We run as one
“When you think of North Central College athletics, you think of cross country,” said Dhru Patel, accounting major and four-time All-American. That’s all thanks to the unbelievable success of the North Central men’s cross country team, including 18 national championships and 45 consecutive College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) championships. So how do they do it? When you ask any runner on the team, they’ll tell you a big part of it is their camaraderie. “Our community carries on outside of practice and really motivates you,” Patel said. Coach Al Carius says ‘At the starting line of a race, you look to your left and you look to your right and you trust those guys.’ You become part of something bigger. “Getting up before dawn every day to run in the brisk morning air can’t really be described as fun. But having a team that holds you accountable gets you out of bed. Coach Carius says ‘You take care of you for me, so I can take care of me for you’.”
What are the stripes all about?
"A tradition that drives the team.” Each year, the Stripes Ceremony brings an alumnus back to campus who talks to current team members and gives out striped jerseys for everyone to wear to the conference, regional and national meets, said Patel. “The stripes go back to when Coach Carius first came to North Central in 1966 with every stripe standing for not only yourself or the team, but everyone who’s ever ran on the team from then to now.” The legacy of North Central’s success in competitions becomes a big part of what the current team does today.
“Run for Fun and Personal Bests”
Coach Carius’ philosophy describes how he wants his team to run for self-satisfaction and personal development before victory and prestige.
Yet they don’t mind winning on top of it, as their latest successes show:
- 18 national titles
- 45 consecutive College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Cross Country Championships
- 6 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field titles
- 5 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field titles
- 37 CCIW Outdoor Track & Field Championships
- 17 CCIW Indoor Track & Field Championships
- 121 All-Americans in cross country
- 500+ All-Americans in track and field
- 11 years Carius has been named NCAA Division III Cross Country Coach of the Year
“Once you become part of the running community at North Central, it’s your family for life,” Patel said. Alumni events attract hundreds of participants. For 34 years, track & field alumni have gathered for an indoor meet with current student-athletes and coaches. Families are welcome and kids’ races are one of the highlights of the evening.