By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
Distance runners tend to ignore pain.
Or they’d better know how if they’re truly in for the long run.
So when NIACC freshman Gavin Connell was experiencing a little abdominal discomfort during last Friday’s Minnesota State T&F Indoor Invitational, it seemed to be merely business as usual.
“It started out as dull pain … I thought it may have been just nerves,” Connell said.
After competing in the mile run, the pain didn’t go away.
“It just moved more to the right side,” Connell said. “I still felt I could run. I was disappointed with my mile run (4:52.51 — sixth place), so I really wanted to hit it hard for my next event.”
That was the 1,000-meter run.
Again, Connell was unable to outrun the pain, but this time he managed to outrun the field, taking first with a time of 2 minutes, 49.10 seconds — the lone first-place performance for the Trojans, who placed fifth in their first meet of the calendar year.
Yet the thrill of victory didn’t quell the agony to come. The following evening, the pain became excruciating.
Connell, who lives on campus, was back home in Charles City just before the new semester started on Monday. Connell was able to get his mother to drive him to the hospital on Saturday night.
“It was the most painful car ride I ever had,” said Connell, who was diagnosed with appendicitis and had an emergency appendectomy on Sunday morning.
Connell, who said he was still a “little groggy” several days after the surgery, is feeling much better now. He’s also relieved his college track season will likely not be a complete washout.
“When I found out I had to have surgery, I thought my season was over,” Connell said. “But they told me I could be walking around in about two-and-a-half weeks, and then slowly get back into training again.
“I hope to be back and ready by the outdoor nationals.”
Connell, who is studying music at NIACC, was a four-time state cross country qualifier for Charles City. He also qualified for state track and field in the 3,200-meter run his senior year.
Connell’s high school cross country and track coach, Ryan Rahmiller, nominated him for the “I AM SPORT” award that honors student-athletes who are committed to giving back to their communities.
The top three finalists were invited to an awards ceremony held in Des Moines last summer. Connell was the overall winner.