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Crouch’s courageous comeback

2005 Placer grad rediscovers her winning form after auto accident
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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As Kim Crouch was reconstructing her life, she discovered that a piece was missing. Now that she’s found it, the Placer High graduate is a champion runner once again. Presently a 22-year-old sophomore at Sacramento City College, Crouch won the Big 8 Conference women’s cross country championship on Oct. 30. Crouch completed the 5,000-meter race at Santa Rosa’s Big Lake Park in a season-best time of 18 minutes and 2 seconds, beating her nearest competitor by nearly a full minute — and helping the Sac City women win their first-ever conference title in the process. “Kim has a good combination,” Panthers coach Marisa Avendano said. “She’s fast — she can handle any fast course. She’s also a very strong runner — she’s good at running hills and stuff. That’s what makes her as good a runner as she is.” Crouch’s championships are just part of a comeback story that’s still being written. Crouch will add another chapter this Saturday when she competes at the Northern California Community College Championships in Belmont. A member of Placer’s 2004 state champion girls cross country team, Crouch had completed her freshman season at Humboldt State University when she flipped her Mitsubishi 3000GT while driving along a gravelly mountain road in 2006. “Pretty much the entire roof was made of glass,” Crouch recalled. “When (the car) flipped over and hit the ground, I hit the ground at the same time.” The accident left Crouch with a severe concussion. While Crouch didn’t have to relearn everything about her life and was still able to function as a normal college student — she attended Sierra College and the College of the Redwoods in Eureka over the next two years — she did have troubles with her memory. “I forgot who I was,” she said. “While trying to get my memory back, I left out a huge, huge piece of my life.” Crouch found that piece in several items of memorabilia related to her running career at Placer — the state championship ring she still wears, her highly decorated letterman’s jacket “with no room left on it” and three Ziploc bags full of medals. She knew she needed to run competitively again — and Avendano, the Sac City coach who had tried to recruit Crouch before she went to Humboldt State, was willing to giver her the chance. “I said, ‘I’m frickin’ 22 going up against 18-year-olds — who knows if I can compete with them?’” Crouch said. “Marisa said, ‘You won’t know until you try.’ So I said, ‘Let’s try.’” Crouch had some obstacles to overcome before she started running for Sac City. Even before her accident, her running career was threatened by stomach problems — her intestines were tightening up due to overstress. Although she takes medication to help relax her stomach, “it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to run without any pain,” she said. When Crouch first started running again in May, she couldn’t go longer than 30 minutes at a time. Her best friend Sherri Rouse, however, told her that if she kept at it, she’d soon be breaking 18 minutes — something she might finally do at Saturday’s NorCal meet. “I woke up every frickin’ day at 7 and pushed through from 30 minutes to 45 and 50,” Crouch said. “I wanted it — I wanted it really bad, and having the positive support system I had, it helped even more. When I needed my friends and family, they were there.” “I was surprised at how fast she was when she came back,” Avendano said. “She has her best races ahead of her.” Crouch now gets up daily at 4:30 a.m. to be at Sac City in time for 7 a.m. practices. She’s enrolled in SCC’s physical therapy assistant program, maintaining a 3.75 grade-point average and interning with the school’s athletic training room. She plans to transfer to Sacramento State after the season and eventually earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical therapy. “I’m really glad to be where I’m at,” Crouch said. “I thought it would never happen again. It’s amazing how when you lose (something), you want it even more.”