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Chris Aarhus / Forum News Service, Published May 22 2013

Carrington senior tests limits of her ACL tear

Carrington, N.D. - Negative thoughts poured through Josey Page’s head after tearing her ACL at the end of the basketball regular season. It’s not that she’s a negative person; she just had so many plans.

“I was really in shock,” the Carrington senior said. “I didn’t want to believe it. I was hoping to help my team go to state basketball.

“Then I thought of state track and being state champions last year. We had such a good opportunity to do it again this year.”

Frustration has fueled the sprinter’s aspirations this spring. She decided to put off surgery until after track season, opting to run on a bad knee after being told she couldn’t damage it any further.

It hasn’t held her back on the track. She holds Class B’s top times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes heading into Friday’s state meet in Bismarck. She also runs on Class B’s fastest 400 relay and second-fastest 800 relay teams.

Getting to that point wasn’t easy, Page admits.

But to her, the reward outweighs the risk.

“I can’t do anything worse to it,” said Page, a 14-time placewinner at state. “The option came up to wait with surgery and participate, and I was 100 percent for it. I definitely wanted to try it.”

There were doubts early on.

“At the beginning, I couldn’t turn my leg on a bike,” Page said. “That was really frustrating. It got me worried. After a while, I kept adding more and more and did advanced exercises. It brought me to where I am now.”

She came back her first time out and ran the 100 in 12.6 seconds, far from her best but enough to qualify for state and rid herself of any further doubt.

“I was happy that I could come back and qualify in that first race,” Page said. “I knew I could do better. I’m happy that I improved my time and have seen progress.”

Page said she rarely feels pain in the knee and doesn’t even wear a brace. She puts a “sleeve” over the knee for support, but now the University of North Dakota-bound sprinter has to be careful not to aggravate a nagging quadricep.

“It’s trying to make up for the torn ACL. It’s been giving her some problems,” Carrington coach Greg Hoeckle said. “(But) if you didn’t know she had the (ACL) injury, you wouldn’t be able to tell.”

Page is hoping the quad holds up this weekend, when she tries for back-to-back titles in the 200 and 800 relay. She said she’d also like to win the 100, a race that has eluded her since she was a freshman. Page has taken third in the race three years in a row.

“It was really frustrating last year getting third,” Page said. “I got beat one time (before state), and that was by Morgan Milbrath. I don’t want to say I’m not happy with third, but there were so many things with that race. Just knowing it was at state really was upsetting.”

A saving grace was on the horizon, though, as she came back and won the 200 for her first individual title.

“It was tough getting past it,” Page said. “You have to not let it get to you, so you can perform the next event.”

Page is part of a well-balanced Carrington team with high hopes.

The Cardinals are all over the performers list, led by Page and junior Kayla Hochhalter, who enters with the top throw in the discus and second-best tosses in the javelin and shot put. Eighth-grader Ashley Neumiller is ranked in the top six in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Maartje VanBedaf, Madison Wendel, Page Anderson, Bailey Retzlaff, Carly Copenhaver and Nikki Braaten round out Carrington’s athletes that are seeded top eight in at least one event.

And if that isn’t enough, each of Carrington’s relays are in Class B’s top four. If the seeds play out, Carrington would score 125 points, which is 45 more than it took for the Cardinals to claim last year’s championship.

“We’re covered almost everywhere,” Hoeckle said. “We’re pretty strong in depth in all of the events. We’re hoping that depth is going to lead us through in those relays.”

Chris Aarhus is a reporter for the Jamestown (N.D.) Sun