Austin Luttrell surrounded by the St. Michael's cross country team at Wednesday's college signing at the school library.
Head cross country coach Lenny Gurule signs the official document for Embry-Riddle University, which Austin Luttrell will attend.
It's the official signing for Austin Luttrell, with his mon, Carol, and dad, Wayne, alongside him and XC head coach Lenny Gurule and his assistant, Cisco Rivera, standing behind.
Next stop for Austin Luttrell is Embry-Riddle University in Prescott, Ariz., with space physics his major and cross country-track his sports
St. Michael's senior signs up for the NAIA school before plenty of supporters in the library Wednesday morning
By ARNIE LESHIN
Photos by Susan R. Patten
Austin Luttrell's hobbies start with rock climbing, mountain biking and skiing.
Welcome to Embry-Riddle University, St. Michael's senior. Others prefer shooting hoops, swinging the bat, taking to the golf links, getting in some tennis, etc. etc.
But Luttrell, since first attending St. Michael's as an 8th grader, has limited his sports to cross country and track and field. And at Embry-Riddle in Prescott, Ariz., he'll do the same.
The school's correct technical name is Aeronautical University, so you can see what it specializes in. It's also the one school Luttrell centered on when making his decision on college. It's one of two resident branches in the country, the other at the older, larger campus in Daytona Beach, Fla., where former Lady Horsemen and cross country/track and field athlete Kaitlin Dobesh is a student.
It included an $8,000 scholarship, and it's the only school that has the undergraduate course sought by Luttrell. Its present campus began in 1978.
For him, the skies' the limit when you consider his major will be space physics. He doesn't intend to climb the highest mountain, ride a bike up a high mountain or enter a ski contest. But he will inherit a major that comes with the times, gives a modern look at space, and that is why he chose the blue and gold, the Eagles.
His favorite subjects? Physics and math. His grade-point-average? 4.5.
"I originally wanted to be a pilot," he said at Wednesday morning's official signing in St. Michael's library, "and had an interest in New Mexico Tech, but then I changed my mind."
Embry-Riddle is approximately an 8-hour drive from Santa Fe. It is about two hours north of Phoenix and Luttrell has been there and liked what he saw. He also spent three months in Spain last year in a basic studies course, so traveling to Arizona is a short hop for him.
And he's been to Arizona before, even ran there 5-straight years for St. Michael's at the annual Desert Twilight cross country invitational.
This weekend he will take to the road to be at the NAIA school's Preview and Signing Day, and to also meet with the head cross country and track and field coach, Chris Bray, who is one and the same at the school named for its co-founders.
At the signing were his mom, Carol, and his dad, Wayne. His sister London is a Lady Horsemen freshman with a bright future running distances, and she was also on hand in support of her brother, as were other members of coach Lenny Gurule's teams.
Gurule took a break from work to be there. He's head coach of the cross country team and is the distance coach for track and field.
But Denver, Austin's older brother, is away at Colorado School of Mines as a sophomore.
The taller Denver (6-1) was always there for his 5-6 bro. Austin ran junior varsity XC as an 8th grader, but after that it was he and Denver running among the hills, the sand, the rocks, as they shared that experience together. He ran behind Denver until he finally stepped ahead of him his sophomore year.
"It was something new for me," he said, "although my parents ran cross country in high school, and Denver was enjoying it. In 8th grade, I wasn't all that nervous, in 9th grade, I was because it was varsity."
He has already qualified for the state 4A championships in May in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Plus, this is his first time running at state, so there's no doubt he'd like to step onto the podium.
Cross country or track and field? Austin prefers the longer distance, likes being out on the tough courses. His best finish at the state XC championships was a 6th place run back in November. The previous season, he placed 9th. Before that, it was 24th as a freshman and 16th as a sophomore.
No doubt he improved each time running his favorite sport.
He said his parents always supported him when he ran. His mom ran cross country and track in her high school days in Illinois. His dad did the same back in Mississippi.
So it was in the genes for both their sons, as well as London. Austin, though, was born and raised in the City Different.
"When I first came out for cross country," he said, "I was good friends with my brother's group. Now I share friendships with the current group, and I will miss them."
Up, up and away? Could be. Austin already has a real good look at the future.
Bray will be his XC and track coach. He began both programs, cross country in 2012 and track in 2015. He anxiously awaits meeting Austin.
"Austin is just the type of student we have here," said Brey. "We stress academics, have very good students, and plus, they get a chance to run cross country and track. In speaking with Austin, he reminded me of the first recruit I brought in, and he went on to gain a NASSA scholarship."
Nice coach, neat campus, great academics, all wrapped in one for Austin Luttrell.