By Ken Silva
WADSWORTH— If adversity reveals character, the recent injury to Wadsworth girls cross country standout Paige Szabat has shown she is certainly no quitter.
Despite sustaining a season-ending stress fracture in her left leg, the two-time All-Gazette selection refuses to take a negative attitude.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Szabat said. “You just have to deal with it and move on.”
The junior plans to move on by doing what made her one of the elite in the area — work hard. Szabat will start physical therapy Sept. 21 and will be back running as soon as her doctors give her permission. “Track season will be here before you know it,” she said.
When it was suggested that over-training might have been the cause of her injury, Szabat, also an All-Gazette pick in track, would not entertain the thought of a lighter workload.
“I want to continue running and training in college,” she said. “I’m going to work hard this winter, have a good track season and come back for my senior year.”
Wadsworth cross country coach Jennifer Echols hated to have her top runner on the sideline before the season even started, but acknowledged the injury could have been more severe if Szabat had continued to run on it.
“I’m glad we caught it soon enough,” she said. “Any later and it could have been much worse.”
Wadsworth’s Ally Malkowski, Katie Palitto, and Lauren Whitman are also hurt. Heading into the season’s first meet, senior Sammi Petit and junior Molly Priest were the only Wadsworth runners who had competed on the varsity level.
Despite the handicap of almost no experience, the team has not stopped competing and improving.
Junior Ashley Gray, sidelined last season with an injury similar to Szabat’s, leads the Grizzlies, followed closely by freshman Cara Powell. Junior Miranda Lawson and sophomore Jessica White are two others with no prior varsity experience who have shaved minutes off their personal bests to keep the Grizzlies competitive.
“I am completely impressed with what our team is doing up to this point,” Echols said. “They continue to do their best, and that is all I can ask of them.”
Contact Ken Silva at email@example.com.
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