By Eli Ruiz
ELDRED Eldred senior Alex Campanella is a top high school runner. He finished second in the state cross country championship last fall by a mere 1.5 seconds. His spring outdoor track season however was interrupted by an injury, though he returned to help Eldred win the Section IX championship.
We caught up with Alex a few weeks ago as he prepares for a new season.
Q: What happened last season? After doing very well for a long time, something went wrong?
A: I got a stress fracture in my left ankle. In March during the Nationals I started to feel pain during the one mile run, but I decided to run the whole race. After it, my ankle was really swollen and it hurt a lot. After four days, I went to my orthopedist in Middletown who said it was stress fracture, and I thought, oh boy, I’m gone for a while. She told me I would be out at least for four weeks, maximum six weeks. I was on crutches for four weeks, it was healing, but it ended up being six weeks.
Q: How did you cope with being inactive?
A: It seemed infinite. I stopped using crutches after the four weeks, but I wasn’t allowed to run yet. I started to have physical therapy four times a week in Port Jervis at the Access Physiotherapy, sometimes during the day. The school was ok with me going, I was going to see the doctors. After six weeks, the doctor said I could start to run again.
Q: How did this affect your athletics?
A: It was almost a positive thing. If you recover too quickly, you risk injury again. After starting to run again, I made the decision not to run in all the meets to not push myself too hard. I decided to run only in the Sections to help my team win, I’m team oriented. Section IX was the only race I ran. I knew it was going to be a tight race between us and Coleman if I didn’t run.
Q. How did you do?
A: I came in second in the 3200 and 1600, third in the 800 and was the lead off in the 4X8 that the team won.
Q: What have you learned from your injury?
A: I had four months not to kill myself. I was running big races for myself and the team, training very hard. Usually at the end of the season, I take time off. But this time I trained right through, because I already had time off because of my injury. Summer came, and things have been really good.
I’m much stronger than I’ve ever been. I feel confident that if I keep doing as I’m doing, I’m going to be able to make my goals. I have major goals for cross-country right now, like wining the States. I came in second last year by 1.5 seconds. I hope to place high in Federation, and after that to go on to Regionals, and qualify for the Nationals. My big goal is to place high enough to become an All- American.
Q: What events do you do in track?
A: I do cross-country, and indoor and spring track running. Cross-country in the fall from September to December, winter indoor track December to March, and spring track April to June. Cross-country is just one race, 3.1 miles of 5 kilometers, running through a course.
Q: Thoughts about the coming season?
It’s going to be different to run by myself, instead of pushing against somebody. I’ve been running with Hunter (Proscia) for years, and he’s going to college in Kentucky. I’m going to have to push against myself. There’s nobody to run with because nobody on the team is quite at the same level as Hunter.
Q: How are you so good at running and how long have you been doing it?
A. My older brother and sister both ran but they were sprinters. It’s something I just picked up on my own. I used to play other sports, and I noticed and others noticed I was really good at running. In 8th grade I qualified for States. Apparently, I have a talent for it.
Q: Future plans?
A: I’m planning to go to college at a Division 1 school to study Exercise Science and Physiology and make their teams. I want to become a coach for other athletes unless I become professional. I’m looking at several colleges, and have been in touch with De Paul University, Stony Brook in Long Island and the University of Buffalo and Iowa. I’m definitely hoping for a scholarship.
This is everything to me, it’s not just something I love, I live my life around running. I’m really excited because I’ve had a lot of success so far.