EUREKA — Eureka College is bringing cross country back to the EC Athletic Department in 2020, according to an announcement from Director of Athletics Bryan Moore Thursday morning.
Under the direction of Chris Robinson, the Red Devils will relaunch both the men's and women's cross country teams and compete in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as the school's 11th and 12th NCAA-sanctioned sports next fall for the first time since 2016.
Cross country began as a club sport at Eureka in 2006, and the school competed in the SLIAC from 2007 to 2016, but it has been dormant since 2017.
In Robinson, the Red Devils are turning to a familiar face to start a new chapter. Currently EC's Assistant Director of Transfer Admissions, Robinson will step away from admissions and begin his coaching responsibilities in a full-time capacity on July 1.
"I am excited and honored to have this opportunity to help relaunch the Red Devil cross country program here at Eureka College," Robinson said. "In my experience, cross country runners are some of the hardest working, and most gracious, people you will ever meet. I am looking forward to running with them, and helping develop them as people, students, and athletes."
A 2013 Eureka College graduate with a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership, Robinson was an admissions counselor from 2013 to 2017, and has been the Assistant Director of Transfer Admissions since 2017.
Robinson has spent over 20 years providing strong leadership, work ethic and integrity in professional roles in a variety of industries.
"We're very much looking forward to the return of cross country to our campus, and Chris will be a very welcome addition to our team," Moore said. "Chris has long been a steady presence at Eureka College and in the Central Illinois running community. His leadership and recruiting prowess will serve our future cross country student-athletes well."
Robinson was born in Dearborn, Michigan, but his family moved to Morton when he was 12, and he has resided in central Illinois since then. Despite breaking a five-minute mile, Robinson —who played football and basketball at Morton High School — didn't develop a passion for running until later in life.
At age 35, he decided on a whim to train and compete in the Morton Pumpkin Festival 10K, and quickly found himself falling in love with the experience.
Over the past 12 years, he's competed and participated in a variety of area 5Ks, half-marathons, ultra-marathons and trail running events. Throughout his competitions, Robinson has been very competitive in his age group, collecting several medals along the way and once winning a 5K in Germantown. In December, he competed in a full marathon for the first time in Memphis, Tennessee, clocking in at 4:09:46.
"I really enjoy getting out there and running," Robinson said. "It fuels my competitive spirit, but I like the social part, the camaraderie of it. And it's something that you can take with you your entire life, and that's one of the things I love about it the most."
Robinson lives in Eureka with his wife, Robin, and his two kids, Nora and Nigel, both of whom are cross country runners at Eureka High School.
If you're interested in joining the EC cross country program, contact Robinson at email@example.com or 309-467-6344.