David Hughes: John Reedy, member of North's 1972 state champion boys cross country team, dies at 67

Mar. 20—Most of you communicate through Facebook, right?

If so, you probably have several FB "friends" you don't know at all or don't know that well.

For me, John Reedy was someone I felt I knew well, although I may not have recognized him if we passed each other in a grocery store.

I certainly knew of John, because of his many accomplishments as a long-distance runner for Terre Haute North High School and elsewhere in the 1970s. But I was too young at that time to appreciate them.

As I grew up, I met him in person a few times and liked him. But it wasn't until after we became Facebook friends in July 2013 that we bonded.

You see, John and I shared a fiery passion about the same subject — unrelated to athletics — that we ended up discussing frequently through Facebook Messenger over the last few years.

So when I heard that John Reedy — who resided in Middlebury, near Elkhart — had died from a heart attack at age 67 last Friday, it hit me like I lost a friend.

A real friend, not just a Facebook friend.

Unfortunately, I can't write a sports column about every friend of mine who has passed away if there isn't a legit athletics-related reason to do so.

Don't worry. With John, there are plenty.

Let's start with Nov. 4, 1972, when Reedy and his determined North teammates — coached by the late Bill Welch — captured the IHSAA boys cross country state title at the 2.5-mile South Grove Golf Course in Indianapolis.

On that chilly Saturday morning 52 1/2 years ago, Welch's Patriots outpointed second-place Southport 99-131 behind the times of John Roscoe (seventh place overall in 12 minutes, 23 seconds), Jeff Claretto (ninth, 12:28), Joe Ofsansky (32nd, 12:49), Reedy (37th, 12:53) and Jim Rice (46th, 12:59).

Roscoe was the lone senior of the bunch, while Claretto, Ofsansky and Rice were juniors and Reedy was the youngster, a sophomore.

Welch told me in a 2002 interview that he remembered thinking after the race that his team did not perform as well as expected ... until Terre Haute Star sportswriter, the late Carl Jones, walked up and congratulated him for winning the state championship.

That afternoon, Welch recalled, the new state champions returned to Terre Haute to receive a fire-engine ride from Memorial Stadium through the city.

Then there were the Patriots' 1973 and 1974 4-mile relay teams that established national indoor high school records, the second one lasting 30 years before it was broken on a banked track in 2004 (theirs took place on a flat track). That crew consisted of Ofsansky, Reedy, Rice and Claretto. Ironically, Roscoe was forced to miss the 1973 spring indoor season — his final year of high school — because of a foot injury.

Both national indoor marks were set as part of the Bloomington High School South Early Bird meets inside the Indiana University fieldhouse. Their first clocking was 17:41.2, wiping out Proviso West High School in Hillsdale, Ill., from the record books.

"We just drove down to IU to go against Bloomington South," Claretto said in a 2019 interview after the fast foursome had been inducted into the Indiana Track and Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame. "There were no spectators. It was just the coaches, the other team and us in '73. You had to run against somebody to make it an official time.

"Setting the national record was our goal. We all had good mile times. So we knew if we ran close to our best times, we could break the record."

A year older, their 1974 combined time was substantially faster — 17:29.6. That spring, their splits were Ofsansky 4:15.6, Reedy 4:26.8, Rice 4:28.3 and Claretto 4:18.9 (the only slower time from the previous year).

According to Reedy's Tribune-Star obituary, he went on to run cross country at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Mich., where he was part of the 1975 NJCAA national champion men's team, landing seventh place individually in the nation and earning First-Team All-American honors.

So again this week, I contacted Claretto, but for a much sadder reason than our interview in 2019.

"I first met John at Otter Creek Junior High School," reflected Claretto, who lives in Indianapolis. "He was a year behind me in school. He lived in the same neighborhood as John Roscoe and Jim Rice. I believe he began running because of them.

"John [Reedy] thought of only one thing — running. He was very competitive, as were the others on our Terre Haute North distance team. He hated to lose in races and in practice. He pushed himself to run with the lead pack every time he ran.

"His memory of races and times we ran together 50 years ago is remarkable. I used to tell people that it was a shame that Roscoe and I never had the chance to face each other in the mile. When I saw John [Reedy] last, he corrected me and gave me the date of the mile race I ran against Roscoe and our exact times. An old [Terre Haute] Tribune [newspaper] article proved him right."

Starr Roberts was a freshman sprinter on Terre Haute North's track team during that era, sharing a locker room with Reedy and other male competitors from various events.

"John never looked tired, just constantly getting smoother as the race went on as he wore all of his competitors down," Roberts recalled, "and they just fell off."

Roberts described Reedy as "one of the top cross country runners in the state and the country."

"I had the pleasure of working out with John [when the speedy Roberts was the first freshman to make an Indiana high school varsity track team as a sprinter] and he was a joy to work out with," Roberts continued. "He was an all-natural, God-given, talented athlete and a true polite and funny guy who kept us on our toes. He was hard working with a great attitude ... a great athlete, a great friend and a great all-around family man as well."

Visitation for John Reedy will be from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday at Billings Funeral Home in Elkhart, with services beginning at 2. Cremation will follow.

"I do remember John loved to have his name and picture in the newspaper," Claretto also mentioned. "Your article will make him very happy."

It's the least I can do for a friend.

Tribune-Star sports reporter David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at (812) 231-4224 (just text him on his cell instead); by email at; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.