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Linscott the Tigers' top runner for MIAA meet

Published on -10/19/2012, 10:26 AM

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Fort Hays State University junior cross country runner Gentry Linscott thought back to a year ago and the multiple health issues she encountered. Linscott was concerned if she would run the rest of her life in pain.

However, Linscott has come back and enjoyed a strong season as the Tiger women's No. 1 runner entering Saturday's MIAA Championships at Maryville, Mo. Start time is 10 a.m.

"Mostly I am just thankful that I can even run," she said. "Just come practice everyday and just thank God."

Linscott, from Effingham, felt pain down her leg for a long time. She tried to push it off, but eventually running wasn't fun anymore because of the constant pain. She had to take about three months off.

"It was really, really hard for me because I hate even taking a day off," she said.

Doctors initially thought Linscott had a herniated disc that was cutting off her sciatic nerve. She had epidurals and then had a spinal headache because the epidurals hit her spine.

"There were a lot of things going on," coach Jason McCullough said. "We didn't know if it was her back, if it was a nerve problem, if it was a muscle problem. We couldn't really diagnose it and none of the doctors could either. She went to a lot of different places and couldn't figure out what was going on."

Linscott needed two spinal taps to cure the terrible headaches. After months of seeing doctors and surgeons, the X-rays were re-done. This time, they discovered Linscott didn't have a herniated disc. Instead, it was weak hips and a weaker lower back.

Linscott had physical therapy and went to orthopedics in Hays, which helped in the recovery.

"Really thankful for them," Linscott said.

In indoor track, Linscott finally felt healthy, but was nervous. In cross country, sometimes McCullough had Linscott take time during workouts. Linscott wondered if she could ever do those workouts again. Now that she was back, Linscott didn't know if she could keep up with the girls in indoor.

"Felt really behind," she said.

As she got better, Linscott became more motivated.

"Now I am going to come back, try to prove myself and be where I was," she said.

For the summer, McCullough told Linscott to focus less on miles and more on growing stronger, a difficult change. Still, Linscott followed the new regimen. Linscott realized the importance of gaining strength and said she "can tell a huge difference" this fall.

After the injury-plagued redshirt season, Linscott topped the field at the preseason Alumni Run and led the team at the Woody Greeno Invitational and the Emporia State Invite. After a fourth-place finish at ESU, Linscott earned MIAA Runner of the Week honors.

"I have seen some pictures from the last year and the year before, and she just looks so much stronger this year," McCullough said. "Not necessarily muscular, but she just looks like a stronger, healthier runner, and I think that has really helped her to compete better. She is healthy now, she is running smart and she is competing like she was in high school. And I think she has a lot of confidence this year, and that has really helped this year."

At the FHSU Tiger Open two weeks ago, Linscott finished in 10th place and second on the squad in 18 minutes, 53.03 seconds, more than 27 seconds behind sophomore Alex Nelson. One of Linscott's goals was to run well at the home meet. Another one is to be a runner that "people talk about" and "watch out for." In high school, Linscott was one of those runners.

"People are talking about you, scared," Linscott said.

In college, Linscott could take another step with placing at the conference meet; top-10 earns all-MIAA and spots 11 through 20 are honorable mention.

The rest of the Tigers' top runners features no seniors and has Nelson, junior Carman Hill, a Hoxie graduate, junior Marie Schaller and freshman Ramsey McCarter. Junior Kylie Gaughan, from Hays High School, returns Saturday from a hip injury.

McCullough believes Fort Hays could earn top-three or four team in a wide-open field with no favorite.

"We are pretty excited about our prospects," McCullough said.

After a long road back, Linscott should again be one of the Tigers' top runners Saturday -- and competing at full strength.

"I feel it once in a while, but nothing like it was," she said.

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