Lipham hits the ground running at App State


Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics

Freshman cross country runner Ethan Lipham takes off in the Covered Bridge Open Sept. 2, 2022.

Drew Bailey, Reporter

It has not taken long for freshman cross country runner Ethan Lipham to make an impact on the program. Since becoming a Mountaineer, he has won two Sun Belt Runner of the Week awards, won gold at the Firetower Project Run and set his personal record by over a minute at the Live in Lou Cross Classic

The transition from high school to college is usually a pretty big jump, so I can really only thank my teammates for helping me out with the workouts, the easy runs, and all that stuff,” Lipham said. “It is a different level here in college. The workouts are harder, they are longer, we have easy runs, everything like that. So, it is nice to have a group of guys that you can sort of like go out and run with.” 

Despite being a freshman, Lipham has stepped into a leadership role on this team, showcasing how Lipham is seeking team accomplishments in addition to personal ones.

“Ethan Lipham has had a tremendous impact on this team and it came immediately. Within the first practices and races, it is clear that Ethan is the real deal,” sophomore runner Garrett Bivens said. “He is a leader on this team and we all look to him for advice. Being a freshman, it’s amazing to see how much of a factor he already is as our number one runner.”

Those familiar with Lipham know that his accomplishments date back to before his college career. He ran cross country and track for Berkley Preparatory School and was raised in Largo, Florida. He made the FHSAA Class 2A Track and Field State Championships for his freshman and senior year, and especially made a name for himself his senior year, by breaking a school record.

“I focused more on the two mile earlier in the year and then I got the school record, so I kind of wanted to focus more on the mile and trying to get the mile school record,” Lipham said. “The gamble did not really pay off because I lost in the state meet, but I think I could have won the two mile if I just raced the two mile. But it was a cool experience, and I made so many friends along the way.” 

His resume led to him being recruited by multiple teams coming out of high school, but the relationship between Lipham’s father and App State’s head cross country coach Michael Curcio solidified Lipham’s spot as a Mountaineer. 

We knew about him early on in the process as a junior,” Curcio said. “We recruited his father from our camps back in the ’90s, his dad stayed closer to home at UCF but the family always traveled to ASU, and the High Country turned out to be a great fit for him.”

Curcio has spent 28 years as the head cross country coach. His coaching style has allowed Lipham to formulate some of his own workouts. Lipham feels like the freedom afforded to him has contributed to making App State a comfortable fit.

He has been wonderful for coaching. He is sort of more hands off, which is completely fine with me,” Lipham said. “I feel, like, especially for me, I have sort of been, like, in control of my own training for a while now.”

Despite going from running in Florida to the mountains of Boone, this change in elevation has not deterred Lipham. 

“Boone is beautiful. I come from Florida, so there are no mountains or anything,” Lipham said. “So, it is nice to be able to walk outside when it is a nice 55 degrees in the morning.”

The unique environment that Boone has is aiding Lipham in his pursuit of a meteorology career. Despite originally being hesitant about a job in weather.

“Back in the day, I used to be pretty scared of the weather when I was a kid. One of the ways that I have found that is the best way of getting over your fears is to research them,” Lipham said. “I got super into storm chasing, and we live in Florida so we have hurricanes all the time. I got super interested into the weather and just exploring it.”

His meteoric rise has already given Lipham a resume that many runners hope they will achieve across their careers. His two Sun Belt Runner of the Week Awards compare to the men’s cross country program having one award total last year. But the most coveted award in Lipham’s mind is a conference championship. 

“Our biggest goal is to win conference,” Lipham said. “We are looking good right now, we just have to keep everyone healthy, keep everyone focused and I am excited for that.”