By Kyle Shaner
BRADFORD – Bradford senior Johnny Fike committed to run cross country and track and field at Notre Dame College on Monday afternoon.
Fike, the son of John Fike and Harmony and Raymond Clark, said the best part of the recruiting process was when he received a scholarship offer from Notre Dame, an NCAA Division II school that is located in South Euclid in Northeastern Ohio.
“When I was sent the package, it was a big weight lifted off my shoulders, knowing that all my hard work that I’ve put in through my four years of high school has finally paid off,” Fike said.
Fike has been one of Bradford’s top runners throughout his high school career. This fall he led the Railroaders’ cross country team with a personal-best time of 17:26.10. In track and field he’s competed in middle-distance and distance events, leading the Railroaders in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter races this past spring.
“I think it’s a great thing for not only Bradford as a school but both running programs at Bradford and then obviously Johnny as well,” Bradford track coach Brian Schwieterman said of Fike having an opportunity to continue his running career in college.
Fike plans to study criminal justice in college and then become a member of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He was drawn to Notre Dame because of its fit academically and athletically.
“I didn’t want to go to a school that was like Ohio State and like 500 kids a class,” Fike said. “The class sizes are small. And when we went and visited the first time, me and the coach really clicked. It was a fit.”
During his collegiate years, Fike hopes to become a nationally ranked runner and compete at the NCAA Division II national championships. He knows he’ll have to work hard to prepare for the longer races as college cross country races are 8 kilometers instead of 5 like in high school, but he thinks the change will only benefit him.
“I’m better at keeping a steady pace for a longer distance so I think that will help me,” he said.
His high school coaches said they’re confident Fike will work hard in college just like he has in high school.
“His hard work ethic and his determination,” Bradford cross country coach Rob Grillot said of Fike’s great strengths as a runner. “He’s a very determined individual.
“I think he’ll do really well at college. I know they’re going to work him really hard, but I think that he’ll rise the competition.”
Schwieterman also expects Fike to be successful at the collegiate level.
“I think he’s a great leader as far as no matter on the track or in the classroom,” Schwieterman said. “He’s always somebody that’s leading and people can follow. He’s hard work and dedication to what he’s does and then his leadership ability is really going to help him out at the next level.”