ELLENBORO - Four-time cross country all-stater Johnny Hogue of Ritchie County has decided to take his talents to the University of Richmond and compete for Spider head coach Steve Taylor.
Also a key member on the Rebels' current two-time defending Class AA state champion track team, Hogue said he plans to major in biology as well as compete on the Spiders' United States mountain running team since Richmond recently lost its men's track squad.
"He's such a great coach," Hogue said of Taylor, a Pleasants County native. "I felt really comfortable with the team and got along great with the guys, which is very important. I knew if I went there, I'd be under a great coach and I would learn a lot."
Ritchie County’s Johnny Hogue has signed with the University of Richmond to continue his cross country career. Pictured at signing are sitting, from left, mother Paula Hogue, Johnny Hogue and father Shane Houge. Standing, from left, assistant cross country coaches Roy Lynn Hammond, Melanie Jones and Carol Spangler along with head cross country coach Holli Haddox Vaughan, boys head track coach Rick Haught and girls head track/distance coach Ted VanScoy.
Hogue said the only other official visit he made was to Marshall University. In the end, Richmond was the place he wanted to be.
"Although it's roughly about six hours away, it's kind of still got the same feel to it as this area," said Hogue, who carries a 4.2 cumulative GPA and plans to enter dental school at West Virginia University after graduating from Richmond.
"I loved the area when I visited the campus. It's very secure and I can definitely see myself enjoying the next four years and getting to meet new people. I can't wait for that and to get close to my team."
For Taylor, he was "very excited to have Johnny coming in. He's just a fine young man. He and his family are just remarkable people.
"Academically, he's just a perfect match for our institution. He's a great student and a great student-athlete."
Hogue will have earned nine letters for the Rebels - four each in track and cross country along with one in basketball. He credits former Ritchie County coach Terry Spangler, who passed away in December, as being an integral part in shaping his future.
"Growing up, I was always the basketball and baseball player and every year our school would host a basketball camp and coach Spangler was always in charge of that," Hogue commented. "I was in sixth grade at the time and he asked me why not try running. He thought I would do good at cross country.
"I was a little unsure about doing it, but I came out and in my first meet I think I got third place. From then on I just loved it. What time I did get to run for him, I absolutely loved it and learned so much from that man."
Hogue added that he doesn't have any real trepidation about leaving Ritchie County and heading off to college, other than the fact "I won't know anyone - that's probably my biggest fear, along with leaving my friends behind."
Somewhere around eighth grade, it became evident to Hogue that he wanted to eventually run in college -and that time is quickly approaching.
"The thought of running for Division I, you always have those dreams and aspirations of running big," he said. "I always wanted to do that.
"But it didn't really hit me until my junior year that if I run hard enough, I can be a Division I athlete."