Country Day director of athletics, Abe Wehmiller, has announced the hiring of Matt Elliott as the Bucs’ new cross country program head and head varsity cross country coach. Elliott, who has been at Country Day as an assistant coach since 2015, takes over the program head duties from Allison Niekras, who announced earlier this week she was stepping away after eight years with the program to spend more time with her family. Elliott will also continue to work with the indoor and outdoor track and field programs in an assistant coach role.

New coach Matt Elliott coaching varsity cross country runners at a meet

“We are very excited to welcome Matt to his new role with our cross country program,” Wehmiller said. “In his four-plus years with us, he has brought energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to his work and his established strong relationships with his student-athletes and his colleagues. In thinking about someone who could build on the great work that Allison has done, I couldn’t imagine someone who would be a better fit for us than Matt.”

In addition to his work at Country Day, Elliott currently serves as the Program Director for RunningWorks, a regional non-profit organization that uses running as a tool to break cycles of abuse, poverty, neglect, and homelessness. Through a partnership with RunningWorks, he also works as a physical education instructor at the Palmetto School in Rock Hill, where he previously worked as a K-2 classroom teacher. He holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Presbyterian College and an M.S. in Sport and Fitness from Winthrop University.

Elliott is an accomplished runner himself, having broken the four-minute barrier for the Mile 11 times in his career and run personal records of 3:36 for 1,500 Meters and 13:44 for 5,000 Meters. He finished fourth in the 1,500 at the US Outdoor National Championships in 2013 and fifth in that same race at the US Indoor National Championships in 2015. While he has battled injury for the past three years, he still hopes to qualify for the 2020 US Olympic Trials in the 1,500.

“Coaching at Country Day these last four years has been a time of growth, challenge and opportunity,” Elliott said. “I have been a runner for the last 21 years, and I never thought that I could fall in love with running any more than I did as an athlete—until I started coaching. Sharing in others’ success, teaching the value of sport, and creating a passion for the sport that has transformed my life is a debt I will never be able to repay our school. I eagerly look forward to helping mold and prepare our student-athletes for the future through our cross-country program.”