Speed is Christian Coleman’s speciality, so it should come as no surprise how quickly he has made his mark in collegiate track and field. Coleman, an Our Lady of Mercy alum, just capped off his impressive first season as a Tennessee Volunteer with SEC Freshman Runner of the Year and All-America honors.
Coleman finished off his freshman season with a sixth-place finish in the men’s 60-meter dash at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, earning himself All-America honors in the process. He is the first Tennessee freshman to score in the event since Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin.
His performance on the SEC indoor calendar ended with a flourish as he earned the bronze in the 60-meter at the conference championships, the first medal in the event for a UT sprinter since 2008. He even did it as the only freshman in the finals field. The year all started with a win in the 60-meter dash in his first-ever collegiate meet. In fact, he never finished outside the top three during conference competition. For his tremendous showing all year, Coleman was named the SEC Men’s Freshman Runner of the Year.
It’s quite the start to his time as a Volunteer, but Coleman is staying humble.
“It’s an honor,” says Coleman. “The SEC is at the top of the food chain in track and field. A lot of the top freshmen go into the SEC. Getting an award my first year is a big accomplishment, but I need to keep working.”
He’s proud to be a part of a storied track program at the University of Tennessee and competing in the nation’s top conference. By the time he’s done as a Vol, he hopes he’s helped win a couple national championships.
“A lot of people don’t know how many great athletes come out of Tennessee track. There’s a lot of great history,” says Coleman, referencing greats like Willie Gault and Gatlin. “Being able to follow in their footsteps and trying to break their records is a pretty good situation.”
His success is even more remarkable considering he could be playing a different sport in college. Coleman was also standout on the gridiron for the Bobcats and was initially headed to Valparaiso University, a Division 1-AA school in Indiana, to play football. After the first couple track meets of his senior season, top-notch schools starting calling with the chance to run at the collegiate level.
“My life could be a lot different right now. I could be grinding on the football field at a small school,” says Coleman. “I thought track was a good opportunity for me. I took a leap of faith, and this is where God wanted me to be.”
Coleman and his Tennessee teammates are now focused on the already-underway outdoor track season. With a host of honors already in hand, Christian Coleman probably better get himself a bigger trophy case soon.