Pocatello's Elijah Armstrong was one of the great finds of the 2015 recruiting class for Boise State head cross country coach Corey Ihmels.
Armstrong has a lot of potential in track & field too, as Bronco fans will soon find out. But Armstrong was a four-time 4A Idaho Cross Country State champion. Armstrong placed third in the Footlocker Nationals in cross country last fall and is already making an impact on the Boise State team.
Ihmels could sense that Armstrong was on the verge of a breakout race, and Elijah indeed came through last Friday at the Mountain West Championships, finishing in ninth place with a strong surge in the final kilometer.
Armstrong, like all the men in his family, started out in wrestling before switching to long distance running. Older brother Shiloh was a two-time state wrestling champion at Pocatello High School. Elijah himself was a state champion wrestler in middle school before taking up running.
His older brother, Shiloh, was a two-time state wrestling champion at Pocatello High. Elijah was a state champion wrestler in middle school before switching to running. Armstrong's father, Clayton, was a state champion in 1978 and a Big Sky Conference champion for Boise State at 134 pounds in 1982. Clayton served as a coach for Elijah in his new-found sport as well, running with him no matter what the weather conditions.
Asked what he loved about running, Elijah said, "It's all on you. If you want to be good, it's 'go out and run. Go out and work hard.'
Besides the connection that his father had to Boise State, Elijah saw the Bronco cross country program as the place he wanted to be. "I saw coach Ihmels and [assistant] coach Hartke as the guys that can get me to the next level, the next step."
Now that Armstrong has recorded a Top 10 finish, does he have another great race in him this season? "We'll see, but the way I want things to pan out and go, yes. Definitely."
Armstrong and the Broncos are working hard in preparation of the NCAA Regional Championships November 16 in Seattle.