||Through illness and adversity, senior leads men's cross country to SCAC championship
RELEASED: November 6, 2008
Senior captain Chase Wilson of Paducah, Ky., led the team in points, and earned Runner-of-the-Year honors, but it was not without overcoming a series of painful setbacks. Head Coach Lisa Owens tells the story:"Mid fall, Chase strained his calf muscle causing him to miss almost two weeks of training, and give up running workouts for pool workouts. He was forced to sit out the meet at the Furman Invitational because of his injury. Chase did everything that was asked of him, though, in order to let his calf muscle heal and attempt to maintain his fitness level.
"The week after he returned to training he came down with a stomach virus that took a big toll on his energy level and caused him to lose five pounds. Chase only took one day off and was back on the course training with his end goals in mind – being a conference champion and helping lead his team to a conference championship; being a regional champion and qualifying for nationals with his team; and becoming Centre's first male cross country All-American at the national competition.
"Chase raced well at the Wilmington Fall Classic only a few weeks later. His top-five performance at Wilmington let us both know that he would still be in contention for the SCAC individual title. The Monday before the SCAC Championships in Memphis, Chase was riding his bike in sandals, lost his balance and caught his foot between the sidewalk and bike peddle. The mishap ripped the side and top half of his big toe almost completely off. He called me from the emergency room at 2 p.m. on Monday to let me know what had happened. He received eight stitches and was in much pain, but he quickly let me know that he would be at practice the next day.
"With much padding and bandaging, Chase kept his word. He was told to do a bike workout the day after his injury but, though he completed it, he couldn't stand the thought of the guys on our team and the other SCAC competition doing running workouts without him. He got off of the bike and ran a mile to test the foot – it was painful.
"Two days later (with a re-worked padding and bandaging job) Chase did a workout on the track. Although painful, it was necessary to keep his body fresh and most importantly his mind sharp for the SCAC championships. Chase completed the workout well, averaging 5:15 for four 1-mile threshold intervals. After watching his workout on the track only two days after his injury, I quickly realized that as long as he did not rip his stitches loose before the race, he might still have an opportunity to win the [SCAC championship] and accomplish his goal.
"Chase took it easy for the next two days, carefully doctoring and wrapping his toe in order to avoid infection, or rip his stitches loose before the race. On race day, Chase was more focused than I had ever seen him. He laced his tight spikes up over his injured-and-heavily-wrapped toe.
"He told me that when the gun went off he no longer felt any pain. Chase had the race of his life on Saturday, pulling away from the competition at the three-mile point and he never looked back. He won the race beating the next competitor (his own teammate, junior Jason Parks of Louisville) by 15 seconds, and broke the course record with a time of 25:35 over the challenging 5-mile course.
Also in the top 10 were brothers Willie Polio ’12 and Joey Polio ’09, both of Owensboro, coming in eighth and tenth place respectively. Sam Morgan rounded out the top-five scoring places by finishing 17th.
Wilson has achieved one of his three end-of-season goals and will be going after a possible individual regional title and a national qualifying spot at the Regionals when the Centre team competes in Seguin, Texas on Sat., Nov. 15.
"Winning conference both as a team and as an individual was the happiest moment of my life," Wilson says. "I'll never forget crossing the finishing line and just laying down, not out of fatigue but out of gratitude, praying 'thank you God' over and over again.
"Now that my foot is on the mend and the team is looking very strong after a tough race last weekend, "I'm confident that we'll be a major force at the regional championships," he added. "We've done all the little things this season — we've made a lot of deposits into the fitness bank over the past four months. The next two weekends mark the time when we can make those huge withdraws and see our hard work come to fruition."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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