Last year, the girls Class of 2021 showed just how much they were going to rule the state in distance running over the next couple of years. They displayed how deep and talented of a class it is.
Nielson ran her way to a fourth place finish at the UIL 6A state meet and then onto Foot Locker Nationals. On the track, she blazed to state as well ending with a third place medal in the 1600m and then a win and PR in the 5,000m at the NBNO.
The thing is, the girls 2021 class was even better than you know and so was Cinco Ranch. Yes, Nielson is outstanding, but they actually had two outstanding incoming freshman girls.
A long time friend and training partner of Neilson's for years also enrolled at Cinco Ranch last year, but her season would go in a completely different path.
Some Things Went Wrong
Expectations for Sophie Atkinson and her freshman year were pretty high and were on the same lines of the things Nielson would achieve. Atkinson was also an accomplished youth runner and the plans were for Cinco Ranch to enjoy their senior class and join their experience with the youth and limitless talent of their two incoming freshmen.
Then two unforseen and damaging occurrences struck for Atkinson. In August of 2017, "Our home flooded during (Hurricane) Harvey and at around the same time she fell on the bayou during practice and fractured her 3rd metatarsal," Mrs. Ericka Atkinson said.
Atkinson would start off her high school career with her home devastated and her community going through turmoil. All of the while, she was in a boot for four weeks.
Her life had changed all of the way around. The situation at home was difficult as she was missing one of the things she loved. "Running was my passion and a big part of my daily life. Not being able to run was the most challenging thing I've ever been through."
She only returned to running five weeks after the injury, and boy did it have a heavy impact on the young runner. "It was really hard having to sit out and have to watch everyone get better and meet their goals when I was if anything going backwards."
Running Is Also Mental
Running is more than physical, a big component of it is mental. While she had to sit out for over a month and watch girls prepare for tapering and speed work to get ready for championship season, Atkinson would be trying to get in shape to rejoin her team for a hopeful run back to the state meet and she would.
Things just weren't the same though.
"It was really hard having to sit out and have to watch everyone get better and meet their goals when I was if anything going backwards."
Sophie Atkinson - Cinco Ranch sophomore
Workouts were difficult and meets even more so. "It was extremely difficult having my mind think I could do one thing and my body not physically being able to. Before, in all my races I would have a priority of winning along with getting a fast time so having to settle for a more realistic goal was really hard. Without having any speed training the six weeks before the State meet made the start of the race super chaotic and stressful where before I felt confident and knowledgeable about putting myself in a good position. Initially coming out of my injury I expected myself to be back in my top shape close to State so seeing that I was nowhere close was discouraging."
With the injury behind her and cross season over with, she could then turn her direction and focus to preparing for a good track season, right?
Not so fast!
Atkinson would feel pain and discomfort, yet again. In fact, it would be the same injury on the same foot, just a different toe. "My second injury was late December 2017 - that was a stress fracture 2nd metatarsal right foot."
Mrs. Atkinson said, "Basically after her second injury the doctor totally shut her down to look into the reason behind her multiple fractures and believed that because she was still growing her bones were more vulnerable." While rehabbing, Atkinson had grown four inches over the couple of months. Common reasons for these types of fractures include falls, automobile accidents, and sports injuries. Atkinson had two of those....a fall and running induced. This means that the amount of energy being absorbed by the bone exceeds the strength of the bone as well as with the repeated stress to the bone.
A Fresh Start And New Season Reunites Friend And Family
Trying To Get A Fair Shake And Learn From Last Year's Experiences
On advising athletes who may experience the things she did last year, Atkinson said, "I tend to be very impatient with my running expectations and that is unhelpful during an injury, so I would tell them to give themselves some grace and time to let things work out. I wasn't really motivated to do the things I didn't enjoy like swimming and rehab but remember it will ultimately help you in the long run and is not something to be brushed aside. Also, prioritize your emotions and take time to recognize your feelings during a challenging time."