MEDINA — Alex Fotheringham has done a pretty good job with both feet on the ground, but the Medina senior would rather be 30,000 feet in the air.
The accomplished cross country runner will get the chance to soar, as he has verbally committed to continue his academic and athletic careers at the United States Air Force Academy.
The 18-year-old has been a pilot for the last five years, and getting a chance to attend Air Force was a dream come true.
“Flying is a big part of my life and I’ve always dreamed of becoming an officer and pilot in the U.S. Air Force,” Fotheringham said. “I have wanted to attend the United States Air Force Academy for a very long time, and it became my school of choice long before my running career began.”
While Fotheringham was looking to attend a school that would set him up for his future away from the sport and nothing more, it was icing on the cake to learn he will get another chance to run.
Over his prep career, Fotheringham was on teams that not only dominated the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division, but also played a key role in the program’s postseason success.
This past fall, the 6-foot-1, 161-pounder helped Medina to a runner-up finish at the Division I state meet with a run of 16:19.5. His time was good for 61st overall and just 0.5 seconds off his personal record.
“USAFA has strict fitness standards that cadets must meet to continue attendance, therefore athletic activity is a requirement,” said Fotheringham, who was looking at a host of other institutions, including Stanford and Ohio State, but none for running.
“I first connected with USAFA in eighth grade, when I wrote a letter informing the academy of my interest in attendance,” he said. “They then sent me periodic letters to guide me through the application process.”
Fotheringham, who carries a 4.684 grade-point average, started the nuts-and-bolts part of the application process a year ago before going through a series of tests and nominations, which includes the likes of Vice President Joe Biden, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. John Boccieri.
“I place a lot of emphasis on my education and USAFA is the perfect place to combine all my strengths and interests,” said Fotheringham, who plans on majoring in physics or aeronautical engineering. “Because of the fact that I chose colleges based primarily on career path and education, the decision was independent of any pressure I feel for (the upcoming) track season.”
Men’s cross country
MEDINA — Brent Gaither is no stranger to being a part of winning cross country teams and the next four years will be no different. The Medina senior has made a commitment to run for North Central College, a D-III powerhouse located in Naperville, Ill.
Gaither, who was also looking at Ohio Northern, ran in his second state meet this past season and was the fifth-best runner in Medina County with a personal-best time of 16:05. He ran a 16:06 to place 16th overall at the Tiffin Division I Regional.
He will be joining a Cardinals team that was D-III national runners-up and won the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin and the Midwest Regional. North Central has won 13 national championships and finished second as a team 14 times, along with seven individual national champs and 101 D-III All-Americans.
WADSWORTH — No matter what Wadsworth’s boys soccer team needed, Ian Johnson delivered.
Whether it was playing up top, in the midfield or on the backline, the senior standout produced.
Johnson will be taking that versatility to NAIA Mount Vernon Nazarene University after officially signing his letter of intent Wednesday.
The second-team All-Ohio selection spent the majority of his time in the center midfield for the Grizzlies, who finished 10-5-2 overall and 5-2 in the Suburban League.
Johnson, an All-Gazette and All-SL pick, had six goals and six assists.
He will join a Cougars squad that went 12-8-1 overall and 5-2-1 in the American Mideast Conference. The Cougars have averaged 12 wins a season over the last 12 years, including an NAIA Final Four appearance in 2008.
WADSWORTH — Sharlee Bailey’s senior season may have come to an end when she tore her left ACL two weeks ago, but the Wadsworth forward already knows where she will play next season.
Bailey has made a verbal commitment to Division III Baldwin-Wallace College, joining a Yellow Jackets program that is a staple atop the Ohio Athletic Conference and in the national tournament.
The 5-foot-9 Bailey averaged 6.0 points in 11 games as a starter before tearing her ACL in a win over Lakota West at the Classic in the Country.
B-W has won 19 or more game the last 14 seasons and made 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament in that span. The Yellow Jackets are currently 15-3, 10-1.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.