McInerney chases his father’s records

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

Sophomore Riley McInerney broke a record last weekend, but it was a record that more close to home than anything.

Riley just recently toppled his dad’s mile score with a time of 4 minutes and 05.93 seconds last weekend. Riley now ranks fifth in school history and his dad sits at ninth with a time of 4:08.5 that was set back in 1978.

McInerney is a local boy who attended Charleston High School and runs track and cross country at Eastern. He runs the mile and the 3000-meter for indoor track.

He is the son of former Eastern cross-country coach and All-American John McInereny, who teaches here at Eastern in the Kinesiology department. John served as the head cross-country coach and assistant track coach from 1990-2003.

0217_trackFEAT1_JHJason Howell

John said he never thought about the fact that him and his son were on the top ten lists together.

“I don’t know how much longer I will be able to hang on the list, but it is definitely a special and fun bit of EIU trivia and history,” John said.

Riley joked about how this wasn’t the first record that he has taken from his father.

“I beat all of his best high school times and so I was really happy to do that,” he said. “Now it’s kind of jumped to college, so now its time for me to break all his college ones. So far this is the only one that I have him on, he’s still faster than me in everything else so far.”

John was Riley’s assistant coach throughout his high school career and watched his son capture many records.

Riley qualified for state in cross-country all four years of high school and was all-state three of the years.

He dual-medaled in the 1600- and-3200 at state his junior and senior year. Also, he set the Class AA 3200 state record his senior year.

“It all went by mighty fast and college seems to be doing the same thing,” John said.

His dad shared common traits between them in their racing styles, which includes a solid finishing kick.

“Sometimes we both tend to wait a bit too long to unleash it,” he said. “I am afraid his love for long hair and beards may be genetic too.”

The finishing kick is what Riley mentioned when walking through is top-five mile performance last weekend.

“When the gun went off I actually sat and I was in about last place for the first lap and a half, but I still came through faster than what I expected,” Riley said. “So I knew, even though I was in last place that we were still going really fast. I felt comfortable and in a really good position.”

John also added that him and his son share a love for racing and competing as well.

“Training is great but I was happiest on race day and I see a ton of that in Riley,” he said.

Eastern was number one to Riley out of high school given his family history and being from Charleston.

His parents were graduates of Eastern. Also, he has lived in Charleston all his life.

“I kind of grew up looking forward to Eastern and then once the recruiting process started Eastern was already at the top of my list,” Riley said.

His father saw his love for Eastern all the way but wanted him to still see his options.

“As it turned out he was so totally fired up about EIU that I had to force him to visit a few other schools and at least check out his other options and what other schools had to offer’” John said. “He took a look around and made up his own mind and went where his heart led him. No regrets at all from him or his parents that’s for sure.”

Riley, the two sports athlete, was asked to pick which sport he liked better.

“I like track a little bit more, just because it’s a little more intense,” he said. “I feel like I’m more of a medal distance guy, but I still love cross country I think I’m just a little better suited for track.”

The competitiveness in track is what made Riley choose this sport over others that he played growing up.

“The competitive spirit of it,” he said. “I played basketball, baseball and football growing up and those are great sports, team oriented and everything, but I think the unique thing about track is that while you’re still apart of a team you’re also pushing yourself. There are no time outs, there’s no breaks in-between, if you’re signed up for whether it’s a mile or 10k, you got to go do it.”

Riley has been healthy for the most part this season and is going to be taking on his first outdoors track season this spring.

“I’ve been dealing with some plantar fasciitis for about a year and that’s really the only thing,” Riley said. “I’ve been lucky I haven’t really been hurt. I got mono last year which is what kept me out of most of indoor and all of outdoor.”

Riley will most likely be participating in the 1500 and 3000 steeplechase for the outdoor season. His father ranks seventh all time in the 1500 run outdoor.

Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].