Judd joins star-studded SSU XC/track class

WAVERLY — Over the past three seasons, Waverly’s Aidan Judd has grown into one of the more formidable runners throughout the region and state.

He’ll look to add to his ever-improving skill at Shawnee State, when Judd continues his career with the Bears’ cross country and track and field programs this coming fall.

“It means a lot to me,” Judd said. “It’s been a dream of mine, since my freshman year of high school, to compete at a higher level.”

After not qualifying for district competition as a freshman in cross country, Judd vastly improved his running skills in each and every season from his sophomore year on forward — finishing 16th with a 17:01 as a sophomore then posting a 17:26 to finish 10th as a junior.

As a senior, Judd improved even further — running a 16:35 at the district level to finish fifth.

The trio of performances allowed Judd to qualify for regional competition, where he — after finishing 38th as a sophomore (17:13) — ran marks of 16:58 as a junior and 16:45 as a senior to make the grade and qualify for the OHSAA Division II state championships.

There, Judd finished 90th and 56th as a junior and senior, and in the latter showing, posted a 16:48 to run a minute faster than his time from the previous year.

In his senior year, Judd’s performance allowed Waverly to qualify as a team for the 2019 OHSAA Division II state championships — after the harrier qualified individually the year prior.

Judd considered his first appearance at the OHSAA state championships to be his best, considering that it was his first competition against the best cross country runners that the state had to offer.

“Making it to state for the first time individually was big,” Judd said. “It made me believe that I was ready to compete with the higher competition, and that the hard work was paying off.”

In track, Judd proved to be quite the formidable presence in his own right in that sport as well, notching 20 top-five finishes during his sophomore season in 2018 and leading Waverly’s 4-by-800 meter relay unit — comprised of Judd and fellow teammates Philip Evory, Grayson Diener and Jack Monroe — to a fifth-place finish.

“Running at Waverly really shaped me into who I am,” Judd said. “We had a good group of guys to push each other in training, and made it to state as a team for the first time in over 20 years. I experienced a lot of places and met people who helped me find the passion for running that I have today.”

Upon visiting the SSU campus, Judd was immediately drawn to the charisma of Eric Putnam and his staff, as well as the welcoming environment that Shawnee State provided for him on his visit.

“He (Putnam) made me feel like I would bring a lot of value to the team, and made me feel welcomed on the visits and time around the team,” Judd said. “All of the staff at Shawnee State cares about the students and their needs. They made me feel like home on my first visit.”

Over the next four years, the future psychology major wants to do everything in his power to make sure that he’s leaving behind an appropriate legacy — for both himself as well as the Shawnee State cross country and track programs.

“I want to graduate knowing that I did everything I could to be the best runner I could be for the program and myself,” Judd said. “I also want to put in the time and effort needed to get the education that will help me be successful.”

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