For every athlete, injuries are expected to happen at some point in their careers, some more often than others. For Highland Village, Texas teenager, Riley Nedrow of Lake Cities XC, he got to learn this at just 12 years old when he was diagnosed with cellulitis, an infection of the skin, on his foot last July.
The injury was an irony for Nedrow. He said he felt the fittest he had ever been and had just ran the nation leading boys 3000m time for the 12 year old age group at the AAU Region 18 Qualifier, finishing with a time of 9:54.16. The injury kept Nedrow from competing at the 2017 AAU Junior Olympic Games.
How Nedrow came to be infected is a mystery to him.
"(The injury) ended up putting me in the hospital for a week," Nedrow said "then I had to rest at home for three weeks, which felt like forever, while my foot healed. The process to start running again was slow, but I worked hard and had the determination and drive to get back to where I was."
Someone like Nedrow would not be expected to stay still for long, despite an injury. He has quite literally been running all his life. Nedrow said that his parents, both former cross country and track & field athletes, started running both 5K's and 10K's when he was just two years old with Nedrow in a joggling stroller. Before Nedrow could even understand what was happening he was being cheered across finish lines.
For Nedrow's rehab, he was put through a series of high quality stretches and band exercises, anti-gravity treadmills and swimming in order for him to maintain fitness. In lead up to the summer season Nedrow would do bike workouts of up to 12 miles for two weeks straight. By the time he started running again he thought that he had not missed a beat.
Nedrow's drive to get back to competition can also be traced back to Lake Cities XC and his head coach Brad Lutz. A coach that puts his athletes through intense workouts in four of their five training days, everything they do at Lake Cities is to improve their times.
"They are tough," Nedrow said in reference to Lake Cities XC "but you get the opportunity to really challenge yourself both physically and mentally and really push the limits. It isn't easy training with Lake Cities, but it's all worth it."
In addition, Lutz has taught his athletes the importance of nutrition, hydration, taking care of oneself physically and mentally. In the end, Lutz has taught Nedrow and the others the small things to help his athletes improve.
I was very excited to know I just did that, especially knowing where I was last year.Riley Nedrow - Lake Cities XC
In the end, Nedrow went through an entire year that saw him rise all the way back to his competitive level from one year prior. Now 13 years old, Nedrow was ready to compete at the Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa.
"(When I crossed the finish line) I was very excited to know I just did that, especially knowing where I was last year," Nedrow said. "Last year, I was aiming for the national record of 9:40, but I didn't get to accomplish that goal, due to my injury. This past year has been very brisk training, but it was all worth it when setting a new national record."
Although only 13, breaking and setting records isn't exactly new to him. Nedrow owns other national records as well. He also holds the AAU Club Championship record in the 11 year old boys 3000m with a time of 10:08 and the 3K course record for the AAU Cosss Country National Championships at Mc Alpine Creek Park (Foot Locker South Course) in Charlotte, NC, with a 9:51.
On top of that, he is a world record holder! This past spring, he set an age group World Record in the 13 year old boys 10K with a 35:28 at the Cap10K (Capitol Classic 10K) held annually in Austin, Texas.
At only 13 years of age, Nedrow has shown the ability to suffer a hampering injury and be able to come back and still compete at a national level. Next week, he will return to Briarhill Middle School to the eighth grade not only as a champion and a record holder, but also as a young athlete who has demonstrated he can overcome adversity.
If Nedrow is able to keep up the hard working mentality that both his parents and coaches have instilled in him, whatever team has him as an athlete will be a fortunate one.