All healed, Hawkins sees success

Redshirt sophomore Erin Hawkins had injured her ACL and meniscus.

Minnesota's Erin Hawkins competes in the 60-meter dash finals on Jan. 31 at the University Fieldhouse.

"Daily File Photo,Alex Tuthill-Preus"

Minnesota’s Erin Hawkins competes in the 60-meter dash finals on Jan. 31 at the University Fieldhouse.

Grant Donald

Two years after tearing her ACL and successfully recovering from surgery, redshirt sophomore Erin Hawkins found herself preparing to go under the knife again — this time, for a meniscus injury.

The second setback, which occurred last summer, caused skepticism regarding Hawkins’ future as a track athlete, especially considering the possibility of a third — and more severe — injury. Her doctors didn’t fully agree with her running after she healed.

But as Hawkins and her mother, Ronnie, discussed the second surgery’s recovery process, one thing was certain: Hanging up the cleats was not an option.

Luckily for her, ignoring her surgeon’s skepticism paid off: Hawkins set the Gophers’ indoor program record in the 200-meter dash at the Big Ten indoor championships last month.

“The surgeon told [Erin] that she was going to have to stop running,” Ronnie Hawkins said. “For us, we never look at what the doctor says and say that will be [final]. I always let her determine what level she wants to take her game to.”

The former Iowa State 100- and 200-meter dash champion decided in the post-operation room that her injuries would not define her time with Minnesota.

“Erin is actually pretty disappointed that [her 200-meter dash] record isn’t better,” Ronnie Hawkins said. “I know that next year, she will be breaking that record again.”

Hawkins carried the momentum she created during the end of the indoor season to the outdoor campaign. She finished first in the 400-meter dash last weekend at the South Alabama Dual.

The redshirt sophomore has already laid out expectations for the outdoor season, which includes qualifying for Big Ten finals in each of her events.

That’s something head coach Matt Bingle said he would have laughed at last summer.

“Once she had to undergo surgery for a second time, that’s when I seriously doubted if she would ever be the same runner again,” Bingle said. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you want to get back out there, it’s just not going to happen. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and we are fortunate to have her back.”

Compared to other athletes recovering from a meniscus injury, Hawkins said she didn’t do anything special.

But Hawkins said by showing maturity and having faith that her decision to participate would benefit her in the future, she was successful in rehab.

“I consider the whole ACL injury a blessing in disguise,” Erin Hawkins said. “Without it, I would be in my third year of track instead of my second, and the maturity I’ve gained in just that one year has definitely helped. I’m just grateful that I’ve made it through.”

With two serious injuries under her belt, it would seem that Hawkins has already experienced the bad breaks that track has to throw her way.

But that might not be the case. Hawkins is more susceptible to injury, considering her past, and the next one could be one that could end her career.

“It’s definitely something I think about from time to time,” Hawkins said. “But in the end, you can’t worry about it. You can’t run in fear.”