An awkward twist of the knee nearly derailed Carrington senior sprinter Josey Page and her dream of winning a second consecutive state title.
Roughly three months ago, Page suffered a full tear of her right ACL when going after a loose ball during the basketball season. Page said her right leg planted while giving chase and her knee twisted as a result, leading to an outpouring of emotions.
"I was hoping to go to state in basketball and in track and being the state champions again this year," Page said. "I wanted to be a part of it and I was scared and really emotional."
MDN File Photo
Carrington sprinter Josey Page, center, competes at last year’s Class B state track and field meet in Bismarck.
Page's high school basketball career was cut short by the injury, but she didn't want her senior year of track and field to end prematurely. With the support of her family - her father, Mike, is a specialist in family medicine - and Dr. Howard Berglund of Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Fargo, Page opted to postpone surgery until after the track and field season.
"The primary thing is what that athlete plans to be doing," Berglund said. "With an ACL injury, the ACL is important for those sports that involve quick stopping, starting, pivoting and twisting. Straight-ahead sprinting in some cases is not so significantly affected with a torn ACL."
Berglund told Page of two possible setbacks that can come from delaying surgery.
"He told me that a lot of people try and wait with surgery and the two main things they have trouble with is they come back and they're not as fast as they were before or their fear of having a torn ACL keeps them from going 100 percent," Page said.
The initial pain and swelling associated with the injury subsided after a couple weeks and Page underwent physical therapy to strengthen the knee. Page said she's been biking a lot to stay loose. When she first returned to the track, Page said she ran at 50 to 70 percent and followed coach Greg Hoeckle's training program to slowly get back up to speed. The program began with using a stationary bike or elliptical machine, then progressing to light jogging, before returning to normal running and sprinting activities.
Neither the mental nor physical setbacks Dr. Berglund discussed happened to Page. The sprinter said she tries not to let the injury affect her and also said she would be more concerned if there was pain. As for the injury slowing her down, Page has only gotten stronger as the season has progressed.
"When someone has a torn ACL, if you have really strong hamstrings and quads and coordination, some of these real fine athletes can adjust and tolerate it," Berglund said. "But good leg strength coming in is vital for making up for that torn ACL."
Page posted a Class-B best time in the 100-meter dash at 12.24 seconds at Devils Lake on May 13, shaving three-tenths of a second off her previous season-best mark set a week earlier. She's found the same success in the 200, holding the top two times among Class B participants. At the South Central Region meet on Saturday, Page ran the 200 in 25.72.
"We knew if anyone could do it, Josey could," Hoeckle said. "She does a lot of work in the weight room. She's been a hard worker her entire career."
Berglund said even if Page were a long-distance runner, her injury wouldn't have affected her any differently as a torn ACL doesn't hinder a runner's ability to turn corners.
In 2012 - with two healthy knees - Page placed third in the 100, running a 12.57 before winning the 200 title with a time of 25.80. Page serves as the final leg of both the 200 and 400 relay teams this season. Carrington's 400 relay finished first and the 200 relay placed second at state last year.
Hoeckle said he thought he would be without his top sprinter when he heard of Page's injury. With the way the season started, her comeback was exactly what the team needed early in the season.
"We didn't know if she was going to come back full strength and it was at the time where the weather was beating down on us," Hoeckle said. "She started coming back and that brought the spirit of the team up."
The Cardinals have won every meet they've competed in this season and have their sights on the school's eighth state title - all since 1999.
"We've been working so hard for this," Page said. "We know what we're capable of and if we perform to the best of our ability, we're going to have success."
Page will have surgery following the state tournament and is expecting a six-to-nine month recovery before returning to competition. She will attend the University of North Dakota in the fall and should be ready for the track and field season barring any setbacks.
Other area athletes to watch:
Lexy Wittmayer, Fr., Rolette-Wolford. Top qualifying mark in the high jump (5-07).
Alexis Woods, Jr., Parshall. Fastest time in the 400 (57.84) and sixth in the 200 (26.06).
Stephanie Ziegler, Fr., Hazen. Posted seventh and eighth fastest times in 200 (26.08, 26.17).
Page Anderson, Jr., Carrington. Fifth fastest individual in 400 (59.97)
Asha Smith, Fr., Watford City. Fastest time in the 3200 (11:36.28) by more than 14 seconds. Also holds fastest time in 800 (2:21.61) and fourth-fastest in the 1600 (5:26.72).
Ashley Neumiller, Eighth-grader, Carrington. Third-fastest time in the 3200 (12:00.84) and fourth-fastest time in the 800 (2:23.82).
Dakota Wood, So., Hazen. Holds four of the top five fastest times in 300 hurdles, including best mark at 45.28 seconds. Second-fastest time in 100 hurdles (15.32). Also holds fifth- and sixth-fastest times in same event.
Aubrey Hovland, Sr., Rugby. Fifth in the high jump (5-04) and fifth in the long jump (17-06.50).
McKayla Haugeberg, Sr., Watford City. Best mark in the long jump by 2.5 inches (17-11). Fifth in Javelin (130-09).
Ricki Lindley, Fr., Watford City. Top two scores in the triple jump. Top jump of 37-03 is 1 foot, 7 inches further than rest of the field.
Kayla Hochhalter, Jr., Carrington. Holds top four marks in discus, including season-best 130-02. Top height in pole vault (11-00). Posted five of top six marks in shot put. Best throw of 41-03 is second-best in field. Second-best in javelin (133-06).
Nicole Schramm, So., Beulah. Fifth-best in pole vault (10-00).