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Davis extends family running tradition after signing LOI with Shawnee State

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ senior distance runner Graci Davis signed a letter-of-intent with Shawnee State University. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, mother Christi Davis, Graci and father Dr. Todd Davis; standing left to right, Shawnee State women’s coach Ava Marie, Ironton track and cross country coach Greg Cronacher, brother Matt Davis, sisters Alli and Anna Davis, Ironton cross country and track coach Tim Thomas and Shawnee State head coach Eric Putnam. (Tony Shotsky/SouthernOhioSportsPhotos.com)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

Graci Davis didn’t have a chance. And that’s fine with her.
Coming from a family filled with distance runners, it was only natural that the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ decided to take her career to the next level as she signed a letter-of-intent with the Shawnee State Bears track and cross country programs.
Davis has a younger sister Anna who is a freshman. Her father Dr. Todd Davis, a dentist, and mother Christi (Bowen) Davis both ran cross country and track at Ironton as did her uncles Brett Davis and John Bowen.
“My whole family has run track. I did track in middle school. Running has just been in my family. I tried it and I really liked it. I’ve always loved running. It’s always been my ‘go to’ stress reliever. It’s my passion.”
Davis said she looked at Cedarville, Marshall and Liberty University before settling on Shawnee State.
“I didn’t want to go too far from my family. This opportunity came to me and I wanted to continue running and they have a good graphic design program at Shawnee,” said Davis.
However, one family member is not a runner. Her brother Matthew Davis, a junior, chose to play football and was the starting left guard on Ironton’s Division 5 state runner-up team this past season, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Dr. Jack Davis who was an All-Ohio lineman and played for Ohio University.
Graci laughed at the joke that her brother had to sit at a separate table when the family gets together for Thanksgiving.
“No, he doesn’t. He’s just a little of a misfit,” Davis said with a laugh. “No. We love him.”
Davis said she looked at Cedarville, Marshall and Liberty University before settling on Shawnee State.
“I didn’t want to go too far from my family. This opportunity came to me and I wanted to continue running and they have a good graphic design program at Shawnee,” said Davis.
Shawnee State veteran head coach Eric Putnam was more than pleased to sign Davis.
“She’s a great kid. We are excited. (Ironton coach) Tim (Thomas) does such a great job with his program. I know she hasn’t been over-trained, so we’re anxious to get her into our training program,” said Putnam.
“We’ve known her for a while now. We got to know her this (past) summer at the Rock Hill camp down at Shawnee State Forest and we just liked her and kept in touch with her. We haven’t a lot of success recruiting kids from Ironton, so I’m kind of hoping this begins an era of bringing in people so that they’ll start attending and running for us.”
Davis said she doesn’t have a set event when she arrives on the Shawnee State campus.
“I haven’t discussed what events they want me to run. What I run is the mile, the 4-by-8, 4×4, 400, 800 and sometimes the two-mile,” said Davis.
Since she runs both track and cross country in high school, Davis is excited to have the opportunity to do both sports in college.
“I love both. Track is really fun. I love track. It’s sort of my favorite, but cross country is such a team sport. I love the team and how close we get and bond. We went to regionals (last fall) and we just bonded really well,” said Davis.
During cross country last fall, Davis ran a 23:24.93 and was 31st among 142 runners in the Division 3 district meet. Her performance helped the Lady Fighting Tigers to qualify for the regional meet where she bettered her time by posting a 23:02.4 clocking.
Davis said she has a goal but said it really didn’t matter because “I’ll just keep wanting to get faster after that goal. I like to get to 21, 22 early (in her college career). I’ve always been competitive. I’ve always wanted to get better.”
Davis plans to major in graphic design with a minor in business.