WAVERLY — When a coach lands multiple local talents in one of the deepest pools from a Southern Ohio Conference perspective, any coach would be thrilled with that.
That’s especially the case with Eric Putnam and the Shawnee State cross country and track and field programs — as Waverly’s Philip Evory marks Putnam’s fourth successful recruitment from the SOC in the 2020 class alone.
Evory, a 2019 OHSAA state qualifier, is one of six recruits — of the nine in the cross country class — to qualify for the OHSAA state championships, and is one of three SOC runners who qualified for state competition.
For Evory, the opportunity to run for a national powerhouse, which sits just 40 minutes from his own backyard, is a chance that he takes great pride in — especially considering the circumstances that led to his senior track season coming to a halt before it really ever began.
“It means a lot to be able to continue running at the collegiate level, especially with my senior track season being cancelled,” Evory said. “It’s nice to know that I haven’t ran my last race, and that I get to run for a school that takes great pride in producing strong competitors from a running standpoint.”
From a cross country standpoint, Evory’s improvements were quite impressive from start to finish.
The four-year letterwinner reduced his time by nearly three full minutes (19:45 to 16:48) from the beginning of his cross country career to the end, making the majority of that improvement from his freshman season to his sophomore year.
As a sophomore, Evory ran an 18:06 at the OHSAA Division II Southeast District championships to finish 54th and qualify for the (2017) Division II, Region 7 championships, where he finished 71st en route to a new personal-best time of 17:45.
During his final season of competition in 2019, Evory continued to show off his improvement — posting a fifth-place finish to earn first-team all-SOC honors with his personal-best 16:48 and advancing to regional competition for the second time in his career.
He did that by recording a time of 17:43 to finish 20th at the Division II Southeast District championships in Rio Grande.
In the Division II, Region 7 championships, Evory stepped up even further, posting a 17:13 against stout competition to place 35th overall.
While Evory didn’t qualify individually, his performance — which was third-best among all Waverly harriers — allowed the Tigers to grab the seventh and final state qualifying slot as Waverly qualified for the 2019 OHSAA state championships as a team.
Waverly finished 20th as a team at the state, with Evory finishing 148th among all competitors with an 18:03.
On the track, Evory proved to be a dependable distance runner in multiple events — running in the 800, 1600, and 3200 meters as well as the 4-by-400 and 4-by-800 meter relays.
Between the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, Evory put up the following personal-bests:
800 meter run: 2:18.41
1600 meter run: 4:49.58
3200 meter run: 10:42
In addition to those personal-best times, Evory posted nine finishes inside the top-five overall with his 4-by-800 meter relay team as a sophomore — which consisted of Judd, Grayson Diener and Spencer Fraley.
As a junior, Evory teamed with Judd, Fraley and Jack Monroe to win the Southern Ohio Conference championship in the 4-by-800 (8:34.40) and teamed with Fraley, Diener and Trevor Penrod to win the conference title in the 4-by-200 (3:37.90).
Evory maintained his high level of running while earning National Honor Society accolades and balancing Big Brother Big Sister mentorship, rotary club and Cadence responsibilities as his additional extracurricular pursuits.
“Running at Waverly was a great time,” Evory said of his experiences with the Tigers. “I ran with some of my best friends and competed each week, and to me, that was the best part of high school. The coaching staff was also great. I really enjoyed running for them and seeing our goals come to fruition. It was also fun and very competitive running in the SOC as a whole. The conference championship was always exciting to run in. Having the success that we did was awesome; we won the conference title several times throughout my high school career. I believe that we raised the bar for Waverly from a running standpoint.”
At Shawnee State, Evory — who plans to major in marketing — wants to help market SSU’s successes from a running standpoint to the highest of his abilities through his own performances.
With a coach in Putnam, who has led the Bears’ women’s cross country program to 10 consecutive Mid-South Conference championships and the men to nine MSC championships in 10 seasons to go along with a dozen NAIA National Top-15 finishes since the 2009 season on both sides combined, Evory certainly has a golden opportunity to do just that between his running talents and Putnam’s tutelage of top-flight runners.
“It was really cool getting to know him and the coaching staff at SSU,” Evory said of Putnam and his staff. “He was really nice and helped me through the process of signing.”
Just like Putnam’s cross country and track programs have done with their student-athletes in the past, it’s all business ahead for Evory from a student-athlete perspective, as his goals suggest.
“On the running side of things, I want to be a better runner than I was the year before, and to contribute to the team in whatever way that I need to. On the academic side of the spectrum, I want to leave Shawnee State with a degree in marketing and improve myself from a personal standpoint.”
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.