By Rob Kiser
SIDNEY — Joe Fuller hopes to run against former GWOC North cross country Runner of the Year Aaron Dinzeo of Sidney next year.
And he is heading south to do it.
The Lehman Catholic senior, an outstanding distance runner in his own right, signed his letter of intent to run for Saint Leo (Florida) University Monday at Lehman.
The Lions qualified for the NCAA D-II national meet last fall, which was of particular interest to Fuller.
Denzio, a perennial All-American for California University of Pennsylvania, just happened to finish fifth in that meet and will be back for his senior.
“That’s the goal,” Fuller, who will major in biology/ecology, said. “I am hoping to run into Aaron Dinzeo at the national meet. They also had the major that I wanted.”
Ironically, the son of Bill and Jeanne Fuller, never ran cross country in seventh grade.
But an impressive and memorable running career began that spring in track for Fuller.
“Because I wasn’t any good at basketball,” Fuller says with a laugh when asked why he started running.
His father Bill, who has coached him in cross country the last two years, saw the potential from the start.
“He did really well in some junior high meets,” Bill Fuller said.
And while Fuller has worked hard to get where he is at, he remains humble.
And he and is dad both credited all the help he has had along the way.
“I have to thank all the coaches Joe (Fuller) has had,” Bill Fuller said. “They have all been a tremendous help. I think there is a lot of support in Shelby County. All the runners and coaches seem to help each other from what I have seen. There have been times Joe has run with Anna and Versailles to train. “
There is also the summer 5K Tour in Shelby County.
“I think that has also been a big thing,” Bill Fuller said. “Mark Looney — Joe’s coach his first two years in high school — was a good runner and that really helped. He really helped me when I took over, because I wasn’t a runner. I don’t think Joe would be where he is without all the support and help.”
Joe Fuller is a two-time All-Ohio runner in cross country.
He finished 23rd as a junior in 16:17.04 in the state meet and finished 22nd as a senior in 16:39.96.
Fuller also finished 13th in the 3,200-meter run in the state track and field meet as a sophomore in 10:07.57.
Before he joins the Lions program, Fuller has some unfinished business during track this spring.
“I am glad (to have the college decision made),” Joe Fuller said. “I want to make it to state and get on the podium.”
Then, it will be time to focus on getting to the NCAA D-II nationals and running against an old friend.