Hillyard endures the pain for a big-time gain
Tolerating pain goes with the territory in running, but South Tahoe High’s Megan Hillyard has endured more than her share over the past two seasons.
Hillyard, a junior, has been running for the 18th-ranked Vikings while coping with a painful stress fracture to her right tibia. She suffered the same injury to her left leg last year, preventing her from running for the school’s track and field team.
“It’s only painful when I go downhill and when I run on hard surfaces,” she said.
Eight weeks free from running would probably eliminate the problem for Hillyard, but her choice to put the Vikings before herself has meant finding proactive ways to alleviate the pain.
“That young lady has shown a lot of heart to hang in there,” said STHS coach Dan Wilvers. “A lot of kids would not make the sacrifices she made to go into the pool for a month.”
The loneliness of the long-distance runner was magnified for Hillyard as she went by herself daily to the swimming pool, running hard in the water for 30 minutes.
“I kept my fitness level. I just didn’t have the leg speed,” Hillyard said.
In recent weeks Hillyard has been more comfortable after inserting shock-absorbing insoles into her running shoes.
With Hillyard able to remain competitive, the Vikings were able to finish runner-up in the Northern Nevada 4A regional meet and then go on to win the school’s first state championship last month.
However, the Vikings’ success hasn’t allowed Hillyard and her teammates to take a breather. They have trained an extra month in preparation for Saturday’s first Nike Team Nationals in Portland, Ore.
“It’s been hard, but we’ve pulled through it,” she said. “I never really liked runing in the first place, but it’s good because it teaches you how to work hard and endure situations like this where you have to keep going to reach a certain goal.”
After Saturday’s big race, Hillyard will have some time off. But the rest won’t be long.
“We start track in three weeks,” she said.