TIFFIN – McKela Elder was hoping Saturday’s Division I cross country regional meet would end with a trip to the state meet.
Instead she got a visit to the local hospital.
From the earliest stages of her regional race, Elder found herself short of breath. She continued to battle through the race, until in the last tenth of a mile, when she fell to the ground, still unable to take a full breath.
“She was probably at the three-mile mark, with 0.1 to go, but she just couldn’t go anymore and she actually fell,” coach John Elder said. “I said, ‘You’re done. There’s no prize in finishing it the way you’re feeling. Just stop.’ So, we stopped her and took her to the first aid tent.”
After withdrawing from the race and going to the first end tent, she was taken to the hospital where John Elder said she was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma.
“She’s been having trouble with breathing issues and we weren’t really aware of all that,” John Elder said. “She’s a typical distance runner in that she ignores problems and assumes they’ll go away. She’d said something to her dad a couple times, like when we do hard repeats and stuff she struggles breathing, has a hard time catching her breath and we were like, ‘maybe it’s just overexertion or something like that. Her dad, in the back of mind, was going to take her to the doctor when the season was over.”
McKela Elder was disappointed to make advance to the state meet, John Elder said she was seventh when she left the race with the top eight finished moving on to the state, but the fact she enjoyed such a high level of success this season despite undiagnosed asthma is remarkable. It makes John Elder look forward to seeing what she can do next year as a healthy senior.
“She was struggling at the mile mark and she went another two miles where she couldn’t get a deep breath,” John Elder said. “After we learned all I this I was like, ‘Man, you were pretty impressive.’
“In my mind, my positive mind, when she takes a couple hits on the inhaler, she’s going to be good to go.”
Boys seasons come to a close
Running against a talented and deep field in the boys regional race, qualifying for the state meet with a top 12 finish was going to require an outstanding performance for Ross’ two remaining runners, Ethan McClory and Zach Edmonds.
While their times were solid, McClory finished in 16:48 while Edmonds cross the line just nine seconds later, it wasn’t quite enough. McClory finished 19th in the race while Edmonds was 22nd.
“We told Zach, ‘You going to have to get out of your comfort zone at this level,” Elder said. “Zach said his first mile was under five minutes, which he never does, but that’s what he had to do. When he was coming into the two-mile mark he was 14th or 15th, so he was right there, and Ethan was behind him, but he just couldn’t hang on, and that’s OK. He went out and tried to do it.
“Ethan, I wish he would have gone out a little bit faster,” Elder added. “I don’t know if it’s a mental thing for him, I just don’t know and he doesn’t know. He puts in all the work and he’s into it, but he’s gone to regionals now for three years and he hasn’t performed like we know he can perform. But he wasn’t overly upset either, which is good. He accepts the good and the bad.”
Both McClory and Edmonds will return as seniors next year, along with the majority of the Little Giant team that narrowly missed out on a team berth to regionals. As the boys only lose two seniors, Ka’Von Martin and Noah Egbert, who ended the year as the team’s No. 5 runner, John Elder will have high expectations for his team next year.
“Our plan is we’re going to regionals,” he said. “We’re going to go for it and let the chips fall where they may. They were into it this year and they’re already talking about track (season). And they really get along well, they’ve very close-knit. About four of five of them came to watch them run (Saturday) and were having around practice all week long. Next year can start soon.”
DIVISION I REGIONAL MEET
Ethan McClory, 19th overall, 16:48 Top 12
Zach Edmonds, 22nd overall, 16:57
McKela Elder, Did Not Finish