By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Alex Kasich was one of the best long distance runners that West Virginia University ever had.
He came out of a high school in the Sharon, Pa., area to earn honors as a standout performer in both track and field and cross country. He earned letters in each sport from 1972-76.
After getting his bachelor’s degree in 76, Kasich served as an assistant to head coach Stan Romanoski for two years while studying for a master’s degree.
Romanoski, who was one of the top track and cross country mentors in the East, is a member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and is in the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.
Kasich, who’s 58 and now lives in Cherry Hill, N.J., is one of numerous former WVU athletes urging the university to reinstate men’s track and field to the athletic program.
“Track and field, I’d guess, is a true test of an athlete’s strength, speed and endurance,” he said.
Kasich went on to spend eight years as a professional distance runner, competing from one to six miles while working for Nike from 1978-86. That was in Eugene, Ore., when considered a world class athlete.
“I really competed in the Olympic Trials three times,” Kasich recalled. “I was knocking on the door. I last competed in 1986.”
Since that year, the All-America cross country distance runner has worked at a variety of jobs.
“I started a career late, but I’m catching up,” Kasich said. “I even worked a couple of years at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown recently.
“I am looking at different job opportunities now.”
Kasich and his wife Elena have two children. Son Michael is four years old and daughter Katia is 11.
He was voted NCAA All-America in cross country at WVU in 1975, which was the first of numerous awards and honors for Kasich, who grew up in Heritage, Pa.
He won the Ray McCary State Track Athlete of the Year in both 1974-75 as awarded by the West Virginia sports writers. In 1974, he was inducted into the Mercer Country (Pa.) Sports Hall of Fame.
He was National AAU 15-kilometer Champion in 1978, and he qualified for three Olympic Trials and was also a 10-meter finalist in 1980.
In 1982, Kasich set an American record for 30 kilometers and he was ninth in the 1981 New York Marathon. His time was 2:13.20