FRANKLIN FURNACE – Green senior Zach Huffman knows all too well what it takes to overcome adversity.
Just a few short days before the Bobcats began their 2019 high school track season, Huffman suffered one of the worst injuries possible for someone who thrives in hurdle events during the track season.
While playing basketball with his younger brother Ethan, Zach went for a block and landed awkwardly, immediately knowing the damage done to his ankle was somewhat severe.
“I knew it was bad because of how bad it hurt,” Huffman said of his injury which occured in early March. “It was a grade three sprain, and I bruised my talus bone. I was on crutches for a week, then an air cast, then a walking boot for four or five weeks.”
Huffman thought that his senior track season and his high school track career had ended potentially due to a freak accident no one could have prevented.
But, quite the opposite happened. Huffman rehabed, took it easy for the majority of the 2019 regular season, and prepared himself to attempt a potential comeback in time for Green’s postseason events.
“I had to take it easy, so I couldn’t hurdle for most of the season,” Huffman said. “My first meet this year was a week before the SOC meet.”
In that same event, his first since returning from his potentially career ending injury, Huffman broke a school record. A week later at the SOC meet, Huffman rebroke his school record and finished second to Northwest’s Chase McClay in the 300 meter hurdles.
If you thought Huffman’s record breaking journey ended there, think again. A week later at the Division III Southeast District Meet, Huffman once again finished second and once again rebroke his school record time in the 300 meter hurdles. And finally, with a spot in the Division III State Track and Field Meet on the line, Huffman finished third in last weekend’s Regional Meet in Lancaster, earning his spot in this weekend’s State Meet. For the fourth time in as many events, Huffman rebroke the school record in 300 meter hurdles.
“I never thought I’d make it to state,” Huffman said. “I actually thought that I’d come back and I’d be slower. But instead I came back and I was faster. That was a huge surprise to me.”
Green does not have a track. That is no secret to those who follow the sport and to those who are from Scioto County. Because of that, Huffman, along with the aid of track head coach Randy Smith and assistant coach Eric “Scoot” Smith, is forced to adapt to the conditions presented to him by running hurdles in practice on a makeshift course in the Green High School parking lot.
It’s that type of determination and ability to thrive outside his circumstances that has guided Huffman to reach the level of success he has during his senior season.
“When we’re at other meets and talking to other kids, we get asked all the time how we can be good if we don’t even have a track,” Huffman said. “It’s kind of cool to show them that you don’t need a track to be successful. It’s all how much effort you put into practice. We don’t have much, but it’s cool to prove that you don’t need much.”
However, those circumstances won’t be the case for future Green track athletes. As part of the new levvy passing in Franklin Furnace which approved plans to build Green’s new facilities, academic and athletic, future Green athletes won’t have to suffer through not having the appropriate facilities and will give themselves a better chance to compete with a brand new track and athletic facilities being built.
“It’s going to be awesome for future Green students,” Huffman said. “Coach [Smith] actually wants me to get my official license so I can help him run some of the meets. My brother [Ethan] will be a senior the first year that the school is built, so that’ll be cool to be able to watch him and the other kids on the new track.”
With his qualification in this weekend’s 300 meter hurdles event at the Division III meet, Huffman still has goals he’d like to accomplish before taking off the Bobcat uniform for a final time following the state meet.
“I’m going to go and run my hardest. There’s really no pressure becasue I’ve made it this far. But I just want to run the best that I can and I’ll be happy with whatever happens.”
A full schedule of this weekend’s State Track and Field Meet can be found online at https://ohsaa.org/Portals/0/Sports/Track-Field/StateSchedule.pdf.
© 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved