Cross country: Jeremy Anderson Invitational Saturday

BEVERLY — Jeremy “Gem” Anderson was one of the greatest long distance runners to ever compete at Fort Frye High and Shawnee State University.

The cross country and track standout still holds the Cadet record in the 3200 (9:40.59) and 5K (16:09.20), and was a member of the school’s record-setting 4×400, 4×800 and 4×1600 meter relay teams.

This past Aug. 4, the 28-year-old Anderson passed away at his home in Hackney.

To recognize Anderson and his running legacy, the Fort Frye Invitational has been renamed the Jeremy Anderson Invitational, and is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday behind the high school in Beverly.

“This year will be special since we renamed the race after Jeremy,” said Fort Frye cross country coach Jason Lipot. “We will be doing some things to honor him.

“We’re ready to celebrate and no longer mourn the life of Jeremy. He’s a big reason why cross country is at Fort Frye. The school and community support has been outstanding. A lot of the Anderson family will be attendance. It will truly be a special day.”

Also in the field will be Waterford, Buckeye Trial, Crooksville, Federal Hocking, Morgan, Shenandoah, Trimble, and Warren (Junior High only).

Fort Frye’s varsity boys will be paced by Justin Carpenter and Draven Rowland. Patty Wesel is the lone Cadet girls runner.

Lipot said the Fort has a strong junior high program.

“We hope to sweep both junior high races with individual and team winner in each race,” he added.

The Steve Littler-coached Waterford Wildcat girls will be led by sophomore Kaylor Offenberger and freshman Averi Schwendeman.

On the boys’ side, there are freshmen Ian Fairchild and Luke Stollar.

The Waterford Middle School boys will feature eighth-grader Evan Strickler, and seventh-graders’ Troy Gibson and Drew Huck. Eighth-grader Reese Rohrer is the lone girl on the MS roster.

Lipot believes the Trimble boys will be the team to beat in the varsity run.

“Trimble is solid with depth,” Lipot said. “The high school boy winner could be anyone, but look for a Trimble runner to prevail.”

On the girls’ side, Kathryn Williams of Buckeye Trial, an All-Ohio cross country runner last year, is expected to set the pace.

“Watch out for her,” Lipot said.

A good portion of the moderately flat course of the Jeremy Anderson invite is along the Muskingum River and open fields — and finishes on the track in Cadet Stadium.

“We have an awesome course,” Lipot said. “Usually a lot of runners run there best time here.

“It’s also spectator friendly. You can see a lot of action without moving around a whole lot. My wife Amista is the race manager, so it’s always well-organized. Many coaches comment on how they love to come here.”

Ron Johnston can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com