SSU runner Mikella Meddock

To be an effective runner, especially in long distance events, the attitude and mentality of the person in question has to be on point.

For Teays Valley graduate and incoming Shawnee State cross country/track and field runner Mikella Meddock, her optimism and drive to perform is second to none.

That attracted SSU's Eric Putnam and Ann Marie Allen -- the leaders of the Bears' cross country programs -- to recruit the talented senior for the upcoming fall, with Meddock bringing a regional qualification in cross country and strong track and field credentials to the table for the Bears over the next four years.

"Shawnee State offered everything that I wanted in a school and a running program," Meddock said. "I know how hard the student-athletes work. There's long hours of training to succeed at the races. The coaches gave off a good vibe and believed that I would be successful. I have felt included from the start and have a great connection with the coaches."

At Teays Valley, Meddock, the latest in a long line of successful Vikings to come out of a program that has produced future SSU runners such as 2020 NAIA Indoor Track National Qualifier Steven Adams, Cody Redman, and current SSU harrier Brice Leveck among others, proved to be a dependable threat for the Central Ohio-based school on the trails as well as on the track.

In 2018 -- Meddock's junior season -- the distance running talent placed 97th in a competitive Division I, Region 3 field at Pickerington, running a 21:46 in the event to help Teays Valley claim a 13th place finish in the 2018 Division I, Region 3 standings.

From a track and field standpoint, Meddock's star shined even brighter. Despite having her senior season completely cut from the record due to the circumstances resulting from COVID-19, Meddock still collected two race victories -- having won the 800 meter runs at the Pickaway County Meet (2:36.45) and a Tri-Meet between Teays Valley, Canal Winchester, and Pickerington North (2:40.29) in a two-week span during the April 2019 portion of the schedule.

In addition to her victories in race craft, Meddock also claimed second-place finishes in the Grove City Quad's 800 meters and 4-by-100 meter relay events and posted a second-place finish in the Pickaway County Meet's 4-by-200 meter relay with Teays Valley during her junior season. She also won two events -- the 400 meter dash and the 4-by-400 meter relay -- with Teays Valley at its Kiwanis Invitational as a sophomore.

With her strong race craft in mind, Meddock credits her success to Zach Frank and Kelly O'Dell, who, according to Meddock, aided her greatly in her own ability to cut her times down. Meddock also proved to be a go-getter inside the classroom, serving as the school's chief editor of its yearbook while also serving as a member of its National Honor Society program.

"Teays Valley gave me the best school years that I could ask for," Meddock said. "The teachers gave it their all to have students become successful in the classroom or in life. As for my running experience, it was fantastic. I had the best coaches. They have inspired me to be the best that I can be. Coach Frank and Coach O'Dell pushed me to run cross country during my sophomore year of high school. They were right all along that I would be a successful distance runner."

While essentially every high school in America had to deal with the difficulties that came about from the resulting circumstances of COVID-19, Teays Valley's entire student population had already been through a difficult period before the school year got off of the ground. In mid-August, two of Meddock's classmates were killed in a wrong-way crash, forcing Meddock and her classmates to reassess their feelings toward their fellow classmates regardless of the various backgrounds from which they came from.

"Teays Valley has shown and given me leadership, the ability to stand up for what you believe in, and to be yourself no matter what," Meddock said. "We lost two classmates this year in a horrible accident. During that time, it really showed how everyone can come together, no matter what friend group you were in. It was very powerful. I wouldn't trade my experience at Teays Valley for the world. I truly blossomed as an individual."

With the Shawnee State cross country and track and field units, the energy that both Putnam and Allen offer -- both in enthusiasm as well as their work ethic and approach toward running -- made coming to SSU an easy sell for Meddock, especially considering how competitive the program is as a whole as well as her dreams of competing at the collegiate level.

Just in the last two seasons alone, Shawnee State's produced two multi-time NAIA All-Americans (Seth Farmer and Brooke Smith), a NAIA National Champion in the indoor one mile (Farmer) and two additional student-athletes that qualified for NAIA National Championship competition in individual events (Steven Adams, Jessica Price). That's not even taking into consideration Shawnee State's overall dominance of the Mid-South Conference's cross country landscape, where the Bears have won 10 consecutive Mid-South Conference Championships in women's competition and nine of 10 titles on the men's side of the spectrum.

"During my senior year of cross country, I was ready to commit," Meddock said. "I felt like I would fit in with what the coaches were looking for in an athlete. I am super pumped to run for Shawnee State over the next four years. I can't wait to experience what it will be like as a college athlete. It has been a dream of mine since the seventh grade to be recruited to a college program. It means the world to be given an opportunity to live up to my dream as a kid, and I am ready to help the program become successful in future seasons. I can already tell that the girls on the team are awesome, and full of positive energy."

Over the next four years, Meddock simply wants to add to the firsts that many of Shawnee State's best cross country and track and field athletes have accomplished over the course of their career -- while building the program and etching her name alongside theirs as an all-time great in SSU running lore.

"I want to accomplish the impossible," Meddock said. "Something that's never been done before. I really want to make a difference and be successful. I am ready to do what is necessary for me and my team. It's grind time!"

For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.

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