The band Three Dog Night once crooned that “one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever find.”
Apparently the band members of Three Dog Night never ran in the finals at the Ohio State track and field competition.
In each finals event, nine runners take to the track for the finals, and eight of them eventually find their way to the podium to collect a medal and be named All-Ohioans. For that ninth competitor, they have to live with the fact that they were one of the top-10 runners in the state, but that can be of little consolation when a medal and All-Ohio status is so close.
Norwayne junior Maccoy Stika found himself in that unenviable ninth spot after the boys Div. III 400-meter race took place at the state meet in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, June 2.
Stika ran a 51.14, a time off of his regional effort of 50.69, and it was a time that left him 0.04 seconds out of medal contention.
It is at times like that you find out what a person is made of, and after the disappointment of the near miss, Stika showed that he was not the kind of guy who was going to feel sorry for himself. He also showed a lot of class in the way he handled the dejection.
“It stinks to put the work in to making the final, and it is hard [to end up ninth], but everyone is good out there, and I didn’t lose to anybody that didn’t deserve to be here too,” Stika said. “I’m not too happy with how I ran, but that is how it goes sometimes.”
That Stika was even running at all at state is a testament to his willpower and work ethic. In his eighth-grade year, Stika suffered a devastating hip injury that saw him tear the cartilage connecting his right hip flexor to the bone. That led to a bone spur, which resulted in a torn labrum and two hip surgeries.
For many people, that would be enough to deter them from a life in any type of athletics, but not Stika. He worked hard, came back and in his junior year found himself standing one spot away from All-Ohio status.
“For the longest time I didn’t even think I was going to run,” Stika said. “So the fact that I can come down here and compete, I feel really blessed.”
Stika worked hard to get back, but he said he couldn’t have come this far without a huge support group that helped him overcome the odds and return to track.
“I wouldn’t even be here without family, friends, coaches and teammates who really drove me to get better, and that is one of the biggest reasons I’m here,” Stika said.
With that kind of an attitude, one can only imagine that the Norwayne junior will turn this disappointment into something to push him harder, to go faster, to return to Columbus next year and feel the elation of the eight other athletes who experienced what he hopes to experience in his final year.