WINONA LAKE – Local running standout Jake Poyner has agreed to become the next head coach for Grace’s cross country teams.
Poyner, who served as a graduate assistant coach for Grace’s cross country and track and field teams this past year, will move into the head coaching role immediately.
Jeff Raymond will shift into a new position, serving as the Director of Cross Country as well as continuing on as the track and field head coach. In this role, Raymond will serve with oversight and direction as needed to assist Poyner with the cross country program.
“I would like to thank President Katip, Coach Briscoe, Coach Raymond and the rest of the Grace Athletics Department for believing in me and giving me an incredible opportunity to lead the men’s and women’s cross country programs here at Grace College,” Poyner said. “It is both humbling and extremely exciting for me to be entrusted with writing a new chapter in the Lancer distance running tradition. I look forward to continuing my work with our current student-athletes while developing new relationships with recruits, parents, alumni and the greater Winona Lake community as we pursue excellence on all fronts and grow the cross country family in a way that honors Christ and reflects His image.”
Poyner is a former NCAA Division I runner who graduated high school from Warsaw. He led the Tigers to a pair of top-five finishes as the cross country state finals as a junior and senior.
As a cross country senior at Warsaw, he won the individual title at the regional and semistate levels before placing fourth overall at the state finals. He garnered All-State and Indiana All-Star recognition for the Tigers.
He was also a two-time All-State honoree for Warsaw’s track and field team, helping the Tigers to a fifth-place finish at the state finals.
Upon graduation, Poyner signed to run at Wake Forest University from 2013-15 and was a Dean’s List student-athlete.
He then transferred to Lipscomb University where he concluded his collegiate running career from 2015-18. He won numerous accolades at Lipscomb and was the ASUN Conference Runner of the Year and the ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2017; as a senior, he won the cross country conference meet as an individual while helping his team to the trophy as well.
Poyner won five ASUN Conference Runner of the Week awards and helped Lipscomb win two ASUN cross country championships.
“I’ve known Jake since he was a sophomore in high school, and I’m excited to add him to our staff,” Raymond said. “He’s done a phenomenal job as a graduate assistant, establishing quality relationships and building confidence among our distance group. I’m confident he will be a strong leader for our cross country program.”
Poyner was also an academic standout. He earned a spot on the prestigious CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-America Team. He compiled a perfect 4.0 GPA while majoring in exercise science and minoring in coaching and biology. He was recognized to the USTFCCCA Academic All-American First Team and was also awarded the Outstanding Exercise Science Major as a senior.
“We are extremely pleased with Jake taking over both the men’s and women’s cross country programs at Grace College. We look forward to the continued pursuit of Christian excellence under his leadership,” said Grace Director of Athletics Chad Briscoe. “He has demonstrated a strong ability to recruit and lead, and he will also learn much from Jeff Raymond as he takes the program to the next level. His extensive background in distance running, history in our community and commitment to the mission of Grace College will serve him well as he takes over the program.”
Poyner will continue as an assistant track and field coach in addition to leading the cross country program.