Injury hurts chances for Ness City girls
By CONOR NICHOLL
Ness City High School senior Emily Hahn is the defending Class 2A 800-meter state champion and is a former 400 dash runner-up. Hahn, a Wichita State University track signee, has excelled from the 100 to the 1,600.
At the Class 2A Smith Center regional last Friday, Hahn was expected to run the 1,600, anchor the 400-meter relay, the 800 and the 1,600 relay. Her first two events are back-to-back. Hahn, who has run a 5:29, easily qualified at 5:40.78 in the 1,600 for this weekend's state meet at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.
When Hahn took the baton in the 400 relay, Ness City coach Patrick Younger estimated the Eagles were between third and fifth place; top four reach state. Hahn quickly moved up and was nearing first place halfway through the leg.
"She was probably the fastest that she had ever run before," Younger said.
With a little less than 50 meters, Hahn, with no injury history, pulled up with a significant hamstring injury.
"We thought kind of blew it out or pulled it or tore it," Younger said.
Hahn had to be helped off the track and didn't compete again at regional.
"You could already see the big knot in the middle of her hamstring," Younger said. "It wasn't a pleasant sight."
Hahn and senior Jessie Rubottom were looking to become the first girl teammates to finish 1-2 in the 800 in back-to-back years since Kansas went to six classes for track in 1979. Ness City had a strong chance at a top-3 placing and state plaque, but that is nearly impossible without Hahn at full strength.
"The thing that makes me so sad is there is no one who outworks her," Younger said. "She cares so much."
On Saturday morning, the doctor said Hahn's hamstring wasn't torn.
"Just strained it really, really, really bad," Younger said.
Last Saturday night, Younger said there was a "50 percent" chance Hahn would compete in the 1,600 this Saturday at the state meet. That percentage was expected to improve throughout the week. Hahn is listed as an alternate on the 1,600 relay, which qualified without her. Younger said Hahn would not run in the relay prelims Friday and could possibly run in the finals Saturday night.
Younger sat with Hahn on the bus ride home at regional. Hahn was upset about the injury, but Younger said she was "more devastated" that she couldn't run the 800.
"She likes that way more than the (1,600) even," Younger said.
Hahn also was unhappy she couldn't help the girls on the relays. The 400 relay didn't run the full season, but had posted strong times before regional once sophomore Makenna Fritts came back from injury. The relay qualified for state last year and expected to do well this season. The 1,600 relay ran a great race and posted a 4:19.64, a second off the season best.
The "4x1 was rolling, the 4x4 stepped up huge," Younger said.
But Hahn won't be able to run her full complement of events this weekend. Younger reminded her she had a collegiate track career ahead and this wouldn't be the final meet of her career. But Younger felt sadness, too.
"As a coach, the hardest part is just having those kids that just care so much that will do anything to run a race," Younger said.