New Franklin senior Sam Ridgeway just wanted to be one of the guys when it come time to run cross-country for the Bulldogs.

While Ridgeway also competed in baseball and track and field during his tenure at New Franklin, Ridgeway said cross-country was hands down his favorite sport.

“I wasn’t really good at baseball starting out so it really wasn’t one of my strong suits, but for cross-country it was something that came natural to me and something that I was really good at,” Ridgeway said. “I also enjoyed the people on my team and hanging out with them along with the bus rides. Practice was also fun with my teammates.”

While competing in cross-country all four years, Ridgeway also earned academic all-state every year. He competed in baseball and track and field for two years.

Ridgeway will attend the University of Missouri-Columbia in the fall and major in political science. However after completing college, Ridgeway said his plans are to join the Air Force Academy.

Of course when Ridgeway wasn’t competing in cross-country, track and field or baseball, he said he usually spent what spare time he had to run, hang out with his friends and go fishing, hiking and camping.

Ridgeway also takes flying lessons whenever possible.

As for running cross-country for the Bulldogs, Ridgeway said looking back the meet at North Callaway was possibly his best meet of the season.

“I got my best time in my high school career, which was like 18 minutes, 36 seconds,” Ridgeway said. “What made that meet really special to me other than getting my best time, it was actually the high school my father went to so it was really cool to do well at that meet.”

Ridgeway ended up placing ninth at North Callaway.

As for career highlight, Ridgeway said that is easy. It was getting first as a team in districts, he said.

But while the Bulldogs made history with a first place finish at districts, Ridgeway said it was cool to see some of his teammates that had run for 4-5 years with him that maybe they weren’t the best in the beginning but had become so good at the end to help contribute to the team win.

“Hayden Wiseman was on our team and I remember when he first joined, he could barely run it and by the end he was helping get us enough points to win so that was something really cool to see.”

Ridgeway said he will definitely miss his friends and having that kind of team feeling. “I’m also going to miss having people you can rely on and just kind of people you can crack jokes with,” Ridgeway said.

In track, Ridgeway competed for the Bulldogs his sophomore and junior year and had his best meet in 2019 at the district track meet, where he recorded his best time in the 3200 meter run.

But it was at the district meet that Ridgeway remembers the best. While volleying back and forth with another runner, Ridgeway said they were right on each other heels and then at the last minute the runner pulled away.

Ridgeway didn’t get to go to sectionals because of that race but said it was still really cool to have that happened.

In addition to the 3200 meter run, Ridgeway also ran in the 1600 and 4 x 800-meter relay.

“I liked the 3200 the best because I’m not really a fast sprinter so the longer the distance it is the better I do it seems like,” Ridgeway said.

Like cross-country, Ridgeway said once again it was just hanging out with his friends and being able to talk to them that made it fun. The long trips were also fun, he said.

As for baseball, Ridgeway said he was never really the best but the reason he stayed for those two years is because once again he just remembered having so much fun.

“I just remembered having fun in the dugout with my team or them cheering me on when I hit the ball and going crazy,” Ridgeway said.

As for his best game in baseball, Ridgeway said it was his sophomore year and it was a game that he got to play most of the game on varsity for the first time. He said although nothing really much happened that game, just the feeling of being on the varsity team was really cool.

Ridgeway also recalls his best game in a Bulldog uniform. As a sophomore, he said hitting his first double in high school was pretty cool.

Something also cool about Ridgeway’s career at New Franklin is that he had two nicknames. Ricky Bobby was his most recent nickname because he would always take quotes from that movie and tell them to people, especially when they were down and out.

“I would kind of give them a quote and it would make them laugh and it would get them back up and motivated, especially in sports and stuff,” Ridgeway said. “Also, every time we were at a cross-country meet before we would run we would huddle up together and would yell something before we broke and got ready to run.”

As for the second nickname, Ridgeway said he got the name “Submarine Sam” because the brakes failed on his jeep and it rolled into a pond.

All in all, Ridgeway said he will remember his career for helping New Franklin win its first district title-which was a pretty cool achievement. “I’m going to miss the competition and hearing that gun go off and running in huge groups of people and passing people,” Ridgeway said.

“I was one of those that came to New Franklin school at a later date, like in middle school, so I wasn’t one that had been there my whole life but I kind of learned that it was a really great school and throughout high school I think I kind of flourished and did a lot better than I thought I was going to do.”

As for most memorable moment in New Franklin, Ridgeway said it was when the families painted the road for the cross-country team going to state. “They painted the road and had a bunch of signs out so I thought that was pretty cool,” Ridgeway said.

Ridgeway said he will also have a special place in his heart for New Franklin. He said he will definitely miss both the teachers and students.

“I know there sare some teachers that really pushed me towards my goals and were really there for me and I think were some of the best teachers I have ever had,” Ridgeway said. “As for my friends, I may never see some of them again so that is something I am really going to miss. I’m also going to miss talking to people in the halls because here you really never had any enemies.”

Ridgeway said along with doing homework every day, he’s also enjoyed nature by going fishing.

As for graduation on June 20, Ridgeway said he was really worried they weren’t going to have a commencement.

“I was really going to be disappointed and it would have sucked, but I am glad that they decided to still have it,” Ridgeway said. “I know there are some limitations to it but I am just glad they are still trying to honor us.”