PARKERSBURG -Soccer player Brian Runyon grabbed an opportunity and made the most of it.
Now the senior from Parkersburg High School will try to duplicate that storyline at the Division I level after signing a national letter of intent with Northern Kentucky University with nearly a hundred friends, family and teammates gathered inside Memorial Fieldhouse on Monday night.
"These are people who have been with me the whole time," Runyon said. "Without them I couldn't have done it because they inspire me.
Photo by Kerry Patrick
Parkersburg High School senior Brian Runyon, front row center, signs his national letter of intent to play soccer at Northern Kentucky University during a ceremony Monday at Memorial Fieldhouse. Also pictured are in the front row are PHS boys coach Don Fosselman, left, and Runyon’s father, Brian Runyon Sr. Standing in the back row, from left, are his mother, Amanda Runyon, and PHS athletic director Lori Lowers.
"They are the ones who kept tabs on me every day, always looking at the newspaper to see how I was doing. For them to be here and to be able to meet these people is amazing."
Runyon completed his career as the school's most prolific scorer with 120 goals, including a school-record 49 goals during his junior year. Just for good measure, he handed out 55 assists in four years on the varsity level and finished with 295 points.
None of this would have been possible if his coach had not tweaked the lineup midway through Runyon's freshman year.
"(PHS boys coach Don Fosselman) was playing me in the opposite position that I usually played," Runyon noted. "At the beginning of the year, I was the farthest guy back on defense -I usually played the farthest guy up on offense and scored the goals. He ended up changing my position halfway through the year and that's where it all started."
Runyon's approach to the sport reached another level. In addition to leading the Big Reds to consecutive state titles in 2008 and again in 2009, he competed with several travel teams, including the Charleston-based West Virginia Titans and another outfit from Columbus, Ohio.
Runyon also participated in college showcases around the country. He was attracted to Northern Kentucky's program because the Norse were coming off a Division II national championship in 2010. Plus, they boasted the national coach (John Basalyga) and player (Steven Beattie) of the year.
Northern Kentucky is making the transition to Division I for the 2012 season.
"To have the national coach of the year coach you, I couldn't ask for anything better than that," said Runyon, who is a two-time state player of the year as named by the West Virginia Coaches Association. He was also tabbed as an All-American following his junior season.
All of his accolades caught the eye of one particular writer doing a piece on the Northern Kentucky soccer program to the extent that Runyon was selected as the face of the current recruiting class.
Runyon, who is the son of Brian (Sr.) and Amanda Runyon, plans on majoring in pre-med and biology.
"Brian is probably the best soccer player that I have coached in my 24 years," Fosselman said. "He was a team captain and it wasn't just his game day leadership that impressed me, but he is one who reinforced what I wanted to happen in practice every day."