By Barbara Boxleitner
Injury didn't stop Jacob McElhanon from doing well as a freshman runner for Hutchinson Community College (Kan.).
During the spring indoor track and field season, the Midlothian High School graduate finished third in the men's 3,000-meter run at the National Junior College Athletic Association Region VI Indoor Championship. He scored in that event and as a member of the third-place 4-by-800 relay and the fifth-place distance medley relay.
He set a personal best in the 3,000 by finishing in 8 minutes, 56.43 seconds.
"It took a lot of work for me to get there. I didn't have a long time to train for that race," said McElhanon, who completed the 3,000 just twice in meets before the championship.
He entered the big day having recovered from a strained groin he said he suffered weeks before while running the 800. "I lost my footing. I tried to catch myself, and I extended myself two much," he said.
After that, he went daily for treatment by the trainer and wore a wrap on the affected leg. He started with a jogging pace, "light and easy," he said, as he worked his way back to running form.
His performance in the 3,000 was especially rewarding given his recovery from the injury. "It turned out perfectly for me," he said. "I started slow and behind about six or seven people. I picked them off one by one."
Though pleased with that effort, he was not happy with his time in the 4-by-800 relay because he tried to do too much. "I started out really quickly," he said. "It messed up my rhythm of running. I lost all my energy in the last lap."
McElhanon, who finished third in the mile at a January indoor meet, also performed well for the cross country team. He placed fifth among the Blue Dragons and 105th overall in the 8-kilometer race at the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championship. He finished in a personal best of 27:00.9.
"That was a really big deal," he said about his place among the Blue Dragons. "I stepped up to the plate."
He overcame a foot injury earlier in the fall season. He said he stepped on a rock during practice and was sidelined three weeks because of a pulled muscle in his foot.
Since the spring season shutdown, he has been running at least 10 miles daily and doing abdominal and speed work. "I only plan to get better," he said.
More men's track and field
Dakota State University freshman Lamire Beamon set a personal best of 7.49 seconds in the 60-yard dash at a February meet. Another from the Panthers, he competed in the 200, too.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org.