Jade Fry found her sport when she decided to try cross country with a friend as she entered Lake-Lehman Junior High in seventh grade.
After mixing the lows of having injuries disrupt plans with the highs of achieving season-ending goals, Fry arrived at the start of her senior year knowing she had found a passion for life.
Fry said cross country was “something where I never even knew what it was until a tried it.”
Combined with its natural partner pursuit – as a distance competitor in track and field – running is now more than just a competitive outlet in high school and an aspiration to go along with college studies for Fry.
“I liked running and I stuck with it, but I really didn’t appreciate running until this year,” Fry said. “This year, I’ve become so much more motivated and I realize that I want to run for the rest of my life.”
This fall, when Fry runs, she often does so from the front of the pack with the rest of the Wyoming Valley Conference girls chasing.
Going into Wednesday’s regular-season finale, Fry is unbeaten against WVC competition, leading the Black Knights to a perfect dual record.
Like many youngsters, Fry had dabbled in youth soccer, basketball and softball. It did not take long to know that running was different.
“I just fell in love with it,” Fry said. “It’s not like any other sport or any other contact sport.”
Quickly showing proficiency in cross country, Fry finished ninth in District 2 Class 2A as a freshman, earning a district medal and state championships meet berth.
It was the first of three straight years of her dual accomplishments on the district and state level. After placing eighth as a sophomore, however, Fry had to settle for 17th in the district at the end of a junior season which was interrupted for a month by a hip injury.
The 40th-place finish in a 213-runner field at the 2015 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships in Hershey as a sophomore had made clear the potential ahead in Fry’s high school career.
The hip problems, however, made it necessary to wait until the spring of her junior year to reach her biggest career achievement to date, a state Class 2A fourth-place track medal in the 3200-meter relay with Hailey Kubiski and cross country teammates Jace Garnick and Olivia Vasey.
A stress fracture in her foot coming off of track season left Fry mixing a sense of accomplishment with cautiousness.
After resting the injury for much of June, her off-season approach prior to the start of official team practices for cross country was be careful not to rack up too many miles on the roads but to concentrate on pushing herself harder through the mileage she did put in.
“It worked for me,” said Fry, who put in the same workouts as her teammates once they got together for the start of season preparations.
Lake-Lehman and Dallas are both 15-0 to share the WVC girls cross country lead going into their head-to-head meeting in a cluster meet on Wyoming Area’s home course at the Luzerne County Rec Field at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.
The conference championship will be decided on the final day of the regular-season schedule.
The Black Knights are trying for their second title in three years. The Mountaineers are looking to win their fifth title in six seasons.
The Dallas boys are 15-0 with 117 straight dual wins and on the verge of their seventh straight championship. The Mountaineers will win another championship as long as they get past Lake-Lehman (11-4), Wyoming Valley West (9-6) and Tunkhannock (6-9) in Wednesday’s cluster meet.
When Dallas celebrated Senior Day on Wednesday following three wins on its home course at Misericordia University, the Mountaineers were joined by a former teammate. Steven Postupak, a current senior at Scranton Prep after transferring this summer, was there to support the team. A scoring runner on state championship teams the past two seasons, Postupak is not competing in the sport this fall … Hazleton Area’s Franklin Cunningham won the boys individual title at the 28-team Northeast Invitational at Bloomsburg University on Sept. 30 … The Holy Redeemer boys are 14-1 and, barring an upset loss Wednesday, will finish second in the WVC. Berwick, currently third, had finished second for three straight seasons, losing only to Dallas in the conference from 2014 to ‘16.