Tom Batters
Ryan VanFossen

Anyone who is looking for Ryan VanFossen on a weekend or an early morning might want to check the Riverplex track. If he is not there, try checking all the long country roads in Woodford County because there is a good chance VanFossen is running along one of them.

VanFossen, a senior distance runner at Metamora High School, logs in plenty of hours (he said he loses track of just how many exactly) running and running and running some more.

“He runs a lot on weekends, and he does all the extra stuff you need to do in order to get better,” said Redbirds distance coach Eric Potter. “Other kids see that, and they know, if they want to be as good as him, they have to work that much harder.”

VanFossen made it to State last year in the grueling 3200-meter (two miles) run.

He picked up where he left off this year by winning the 3200 in several of the Redbirds’ meets, but he is an unyielding critic when it comes to his running times.

“I still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “I’m not satisfied with my times yet.”

Potter said VanFossen is a bit behind schedule, but he chalks it up to the all-important “peak” period that distance runners aim to achieve at the end of the season.

“He has more in the tank,” Potter said. “We train in such a way that we don’t want to peak too early or too late. I think Ryan will be right where he needs to be at the end of the season. I expect he’ll be a factor at Sectionals and maybe even at the state meet.”

VanFossen started running when he was five years old. His father, Mike, was an avid runner, so he took young Ryan along with him.

“I remember, in fifth grade, my goal was to break a six-minute mile, and I finally did it at the end of that year. I was so excited,” VanFossen said.