South Point’s Smith takes track job at Shawnee State

Published 10:04 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

PORTSMOUTH — The track and field program at Shawnee State is officially expanding in a big way as three area natives who have firmly entrenched themselves as well-respected figures across the Tri-State Area landscape in various track and field disciplines will be joining the SSU indoor and outdoor track and field programs as assistant coaches.

Randy Smith

Greenup County product and former Kentucky Christian University assistant coach Todd Eastham, longtime South Point and Green coaching standout Randy Smith, and former Minford football and track and field coach Jesse Ruby will all be joining the SSU family as assistant coaches — increasing the list of coaches in the SSU track and field program from two to five while expanding Shawnee State’s footprint in the region as well as SSU’s participation in track and field and its track and field offerings as a whole.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Eastham, Coach Ruby, and Coach Smith on board as we look to continue moving forward with our mission — Recruit, Retain, and Win,” Shawnee State athletic director Gerald Cadogan said.

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“All three individuals bring terrific knowledge to the table and are first-class individuals along with the head coach of our SSU men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs, Conner Flynn, as well as our current assistant coach, Dean Freitag, who will also be back. Conner and Dean have had a great amount of success in a short period of time and they deserve additional resources as we continue to build toward having as good of a program as we possibly can have, which is one that continues to be nationally competitive and can compete for conference and national championships in a wide variety of track and field events across the board.”

Randy Smith

A widely popular track and field coach throughout the eastern side of Scioto County as well as Lawrence County, coaching veteran Randy Smith has put together an incredible career at South Point High School and Green High School that is matched by few across not only the state realm, but the country, as well.

At South Point, Smith was simply incredible — in an article reported by Jim Walker of the Ironton Tribune back in 2015, Smith led South Point to 14 Ohio Valley Conference Championships, 10 Southeast District Championships, a 1991 OHSAA Regional Championship and a 1989 OHSAA Regional Runner-Up and 1989 OHSAA State Runner-Up finish.

Smith ultimately spent 39 years at South Point between football, cross country and track and was presented with a plaque for his service to the school district after a rich career that saw seven individuals win OHSAA State Championships with approximately two dozen athletes earning state placements over his career.

Following his retirement from South Point, Smith then linked up with Green High School — and proceeded to turn the Bobcats into one of the best small school cross country and track and field programs in the Southeast District and beyond, helping Zach Huffman place eighth in the OHSAA Division III State Championships in the 300 meter hurdles in 2019.

Smith’s proudest moment as a coach, however, came with his latest success in the form of Tate Ratliff — whom he helped guide to two third place finishes at the OHSAA Outdoor Track and Field State Championships in the 100 meter and 400 meter seated dash races in 2023 and three OHSAA State Runner-Up finishes in the 100, 400, and 800 meter seated races this past spring.

“The relationship I formed with him means more than all the titles and championships I was a part of,” Smith said of Ratliff. “I was thrilled to be with him at the state meet this year when he earned his three second place finishes.”

As an athlete, Smith played quarterback at South Point for four years and was a thrower and wrestler for the Pointers for three seasons. Smith ultimately earned an opportunity to play at Glenville State where he helped the Pioneers collect a NCAA Division II National Runner-Up finish.

“Coming to coach at Shawnee State is very special to me,” Smith said. “It is another chance to give back to the sport I love, and it has been so good to me.

“There is a real excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the sport here. I want us to be a beacon for local athletes, one where we can say, ‘Yes, you can run track in college, and not go far from home.’ I hope everyone will catch the vision and get excited. We have a great distance running heritage here at Shawnee. Now is the time to get our other events on that championship level.”