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August 6, 2020

7/15/2020 11:56:00 AM
New cross country coach says it's full speed ahead for the JCHS team
Luke Inman says the team has come too far in the past five years to take a step back.
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Luke Inman says the team has come too far in the past five years to take a step back.
Johnathan Kipper

After turning into one of the more successful programs in the area, Jennings County Boys Cross Country will have a new head coach in the 2020 season.

Luke Inman, a 2007 graduate of JCHS, will take over the reigns from Bryant Layman, who has served as head coach for the last five seasons.

Being a coach has always been a dream of Luke's, but the journey to getting involved with cross country is something you may not have expected if you knew Luke back in high school.

That is because he never ran cross country or track during his high school years.

Rather, he played baseball and basketball during his time as a Panther, including being a starter as a sophomore on Jennings County's last basketball team to win a sectional back in 2005. That team is where Luke found one of his influences into making him a competitor.

"Coach Howe talked to me one day after school and told me that you have to beat out certain guys ahead of you if you want to be a starter," said Inman. "I asked him how I would do that, and he said that I would have to outwork them every single day at practice, which is what I did."

Another big influence on making him a competitor is his father, Jeff Inman.

Luke remembers how his dad, who helped coach basketball at the high school, would wake him up at an early age to have him work out and get better at his skills. It taught him that sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to become a better player and athlete.

He eventually became a starter for his last three years of high school, leading to becoming all-conference twice and all-area once. His basketball talent led him to Thomas More College in Kentucky, where he played for two years before injuries forced him to quit.

After college, Luke took a job at Honda Manufacturing, where he has been working ever since. This was also around a year or so before he started to pick up running.

"I kept entering these basketball leagues and realized that I didn't have it anymore," he said. "I wanted to try something else out and got into running."

He said that he enjoys the competition that running brings, along with the cardio workout that comes along with it.

Running has led Luke to participate in some of the biggest marathons across the country. He has run in the Boston Marathon four times, along with Chicago and Virginia Beach once. He has also qualified for the New York City Marathon, considered by many as the toughest marathon to qualify for, numerous times.

All of this success in running led to Bryant Layman asking if Luke would come on as an assistant coach for the cross country program, which was met with a solid no. The constant no's continued for the next couple of years, until three years ago, where he agreed to be his assistant. Being an assistant under Layman is something that taught Inman how to be a good coach.

"I thought that it wouldn't be too hard; it's just running," he said. "I quickly realized how in over my head I was, but Bryant was very helpful in showing me the ropes."

Inman hopes to keep the same level of success the Panthers have seen in cross country over the last few years. The team has been to the state finals three of the past five years and sent runners to the meet in the other two years.

"I made it very apparent when I took over that we are not taking a step back," said Inman. "Runners and coaches before us did too much for this program for us to take a step back."

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Article comment by: Terri Cook

Nicely written article! An article about the success and goals for a young coach which also reflects upon the skills of the writer.

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