SPRING CREEK – Junior Mikkala Perchetti overcame tumultuous challenges in her recovery from two hip surgeries, returning this cross country season to run with her Spring Creek teammates.
Perchetti had run with the Lady Spartans her freshman year and decided to take her sophomore year off from the team. During this time, Perchetti noticed some hip pain that was tolerable as she ran, but it grew to be intolerable in the month of November, forcing her running shoes to hang out.
After numerous visits to multiple doctors over the course of several months, Perchetti confirmed that she’d torn her labrum in her left leg and injured ligaments in both hips.
“The doctor said that I would have to have two surgeries for them,” said Perchetti. “One would be in January (2017) and the other would be in March, each with a recovery time of six months. I thought that was too far apart and that I wouldn’t be able to run for the season, so I decided to do both at the same time in January.”
Perchetti then went through a hard recovery process as she spent six weeks in a wheelchair, two on crutches, and then worked closely with her physical therapist to regain the muscles she used to have to run. She missed the whole third quarter of school due to the icy conditions and her limited mobility from her surgeries, but she still managed to maintain her successful 4.0 GPA.
She started from scratch as she watched her teammates grow stronger and faster together. This made Perchetti more determined than ever to rejoin her team.
“By the month of May, I was able to run a half-mile twice a week, and then by June I was able to do workouts four times a week,” said Perchetti. “I spent hours in the gym working on squats and upper body exercises to get closer to rejoining the team for the next season.”
By the fall cross country season, Perchetti made the Lady Spartans’ cross country team in the No. 5 slot, and it was exciting for her to participate in her first race back with her supportive teammates.
The season took a toll on Perchetti as her muscles were often sore, and she had to tolerate some pain as each race was tiring for a runner strengthening her stride, building her pace and clocking solid times on every course.
“Whenever I noticed her getting sore, I tried to eliminate some of the tougher courses so she could pull back and ease up without taking any huge risks or chances,” said Spring Creek cross country coach Todd Mahlke.
Mahlke’s conscious awareness of his runners’ efforts and conditioning allowed the Lady Spartans to log the miles, work hard and remain focused throughout the course of the season.
“In my 39 years of coaching, I have never dealt with a recovery quite like this,” said Mahlke. “The girls’ hard work paid off, and they were always training the hardest because there’s always teams out there that are getting faster all the time.”
Unless spectators knew what had happened to Perchetti in the prior months leading up to the season, nobody could really tell that she had traveled a winding road of challenges to pull through the race courses this fall.
The team’s positive attitude toward the races, combined with their commitment to the team’s practices, gave Perchetti and the rest of the team an opportunity to compete in the state race once again this year.
“She improved her time by 40 seconds from her regional time to her state time this year,” said Mahlke.
After missing the state championship by one point the prior season, it was a welcome reward for the Lady Spartans to avenge loss this year.
Perchetti felt very emotional and excited as a cross country runner who returned to the state level of racing, winning the state race with her teammates.
The ultimate reward and joy for Perchetti is knowing there were no secret moves in overcoming obstacles in her recovery, seeing the results of her races and being able to run strong in the 2017 Spring Creek Lady Spartans’ state championship cross country season.