Not only did Nathan Purcell achieve feats no Salem Community High School cross country runner had previously accomplished, but he helped lift the Wildcats program to unprecedented heights.

Purcell posted the highest finish by a Salem runner at the Class AA state meet during his junior season in 1997 when he finished seventh with a time of 14:36, as the Wildcats’ 13th place finish was their best as a team.

During his senior season in 1998 Purcell won individual regional and sectional championships followed by a ninth place finish at the state meet with a time of 14:44. That year the Wildcats climbed four more spots in the team standings with a ninth place finish.

Purcell was a two-time North Egypt Conference individual champion with victories in 1997 and 1998. During his senior season he earned a top 25 finish and was third among Illinois runners at the Foot Locker Mideast Meet of Champions. He was also selected to represent Illinois at the Midwest Meet of champions and finished fourth among Illinois runners.

A 1999 graduate, Purcell was named to the Southern Illinois Coaches association All-South Team four times (1995-98) and was chosen SICA Runner of the year on 1998.

Besides leading Salem to its highest team finishes at the state meet, he helped the Wildcats win four NEC titles, qualify for state four times and win three regional and sectional championships.

Purcell was equally successful in track and field capped off by a fifth place finish in the 1600 meters with a time of 4:19.07 at the 1999 Class AA state meet. Purcell was able to qualify for state in that event with a time of 4:26.5 despite being limited to only one race at the sectional meet due to illness.

Purcell also qualified for state as a sophomore in the 1600 meters and as a junior in the 3200 meters.
Purcell was part of multiple relay records at SCHS including the distance medley relay, the 6400-meter relay, the freshmen 3200-meter relay, the sophomore 3200-meter relay, the sophomore 1600 meters, the indoor 1600 meters and indoor 3200 meters.

Purcell won the program’s B.E. Gum Award in 1998 and again in 1999.

Salem won four NEC team championships with Purcell in the program and the 1999 squad posted its best finish at the Class AA state meet when it was fourth.

Purcell continued his cross country and track career at Indiana University where he competed for the Hoosiers at both the Big Ten Conference and NCAA level. During cross country Indiana finished 17th at the 2000 NCAA Meet and 25th in 2002.

Track events for Purcell at Indiana included the 1500 meters, the mile run, 3000 meters and 3000-meter steeple chase.

Purcell continued his athletic competition after his school days ended, as he participated at the Ironman Competitor held at Madison, Wis. in 2008 and finished 144th out of 2,207 entries.

Purcell received a Bachelors Degree in business management and marketing at Indiana and also a Masters Degree in engineering management at George Washington University.

Nathan works for the United States Department of State and his stationed in the embassy in Kuwait.