Monday, April 11, 2016

Leadership lived: Cross Country runner finds home at UIS


Eli Cook has always wanted to attend the University of Illinois Springfield. However, it wasn’t until the school added a cross country program that he decided to transfer.

“I’ve always thought UIS would be my dream school, if I could only run there,” he said. “Once they announced the program I was elated.”

The sophomore accountancy major from Rochester laced up his shoes for the Prairie Stars for the first time during a home meet on September 11, 2015.

As the only runner on the team with previous college experience, he’s found himself stepping up to help lead the team.

“A lot of people don’t think a sophomore could have a leadership role, but especially on a new team, I was able to kind of assume a leadership position and be able to help steer the team in the right direction,” he said.

Cook has been running since he was in junior high and recently won the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield. It was the first half marathon he’s ever run.

“It was actually supposed to be kind of a training run. Coach said we had to run 14 miles that day anyway, so Ethan Bluhm and I kind of hopped in the half marathon,” he said.

“I knew I’d place well, but half way through I realized I could win it if I really applied myself, so I had to focus, dig deep a little bit.”

The win helped to shine a spotlight on the UIS Cross Country program, which Cook says has a bright future.

“We’ve got some growing pains, but we’ve got a lot of improvement coming,” he said. “Look out in the next 5 years, we’ll be a really competitive program in our conference.”

Cook is also active in groups, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and represents the men’s cross country team on the UIS Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

He’s currently interning at Northwestern Mutual in Springfield and hopes to become a financial representative following graduate school.

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