CHARLESTON, W.Va. - From high school wrestler to collegiate cross country coach, John Meadows surpassed his own expectations to become firmly entrenched in the West Virginia running community.
Meadows, a former wrestler at Independence High School in Coal City, reluctantly began his running career, though now makes his living in the sport, as he was named head coach of the WVU Tech cross country program July 17.
Meadows, 25, joins the program after serving as assistant coach for the University of Charleston women's cross country squad and Capital High School cross country coach.
A decade ago, running listed low, if at all, on Meadows' priorities.
"If you would have told me 10 years ago that I was going to be running as a career or anything like that, I would have said you don't know me at all," he said. "My very first day of cross country practice, I actually had to be dragged out of my house by a teammate on the wrestling team to get me to go to cross country practice. I did not want to run. It was not something I was interested in. He argued with me that it would help with conditioning, that we would be ahead of the curve once wrestling season started.
"Had it not been for him, I don't know that I would have gone that first day and, lo and behold, I probably wouldn't be here today had I not gone that first day."
Now Meadows, a Beckley native, lives entangled in the Mountain State's running community. As he looks to grow the WVU Tech program, he's also a co-manager at Robert's Running in Charleston.
Because of Meadows' connection with Robert's and involvement in running, the Golden Bears coach said he met several of his WVU Tech harriers prior to becoming coach, whether running alongside them in a race or selling them running shoes.
As his first task, Meadows said he's made connections with both returning and incoming Tech runners.
"My No. 1 priority was basically just contacting all the athletes that either committed to come this fall or were already members of the team," he said. "I did know some of them previously just having the connections of working at Robert's. I was able to kind of have a jumpstart on that, so to speak, because a couple of the kids I sold their shoes to them, I ran with or I know their coaches from high school."
This year's roster will include several area products in redshirt sophomore Dominic Rich, a Buffalo graduate, Sherman's Cameron Jarrell, a freshman, and incoming freshman Cheyenne Davis of Riverside.