Updated: Mar 29
Interview conducted & transcribed by Patrick Warren, USC '23 [Interview conducted in August of 2020]
Cole Bullock, a sophomore student-athlete thrives in a competitive environment. In particular, one could safely say that he feels right at home at the University of Mississippi, one of the nation's best cross country programs. He thrived in the new environment he found there, and he's certainly evolved into an athlete to keep a keen eye on. By the end of his collegiate career, he might just be standing atop the SEC. While in high school he was a standout athlete, receiving All-American honors along with a plethora of other awards. Now, the Chattanooga native's trajectory is trending upward in the world of collegiate athletics. Make sure you don't blink!
At the beginning of his freshman year, Cole was planning on redshirting and waiting until the following year to compete. However, everything began to click for him somewhere along the line, and by the end of the season, he had earned the title: "SEC Freshman of the Year." Then, just a few months ago, Cole made a tremendous statement as the 6'3 sophomore stood and smiled on the podium with a 2nd place finish at the SEC Championships. Hopefully, next year will allow us to watch him battle to reach that next step, the coveted 1st place spot!
Some of Cole's Most Recent Accomplishments
SEC Runner-Up (2020-2021)
SEC Team Runner-Up (2020-2021)
SEC Freshman of the Year (2019-2020)
SEC Team Champion (2019-2020)
Second-Team All-SEC (2019-2020)
Made his collegiate debut and helped Ole Miss win the SEC Championship by placing ninth at the SEC Championships (8K, 23:20.1)
2018 New Balance Outdoor EE Mile Champion (All-American)
Ran the second-fastest 3200-meter in Tennessee history (8:50.70)
Foot Locker 2019 Nationalist
Brooks 2019 PR Nationalist
Check out this article from the Chattanooga Times: Is former Red Bank star Cole Bullock the 2021 SEC cross country champ?
Why Ole Miss?
What made Ole Miss stick out to you during the recruiting process?
"Just the team and the atmosphere. Everyone's pretty high level running-wise, and I wanted to push myself to be a part of that. I also just like Coach Van Hoy and his style of coaching; I think that the team really connected pretty well with each other."
What's it like being in such a tight-knit community with the Ole Miss cross country team?
It's awesome! Everyone's pushing each other all the time, whether that's intentional or unintentional. It's nice to have an atmosphere in which I'm close with a lot of the guys and we all hang out and do things together. Whenever you have a community within your team, it provides you with people who you can relate to. That is tremendous when it comes to helping each other get through training or even now with all kinds of difficulties due to Covid. Having such a great team has been a really powerful experience altogether.
Diving a little deeper into the relations of your team, how would you characterize the relationship between you, as a freshman last year, and some of the older juniors and seniors?
We kind of grew closer as time went by. Even now, right at this moment, I'm still getting to know the people on my team a little bit more; it's just natural and inevitable. We did go out to Flagstaff, Arizona this summer, which was a lot of fun. We went out there for six weeks of altitude training. I got pretty close with a lot of guys there, and I think that our bonds will only grow stronger from here.
The Student-Athlete Experience
What is it like balancing a difficult major, engineering, with your already hectic schedule as a college athlete?
They [Ole Miss Athletics] definitely help us out a lot. We actually have our own building dedicated to helping people academically, so if you're not doing well in classes, they'll provide you with resources and tutoring. I think I've been able to balance everything pretty well. School hasn't really been too hard yet since I took a lot of introduction classes last year, so we'll see how it goes this year when everything starts to pick up and I get more into my courses related to my degree. Overall, I found it to be pretty easy to balance as long as you stick to a schedule, and you have a set plan for every week. If you do that you'll be fine. It's pretty straightforward.
How was your freshman year on a collegiate sports team? What was that like before Corona hit and ruined everything [laughs]?
It was a lot of fun. It was really enjoyable having people to run with who are at the same level and in the same headspace of knowing where they want to be in terms of running. Just being around and training with people like that really pushed me further along in my athletic progression. It was awesome. Initially, I was going to redshirt my first season, and then all of the sudden at practice I started really picking up and getting into the swing of things. I was figuring out where I needed to be. I did a few unattached races and placed second at one of them, and later on, I ran at SEC's and got SEC Freshman of the Year with a ninth-place finish. It was a fantastic year.
What advice would you give to high school athletes who are trying to make it into college athletics?
"Just grind. That's all you have to do. Don't let other people get in your head too much because that definitely deters you from your goals and what you're looking towards. A lot of people may talk, but what they say doesn't actually mean anything. I'd say have a goal in mind, stay focused, and work towards it, but at the same time, don't make training everything in your life. Allow yourself to have other things to do and focus on, and just have fun with it!"
I just shared Cole Bullock's freshman experience! What was your freshman experience like? Tell us in the comments below! Feel free to share our tips and advice by hitting the share button and leaving a like!
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