Feb. 6, 2013
It's a game of numbers, but seven school records and twenty top-ten marks aren't enough to show the intensity and precision it took to get all of the training groups through their workout in between last Tuesday's storms. Those numbers aren't enough to show how much of a success this weekend was for the Ramblers. The energy at the Loftus Sports Center at Notre Dame's Meyo Invitational this weekend, however, was enough for the Ramblers to feed on throughout one of the best weekends in Loyola Track & Field history.
Seeing Chris Strup tie his school record, then break it a few hours later and watching Gina Valgoi and Sydney Stuenkel run away with 5k wins got the ball rolling on day one of an eventful weekend for the Runnin' Ramblers. What excited me most about this weekend was seeing so many teammates who have fought through adversity over the past few months, or even the past year, get out on the track and show what they are made of.
In the sport of Track & Field, coming back from an injury can often be the most difficult task for an athlete to overcome. This weekend I saw Andy Fenske power down the homestretch like I saw him do in cross country a year ago. I saw Mike Janusek run more than ten seconds faster than the last time he was on the Meyo Track. I saw Bay Abbott hold off a charging Ohio State anchor leg to close out the victory for the 4x400 relay. I saw the final step of my teammate Ryan Van Portfliet's return from a devastating injury (one that would have resulted in amputation a little over a century ago) in the fall of 2010. Nearly 30 months after the injury it is hard to believe that one could still be making a "comeback," but in a sport where time is everything, a few weeks without running can make or break a season. Nearly a year without running makes a comeback even more insurmountable. With a few screws and pieces of metal in his foot RVP began his road to recovery, which included a great deal of therapy and a few minor operations along the way.
This weekend, for the first time since his injury, Ryan ran a personal best in the 800m run, the race he came to Loyola to compete in. I was able to witness one of my best friends complete this journey as he hurdled a competitor and surged down the final stretch at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational to the tune of fifty Ramblers chanting, "RVP! RVP! RVP!" The moment of breaking down that wall that has held you back for so long can be liberating, and it was exactly that for Ryan. For the rest of us watching and cheering, it's the least we can do for the kid who had to spend over a year sidelined to earn his title as LUXC/LUTF's #1 Fan!
Until next time, GO RAMBLERS!