CHRIS Sublette was afraid his track and field career might be over four weeks ago when he found out he had a torn ACL in his left knee.
But fortunately for the Columbus North senior, his doctor told him he could keep running sprints. The 300-meter hurdles, however, were no longer an option.
Sublette, who finished 17th at state in the 300 hurdles last season, has become one of the state’s top 100 runners. He’ll attempt to qualify for state tonight with a top-three finish in the Connersville Regional.
“He has so much speed, and he’s such a determined competitor, nothing he does surprises me,” said North assistant coach Jamie Brinegar, who coaches
the hurdlers. “He wants to do whatever he can to help the team, and it’s amazing. It doesn’t surprise me. I think he can make it to state.”
Despite battling a hamstring injury, Sublette ran what was then the fastest 300 hurdles time in the state in his first meet of the season, the Columbus North Invitational. But then in his next race, the April 19 Midwest Prep Meet at Lawrence Central, he kicked a hurdle with right leg, came down wrong on his left leg and the left knee pushed inward.
Sublette got an MRI, went to the doctor and found out four weeks ago that the ACL was torn. But he won’t have to have surgery until June 25.
“First of all, I was extremely disappointed because I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the hurdles anymore, if I was able to run at all,” Sublette said. “Then after talking with the doctor, I learned that I was able to still run and that I wouldn’t have to have immediate surgery.”
But after being out of practice and competition for a month, North coach Lou Sipe threw Sublette in the 100 for the Bull Dogs’ regular-season finale at Franklin. Sublette won in a sizzling 10.84 seconds.
“I was surprised when I went to Franklin and ran such a good time, especially because I was out for so long,” Sublette said.
But he could go even faster. In last week’s North Sectional, Sublette went 10.75 in the prelims, which is tied for the fourth-fastest time in the state this season. But after running the prelims of the 200, he came back with only an 11.08 to finish fourth in the finals of the 100.
“I’m kind of sore, and I’m still kind of weak from being off for so long,” Sublette said. “So running the 200 trials before the 100 final definitely slowed me down.”
Sublette finished sixth in the 200 finals. Only the top four qualified for regional, so he’ll be able to focus on the 100 tonight. He’s seeded fifth based on his finals time from the sectional, and that 11.08 clocking is under the automatic state-qualifying standard of 11.14.
“I don’t have to run the 200, and I’ll be fresh, so I think I have a good chance,” Sublette said.
Even after a season that he hopes will end with another trip to the state finals, Sublette might not be done with track. He has been talking to coaches at Indiana University and plans to meet with them again after his surgery.
“Chris has always been fast,” Sipe said. “He had a great offseason. Obviously at the beginning of the year, he had a hamstring issue, and he was kind of laid up with that, and then he had that crash in the hurdles and tore his ACL.
“We didn’t know what we’d get when we put him in the 100 against Franklin,” he said. “He ran a really good time, so he earned a spot here in the sectional, and he made it to regional. I wasn’t surprised because Chris is probably the fastest kid in the school. To do it without an ACL is unheard of, but he’s a tough kid. He always has been.”