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Clemson Running Club shines at nationals


Back row left to right: Courtney Shearer, Sydney Gilstrap, Rosa-Marie Compton, and Lucy Rummler; Front row left to right: Matthew Justus, Scott Shelton, Desi Ferreira, Michael Holland, Jake Nikkila, and Nick Gladden.

It was a cold, snowy morning in Bloomington, Indiana. A crowd of 239 -116 men, 123 women -stood on 17th Street in the shadow of Indiana University. At the shot of a gun, they would take off, running 13.1 miles around the city before returning to the spot where they began, thus deciding the victors of the 2016 National Intercollegiate Running Club Association (NIRCA) Half-Marathon championships. Among the 239 competitors was a ten-person contingent from the Clemson University Running Club. But despite their relatively small numbers, the club knew that they had a lot to prove and were ready to give their best performance in the season’s ultimate race. 

A Turn of the “Tigs”

 A year ago at this time, circumstances were different for the Clemson runners. For most of the 2014-2015 season, the club was forced to deal with low turnout: only two women routinely represented the team at competitions, and neither the men’s nor women’s side of the club sent enough members to nationals to qualify for team championships. However, a new wave of freshmen not only brought up the club’s numbers, but also its competitiveness and spirit.

“It was just a huge improvement,” senior Scott Shelton said of the club’s growth, “everyone’s been putting in a lot of work, they put in a lot of mileage every week.”

As the team grew closer and more competitive, a new rallying cry was born. Senior Will Rice began using the nickname “Tigs” (pronounced the same as “tigers”, but without the last syllable) in reference to himself and his teammates in the running club. The moniker caught on with his teammates, and exclaiming “Go Tigs!” became a unique tradition of the club, done before the start of every race. While the club is not the first to use the phrase (Rice admits to borrowing it from the fan base of the MLB’s Detroit Tigers), it certainly serves as a symbol of the bonds this team formed over the course of the season.

 Coming Out on Top

Within two hours of the gunshot in Bloomington, the club’s ten representatives at the half-marathon -four girls and six boys – reached

the finish line. And despite the freezing temperatures and the relatively small size of their team, the “Tigs” walked away big winners. The girls’ squad took away the highest honors, as they placed three runners in the top ten and claimed the national championship. Leading the charge was senior Lucy Rummler, who placed second overall among women with a time of 1:27:19.

“I guess I finally figured out how to play the mental game with racing, just in time for the end of my college races,” Rummler said on her finish. She also credited the support from her female teammates, stating “there’s a much better girls’ community this year [on the team]. I have a lot more people to push me and make me do my best.”

The club was overjoyed with the women’s success. Freshman Michael Holland said, “It was pretty amazing watching our girls go out and win a national title. Thought they would … they definitely did.”

Rosa-Marie Compton and Sydney Gilstrap placed fourth and ninth, respectively, to give Clemson three top-ten finishers in the women’s half-marathon. Closely following them was Courtney Shearer at 11th. Meanwhile, the guys’ team placed eighth overall out of nineteen teams, led by Holland’s eighth place individual finish. Between the men’s and

women’s teams, Clemson produced four top-ten finishers, more than any

other school at the competition.

 “There’s a New Sheriff in Town”

As thrilling as this year’s finish was, the Tigs are even more excited for next year. Outgoing senior Will Rice declared “there’s a new

sheriff in town,” as freshmen Michael Holland and Courtney Shearer are set to take over as team leaders. The club expects to bring in more new members for the fall than it will lose to spring graduation. In particular, Shearer has high expectations for the future of the women’s side of the club.

“When we got up in that stage at nationals, there were only four of us, and I watched all the Penn State girls with their massive squad of people on the stage,” Shearer recalls from the competition. She added that she “would just like to have our own large group of women competing together.”

Shearer also went as far to say that she hopes to establish a “tradition of dominance” with the        

team. Given how far the club has gone this year, that shouldn’t be a lofty expectation.

“I wish that I could run more years with these girls,” said senior Lucy Rummler with a smile. “I know that they’ll continue to do well in this race and in other races.”

The team meets every night at 6 p.m.  in Cox Plaza to run. They welcome runners of all experience and competitive levels.


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