MILLIGAN, Tenn. (Sept. 5, 2023) — As Milligan University’s nationally ranked women’s cross country team welcomes a stellar incoming class, one freshman’s journey to campus reflects the lasting impact of Eli Cramer at Milligan.
Cramer, a standout student-athlete on the Milligan cross country and track teams, died on March 31, 2022, after he and two other teammates were struck by a car while preparing for a track meet the following day.
Freshman Cameron Walker, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is the inaugural recipient of the Eli Cramer Memorial Scholarship awarded by the university and funded through the LIVE like ELI Foundation. The university selected Walker for this scholarship based on her work ethic, character and zeal for supporting other runners, all qualities that Cramer emulated.
“Eli’s untimely death still resonates on our campus and throughout the Milligan community because of the impact he had on those around him,” said Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer. “This scholarship will ensure that Eli’s impact will be perpetuated for generations to come and is a fitting way to remember someone who cared so much about others.”
Walker ran cross country and track and field for Central Magnet High School and boasts a personal best of 21:17 in the 5k for cross country. Following a strong high school athletic career, she brings her talents to the Lady Buffaloes who start the season ranked second in the NAIA. Alongside her athletic pursuits, Walker will major in mechanical engineering.
The Eli Cramer Memorial Scholarship was established by the LIVE like ELI Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to honor the legacy of Cramer. Milligan awards this scholarship to a graduating high school student who participated in cross country and track and field and earned a minimum GPA of 3.5. The scholarship aims to support students from Cramer’s hometown of Murfreesboro or a student from middle Tennessee.
“Eli had an immeasurable impact on our program, the same impact he had on the sport and on so many runners from his hometown and Middle Tennessee,” said Chris Layne, cross country and track and field head coach. “Cameron carries Eli’s same infectious spirit, and we know she’s going to be an incredible ambassador for his legacy and for this institution.”
Cramer’s athletic accomplishments and on-campus impact merited his upcoming induction into Milligan’s Hall of Fame at this year’s Celebrate Milligan Dinner during Homecoming in October.
Cramer was one of the key contributors to Milligan’s 2021 NAIA cross country national championship, the first NAIA team national championship in school history. He earned All-America status as the 20th finisher at the 2021 NAIA National Championships. He also secured All-American honors in cross country as a freshman with a 27th-place finish at the national championship meet. In addition, Cramer was a national qualifier in both indoor and outdoor track. He was an NAIA indoor finalist in the 5k in 2022 where he finished 10th. He was a sophomore business major at Milligan.