Belmont All-Access: Evans' evolution

Luke Evans leads the Belmont men's cross country team onto the course at the Ohio Valley Conference Championships in Nashville in 2016.
Luke Evans leads the Belmont men's cross country team onto the course at the Ohio Valley Conference Championships in Nashville in 2016.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Running wasn't exactly something Luke Evans took seriously. He was once a soccer player who only ran while chasing down a pass on the pitch.

But now a senior on the Belmont University men's cross country team, Evans is truly a running convert for life. It all started on the track at Grandview Heights High School in Columbus, Ohio, in some unlikely circumstances.

"The attitude toward running in my hometown wasn't really a positive one," Evans recalled. "It's like a punishment for most people and that's honestly how I viewed it for a long time."

Evans most enjoyed the team dynamic of sports like soccer, but he went out for the more individualistic track and field during the spring season to stay in shape. His quick success -- along with the encouragement of his track coaches -- got him thinking.

Somewhat skeptically, Evans signed on to join the Grandview Heights cross country program, an intimate group of only four or five other boys from his school, which numbered around 400 students. There Evans finally found the fun in his newly acquired activity.

It wasn't until he set his sights on running collegiately at Belmont that he discovered his true passion for running though.

"Unlike many of the guys on the Belmont team, I came from that individual running background," said Evans, referring to his high school team, which rarely competed at state meets due to its limited depth. "Once I got here that totally flipped. I found these guys that are serious about running and that was infectious to me."

Evans contributed right away as a freshman in 2014. He ran in five races that fall, but really secured his spot as a key Belmont backer in his sophomore and junior years. Evans placed 33rd at the Ohio Valley Conference Championships in 2015 and followed that up with a 16th-place finish in last year's race.

Those may be great individual accolades, but Evans' focus is trained on a facet greater than that.

"It's all about being able to do it with other people and having a community," said the Music Business major who aspires to attend law school after graduation. "We've been able to build a really cool community on our team, and it's about experiencing this really cool thing together with other people and trying to be the best that we can be collectively."

Evans and the rest of the Bruins will next take aim at that goal in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this week for the University of Alabama's Crimson Classic. Friday's race is the final meet on the regular-season slate before the OVC Championships on Oct. 28.