ASHLAND — Bekah Howard doesn’t have to look far for running advice from an expert.
Howard, Ashland High School’s star distance runner, is the daughter of Sean Howard, a 1,600-meter state champion at Elliott County in 1984 and a University of Kentucky standout in cross country and track.
“My dad and I are super close and I would say a lot of that is due to running,” said Bekah Howard, who signed with East Tennessee State.
Howard told the Ashland Daily Independent that she and her father have attended track and cross country meets since she was in second grade. They covered many miles running and driving, going to meets throughout Kentucky, Tennessee and other places.
Bekah Howard said her dad takes running seriously and because of that, so does she. Still, the daddy-daughter pair have fun.
As a third-grader, Bekah Howard competed well against middle schoolers. By the time she was a middle school runner she ran varsity and won a pair of region titles at Glasgow. Before her freshman year, the family moved to Ashland and she was the Kittens’ No. 1 placer in 11 of 16 races. Howard helped Ashland win the 16th Region championship, something it has done in six consecutive seasons.
Howard figured to contend for a state championship in the 3,200 in the spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season. She finished second in the state cross country championships as a junior.
Howard has run the 800 in 2:27.9, 1,600 in 5:31.67, the mile in 5:39.24 and the two-mile in 12:30.75. Those numbers helped Howard draw considerable recruiting attention and considered several NCAA Division I schools. For a while, Howard thought she would sign with Western Kentucky University where many of her friends were going, but her final visit was to East Tennessee State. She said she left campus knowing that she wanted to spend the next four years in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Howard said she is undecided on a major.
East Tennessee State finished fourth in the 10-team Southern Conference at the 2019 league championships.