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Running into the Record Books

Apr 3, 2015
by Chelsea Commodari, Photo by Zach Thomas, '00

Many thought that an 8K cross country record lasting 29 years was practically set in stone. But not senior runner Cory Mundy, who shattered the record in 2013 as a junior. More remarkable is that Mundy has only been running competitively for about five years.

Yet, as a senior he has already made two trips to the NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country Championships.

“Being able to compete at the highest level of college running has been a combination of stress, enthusiasm and a sense of accomplishment,” Mundy said. “The experience of running (at Nationals) revealed how far running could take me physically and mentally.”

Mundy broke Flagler’s all-time 8K record on his way to winning the 2013 Peach Belt Conference Championships with a time of 24:29.75. He capped the season with a trip to nationals, and repeated again in 2014 after finishing fourth at the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. He finished his career as a four-time All-Peach Belt Conference selection and was the Peach Belt’s Runner of the Year in 2014.

That cross country success carried over to the spring with the launch of Flagler’s first season of indoor track and field. The senior won the 3000 meters at the University of North Carolina in January, just missing the provisional qualifying time by four seconds for the NCAA Division II Championships.
He has also excelled academically, and in December was inducted into Flagler’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

Mundy has come a long way since his first race during his junior year of high school. What started out as curiosity turned into an obsession when he was invited to a practice and got hooked on the world of cross country running.

“For me there was no single moment that solidified my love for running,” he said. “It was more the combination of moments, days, and years. It was the training, the racing, and seeing the progress of my body and my mind.”  

The sport that combines long runs over various terrains is so much more than that, according to Mundy.

“Whether it’s in the distant back stretch of woods where 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.”

Since his arrival at Flagler College three years ago, the cross country program has undergone numerous changes. 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 Mundy 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 solid seasons of training while remaining relatively injury-free.

According to Mundy, Beil’s coaching philosophy has paired well with each member of the men’s team, and taken him and other runners to levels of success that they deemed unimaginable.

Mundy proved this at the Florida State University Invitational in October when he defeated 273 other runners, including Division I athletes in the 8K.

“Being able to compete with Division I 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 teams is an indicator of the potential for the cross country program,” he said.

As his own Flagler career begins to close, he said he plans after graduation to compete professionally at running and then begin coaching at the collegiate level.

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