A stress fracture in his leg derailed Ben Tuttle’s senior season on the cross country team at Cedarville University.
Lucky for him there’s such a thing as redshirting.
Tuttle, an Eastport resident and 2011 graduate of Eastport South Manor High School, returned to Cedarville for his fifth season as a redshirt senior to become the school’s second All-American runner by placing 16th overall out of 246 runners at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri, on November 21. He finished the 10K race in 30:08.50, a mile pace of 4:52. The top 40 finishers are considered All-American.
Tuttle earned a spot in the national meet after winning the Midwest Region title on November 7 in 30:35 at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. Soon after, Tuttle was named United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Region Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year, to go along with Great Midwest Athlete of the Week honors.
According to Cedarville head coach Paul Orchard, through a release on the school’s athletic website, Tuttle ran with the front of the pack through the first half of the Division II Championship race, then the lead group started to pull away.
“After 6K, he said his breathing started to affect him,” Orchard said of Tuttle. “He was in a group of six runners for the last mile and that group stayed close until the last 400 meters.
“That’s the fastest he has run the 10K in cross country,” he added. “It was a great race for him and a gutsy effort to finish that high in the field. He was hoping to be in the Top 10, but 16th with that time is a great day.”
Tuttle joined former teammate Matt Brooker as the only other Cedarville runner to reach All-American status. Brooker accomplished the feat in 2013 after having just missed qualifying with a 41st-place finish in 2012. Tuttle said that witnessing Brooker become an All-American helped him.
“It’s good to have someone go before you, setting a high standard of achievement,” he said. “It helped me realize that anybody, if they train hard enough, can get to that level.”
What also helped was a cross-country bike ride that Tuttle and three of his fellow Cedarville graduates completed this past summer in which they went from Cape Alava, Washington, to the Montauk Point Lighthouse in nearly two months. That trip was used as sort of a training for the cross country season and it worked, Tuttle said.
“The bike trip allowed me to train and not put too much strain on my legs,” he explained. “I don’t know, but for whatever reason my shins can’t handle a lot of miles, so my coach thought it was beneficial to stay off of my legs over the summer. Biking isn’t the same as running, but I was still able to keep in shape by biking all of those miles.”
Tuttle still has indoor track eligibility as a redshirt senior and that season starts next month. After that, since he doesn’t have outdoor track eligibility, Tuttle, who is going for his masters in ministry now at Cedarville, will return home for an internship at the Eastport Bible Church that will give him the last few credits he needs for his degree. He then plans on going into the workforce and putting his bachelor’s degree in engineering to good use.