Jamestown's Ford signs with Furman Paladins
When she's not running somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 miles a day, it's possible Meghan Ford can be found either painting or sewing a project.
Arguably the greatest distance runner Jamestown High School has ever produced, the senior Blue Jay obviously has interests outside of what her superior athleticism allows her to do better than most, especially cooking.
"I did it when I was younger with my dad," Ford smiled. "We kinda made a lot of junk food then. But then I went on my own and started figuring things out and looking at cookbooks and stuff."
The early interest in what was going into her body certainly had to have played a role in what she would later ask it to perform. The six-time high school state champion and multiple JHS record holder signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her running career at Furman University at the high school on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
Ford verbally committed to the NCAA Division I program, located in Greenville, South Carolina, in August.
"I think I first emailed (Furman) at this time last year and they emailed me back and we started having conversations from there," Ford said. "They were always pretty consistent with their phone calls and asked me how I was doing and how training's going. They really made it seem like they cared about me as an athlete and had me as a priority on their future team if I were to commit there."
Something that is now a done deal.
Furman cross country and track and field head coach Robert Gary, a former United States Olympian, has coached eight USA Track & Field champions, while also producing 17 U.S. Olympic Trials finalists and 64 All-Americans.
Gary has also led the Paladins to 15 team NCAA championship appearances.
JHS cross country and head boys track coach Ken Gardner has been involved with Blue Jay runners since 2001 and Ford is the first athlete he's sending to a Division I institution known to groom and produce some of the nation's top-tier runners.
"It's a pretty special thing," Gardner said. "(Meghan's) got the physical talent. She knows the time that it takes and the effort that it takes, and something else that I think has been a great addition for her is her ability to stay healthy.
"There's a lot of good athletes out there, but if you can't stay healthy and you're sitting on the sidelines it doesn't do you a lot of good."
Maybe it was Ford's interest in food?
The three-time Class A cross country champion, who will also be defending state championships in the mile and two-mile this spring, preps her own meals for the week and has become quite proficient in the area of vegetable and fruit smoothies.
Ford also bakes.
"I usually follow recipes," Ford said. "I don't really go on my own because that usually doesn't work too well."
Ford's parents, Shilo Ford and Holly Dillingham, are obviously proud of their daughter's accomplishments, which so far include a pair of North Dakota Gatorade player of the year awards in cross country and Nike Cross Nationals All-American status.
"She's worked very hard," Shilo said. "I'm really proud of her."
But having their daughter nearly 1,500 miles from home will take a little getting used to next fall.
"It's gonna be hard that she's gonna be so far away from home but it's her dream," Dillingham said. "She's a smart girl and she did her homework on the school that she chose.
"We'll be rooting for her."
Ford said she hopes her future leads to becoming a professional runner. Her current plan is to major in kinesiology, with interests in physical therapy or hematology.
"Ten years from now I'm hoping to be a professional runner," Ford said." That'd be really cool, and (Furman) is really good at progressing athletes that come into their program and making sure they don't burn them to the ground while they're there and they can have future success in the sport."
Ford said leaving North Dakota might not be all too difficult.
"I think that not being in the Midwest when it's cold all the time will be nice," Ford laughed.