JOHNSTON: Sarah Biehl mourns teammate

Earlier this month, Sarah Biehl was driving on the highway when she had to pull over to the side of the road.

“My college coach called me and told me that Jeremy had passed away,” recalled the 25-year-old Biehl after finishing the 33rd annual Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon Saturday.

“It was really hard hearing the news,” she added. “It was a shock to all of us in the (Beverly) community and at Shawnee. That’s for sure.”

Jeremy Anderson, one of the running Anderson brothers at Fort Frye, was 28-years-old. Funeral services were held Friday, Aug. 9 in Beverly.

“Before the funeral, a lot of us met and had a group run,” Biehl said. “We ran his favorite route in Hackney, near Beverly.”

At Fort Frye and later at Shawnee State University, Anderson had been a long-distance running standout in both cross country and track.

Back in 2007, Anderson ran and won the Shamrock road race on the campus of Marietta College. That’s when I first introduced myself to him.

He was very articulate, and it was an honor and pleasure to interview him.

Earlier this month, I was talking with Jason Lipot at the school in Beverly, and when the Fort cross country coach informed me of Anderson’s death, I was stunned with disbelief.

Anderson was so young, and had his whole life ahead of him.

Fort Frye is scheduled to host a cross country run at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 at Cadet Stadium, and the event will be named in Anderson’s honor, Lipot said.

“I’m excited about that,” Biehl said.

Biehl and Anderson were both high school and college teammates in cross country and track.

“He got me started, because he was the first to convince me to start running,” Biehl said.

Biehl paused.

“I played volleyball my freshman year at Fort Frye,” she continued. “I also ran track, and he saw the potential in me and kind of kept bugging me until I showed up for a cross country practice.”

So, Anderson was in essence a recruiter and a mentor of sorts.

“He was definitely on my mind a lot during this (Half) race,” Biehl said.

A year ago, Biehl was the first American female to cross the finish line at the Half in a clocking of 1 hour and 20.34 minutes. This past Saturday, she covered the 13.1-mile distance in 1:20.26.

“The last three miles were rough,” said Biehl of the 2019 Half in Parkersburg. “I fell off the wagon a little bit. It was a tough course as usual. But it was great for training and good preparation for the Trials.”

After the 2018 Parkersburg event, Biehl ran the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon in October and qualified for the Olympic trials with a time of 2:44.25. The team trials will be held in Atlanta, Ga., in February of next year, and if she makes the U.S. team, she’ll be running in Tokyo, Japan in July and August of 2020.

As part of her preparation, Biehl’s planning to run the Columbus Marathon again this October.

“You know, it’s been a hard past couple of weeks,” Biehl said. “But I feel like in times like that, running is exactly what you need to do.”

Ron Johnston can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com

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