Runner Mead in danger of missing outdoor season

The junior already missed the indoor season and is still nursing an Achilles injury.

by Derek Wetmore

While six-time All-American Hassan Mead recovers from what head coach Steve Plasencia described as an âÄúAchillesâÄô tendon injury,âÄù the team will do its best to fill the gaps and move on with or without its superstar. Mead sat out the entire indoor season, taking a redshirt season in hopes of recovering from the injury and still saving a season of eligibility. The team has not put a time table on his return and said they will not attempt to rush him back before he is at full strength. Applying for another medical redshirt at seasonâÄôs end is still an option provided Mead doesnâÄôt compete in any events for the duration of the outdoor season. However, the team is not ready to make any decisions on whether or not Mead will be competing for the Gophers in the 2010 outdoor season. âÄúIf he can get back up to speed, we plan on running him this outdoor season,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúBut thatâÄôs going to have to be one of those things where we watch how he comes along.âÄù Plasencia said Mead has never sustained an injury of this severity during his career at Minnesota, so it is difficult to gauge what the recovery process will be like. With the outdoor season in full swing, the team canâÄôt sit around and wait for its All-American distance runner to recover. Minnesota will have to move on without him, at least for the time being. Plasencia said the team will not look for one runner in particular to fill MeadâÄôs spikes, but rather is seeking across-the-board improvements from each one of the teamâÄôs members to account for the wealth of points Mead has collected in the past. Strong marks from freshman Harun Abda and redshirt freshman thrower Micah Hegerle are hopeful signs that the rest of the squad is willing to step up, Plasencia said. âÄúI think thereâÄôs a little pressure [because heâÄôs such a major point contributor],âÄù senior distance runner Chris Rombough said. âÄúWhen the Big Ten championships come, youâÄôve got to bring it.âÄù Rombough said Mead is involved in a heavy routine of cross training, but a return this outdoor season is not certain. âÄúWith some guys, [AchillesâÄô injuries] keep them out for months,âÄù Rombough said, âÄúbut if heâÄôs ready to go, if he gets it healthy, I donâÄôt think thereâÄôs any problem pulling the redshirt off of him.âÄù Mead is in good physical condition aside from the injury, Rombough said, so if Mead can run, his teammate expects that he will. Minnesota recently captured the Big Ten indoor title and placed 8th at the national indoor championships but is looking at the possibility that it will not have one of its top runners back this season. âÄú[The mindset weâÄôre taking] is definitely positive knowing that even without one of our highest scorers we can still compete very well,âÄù Rombough said. The coaching and training staffs are working with Mead as he attempts to rehabilitate and strengthen the tendon. Plasencia said Mead receives daily attention from the medical staff, as is the case with all injured athletes, but did not comment further on the extent of the injury, citing the privacy legislation under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. âÄúSometimes getting rid of an injury is like solving a puzzle in that once you figure it out you say, âÄòwhy didnâÄôt we do that three weeks earlier?âÄô âÄù Plasencia said. The outdoor season is still young for the Gophers menâÄôs track and field team, but the prospect of competing without one its superstars is disconcerting and appears as though it could become a reality.