Tori Harper had four weeks to wonder when her next competition would be.
Although not the most ideal scenario, the Greenwood Community High School junior understands it could have been longer.
Diagnosed with a stress fracture to her right shin following the Johnson County Meet in April, Harper was recently cleared by doctors to take part in practices and meets for the remainder of the Woodmen’s track and field season.
How long that will be is entirely up to her.
Harper returns to action in the 100-meter hurdles at today’s Franklin girls track and field sectional — the same facility in which Harper aggravated her right shin in the long jump.
“I’ve always had problems with both my knees ever since my freshman year,” Harper said. “This year in county I had more troubles with my right knee, and when I was long jumping my tibia and fibula actually rubbed together and I twisted sideways.
“When I went to the doctor they diagnosed me after some MRIs that I have microfractures in my tibia and a strained PCL ligament in the back. They told me I wasn’t able to do any sort of activity for five to six weeks.”
And yet during county, Harper still managed to place second in the 100 hurdles, fifth in the long jump and establish a personal-best time of 50.3 seconds in the 300-meter low hurdles en route to a third-place ribbon.
The ultra-competitive Harper, who under normal circumstances takes part in both hurdles events, the long jump and the first leg of the 400-meter relay for the Woodmen, simply isn’t wired to stand back and observe.
“It was definitely rough,” she said.
In all, Harper sat out a total of five meets, the most prominent being the Mid-State Conference Meet on May 5 and the Bloomington North Relays a week later.
“It was one of those things where we were optimistic that hopefully Tori could make it back for the sectional,” Greenwood coach Blaine Williams said. “She told us there was an outside chance she could be back for the conference meet, but that didn’t turn out to be true.
“We were a little bit optimistic she would be back this year, but I was ready for that to be a season-ender.”
An outstanding student (4.2 GPA), as well, she had difficulty envisioning this track and field season being over.
“I kept arguing with the athletic trainer, the physical therapist, the doctor. I was like, ‘Well, at least let me run my main thing in conference. That’s all I want to do.’ “ said Harper, referring to the 100 hurdles. “But I really wanted to come back.
“I’ve really given up a lot of things for track, and I connect with the people on this team.”
After finally given the official go-ahead she had so coveted, Harper joined teammates for practice on Thursday and immediately felt the after-affects the next morning.
“I’m more nervous about how my body is going to react sitting out so long. That was my first practice and it was rough. My legs were just exhausted,” Harper said.
In very unlike-Harper fashion, she’s only in one event today instead of the customary three or four.
Greenwood could feel the pinch in the final team point totals as a result. However, its coach knows it’s the right move with another high school track season still in front of Harper.
“It’s a little bit hard to do, especially at the sectional where your priorities shift a little bit toward advancing as many kids as you can,” Williams said. “The 100 hurdles is Tori’s strongest event.
“We felt that was better for her because by the time the meet rolls around she’s going to have been off for a month. To prevent anything else from happening or getting worse, we just decided to stick with one event.”
THE HARPER FILE
Name: Tori Harper
Family: Parents, Joshua Harper and Lisa Spoor; xxxxxx
Favorite TV show: “Criminal Minds”
Favorite food: Chinese
Favorite movie: “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
Favorite athlete: Dawn Harper
Favorite team: Indiana Pacers
IF YOU GO
What: Franklin girls track and field sectional
When: Today, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Franklin High School
Admission: $6 adults
Teams: Center Grove, Columbus East, Columbus North, Edinburgh, Franklin Community, Greenwood, Greenwood Christian, Hauser, Indian Creek, Southwestern (Shelbyville), Waldron, Whiteland