Wahl competes in Australia, injures knee in process

By on August 10, 2016
Cocalico graduate Steph Wahl recently competed at the Down Under Games in Australia.

Cocalico graduate Steph Wahl recently competed at the Down Under Games in Australia.

When 2016 Cocalico graduate Stephanie Wahl qualified for the PIAA Track and Field meet, she received an invitation for the 28th annual Down Under Sports Tournament at Griffith University in Australia.

She’s been there before…16 times in fact.

Her mother Carolyn grew up in Australia and her Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins still live there. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for the West Chester-bound speedster.

Wahl holds the Cocalico record in the 100 meter hurdles, the long jump and the 4 x 100 meter relay. She planned to compete in all three events at the competition held July 8-10.

A sprain in her left knee kept her out of the hurdles, but she did compete in the 100 meters and the long jump. Though she wasn’t happy with her performance, Wahl finished fifth in the long jump and qualified in eighth position in the 100 preliminary heat.

Unfortunately, her final jump resulted in a torn ACL in her right knee, ending the meet and postponing the start of her college career by a year.

This reporter had the opportunity to sit with Stephanie Wahl and her mother Carolyn on Tuesday morning on the patio of their West Cocalico Township home.

“It was actually the landing,” described Wahl. “It wasn’t very good quality sand. It was hard on the bottom and soft on top. I think there was a bump where this one (right leg) landed.”

Wahl was sitting in a wheel chair with the leg in a brace, following surgery last Thursday at Lancaster General Hospital. The surgery was performed by Orthopedic Surgeon and Ephrata grad Dr. Joel Horning.

Wahl has become a bit of a medical expert in her own right in talking about the procedure.

“They had to take a bit of my hamstring instead of my patella tendon, which they usually take,” she explained. “They took the hamstring and drilled through my tibia and femur. They just pulled it through to make a new ACL tendon. Then they put screws in and looped it around a few times to make it stronger.”

“(Dr. Horning) said it went really smooth,” added Carolyn Wahl. “She’s young and very strong, so that really helped. He was pleased with the result. We go to see him Friday.”

Wahl is scheduled to move into her West Chester dorm on August 26 and classes start on the 29.

“For now, I’m on crutches for about two weeks,” said Wahl. “We got the surgery early enough that I should be off the crutches by then.”

As to her college track and field career? One of the first calls was to West Chester Coach Jason Kilgore.

“He said, it’s not a problem. We’ll just red-shirt you the first year,” said a relieved Wahl. “I can come to practice and meets if I want to. I can also do rehab in the athletic training room.”

Ironically, Wahl’s chosen major is to become an athletic trainer.

“I’ll be there a lot,” responded Wahl. “Especially the first year. I’m looking forward to see how they actually do things, before I actually am the athletic trainer.”

And if Wahl had a crystal ball?

“I don’t think it will (affect me) long term,” she said. “I usually bounce back from injuries. This time, I’ll make sure I’m completely ready. I love the sport so much that I want to get back to it.”

But for now, it’s all about the next two weeks.

“Just going to PT (physical therapy) and back,” she said. “I have to try to pack on crutches, which is going to be tough. My friend (also roommate) is doing most of the shopping right now. I have a lot of visitors coming. They bring a lot of food, which is nice. I’ll get my freshman 15 in before I even start.”

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