Sports Talk: Runner overcomes adversity

Jon Anderson has been a very patient cross country runner.

The Fort Frye junior is also a hard worker, who’s had to overcome some physical adversity this fall.

“Jon’s had knee problems this season,” said Cadets cross country coach Alana Cunningham. “And he’s spent much of it working out in a pool. Yes, he’s actually been running in a pool.”

All that time in the pool has paid off, because this Saturday, Anderson and his Fort Frye teammates will be competing at the OHSAA Cross Country Championships (state meet) at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Last Saturday, the Cadet boys qualified for the showcase event for the second year in a row with a second-place finish in Region 7, Division III at Pickerington North.

Leading the way was Anderson, who was runner-up in a clocking of 16 minutes, 29.43 seconds.

Not too shabby for a runner, who’d only competed in two races this season prior to the regional.

“He’s a tough, talented kid,” Cunningham said. “And he’s come back in a big way.”

While the Fort Frye cross country season started at the Elizabeth S. Broughton Memorial Invitational at the Broughton Nature & Wildlife Area in Marietta on Aug. 24, Anderson didn’t run his first 5k until Sept. 28 at the Pickerington Panther Invitational.

“He wanted to see where he was in his pool workouts,” Cunningham said. “It’s been kind of a balancing act.”

Anderson had progressed nicely as he placed 13th overall in a field of 256 with a time of 16:49.5. His older brother Jordan – who incidentally finished first at Broughton – was sixth in 16:31.6.

No question about it, the younger Anderson had come a long ways, but the knee wasn’t quite right or ready for weekly meets.

Anderson ran his next race on Oct. 19 in the East District at Cambridge High and finished second in 16:12.86. More importantly, the Fort Frye boys team – which also includes Jordan Anderson, Matt Cheeseman, Ford McElroy, Matt Roush, Quintin Webb, and Cameron Hupp – placed runner-up and advanced to regional.

Now, they’re all headed to Hebron.

Last year as a sophomore at National Trail Raceway, Anderson finished 55th in 16:53.71. Older brother Jordan was 35th in 16:34.93.

Only the top 25 can earn All-Ohio status at state.

“The state course runs very fast,” Cunningham said. “And I’m hoping to bring back some All-Ohioans this year.”

Jeremy Anderson, Jon and Jordan’s older brother, is currently enrolled at Shawnee State University, where he is a senior cross country and track and field runner. He is a former Fort Frye running standout.

Parker Blain has enjoyed a phenomenal cross country season with a school course record and several first-place finishes to his credit.

The Warren senior standout was a little under the weather when he ran in the Region 7, Division II race at Pickerington North last Saturday.

Still, he was able to cross the finish line in 16:54.39, which was good for a fourth-place overall finish. His Warrior teammate Sam Goodman was 12th in 17:04.07.

Both Blain and Goodman qualified for state.

“They did well, and Parker did amazing, considering he ran with acute bronchitis in the regional,” said Warren cross country coach Debbie Proctor.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at