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How John Carroll’s Alex Phillip Became An NCAA Division III National Champion


Today on D3 Glory Days, we’re joined by the 2021 NCAA Division III cross country individual champion, Alex Phillip of John Carroll.

The 2021 champion made his initial move around the 5K mark to try to break open the field. Down the home stretch, Alex responded to a late kick from Williams’ Elias Lindgren and overtook him with 100m remaining.

Pure jubilation took over as Alex celebrated before the line as he pumped both his arms as he crossed. He didn’t have to wait long to hear that his team placed on the podium by finishing fourth overall. This was their first trophy in program history, which completed a sweep of firsts (conference championship, regional championship) during the season.

Alex has been D3 Glory Days twice before. Once on YouTube and most recently on the Contenders Episode. We know Alex for who he is today, so in this episode, we take a step back to figure out how Alex became the 2021 XC national champion.

Alex started his high school career with a hot start. Running 4:35 for the mile, 10:00 for the two-mile, and 16:10 for 5,000m his freshman year, he had eyes set on becoming a great high school runner. However, the team loved ultimate frisbee and threw the disc around more than the miles they ran. This led to a slight regression for Alex over the next two years. His senior year, he realized he wanted to run in college and began taking the sport a little more seriously. He reduced his long-time PRs down to 4:28,  9:40, and 16:00. Yet, he wasn’t getting many looks from college coaches.

John Carroll head coach Kyle Basista kept calling and sharing his vision for what he expected his program could become. Alex committed to John Carroll but wasn’t entirely sold on running. He was debating whether to go to Akron to be a normal student or commit 100% to run at JCU. He chose the latter and slowly built his mileage up.

When Alex commits to something, he goes all in.

He trained hard over the season and ran himself into the ground on most runs. Despite this tactic, he credits his big improvements during his freshman year to it. He went on to finish 15th as a freshman as John Carroll made the national championship for the first time in school history. He and his teammates knew the next time they would be at the national championship, something special would happen.

Alex took advantage of the non-racing schedule during COVID to increase his mileage, train consistently and pay attention to the small things. This resulted in a 5th place finish at the 2021 NCAA outdoor championships 10,000m and a runner-up in the 5,000m. While they were the results he had hoped for, he left him wanting more heading into this cross country season.

Alex will be running a 5,000m at Grand Valley State in 10 days and has eyes on Dan Mayer’s Division III indoor 5,000m record of 13:53, which he set while running for North Central in 1994.

When it comes to outdoors, he hopes to nab both the 5,000m and 10,000m records as well.

With the determination and work ethic Alex shows, don’t be surprised if he finishes the season with multiple D3 records.

Listen now: Apple Podcasts | Spotify

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Photo by Mark Robertson at

Thank you goodr

A huge thanks to goodr for coming on and partnering with us. I hope you were able get a pair of sunglasses at the National Meet! If didn’t get a pair at the National Meet, get yourself a some and save 15% by using code GLORYDAYS at checkout. Go to and use code GLORYDAYS for 15% off.

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On if anything will change after winning a national title:

“You know this, this was one of the goals, but this is only one of the goals. I’ve got a lot more that I want to accomplish in my running and in my time here at Carroll and so I enjoyed my time Saturday and Sunday. Back to work today.”

On setting new goals after breaking old ones:

Every time you beat that goal, it’s just a new door, a new beginning for you to accomplish something even bigger. And so once I hit a goal, I just want to shoot for the Moon. Go for something crazy.”

On the recruiting process and what his coach told him about what he could accomplish:

Him showing a lot of belief in me was the big thing and he made me believe in myself. Kyle made it known that if I came to John Carroll something special was going to happen. I believed him and I’m so glad I believed him.”

On running in the front of races:

“If you don’t believe that you can win the race, then you don’t belong in the front of the race.”

On what’s next after this title and setting the D3 National Championship record:

“My goals now are to walk away with every distance d3 record”

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