A pair of high school classmates from Vancouver, Wash., Paul Limpf competes in the NCAA Cross Country Championships Monday while Greg Peach is a top candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award
There won’t be any exaggerated collegiate athletic success stories told at future high school class reunions for Paul Limpf and Greg Peach.
That’s because the truth will tell enough.
A 2005 graduate of Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash., Limpf will become just the second male Eastern Washington University runner to compete at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. He will compete on Monday (Nov. 24) in Terre Haute, Ind., with a top 40 finish giving him All-America accolades.
Fellow 2005 Evergreen graduate Greg Peach was an All-American last year for the Eastern football team, but this year his rewards may be even greater. With a school-record 18 quarterback sacks this season to lead the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, he is a top candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player among the 118 teams in FCS. Voting will take place next week, with the award announced on Dec. 19.
Limpf and Peach are mutually proud of each other’s accomplishments and the hard work it has taken for both to become standouts at the national level of collegiate athletics.
"We’re pretty good friends and I talk to him a lot," said Peach, who concludes his career Saturday (Nov. 22) when the Eagles play at Weber State. "I’ve been following him a lot and congratulated him on making it to the NCAA Championships. That’s pretty awesome.
"It has been great to see his accomplishments since he’s been here," he added. "You can tell by the times that he’s had that he’s worked very hard to improve and become one of the top runners in the country."
"It is really cool," said Limpf of Peach, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end who has a school-record 35 1/2 sacks in his career. "We will see each other on campus or in the training room and both of us are really excited for each other. It is a great thing watching him break the school records that he is breaking. It is a really cool feeling to know that one of my high school classmates is doing as well as he is."
Even though they competed in different sports, they developed a friendship in high school. It grew once they both decided to make the cross-state trip to attend college at EWU in Cheney, Wash.
"We had class together in high school and both knew we were headed to Eastern," explained Peach. "We were acquaintances in high school but became better friends when we decided to come here."
Now, there is quite a batch of Eagle fans football, cross country and track and field fans back in Vancouver, Wash. Lonnie Hosley, a starting cornerback on the Eastern football team who has missed the last five games with a foot injury, is also a 2005 graduate of Evergreen.
"Everyone back home watches really closely," said Limpf. "We call back to friends from high school and people are like ‘Dude, tell Paul he is doing great’ or I will call back and they will tell me to tell Peach that he is doing great. Our families are both telling each other to tell him this and tell him that."
"It’s pretty neat what has happened," chipped in Peach, who along with Hosley helped Evergreen win the WIAA State 4A Championship in 2004. "Our high school has had a lot of winners, so maybe it’s not just a coincidence."
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Limpf and receiving a NCAA Championships at-large berth may be
Here are more comments from Paul Limpf as he continues preparations for Monday’s NCAA Cross Country Championships . . .
Q: What do you expect from your trip to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute?
A: "It is a big deal for me. I have a lot of family back east and I was born in Ohio. So I have family from Ohio and family from Indiana. My family, my mom and dad, grandma and grandpa are going to fly out there too. So I am going to have a lot of people out there cheering for me. So I’m just going to go out there and race my best. In the end, hopefully I can get an All-America honor (top 40 finish). That is the goal. That would be amazing to go from not even making to the NCAA Championships last year to an All-American this year. That would be the goal right now."
Q: You’ve made steady improvement ever since you’ve arrived on campus. What has been the driving force behind your success?
A: "I came in here and had goals, and I wanted to make it to the NCAA Championships this year. I just thought that would be a great accomplishment. I was just kind of a middle-of-the-pack type high school kid, so I didn’t really get recruited that much. Dan Hilton, who was the coach at the time, had faith that I would be a good runner for him. I ran pretty well my freshman year but not as well as I had planned. Chris Zeller, our current coach, has been a huge help and has been behind me every step of the way. Without him, I can honestly say I don’t think I would be in this position right now going to the NCAA Championships. Chris has been a huge help. His workouts, his sticking behind me when things were going rough with running, life, school, whatever. He has stuck behind me and so it has helped a lot. I can thank him greatly for getting me to this point."
Q: Describe your race last week in placing 11th at the NCAA West Regionals?
A: "I have always prided myself in being an endurance runner. So the 10K is more fitting for me. It was definitely going to be a fast race. I knew that the course was flat. There were runners like Galen Rupp from Oregon, Portland guys, and all of the Oregon guys. The West is the best region hands down. That is why we send seven teams. So I knew it was going to be fast. So I knew I had to get in the top 15 to make sure I was in the right position for myself. I just kind of held that and moved up a little bit throughout the race. At the end I was a little bit tired. The heat was starting to get to me -- it was 85 degrees there compared to the 30 we’ve been running in up here. I just battled it out and ran my race. It worked out for me."
Q: Did you figure out what the worst you could have placed and still received an at-large berth?
A: "I could have placed 25th in the race and still gotten in because of how many teams qualified. But I wasn’t leaving that up to chance. So I was just going all out."
Q: Teammate Alex Smyth has been right behind you in most races this season. But at regionals where the competition is greater, there were 82 runners between the two of you. What was that like?
A: "It was different. I didn’t really know after the race where he was because I was trying to get over the race I ran. I mean, a 10 kilometers is a long race and it was tough. I was a little bit tired and fatigued. So I was getting help throughout the chute and kind of laying around a little bit. I actually didn’t find out where he placed until that night when we were on the plane home. So it was kind of a shock. I thought he was a little bit closer than that. I wish he was, because it would be nice to have another teammate with me going to the NCAA Championships. But he has two more years of eligibility left. He is a fantastic runner and is going to do well."
Q: You have the long hair working for you, but have you ever considered cutting it to help with wind resistance?
A: "Fortunately for me, there are no team rules on hair. I think that at this point coach Zeller kind of just lets me do what I do. He knows that I will be out there busting my butt with long hair, short hair, painted fingernails, non-painted fingernails. He doesn’t really care at this point. He knows that I will go out there and run as hard as I can for him."