One by one, the bombs began to drop.
It began with the Ivy League and in a blink of an eye, one power conference after another followed suit.
"It was a domino effect," Ryan Adams said.
Adams felt a certain pit in his stomach about the dire situation that was unfolding before his eyes.
And then, in a heartbeat, the dreaded "it" happened.
"As soon as I took my spikes off, they made the announcement," Adams said.
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The 2015 Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy graduate got the bad news just as he was getting ready to run in the most significant race of his life.
Unfortunately, a mysterious, invisible menace viciously wiped out the Hudson native’s dream of a possible national championship.
"We saw articles about Harvard scratching their events," Adams said. "Slowly, you saw other conferences pulling their athletes. The ACC [Atlantic Coast Conference], Big Ten … it was definitely disappointing."
So what earth-stopping event was causing all of this commotion?
If you’ve been bunkered in your own home for the last four-plus weeks, you certainly know the story.
Thanks to a deadly respiratory tract infection known as the coronavirus, the world has come to a complete halt in ways once considered unimaginable.
For Adams, this dangerous infection has forced him to sacrifice his one truelove for an indefinite period of time: running.
The 23-year-old distance dynamo is a senior at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Adams was a member of the Paladins’ indoor track and field and cross country teams. His winter season came to an abrupt end just as he was warming up for the 2020 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Sadly, he didn’t get a chance to compete since the event was canceled due to the lethal plague.
Adams, who was scheduled to run both the mile and 3,000-meter races, was on the track at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico when the decision was made.
"It wasn’t entirely surprising," he said. "It was trending in that direction, but it was frustrating. After months of hard work, I felt like I was being robbed of my opportunity."
Since the frightening disease had launched a full-fledged assault across the globe, Adams, along with many other collegiate athletes, were told to leave the facility and head home.
As a result, there would be no more races for the rest of the winter. And as Adams and the rest of his athletic peers learned in the coming days, there would be no spring season to experience either.
Since Adams is a member of Furman’s outdoor track and field team as well, these disturbing series of events were nothing short of barbaric.
"I was thinking, ‘Wow, this might have been my last race as a Paladin,’" Adams said.
Thankfully, Adams will get to wear royal purple and white again. Both the NCAA and Furman approved another year of eligibility for a number of senior athletes, whose careers were cut short due to the virus.
Thus, Adams will compete for the Paladins’ outdoor track and field squad next spring.
"It provided another option," he said. "The silver lining of this situation is it provides another year of development to go for an NCAA title."
Adams, an All-American in both cross country and outdoor track and field, has made quite a lasting mark for a university that was founded by a clergyman in 1826.
Adams earned All-American honors after finishing 32nd at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in December.
He received second-team All-America recognition after placing 15th at the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Adams also qualified for the outdoor track and field championships in 2017.
Furman head cross country and track and field coach Robert Gary, an Ohio State graduate who also spent 17 years as the Buckeyes head coach, has gotten to know the former Royals’ four-time Division II state champion quite well over the years.
The longtime running aficionado didn’t see a future All-American when Adams got his first taste of the big time. However, Gary noticed a quick learner who had a knack for being the Paladins’ version of Rich Little.
In other words, a master impressionist.
"When Ryan first got to Furman, we had a really strong team," Gary said. "He redshirted because there was no way he would make our top nine. Ryan was a great sponge. He followed other people and now other people are following him."
A major reason why Adams’ national success didn’t happen overnight had much to do with his health.
Injuries and illness slowed him down considerably last year before he rediscovered his groove during the outdoor track season.
Thankfully, a casual but crucial meeting with his most loyal supporter turned Adams’ frown upside down.
"I was having a rough go of it when Coach Gary invited me to dinner with his family," Adams said. "We talked about what we could do to get back on track. That’s not something you see too often from a coach. He went out of his way to get a struggling athlete on a downward spiral back on his feet."
Adams may have let some bloodthirsty demons raise havoc with his emotions from time to time. When it came to reporting for duty, though, the gifted distance standout didn’t miss a beat.
On a number of occasions, Adams, who is known for being a legendary workaholic, received a rather unusual two-word ultimatum from his coach.
Ironically enough, it was the kind of urgent demand most athletes would love to hear.
"The only frustration I have is him working too hard," Gary said. "You tell him to do a 40-minute circuit and he’ll do 60. You tell him to do this many push-ups and he’ll do 6,000. It’s a matter of reining him in."
Pardon Adams if he’s a bit apprehensive about taking his coach’s advice. Unlike Huey Lewis and the News, the doggedly determined Adams isn’t interested in taking a "couple days off." Instead, Adams plans to follow Steve Miller’s advice.
After he finishes his college career, of course.
"Go on, take the money and run."
"Running professionally has always been a dream of mine," Adams said.
In the meantime, Adams plans to continue his academic pursuits too. Much like his collegiate running career, the classroom will be extended for at least another year.
Adams is close to completing his degree in Spanish. Once he receives that statement of accomplishment later this spring, Adams will focus his attention on courses involving politics and international affairs.
While teaching Spanish or serving as a congressman or senator sounds intriguing to the well-rounded Adams, he is more interested in paying a visit to "Track Town, USA."
This "Emerald City" happens to host the United States Olympic Trials, which are scheduled to take place sometime next year.
That town, which makes its home in the Pacific Northwest, could provide the same doting memories to a fiercely determined distance-running marvel as it did for iconic country music singer Dolly Parton many years ago.
Simply put, Adams hopes to remember "Eugene, Oregon" for the rest of his life.
"I feel like I’m in a good spot," Adams said.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_Gannett.