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Tallmadge graduate to run at the United States Military Academy

by Frank Aceto Associate Sports Editor Published: July 13, 2014 12:00 AM
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When it comes to his high school cross country and track and field careers, 2014 Tallmadge graduate Patrick Ferguson's reputation speaks for itself.

"He is definitely the leader of the team," Blue Devils head track and field coach Mike Srodawa said.

And thanks to the talented distance runner's impressive leadership skills, Ferguson should be a perfect fit for the armed forces.

Ferguson recently left for West Point, N.Y., to pursue his college education at the United States Military Academy.

Ferguson, a two-time state qualifier in cross country, plans to run for both the USMA's cross country and track and field teams.

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"It was something I wanted to do for a long time," he said. "I've always had a dedication to public service."

When Ferguson made his first visit to West Point, he was intrigued immediately.

"The thing I liked the most was that every single person is an excellent leader and is excellent in the classroom," he said. "There's a brotherhood there that is unmatched at any other school."

Ferguson, who said he was interested in pursuing a career in law, claimed the final spot on the podium when he finished 16th at the 2013 Division I state cross country meet. He also placed 55th at the 2011 Division II state cross country meet.

When he wasn't competing or running with his teammates, Ferguson could be found running with Tallmadge head cross country coach Jeremy Huth.

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"Pat showed up to my house seven days a week to run," Huth said. "He cares so much for the sport. He's like a brother or an uncle to my kids and a best friend to me."

If Ferguson said or did something, his teammates usually followed along.

"He's an extremely hard worker," Srodawa said. "He's a leader in terms of his work ethic and being vocal. He had no trouble pulling kids aside and helping them. The success of the team meant just as much to him as his own success."

Huth is thrilled to see his star pupil move to the next phase of his life. In some ways, though, it makes him sad.

"It's very bittersweet," Huth said. "I keep a log and I think we ran more than 8,000 miles over the years. My middle son, Tommy, is 5 years old. When he was a baby, I remember Pat holding him while my wife was cooking."

Huth's relationship with Ferguson wasn't your typical coach-athlete relationship. It went far beyond that.

"We talk about everything," Huth said. "He knows everything about my relationships and I know everything about his. We've both been through some ups and downs. He's more of a best friend to me than anything else."

Unfortunately, Ferguson's high school career came to a premature end when he suffered a stress fracture on the tibia prior to the district track meet.

"I was crushed," Ferguson said. "It was devastating because I put so much work throughout the years."

The work certainly doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.

He will certainly stay busy at West Point for the next four years. That's just fine with Ferguson.

"My goal is to earn a varsity spot on the cross country team," he said. "I'll do whatever they tell me."

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