SSU sticking with injured Fairland runner
PROCTORVILLE, Ohio -- Fairland High School's Chad McComas was more valuable to Shawnee State University with one leg than most runners with two.
McComas signed a letter of intent Monday to run track and cross country at Shawnee State in Portsmouth, Ohio, which stayed with the Dragons senior even after he broke his leg in September. McComas suffered a proximal tibia stress fracture.
"I only ran one legitimate race last year," McComas said. "At the (Ohio Valley Conference) meet, I got a text from Shawnee State's assistant coach telling me they'd still like to have me."
That was a relief for McComas, who called his injury during prime recruiting season as he watched other runners pass him "the most difficult thing."
McComas, a member of the National Honor Society, was thrilled to sign as his teammates looked on in Fairland's all-purpose room. The University of Kentucky, Marshall University, Waynesburg University and Bluffton University also offered scholarships.
"Teams that were already interested in me kept recruiting me," said McComas, who twice qualified for the state cross county meet.
Fairland's distance standout said he felt at home at Shawnee State, where he will be reunited with former high school teammates Logan Rowe, Joe Stewart and Ryan Stewart.
"The coaching staff is really good," McComas said. "I'll have some old teammates there. It's close to home."
McComas, who said he plans to major in Biology, has run a 16 minute, 45 second 5K, which would have placed him 25th in Ohio Division III last season. When he is fully recovered from his injury, which he sustained while training, he expects to be even better.
Shawnee State coach Eric Putnam apparently sees great potential in McComas. The Bears are a power in NAIA cross country, having placed seventh in the nation last season and don't hand out scholarships unless a runner merits one. Putnam has seen McComas run since the Fairland star was a sixth grader and heavily monitors the program, which has won nine consecutive OVC championships.
Dragons coach Chuck Wentz said McComas earned his right to run in college. McComas has had perfect school attendance since first grade, so commitment doesn't appear to be a problem.
"Chad is one of the harder workers I've ever had," Wentz said. "He has natural ability and talent, but work ethic puts him over the top. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." Chad has worked his tail off."
Wentz and McComas agreed that McComas isn't back to top form, yet.
"I'm not quite where I was before the injury,' McComas said. "It's coming along. I'm noticing improvement."
Wentz said he looks forward to seeing McComas at full speed.
"He's not back, yet, but by mid-season there will be some guys who don't want to be out there with him," Wentz said.