Eastham, Ruby, Smith join SSU T&F staffs


PORTSMOUTH — The track and field program at Shawnee State University is officially expanding in a big way — as three area natives who have firmly entrenched themselves as well-respected figures across the Tri-State area landscape in various disciplines will be joining the SSU indoor and outdoor track and field programs as assistant coaches.

Greenup County product and former Kentucky Christian University assistant coach Todd Eastham, longtime South Point and Green coaching standout Randy Smith, and former Minford football and track and field head coach Jesse Ruby will all be joining the SSU family as assistant coaches — increasing the list of coaches in the SSU track and field program from two to five, while expanding Shawnee State’s footprint in the region.

SSU’s participation in track and field, and its track and field offerings as a whole, are expanding as well.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Eastham, Coach Ruby, and Coach Smith on board as we look to continue moving forward with our mission — Recruit, Retain, and Win,” Shawnee State athletic director Gerald Cadogan said. “All three individuals bring terrific knowledge to the table and are first-class individuals along with the head coach of our SSU men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs, Conner Flynn, as well as our current assistant coach, Dean Freitag, who will also be back. Conner and Dean have had a great amount of success in a short period of time and they deserve additional resources as we continue to build toward having as good of a program as we possibly can have, which is one that continues to be nationally competitive and can compete for conference and national championships in a wide variety of track and field events across the board.”

Todd Eastham

A nationally-known thrower, 1985 Greenup County High School alum Todd Eastham brings a strong resume with him to Shawnee State University.

Eastham, who has competed in over six dozen different events nationally and worldwide over the past decade in various throwing disciplines (discus, shot put, weight throw), is a widely respected talent who has finished eighth in the weight throw in each of the past two seasons at the United States Track and Field Masters Indoor Championships.

During the 2023 season, Eastham finished with the 90th-best shot put mark in the world in his age group, as well as the 148th best discus throw and the 181st overall weight throw mark.

In 2022, Eastham held the 116th best discus throw in the world in his age group — to go along with the 253rd best shot put performance.

A medalist at state, national and international events, Eastham has represented the North, Central American and Caribbean Masters Athletics (NCCWMA) in Toronto, Canada — as well as at numerous USATF events, and is a multi-time All-American in various throwing disciplines.

At Greenup County, Eastham held the shot put record for over three decades before it was broken.

As a coach, Eastham has coached at his alma mater, Greenup County High School, and produced multiple state medalists while there — including two discus throwers, Conner Taylor and Cooper Howard, who finished sixth and eighth, respectively in the KHSAA Class 2A Boys Discus Finals this past spring.

In addition to his own throwing exploits and coaching knowledge, Eastham has given back through his love for throwing.

In 2020, Eastham started Just Throws, which is a non profit company aimed at providing free facilities, coaching, and gear for those who might need it.

“Shawnee State is giving me a chance to impact the athletes’ lives I interact with in a positive way,” Eastham said. “With the SSU track and field program, I get the opportunity to see the development of young athletes and turn them into diamonds.”

Randy Smith

A widely popular track and field coach throughout the eastern side of Scioto County as well as Lawrence County, coaching veteran Randy Smith has put together an incredible career at South Point High School and Green High School — that is matched by few across not only the state realm, but the country, as well.

At South Point, Smith was simply incredible — in an article reported by Jim Walker of The Ironton Tribune back in 2015, Smith led South Point to 14 Ohio Valley Conference Championships, 10 Southeast District Championships, a 1991 OHSAA Regional Championship and a 1989 OHSAA Regional Runner-Up and 1989 OHSAA State Runner-Up finish.

Smith ultimately spent 39 years at South Point between football, cross country and track — and was presented with a plaque for his service to the school district, after a rich career that saw seven individuals win OHSAA State Championships with approximately two dozen athletes earning state placements over his career.

Following his retirement from South Point, Smith then linked up with Green — and proceeded to turn the Bobcats into one of the best small school cross country and track and field programs in the Southeast District and beyond, helping Zach Huffman place eighth in the OHSAA Division III State Championships in the 300-meter hurdles in 2019.

Smith’s proudest moment as a coach, however, came with his latest success in the form of Tate Ratliff — whom he helped guide to two third-place finishes at the OHSAA Outdoor Track and Field State Championships in the 100-meter and 400-meter seated dash races in 2023, and three state runner-up finishes in the 100, 400, and 800-meter seated races this past spring.

“The relationship I formed with him means more than all the titles and championships I was a part of,” Smith said of Ratliff. “I was thrilled to be with him at the state meet this year when he earned his three second place finishes.”

As an athlete, Smith played quarterback at South Point for four years — and was a thrower and wrestler for the Pointers for three seasons.

Smith ultimately earned an opportunity to play at Glenville State, where he helped the Pioneers collect an NCAA Division II National Runner-Up finish.

“Coming to coach at Shawnee State is very special to me,” Smith said. “It is another chance to give back to the sport I love, and it has been so good to me. There is a real excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the sport here. I want us to be a beacon for local athletes, one where we can say, ‘Yes, you can run track in college, and not go far from home.’ I hope everyone will catch the vision and get excited. We have a great distance running heritage here at Shawnee. Now is the time to get our other events on that championship level.”

Jesse Ruby

A familiar name to many within the Scioto County lines, Jesse Ruby, will join the Shawnee State track and field program as an assistant coach.

Ruby led the Minford track and field program since 2010 through this past spring, and was the head coach of the Minford football program from 2016 until the conclusion of the 2023 season.

Track-wise, Ruby ultimately led Minford to five Southern Ohio Conference championships — including three in a row from 2013 to 2015 — and three OHSAA Southeast District crowns, with the Falcons winning conference and district titles in both 2013 as well as 2023.

During this time, Ruby coached two NCAA Division I athletes in Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis and Luke Rader between football (Vogelsong-Lewis who played Division I baseball) and track (Rader) — and helped produce 14 OHSAA state qualifiers in track and field, including Rader, Cory McKnight, Seth Lloyd, Kyle Snyder, Ethan Butcher, Jacob Piguet, Sean Berry, Zach Farrar, Kenton Gullion, Chris McCallister, Grant Piguet, Mason Harris, Breydan Tilley and Peyton Caudill.

“It’s a really exciting time to be involved with Shawnee State Athletics,” Ruby said. “I believe that it will be a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to working with the great student-athletes who attend there.”


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