During the off-season, Adam Beucler got acquainted with Ryan Adams.
Beucler, a senior at Hudson High School, picked his fellow Hudson native’s brain on the nuances of running long distances.
Let’s just say Beucler got some tutelage from a pretty knowledgeable source.
Adams, a two-time state champion in the 1,600-meter race and a gold medalist on the 3,200 relay team during his days at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in Cuyahoga Falls, is currently a junior at Furman University.
Adams earned All-American honorable-mention accolades last year when he finished 22nd in the 1,500 at the NCAA Championships.
Their friendship will only grow in the future. That’s because Beucler will join Adams at Furman this fall.
Beucler recently signed to continue his academic, indoor and outdoor track and field careers at the Division I school located in Greenville, South Carolina.
Beucler, who plans to major in exercise science with a minor in physical therapy, chose Furman over North Carolina State University, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, The Ohio State University in Columbus and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
At one point, Furman, which won its sixth straight Southern Conference men’s cross country championship during the fall, seemed highly unlikely.
But that quickly changed when Beucler took a stroll along the campus.
"I didn’t know anything about [Furman] during the recruiting process," he said. "It came down to the last day. The campus was beautiful and the guys were fantastic."
Beucler, who led the Explorers’ cross country team to their second consecutive Division I state title in November, wanted his future teammates to be up front with him.
Not only did they meet his requirements, they blew the teenager away.
"I looked them in the eyes and asked them what their goals were," Beucler said. "They told me they wanted to go to Nationals and get on the podium."
Since the Paladins feature Adams, who was recently named the Southern Conference Most Outstanding Track Performer earlier this year, a lofty goal such as this one isn’t particularly far-fetched.
Beucler will make sure he follows his gifted future teammate’s lead the moment he enrolls at Furman.
"I met him at a cross country camp," Beucler said. "I’ve run with him a couple of times. We met in July. I played some volleyball and soccer with him."
Beucler finished 13th at the 2018 state cross country meet to earn All-Ohio honors. He placed fourth in the 3,200 at the 2018 Division I state track and field meet.
Beucler recently won the 3,200 race at the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I indoor state championships.
Beucler hopes to be fully healthy when he competes for the Explorers’ track and field squad this spring. He didn’t have that luxury during the fall.
"He had a rough race at Boardman where he nearly blacked out," Hudson head boys cross country and track and field coach Mark McConnell said. "I always thought he would come back and run. In what capacity? That was always the question.
"He ended up being an all-state runner and ended up being on the podium."
Beucler, whose younger sister Brenna is a standout for the Hudson girls cross country and track and field teams, fell in love with two sports prior to enrolling at Hudson High School.
If he wasn’t running long distances, he usually had a cap, bat and glove handy most of the time.
"I played a lot of baseball," Beucler said. "I didn’t run track until eighth grade. I always thought I was a baseball player. I really liked it, but I was a little better at running."
One of his former baseball teammates actually convinced Beucler to give up the grand old game and focus on finding his inner Forrest Gump.
"[Hudson senior] Ryan Mitcheltree told me I should go out for track," Beucler said.
He won’t need much convincing to run during the spring now.
Beucler will have at least five more years to fine-tune his craft. The running will only increase.
Beucler is expected to run 8,000 to 10,000-meter courses in college. And he plans to run these distances until the entire NCAA season is completed.
"Furman is just on the cusp of Nationals," Beucler said. "They’re right on the brink. They’re returning everybody except one guy."
Beucler has a chance to win one more state title before he graduates. He would love nothing more than to see himself and his close friend reach the top of the podium in June.
It has already happened a few times.
Senior teammate Evan Manley, who plans to continue his track and cross country careers at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, topped Beucler in a few races during the fall.
Manley recently won the 1,600 indoor title and is on the short list of favorites to capture the outdoor 1,600 championship later this spring.
"Evan is awesome," Beucler said. "I’ve known him forever. He’s an incredibly hard worker. I’ll call him up and we’ll go out and run. We work fantastic together. He’s more of a speed guy and I’m a distance guy."
The two distance superstars had a memorable occasion at the Stow Bulldog Invitational during the fall.
Manley didn’t feel particularly well and wasn’t sure if he could finish. Beucler, on the other hand, lost his shoe during the race and faced a painful journey to the finish line.
"I took a week off after the Boardman Invitational," Beucler said. "Stow was my first race back and it was for breast cancer.
"I wore long, pink socks up to my knees and right away, I lost my shoe. The mud was super wet, but I had to pick up my shoe to finish because it had the chip."
Despite this uncomfortable situation, Beucler dominated the race. Manley was a distant second, but he was in a good position to keep his place if he could finish.
Beucler noticed that Manley was spent and decided to decrease his pace a few notches until Manley caught up. The two friends then ran together the rest of the way.
"It was a cool moment," Beucler said. "Those are the moments you live for."
Manley, Beucler and classmates Kenny McCaughey and Jacob Russo finished ninth at the New Balance Nationals Indoor competition Saturday in New York City.
The four-by-mile team ran a time of 17 minutes, 44.77 seconds.
Those same gentlemen will most likely be McConnell’s choices to lead the 3,200 relay during the spring.
"Coach McConnell is a really good guy," Beucler said. "He drew up my strategy for my last indoor meet. He has our futures in mind as well. He wants us to be ready for college."
If you want to lounge in the backyard or on the porch, don’t expect Beucler to join you.
This young man doesn’t particularly care for sitting, lying down or standing. He feels most comfortable when he’s moving, preferably at a fast pace.
"There are no breaks," Beucler said. "I feel incomplete if I don’t run. It’s part of my life and it’s something I find enjoyable."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.