WILLIAMSTOWN — Of the five sports Ben Weekley lettered in as a student-athlete at Wood County Christian, he didn’t necessarily see himself competing in cross country at the next level.
Several years had passed since the senior competed in the fall activity, but after returning from a series of injuries over the past couple of years his love for running re-emerged this spring during the track season. Midway into the schedule, he began training on the hurdles. By the time Class A state track meet arrived, Weekley turned in a third-place finish in the 110 high hurdles and a fourth-place showing in the 300 hurdles.
That desire to run and the success it created brought back memories from ninth and 10th grade when he represented WCCS in cross country. On Friday at his signing ceremony, Weekley made it official that he will join the cross country program at Fairmont State University.
“I’ve always had an interest in cross country — I did it in sixth grade, but going to the next level in cross country is a little unexpected,” Weekley said. “I’ve always loved soccer and thought maybe there would be a chance to play in college.”
Rehabbing through a fractured tibia, knee surgery and a stress fracture with his foot limited Weekley to goalkeeper on the pitch the past two seasons. Once he returned to full health during the track season, he turned to several hurdlers down the road at Williamstown High School for training tips. Practically from meet to meet, Weekley sets personal bests and established new school records.
“Ben has a lot of natural ability,” said WCCS boys and girls track coach Dave Weekley, who is also Ben’s father.
“We just wanted to put him out there and see what he could do. Another three to four weeks of getting in shape with track and he probably could have been very competitive.
“We’re thrilled with third and fourth place with only running five weeks of the season.”
In addition to cross country, track and boys soccer, Ben played several seasons with the WCCS basketball team, and started at second base and batted over .300 as a freshman for the Wildcat baseball team.
“Running has been Ben’s secondary sport until this year,” Dave Weekley said.
“We always teased him about how both sides of the families were heavily involved in track and being good runners. The track season was about, what do we have time to get him in shape for to work with his athleticism?”
“The summer will be spent trying to get him to work on a base. And to increase it without causing injury.”
Granted, there is no comparison between the distances Ben figures to cover in cross country compared to hurdles. Yet, the feet have been put into motion and Ben has the family genes to carry him through.
“They had a Falcon Day that we attended at the college — they had a bunch of classes and we went to one for the NCAA,” Ben said. “I was like, I might as well as give it a shot and attend it. When track season came around I realized I wasn’t ready to give up my athletic career.
“Oh yeah, I am ready to hit the training hard. I gave myself a week after the state track meet to really make sure I am clear. Then I will start running. The change in miles will be a nice change of pace. It’s going to be intense, but it will be manageable as well.”
Ben Weekley’s field of interest at FSU focuses on civil engineering. The long-range plan is to enter the master’s program for engineering management.
“I’ve been going to Fairmont State for different academic events — I love the campus,” Ben said. “It’s a quaint little town. I’m excited for the academic side of things and the athletic side.”
Contact Kerry Patrick at email@example.com