Arnold qualifies for state after leg injury (06-07-13)
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Friday, 07 June 2013 08:21
JERRY CITY - Aaron Arnold went up to catch a pass last August, just like he had hundreds of other times.
|Aaron Arnold (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
And just like normal, the Elmwood receiver was tackled on the play.
Only this time, he hit the ground hard and thought he had a cramp in the calf muscle of his left leg.
He tried to walk it off and stretch it out, but it never felt right. He couldn't put pressure on the leg later that evening, eventually hopped up the stairs to bed and still felt excruciating pain the next morning.
Arnold drove to practice to see trainer Mike Messaros the next morning, and the 6-foot-5, 190-pounder was in emergency surgery only 22 hours after the injury.
He was diagnosed with Compartment Syndrome which, according to medical websites, hinders blood flow to a muscle, usually the result of swelling or bleeding.
The injury, suffered Aug. 7, was so severe he was expected to miss the entire football season and was told he would be "lucky" to be healthy for basketball.
But the junior three-sport athlete healed quickly, worked hard to return and missed only four football games.
Arnold will attempt to earn All-Ohio honors in two events at this weekend's Division III state high school track and field meet at Ohio State University.
He'll compete in the long jump and the 1,600 relay.
The surgery resulted in 25 stitches on one side of his leg and 13 on the other. The stitches were just above the ankle to just below the knee.
If not detected in the first 24 hours, the injury can cause permanent nerve and muscle damage.
"He is very driven kid. His comeback is amazing," Elmwood track coach Eric Poffenbaugh said. "The doctors were unsure if he would play again, but he has come back strong. You think about him having a cast and splints on the leg and to see where is now, it's just a credit to him. He kept working hard and came through it. His work ethic and determination are what put him above everyone else."
Arnold was hospitalized for about a week and he even used a wheelchair for a short time once he was home to help him move around. He spent two weeks in a recliner at home because he couldn't put pressure on the leg and used crutches for about a month.
With the help of Messaros, the coordinator of sports medicine/athletic training at Wood County Hospital, Arnold had rehab three days a week at the hospital and did additional exercises at home.
"I don't think we ever thought he was truly done with sports, but you always wonder," said Monica Arnold, his mom, who is Elmwood's girls track coach and assists the boys team.
Arnold returned for a handful plays in Elmwood's Week 5 football game with Eastwood Sept. 21 and played regularly during the final five games.
He averaged 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds for per game to help the basketball team to records of 14-9 overall and 8-6 in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
And in the NBC track meet, he ran on the winning 800 relay team, finished second in the long jump, and fourth in the 1,600 relay and the 400.
Arnold is healthy now, although he still deals with tightness in the leg.
"He was pretty frustrated for a while because he wasn't back at the same level right away," Poffenbaugh said. "It just took him some time in each sport to get back to where he was.
"It was pretty scary at first," Poffenbaugh added. "A lot of kids would have said let's forget about the football season and we'll focus on basketball, but he pushed himself and did what the doctors told him and got back for the last half of the season. That says something about his drive. He's one of the most competitive kids I've ever coached."
Arnold qualified for state in the long jump by finishing second in the Tiffin regional where he had a distance of 21-41‚Ñ2.
His goal this weekend to have a personal best and earn All-Ohio honors. The top eight finishers in each event receive the all-state honors and they're also recognized on the awards podium following their event.
Arnold competed in the 800 relay at state last year.
"The big thing is to do my best and give myself a chance to have to place highly, and I would love to go 22 (feet)," said Arnold, a regional qualifier in the long jump last year.
He jumped 20-93‚Ñ4 for ninth place at the regional last year.
"Getting back to state has been my goal all year," Arnold said.
Elmwood's school record of 21-103‚Ñ4 also is within reach.
"He's very knowledgeable about the sports he does," Poffenbaugh said. "He's constantly looking at stuff about the long jump on in the internet and picking up new things."