On Wednesday inside the school’s gym lobby, Marietta High School senior Ezra Minard (seated in the front row, middle) signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Davidson University cross country and track programs. Also pictured in the front row, from left, are his parents Christy and Alex Minard. In the back row are his two siblings: brother Ezekiel and sister Cecelia.
(Photo by Kerry Patrick)
MARIETTA — When Ezra Minard put the soccer ball aside and turned his attention full-time to distance running, the transition was smooth as silk.
“Before I started running in seventh grade, I was a soccer player – my older sister was on the high school cross country team,” said Minard, who signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Davidson University cross country and track programs. The signing ceremony for the Marietta High School senior took place inside the school’s gym lobby on Wednesday afternoon.
“I went to her meets for years and they looked really fun, so I made the decision to quit soccer,” Minard continued. “That was really hard for me because I loved soccer. A lot of my training came from soccer – my travel soccer coach would have us warm up around the Devola Soccer Complex. Unlike almost all my teammates, I loved it.
“That was my favorite part of practice, and even before I started running cross country and track I enjoyed running. Looking back, I have no regrets switching to cross country and track.”
Beginning with the track season during sophomore year, Minard felt he had the makings of becoming a Division I athlete, and that following cross country season he placed seventh at the state meet and earned All-Ohio honors.
“I had a great track season and I was happy with the times I achieved,” Minard said. “Then I made first team, all-state during the cross country season. That’s when I felt I wanted to do this and could do this at the Division I level.”
Minard overcame a major scare early in his junior year of cross country. At a meet hosted by Warren High School, he approached the finish line while sharing the lead with a runner from Eastern. He fell to the ground just short of the finish line, got back on his feet then collapsed moments after crossing the finish line.
Minard was taken by ambulance and treated for hydration issues. Later that season, he received All-Ohio honors for his seventh-place finish.
“That day, I ended up in and out of passing out for 30 minutes to an hour – I ended up going to the hospital,” Minard said. “That was definitely a scare to me and my family, but it taught me a lesson about hydration. You can’t overhydrate, but you also need to drink enough. Since then, I have been much smarter staying hydrated.”
Minard’s presence will be missed by both his cross country coach (Abby Kelelsen) and track coach (Mollie Schramm). And not just because of his performances and times.
For coach Ketelsen, Minard went above and beyond the role of a captain. Even when he was sidelined for several weeks during his junior year.
“Ezra was obviously a great runner, but his leadership skills – I can’t even put into words how great of a leader he was for the middle school all the way to underclassmen and his other seniors,” Ketelsen said. “He got injured this year, sat out four weeks, but he came to every practice, every meet and supported all the kids. Just his presence helped the whole team.
“He could have been like, ‘Guys I will see you when I return.’ But he didn’t. The fact he was able to take that time off, still make it to the state meet, be all-district and come within 30 seconds of being All-Ohio again – he worked very hard. We are going to miss him next year.”
The experiences with his team through the years ranked first and foremost. His achievements at meets were secondary. Coach Shramm has one track season remaining with Minard in the fold.
“We knew Ezra was a good runner in middle school and knew was going to be good in high school,” Schramm said. “He is one of the hardest working kids – works harder than we really want him to at times. He sets a great example for the younger kids.
“When I heard he was going to Davidson, I was super proud of him. We don’t have very many kids go D-I. It’s been a while. That will get other kids motivated to work hard like Ezra, and make that accomplishment.”
Minard took his official visit of Davidson University several months ago. He met the team, coaches and sat in on a political science class. Eventually he wants to attend law school.
“Davidson was both a Division I school and a liberal arts school so that checked both boxes for me with athletics and what I want to do for my future,” Minard said. “I had it narrowed down to about three schools by the end of the cross country season in November. I just had to balance some things out like location, costs and educational programs.”
Minard is the son of Christy and Alex Minard. His brother Ezekiel (seventh grade) and sister Cecilia (junior at Ohio State University) also were present for Wednesday’s festivities.
“I look back at the multitude of experiences I have had with my teammates and the memories I’ve made,” Minard said. “Throughout the six years on the cross country team, I got to see the team grow exponentially – especially the boys team. When I joined in middle school it seemed pretty small on the boys side. It feels like we built something there.”