When Seamus Power was preparing for his first cross country race as a freshman at East Tennessee State University in 1991, coach Dave Walker offered up a little last-second advice.
“He put his hand on the back of my neck and said ‘Seamus, you can win this one. Just go out hard, pick it up in the middle and kick it in at the end,’ ” Power said. “I’m not sure if he was joking, but I liked it and will always remember it.”
Power continued going out hard and kicking it in at the end for his entire career, and on Sunday, one of the most successful member’s of Walker’s famed “Irish Brigade” will be inducted into ETSU’s Hall of Fame.
“I’m delighted to be still remembered and I’m honored,” Power said. “I thought this only happened to others.
“ETSU carved me into not only the runner I became, but the man I became. It was a great opportunity and experience for a farmer’s son from the West of Ireland in the early ’90s to head off to America. I was a quiet boy, unexposed to the world. I had a lot to experience and to learn.”
Power’s running record speaks for itself.
He was a five-time All-American and still holds the ETSU and Southern Conference records in the indoor 3,000 meters (8:05.37 in 1992). He was the most successful cross country runner in Southern Conference history, becoming the only runner to win the league championship for four consecutive years.
Power was also a four-time SoCon champion in the indoor mile and 5,000 meters and a three-time champ in the 3,000. He finished fourth in the 10,000 at the NCAA outdoors in 1993, fifth at the 1993 national cross country meet and sixth in the 5,000 in 1992.
Many of Power’s fondest memories come from training, where Walker would drive his runners in a white van to various locations and have them run back to campus.
“I have great memories from my time in ETSU,” he said. “The white mini-van dropping us off to run home and Coach taking our splits. We had some lovely runs, Hilly J, Parsons Table, Mad Dog and Buffalo Mountain just come to mind. I remember the Minidome, its dry air as we ran lap after lap with Coach shouting encouragement from the bleachers.”
Power credited the recently retired Walker for much of his success.
“He is a good man,” Power said. “Couldn’t meet nicer. He gave me a great opportunity when he offered me a scholarship, and I will always owe him for that. I loved to listen to his stories and advice when we were on those long bus rides to competitions.”
Power went on to win nine consecutive All-Ireland cross country championships after his college career.
These days, Power is a dairy farmer in Clare, in the West of Ireland. He and his wife, Eimear, have a 13-month-old son Liam. Power, who says he doesn’t run anymore, won’t be at Sunday’s Hall of Fame ceremony because of his duties on the farm.
“I work hard to try to sustain a living, but it’s not been easy with all the rain we have gotten the past two years,” he said. “I love what I do and I’m happy at where I am in life.”
Power has not been back to Johnson City since he left ETSU.
“I would love to return for a visit or even run those roads one more time,” he said.