Pannell latest Fairland runner going Shawnee State

March 12, 2019

ROME TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Maybe Shawnee State University should install a permanent cross country course between its campus and Fairland High School.

Mckenna Pannell joined the long list of Dragons to sign to run for the Bears when she penned her name to paper work Monday afternoon at the high school. She will join former Fairland runner Jessica Price and current teammate Deanna Hall on the SSU women’s team. Former Dragons star Conner Flynn runs for the Bears men’s team. Eric Putnam, who coaches men and women at Shawnee State, has tapped Fairland for more than one dozen runners in recent years.

“Shawnee State is a really good fit for me and I know a lot of runners there,” said Pannell, who is active in her youth group at Guyan Valley Missionary Baptist Church in Scottown, Ohio, is on the teen board at Lara’s Bridals and Formals in Ashland and is involved with 4H.

Pannell finished 55th in a field of 177 runners in Division II in the state meet last season, crossing the finish line in 20:17.8. The Ohio Valley Conference individual champion has run a personal best 19:47.6 and also owns Fairland’s mile record in 5:36.0.

Pannell selected the Bears from several offers, including from Marshall University, Kentucky Christian University, Marietta College and the University of Charleston. She said she plans to major either in occupational therapy or biomedical sciences.

“They have a really great occupational therapy program and you can get your Masters in five years,” Pannell said.

Pannell began her athletic career in seventh grade as a sprinter on Fairland’s middle school track team. She played volleyball and ran cross country in eighth grade and settled on cross country in high school.

“I wasn’t a very good sprinter,” said Pannell, whose ancestry traces to Pocahontas. “I focused on distance going into high school. Sprinting helped me with middle-distance races.”