-40 finishers that earned the All-American status, the only two athletes from the SAC accomplishing that feat were Greer and Anthony Raftis from Queens University. The Royals rep came in at 20th place with a time of 32:59.0 while Queens finished in 10th place as a team in the championships.
Grabbing first place in the race was Marcelo Laguera from CSU-Pueblo just seven seconds ahead of Zach Panning from Grand Valley State with times of 31:46.4 and 31:53.6.
As for Greer, he will spend some time off recuperating and then get back into competing for the Eagles in the indoor track season. For updates, information, and all things Eagles athletics, check back on cneagles.com!
- CN -