By Chelsea Commodari | firstname.lastname@example.org
You may think that an 8K record lasting 29 years would be practically set in stone. Think again. Not only was the record broken, but it was shattered by a student who has only been competing for five years.
Corey Mundy, senior Cross Country runner at Flagler College, has come a long way since his first race during his junior year of high school. In 2013, his junior year, Mundy won the Peach Belt Conference Championships with an 8K time of 24:29.75 that broke the school’s all-time 8K record.
What started out as curiosity turned into an obsession when Mundy was invited to a practice. One practice, one competition just five years ago, and Mundy raced his way into the world of competitive running.
This sport that combines long runs over various terrains is so much more than that according to Mundy, who views running as poetry, “in the sense that the person who can punish and destroy their self more than the next opponent is often crowned the champion.”
Since his arrival at Flagler College three years ago, the cross country program has undergone numerous adjustments. Brian Beil, the head men’s and women’s cross country coach, was hired in 2011 and has become a key player in the success that Corey has achieved.
“Like any 18-year-old freshman entering college, Corey had his rough spots,” he said. “Like any coach and athlete relationship, we have had some bumps along the road, but so far in every case we have worked through those points to see a great achievement on the other side. Those achievements speak to the second most important attribute necessary for a distance runner to be great: patience. It takes a great deal of faith and patience to listen to your coach and follow a plan, sometimes to a fault.”
Beil said because of that patience, Mundy has been able to put together three solid years’ worth of training, remaining relatively injury-free, and in a great spot to contend for All-America status in about a month.
Within three years, Mundy has run to an all-Southeast Region selection and three consecutive all-Peach Belt Conference honors, among others. According to Mundy, Beil’s coaching philosophy has paired well with each member of the team, and taken him and other runners to levels of success that they deemed unimaginable.
“If I can say one thing about Corey and the upcoming championship season with certainty, it is that he is ready to run with the nation’s best, and win or lose, he will leave everything out on the course,” Beil said.
Mundy proved this true at the Florida State University Invitational on Oct. 10 when he defeated 273 other runners, including Division I athletes in the 8K.
“Being able to compete with D1 schools and take home the win is a tremendous accomplishment and is truly the result of the supportive environment here at Flagler,” Mundy said. “The race showed my capabilities of being able to grind through the pain, to stay focused, and that my true potential has not yet been reached.”
As far as the team goes, Mundy believes the potential for success in the program is only beginning to be seen, and he hopes to see them win the conference championship and qualify for nationals annually.
“It may seem like a grand vision, but the recent success of the men’s and women’s team is an indicator of the potential for the cross country program,” he said. “I believe under the leadership of Brian Beil and (Athletic Director) Jud Damon, the program will experience great heights of success. As for myself, I hope to be able to compete at the professional level of running and then endeavor in coaching at the collegiate level.”
But until then, we will continue to watch this young runner grow and pave the way for the Flagler Cross Country program, laying everything he has on the course.
“Whether it’s in the distant back stretch of woods where only your mind is the sole company, or coming down the home stretch of screaming spectators, coming across the finish line in any race has a feeling of euphoria,” Mundy said. “You feel exhausted, in pain, wheezing, wondering why you ever decided to lace a pair of thin spiked flats to your feet, but you also feel complete.”
Men’s and women’s cross country competes in the Peach Belt Conference Championships in Augusta, Ga., on Nov. 8, and then the
NCAA Division II Southeast Regional in Montevallo, Ala., on Nov. 22.