The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

March 3, 2013

Shifting Gears

Former PV standout, now running at Cumberlands, drives to NAIA All-America status

HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — What a difference a year makes could be the motto for Jonathan Gears, who went from a school with no indoor track program to a National Intercollegiate Athletic Association All-American in 12 months.

Gears, a Pymatuning Valley High School graduate and a sophomore at the University of the Cumberlands, took another five seconds off his best time Saturday afternoon to finish eighth in the 3,000-meter run at Spire Institute. Although he is a sophomore in school and cross country eligibility, he is only a freshman as far as track eligibility.

Gears bear hugged Tony Noxon, his cross country coach at Pymatuning Valley for several years, before posing for a picture with his family dressed in red T-shirts spelling out his name.

“It was rough. It was pretty quick,” he said of the pace set by 12 runners seeking a shot at winning the race of becoming an All American. There definitely was no pacing. It was just keep it up.”

The pack of 12 stayed together for a good portion of the race. The first major move came with about a lap and three quarters to go.

Cumberlands track and field Coach Floyd Stroud was all smiles after the race.

“Every race he runs, he drops his time,” he said.

Stroud said the race was a blistering pace and when several runners began to move out, he checked his watch and realized Gears was running faster than goal pace. He said the up-and-down pace of the race is hard for any runner to maintain.

“He just gutted it out for that last place (eighth and final All-American),” he said.

The 8:27 is probably equivalent to a sub-nine minute two mile outdoors, Stroud said.

Robert Gears, Jon’s father, credited the coaching staff at PV and Cumberlands for bringing his son to this place this early in his career.

“God blessed him (Jon) with a lot of talent,” Robert Gears said.

The ironic connection to Spire Institute was not lost on Gears mother, Melissa.

“Tony brought him up here (Spire Institute) and it sort of spearheaded his love of track,” she said.

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