Wednesday Nov 07 2012
Placer's Stelzer running again after IT band injury
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
Hillmen heading to section meet Saturday
Sprinting toward the finish, Zach Stelzer was forced to ease up.
“My muscle just kind of tightened and popped,” Stelzer said of his iliotibial band, which he injured at the Del Oro Invite on Aug. 30. “I had to limp my way to the finish line. That wasn’t pleasant.”
The injury, which sidelined Stelzer until the Oct. 24 Pioneer Valley League championships, made it difficult for the Placer High junior cross country runner to walk straight for two weeks.
“For a while it was pretty bad,” said Stelzer, who has done a ton of rehabbing and continues to do physical therapy to strengthen his IT band.
Aside from the pain he endured, it was also hard for Stelzer to watch his teammates run without him.
“As much as you like seeing your team win,” he said, “it’s much more fun to be a part of it and contribute.”
When Stelzer returned to action he helped the Hillmen varsity boys team earn a PVL title. Stelzer, who is expected to be the leader of the team next year after PVL MVP Toby Qualls graduates, finished third in a respectable 16 minutes, 46 seconds and was named to the all-PVL team.
He followed that with a clocking of 17:14 at last week’s subsection meet, good for fifth best on the team.
Coach Randall Fee is trying to push Stelzer to earn a top-three finish among his team at this Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III meet at Willow Hills in Folsom.
The top three teams out of a field of 10 will advance to the Nov. 24 State Meet in Fresno. The top five individual athletes from non-winning teams will also advance.
Fee expects the varsity boys to duke it out with Will C. Wood and El Dorado High for the top three placings. He said the varsity girls will face stiff competition, and it’s possible Ruth Braica, Halle Ralls, Macaylea Mitchell and Kyra Hostetler could advance as individuals.
On Wednesday afternoon, football coach Joey Montoya gave the Placer High cross country teams a motivational speech on the importance of the upcoming meet and reaching their potential.
Fee asked Montoya to speak because he’s always been impressed with how Montoya gets his squad fired up before games.
“I’ve listened to Joey talk to his football teams and it makes we want to play football,” Fee said. “He does an excellent job.”
While Fee projects his varsity boys to punch their ticket to the State Meet Saturday, he also figures Qualls has to be the favorite to win the 5K race as an individual after winning the subsection race at Frogtown.
Qualls’ teammates expect him to be up front, too.
“I’ll be chasing Toby and Gama (Gomez),” Stelzer said.
Fee thinks Stelzer will improve off of his last outing.
“He’s motivated, and he’s good at whatever he does,” Fee said.
Stelzer is also one of the best mile runners on the Placer track and field team. He’d like to run in college.
With a non-weighted 4.0 grade-point average he certainly has the grades to do so.
Reach Matthew Kimel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel