Eli Cramer, Riverdale Alumni, Fatally Hit While Running

1 Killed, 2 Injured in fatal crash in Williamsburg, Virginia

Eli Cramer, a 2020 graduate of Murfreesboro Riverdale High School (TN) and a sophomore track and field athlete at Milligan University, died on Thursday after being struck by a car while running in Williamsburg, Virginia, ahead of an early season college invitational, the school confirmed yesterday.

Cramer, 20, and two teammates crossed an intersection before being struck by the vehicle, according to reports. Two other Milligan athletes were injured. A total of five teammates were running at the time of the crash, reports said

According to the WTKR, the driver in the crash fled the scene and was later arrested by the Virginia State Police. 

While COVID erased Cramer's last year on the track for Riverdale High School, he was fifth in the 2-mile at Tennessee's indoor state championships as a senior and finished eighth as a a junior in the 3,200m at the TSSAA State Track and Field Championships. He was a four-year standout for the program.  

For Milligan, Cramer had run personal best times of 4:00.69 in the 1,500m, 8:36.27 in the 3K, 14:30.46 in the 5K and 31:40.89 in the 10K. He finished 10th at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships in March in the 5K and was 20th at the NAIAA XC Championships in November. He ran an 8K best of 24:14.20 in cross country.

Per Tanner Cook, Johnson City Press

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - A Milligan University track athlete was fatally struck by a car on Thursday while running in preparation for the Colonial Relays, according to a release from the school.

Two other Milligan athletes were taken to a local hospital.

Eli Cramer, a sophomore distance runner from Murfreesboro, died from his injuries, the university said. Seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy were injured.

Milligan said Mortimer was undergoing treatment Thursday night.

In a statement released to the Press, Milligan University said: "We are incredibly shocked and saddened to share that members of our men's cross country/track & field team were involved in an accident involving a vehicle this evening while running near Williamsburg, Virginia.

"Sophomore Eli Cramer succumbed to his injuries. Seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy also were injured. Mortimer currently is undergoing treatment. Baldy was treated and released. We covet your prayers during this difficult time, especially for the Cramer family," the release.

No information about how the accident occurred was released.

Riverdale Runner

I met Eli Cramer once and from that one interview, I wouldn't say a friendship was born, but rather a friendly inside joke that continued on social media even after his running career was no longer under the purview of MileSplit Tennessee. On August 25, 2019, I was reporting from the Macon Bank & Trust Invitational and would tweet updates as the race unfolded. 

I was only a contributor at the time and didn't have a great grasp of who the second-tier runners in the state were but little did I know this reference to Cramer would become a running joke among his family and friends. 

He placed runner-up that day running a 16:42, over a minute improvement year-over-year. 

Cramer finished 19th overall in the Large Division I State Championship later that season and would slip in a sub-16 on his final cross country race of his high school career at Foot Locker South Regional.

He placed 53rd with a time of 15:56. After graduating from Riverdale, he would go on to run for Milligan University, where 5k turned into 5-Miles and sub-16 turned into sub-25. Four of his final six collegiate cross country races would see the 24s with the final one culminating in a NAIA National Championship. 

He would frequently comment or reply on most of our social media posts encouraging various runners from all parts of the state. I feel like this final exchange that occurred hours before the accident illustrates how many people are impacted by this news. 

Eli Cramer knew everyone and everyone knew Eli. If you didn't, reach out to someone who did today.