Samuel Henry Cook set in motion the first running programs at Berry College. In 1912, Cook added an annual three mile run to the Berry Tradition (Bandy 7-8). Cook influenced running programs at Berry with popular events such as field day and also played a part in the creation of a track and cross country team (Bandy 8). Field day began in 1907 and consisted of running events such as a 50-meter dash, relays, 100-meter dash, and the mile ‍‍‍‍‍(Brandy 14)‍‍‍‍‍. The first track at Berry was built by students and used for the first field day held on October 21,1907 (Brandy 14). Before there was an official running team, the dorms used to have inter-track championship. In October 1924, the victorious track team competed in the junior college division. In 1961, cross country was held for the first time as an intercollegiate sport. Paul Deaton began coaching at Berry as an assistant Women’s Running coach in the fall of 1991, working with Dr. Bob Pearson. Deaton was named the head coach of the Men’s Cross Country and track teams in the fall of 1992, and head coach of the Women’s Running team in the fall of 1996.

Berry Women's Cross Country Team at Mercer Invitational 2012

Women's Team

The Women's Cross Country team first began in the 1980's. At that time they were coached by Gary Tilman. He was the first Women's coach who also taught at the Berry Academy. In the first years of Berry Women's Cross Country, they placed top four in the nation. Today, the Berry Cross Country team is made up of one coach, twenty-five runners, and three student trainers who work in the Cage Center. The team competes in Division II of the NCAA. This division does not have athletic scholarships. Captain Lauren Nation leads the Women's team of twelve runners. The Women's team took 4th place at the SAA Championship on October 27, 2012 in Mississippi and continues to break barriers and bring pride back to the school.

Men's Team

One of the most well-known coaches of the Men’s Cross Country team, Coach Duggers, coached during the early 80’s, and for his outstanding service, Berry College named a trail after him on which many cross country athletes run. For the fall semester of 1987 Tim Bowmen took on the position of coaching the Men’s team. In 1988 Bob Pearson became the athletic director and took over coaching the team until 1990. After Bob Pearson ended his coaching career for the Cross Country team Paul Deaton took over. The men's team itself is made up of thirteen runners and is 'run' by Captain Lucas Stocks. On the 27th of October 2012 the Berry College Men’s Cross Country team took 5th at the SAA Championship in Mississippi.


Paul Deaton is the current coach for the Berry Vikings Cross Country team. He began his career coaching at Berry as the assistant Women’s Running coach in the fall of 1991, and was eventually named head coach of the Men’s Cross Country team in the fall of 1992. Then on top of being the head coach for the Men’s Running team he was also named head coach of the Women’s Cross Country team as well in the fall of 1996. Since being at Berry, Deaton has coached 24 All-Americans to gain a total of forty All-American awards in cross country. He also expects a tremendous amount of excellence and hard work from his athletes not only when competing but also in the classroom. This is proven by the forty-three of Deaton’s runners who have received NAIA Academic awards as many as 67 times. Deaton has been named the Conference Coach of the Year twelve times, Regional Coach of the Year 11 times, State Coach of the Year 4 times, and District Coach of the Year once. Deaton was a graduate from Berry College, and while attending the school he received All-American honors in the men’s marathon at the 1991 NAIA Outdoor Track National Championships. He still continues to run and has also won many marathons, including the 1997, 1998, and 2000 Atlanta Marathon as well as the 1999 Humpy’s Classic Marathon in Alaska. Deaton has a huge amount of love for running as well as coaching the students of Berry College.


The cross country team practices six out of the seven days of the week, sometimes even twice a day. The women's team averages between thirty-five to fifty-two miles a week, and the men's team, averages about 49-95 miles a week. The cross country team takes advantage of all the land owned by Berry College. The runners use the Cinders track and trails on Mountain Campus, as well the main campus loop and Viking Trail. The runners practice year round to stay in shape for both the cross country and track seasons.


The team competes in approximately eight meets per season, plus a half marathon once a year. The meets most usually fall on Saturdays. The men's team runs an 8 kilometer race (4.97 miles) and the women's team run a 6 kilometer (almost 4 mile) or sometimes 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) race.


The Clara Bowl, known as one of the largest high school cross country meets in the U.S. is held by the Berry College Cross Country team. Spectators have a strong appreciation for those who set up and run cross country races. The appreciation is gained from the Berry College Cross Country team setting up and holding an annual meet for high school and middle school students. Before the race, the cross country team sets up the course (taping, painting, measuring distance). The cross country members preform tasks during the race such as biking for the race, recording finishing times, selling t-shirts, crowd control, and many other tasks. After all the 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) races are done, the course is taken down by the cross country team. This race is held in an open field, the Clara Bowl, outside of the Ford buildings.

The Berry Cross Country team also sets up a race called the Viking Open which is also held in the Clara Bowl. The Viking Open is a race that the Berry College Cross Country team competes in as well with other collegiate teams. All in all, running cross country at Berry College involves much more than simply running.

Works Cited

Bandy, Susan. "Introduction." The Viking Tradition 100 Years of Sport At Berry College. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. Print. Berry College Archives, Memorial Library, Berry College.

Bandy, Susan. "Prelude 1902-1910." The Viking Tradition 100 Years of Sport At Berry College. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. 9-16. Print.

Berry College. Mountain Day 5K. N.d. Berry College Mountain Day 2010, Berry College. Flickr. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.

Deaton, Paul. Personal interview. 28 Sept. 2012.

Jordan, Jane. Berry Women's Cross Country. 2012. Mercer Run Fit XC Invitational 2012, Macon. Photobucket. Web. 30 Sept. 2012.