Senior sprinter Brennan Edmonds had victory in sight as he scampered down the final straightaway in the 400-meter dash at the Empire 8 Indoor Championship on Feb. 1. He went to cross the line, leaning forward like all sprinters do. As he made the final push for the finish, exhaustion took over, causing Edmonds to fall forward, landing on his right hand.
After conceding first and earning a second-place finish, Edmonds was diagnosed with a sprain and a broken bone in his wrist. Edmonds, who is entering his eighth week with a cast, faces a plethora of struggles with the weight added to his arm, which has not made for an easy adjustment.
“It’s definitely a hindrance [because] it’s heavier, and it may not look like it when you run, but you’re supposed to be really loose,” Edmonds said. “It forces your arm to be really stiff while running, so it definitely changes how you run.”
As one of the top sprinters on the team, Edmonds has continued to compete with the injury. However, it doesn’t allow him to carry a baton in his right hand during relays and he cannot put as much weight on his hands in the starting blocks, slowing him down from the beginning of the race. In addition, as a long jumper and triple jumper, he must cover each open end of his cast with tape to avoid getting sand inside, resulting in more discomfort.
The first step to coping with the pain is ibuprofen, which Edmonds said he takes before each meet. Now that his sprain is healed, he said it has become more comfortable but still not to the point of a complete recovery.
Though Edmonds has adapted to most of the pain and hardship of his injury over the past eight weeks, it has not been easy. Edmonds has had to rework his running style seven years into his career, forcing him to run with more force and discipline.
“I have to run a little more aggressively because when you start, you know how fast you should go, but with this it slows me down, so I need to be more aggressive,” he said. “I [also] need to make sure I don’t fall on it again, so I cannot run as out of control as I used to.”
Senior co-captain Brendan Wilkins said Edmonds has faced many limitations training while in the cast, especially when it comes to lifting, but it has not stopped the South Hill captain from pushing himself.
“There are some limitations, like in the weight room,” Wilkins said. “He can’t do some of the exercises because he cannot grab onto the bar. He tries to work as much as he can with it, and he’s working just as hard, if not harder.”
After four weeks, Edmonds escaped the cast for the final meet of the winter season, the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Championship on March 7, which allowed him to run in the 4×200-meter relay. But after another visit to the doctor four weeks ago, Edmonds was put back in a cast.
“That was probably worse than getting the cast on originally,” Edmonds said. “I would have just preferred to keep it on the whole time because it didn’t hurt when it was off and it felt fine, but then to have someone tell you that it’s still not healed, and it may be another eight weeks in the cast, was really depressing.”
It took Edmonds about a week to readjust to the replacement cast, but he said he has learned to overcome the mental struggle by using his left hand more often and setting his mind on a successful finish to his college track and field career.
“I’m not the type of person to stress over too many things, and this is one of those things that’s been very stressful on me,” he said. “It’s my senior year, and it’s really my last chance to run competitively, [so] I try not to think about it the best I can and focus on running and schoolwork and let it take care of itself.”
Senior co-captain Jake Willis said while Edmonds struggled with the difficulties of the injury, he never shows it, making him a great role model for the new members of the team.
“He’s never used his injury as an excuse to not work as hard, and I think that can really resonate with the younger guys who come in and might experience an injury for the first time,” Willis said. “With Brennan coming in and doing what he’s done and act like nothing happened, I think he’s had a big impact.”
Heading into the spring season, the 400-meter hurdles will be a challenge for Edmonds, because “the bend and fold” of his arms are crucial to this event. But Edmonds said he has learned to overcome his winter struggles and believes his mental strength will provide him with the edge in the spring, especially when he gets the cast off.
“It gives you a mental edge knowing that you ran all season with this cast on and you’ve still managed to do all of the things you’ve normally done and even improved on certain times,” Edmonds said. “Getting it off will just be a bonus, and I think it will make me more confident in my running for the spring.”