Rob Sullivan’s running career will not end at Athens Academy.
The senior Spartan accepted a scholarship to compete for the cross-country and track and field programs at Sewanee: The University of the South. Located 52 miles northwest of Chattanooga in Sewanee, Tennessee, the university offered Sullivan a chance to continue pursuing his passions in both sports.
Sullivan was honored on Wednesday, Dec. 18, in a joint ceremony that recognized a handful of other Athens Academy student-athletes. The ceremony, held in the Sinkwich Spartan Center, allowed for the students to celebrate with family members, friends and classmates.
“It was great,” Sullivan said about the special celebration. “Seeing all my friends, all my teachers, all the people that have been around me the past four years were here to support me, it feels great.”
When athletic director Kevin Petroski first announced the ceremony, though, Sullivan’s name was not on the list of honorees.
Sullivan spoke with Petroski in the days leading up to the celebration and said he would like to be part of it. Petroski obliged.
The Spartans’ athletic director said Sullivan shows great dedication to running and he expects that will carry Sullivan far.
“We are very excited and pleased to include him in [the] ceremony,” Petroski told the crowd in the Spartan Center. “Rob has really excelled as he has gotten older in cross-country and track and field. I think it's become a passion of his now and something that has definitely propelled him to being able to compete at the next level. We're excited about that.”
Athens Academy cross-country coach Geoffrey Walton also spoke during the ceremony.
Walton told the crowd a little about Sullivan’s journey to running. He said that Sullivan was a “late bloomer” in regard to his running career but that he excelled thanks to consistent hard work.
As a matter of fact, Walton said, Sullivan was spotted doing solo track workouts over the summer. The work ethic Walton sees in Sullivan prompted him to call the star runner “an incredible talent and an even better person.
Sullivan said he puts so much effort into his training because his end goal was achieving a college scholarship. That dream was born a couple of years ago when he became serious about running.
“I've been pretty serious about this for the past two years,” Sullivan said. “It's definitely been something I've been working toward for a while. I kind of came into running a little late but it's definitely been a goal of mine.”
Sewanee was not the only potential suitor that came calling for Sullivan. The program offered more than enough, however, to stand out to him and convince him to sign there.
“I just liked the environment,” Sullivan said. “There are some great people. I really connected with the coaches and members of the team.”
In terms of academics, Sullivan said he wants to do pre-med studies at Sewanee. He eventually aims to become a doctor.
As for his athletic career, Sullivan listed off a handful of goals, including lowering his 5k time and winning titles in track competitions.
Sullivan is excited for his college adventure. Before he gets to that point, though, he has one last track season before him.
His previous success made Sullivan feel proud of his work as a Spartan.
Now, Sullivan wants to end his Athens Academy career on a high note before moving up to the college ranks.
“I'm feeling really good,” Sullivan said about his career as a Spartan. “It's certainly gratifying to see the results. This track season, I really hope to do something pretty big.”