Sycamore junior discus thrower Preston Ruud sported a brace on his right ankle as he threw 141 feet, 11 inches Friday, a that mark was second only to teammate Griffin Nelson, who claimed a Northern Illinois Big 12 title in the event.
For attendees of the Feb. 24 Sycamore boys basketball game between the Spartans and the host DeKalb, the injury that led to the brace was a horrific-looking one in the moment.
“He fell right in front of the crowd, and when he went down, it was a crushing blow,” Sycamore assistant track and field coach Daryl Graves said. “We didn’t know what happened ... he’s got a high tolerance for pain, and you could tell he was in pain.”
The Barbs student section recoiled at the sight of Ruud’s displaced ankle, officially diagnosed as a subtalar dislocation – a rare injury that the Journal of Medical Case Reports estimates occurs “in a little less than 2% of dislocations of all major joints.”
The diagnosis was, to a degree, a welcome one, as it wasn’t a break.
“I definitely thought it was a lot worse than it was, but it was good that it came out the way it did rather than what I thought it was,” Ruud said.
But to get it treated was the next step. And that step came quickly and uncomfortably.
“They had to relocate it back in,” Ruud said.
The healing process included a treatment called Accelerated Recovery Performance, which “stimulates the nervous system to help relax and elongate muscles promoting healing and less scar tissue,” according to the Spine & Sports Injury Center.
“[Electrodes] go through the ankle, and it helps with scar tissue and stuff like that,” Ruud said. “It’s probably one of the most painful things I’ve ever done, but it got me back, so it’s good.”
Ruud was back throwing before the outdoor season was in full swing, and competed in his first outdoor competition of the season at Sycamore’s Gib Seegers Invitational on April 26.
“I had a pretty good physical therapist,” Ruud said, speaking of Dr. Steven Major of Major Chiropractic in Wheaton. “He’s been working me pretty hard and getting me back to where I need to be in the future. Obviously, I’m not quite back at full potential yet, but I’m getting there.”
The success Ruud has enjoyed this spring in limited action comes in spite of an injury that had the potential to deter him this year.
[Mark Black - for Shaw Media]
“An injury like that is scary,” Sycamore head track and field coach Peter Piccony said. “... No. 1, to get over that, and No. 2, physically get over all that and be ready to go for this, and to miss almost half of your season, half of training and to come back out and still be throwing at close to state qualifying and competitive in conference, that’s awesome. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that right now.”
Ruud had shown promise as a sophomore a season ago, outhrowing Nelson in winning the Freshman/Sophomore Northern Illinois Big 12 discus title last season. This year, they’ve pushed one another to to elevate their distances as they set their sights on potential state spots. His best throw was 150-6.
“Most of the meets, we’re one-two or in the top,” Nelson said. “We’re just trying to push each other. I’m just trying to beat him every day.”
[David Toney - For Shaw Media]
Graves, who specializes as the throwing coach Sycamore, has enjoyed seeing Ruud’s rapid return.
“For him to come back is really good, and for him to push Griffin, it’s fun,” Graves said.
Ruud will aim for a state spot when he competes at the Class 2A Sterling Sectional on Thursday.
“I definitely don’t think I’ve hit a peak,” Ruud said. “I still think I’m going up.”