Madison Wolf wouldn’t let Tommy John surgery derail her quest to become a national champion.
Two years after tearing a ligament in her elbow, the Fort Hays senior javelin thrower ended her career with the ultimate prize — an NCAA Division II national title.
Wolf, a four-time All-American won the title with her second toss of 161 feet, 1 inch (49.11 meters) at the national meet last May in Charlotte, N.C.
“It was a little bit emotional because I have been through a lot of injuries and I’ve meant to win that title for a while now,” Wolf said. “So when I got it, it was an awesome feeling. It’s hard to describe because it’s something that I wanted for a long time.”
Wolf winning the javelin title is the No. 7 story on The Hays Daily News sports year in review.
It was a long road to recovery for Wolf after the elbow injury, but the Bennington product managed to return to form.
“I had a lot of trouble getting it straight,” Wolf said. “For six months, I was extremely worried it wasn’t going to be anywhere near where I was. Any little thing would make it sore and bother it.”
The injury occurred late during her junior season in the MIAA meet, but she still competed in the national meet that year, earning sixth place.
“I went into nationals my junior year knowing I was only going to have one throw," she said. "I posted my second best throw ever with no ligament there. I finally got into the doctor in August after competing in May and he said (the ligament) was gone and I’d have to have a full reconstruction.”
An 11-month recovery ensued.
“Once we started integrating throwing, like softballs, into my therapy I knew that I still had a good arm,” she said. “It was just never a for sure thing until I got back competing.
“I really don’t think I am as good as I was. But I was still good enough. It wasn’t like a drastic change.”
Wolf said she was blessed to end her career with a national championship.
“I think that’s why I was so emotional when I knew I had won, because I knew it was done for me,” Wolf said. “I’m happy to be done because javelin’s really hard on the body, but at the same time, I’ve done sports all throughout my life, so there’s going to be a big part of what I’ve always done missing. So that’ll be tough.”
Wolf became the seventh NCAA champion for the FHSU women’s program and its first outdoor champion since Janet Eck won the high jump in 1999.