Injuries bite boys’ cross-country team

By Abi Johnson, Staff Writer

Going to the emergency room was the last thing on sophomore Cooper Cheng’s mind as he prepared for the Sept. 13 Winter Springs Invitational cross-country meet.

Cheng’s lung collapsed last year because of air buildup between his lung lining and chest wall. After getting a pleurodesis procedure to seal the lining to the chest wall and prevent air from building up again, he returned to cross-country practice the first day of summer.

“I ran about 350 miles with no problems at all, really,” he said. “It hurt to take deep breaths on the workouts because I was still recovering and they technically cut out a part of my lung, so the cells were regrowing. But I ignored this pain because I really didn’t see it as a big deal.”

At the Invitational, however, Cheng said he couldn’t ignore the pain anymore.

“The problem … was the fact that I was sick,” Cheng said. “I had bronchitis, which then led me to already be weak. My lung linings were basically rubbing together, since I was breathing hard, and it caused my whole lung to become inflamed. So I had to drop out [of the race]. I went to the ER and they said it was pleurisy.” 

Another runner, junior Sawyer Bracken, was injured so badly he couldn’t run that race. He said he has Osgood Schlatter disease, which affects adolescents experiencing growth spurts.

“It makes me have this really painful lump right under my knee,” he said. “Because of that I got injured in a bunch of other spots: both hips, my lower right leg, Achilles, and my other knee now.” 

Bracken said his injury was caused by pushing himself too hard during summer practices. Now, he’s paying the price.

“My season is totally dead,” he said. “I’ve only practiced for a week and a half, maybe two weeks total. I haven’t raced since the first week and I’ve missed around four races. We only have a few left and I’m probably not going to be able to race, because my leg won’t even hold my weight when I run now.”

Cheng, however, said he’ll continue to race, even after having to go to the ER.

“I’ve already put so many miles in this year that I can’t really turn back,” Cheng said. “At this point, I’m not really running for myself. I’m running to help the team win and go to states.”