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’Tis But a Scratch

By Staff | Aug 22, 2018

Spencer Corley takes on a gravel portion of the cross country course, despite a bleeding wound on the heel of his foot.

While running the Elby’s Wheeling Distance race in 1979, on the back side of Wheeling Hill, this writer experienced an incident involving a wheelchair runner – yes, you read correctly, a wheelchair runner. Back then it was a quite a popular thing in distance running to have athletes compete in wheelchairs. I was, what I thought, a safe distance ahead of them after running up the nearly two mile hill. But coming down the back side, they made those wheelchairs roll. “Out of the way!” one yelled. I looked, and there they came, picking up speed and passing runners.

I moved to the side when it happened. A wheel came off, and the athlete tipped over, fell to the pavement, and rolled about 15 feet. He had several people help him up; he seemed to be okay but had some bruises and was bleeding slightly around his wrist. With no one helping him, he re-attached his wheel, got back in his chair, and went the next nine miles to finish the race. I thought I had seen it all.

I was incorrect. The St. Marys cross country meet is a huge event that drew more than 700 runners. It was at that meet, this past Saturday, that Tyler Consolidated Silver Knights sophomore Spencer Corley pulled off one of the most amazing sports feats the area has ever witnessed.

At the beginning of the race, after the gun had shot and the runners were on their way, Corley got mixed up in the middle of the pack and somehow lost a shoe. He knew someone had stepped on the back of his foot, but he wasn’t about to lose the time to fight the pack, hunt the shoe, and fall behind.

So he continued to run the course with one shoe on and one shoe off, including his sock. Sometimes adrenaline takes over, and you gain an edge from it; you feel no pain and your mental outlook becomes one of, “I have to win this race.”

Spencer Corley runs a cross country raise with an injured, bleeding foot.

Corley stayed close to the front and was in the race the entire time. Unknown to most and maybe even himself, he was injured more than he realized, but he continued on. As he crossed the finish line in a sparkling time of 17:28.2 and third among the best in the state, he fell to the ground surrounded by friends, teammates and family.

It was then they discovered he had some injuries to his ankle and foot which should have and would have stopped most high school kids, or for that matter even adults, from completing the course – let alone getting a third place overall finish. Without the injury and the handicap of running barefoot on one foot, there is no doubt in this writer’s mind, Corley would have been the race winner.

Caleb Carlson of Fairmont Senior took first place with a 17:10.7, while Carter Lipscomb of Doddridge County came in second – just six seconds ahead of Corley, who never limped to the line but fought through the pain and agony to put on his greatest performance.

After examining the cut and injury, Spencer received a fair amount of stitches to seal the wound and treatment for a couple other open wounds to the heel area of his foot. The concern now is whether Corley will be sidelined for an extended period of time, or can he heal quickly and bounce back to make amends? Whichever it is, you can bet he will be one tough customer to deal with when he hits the course for his next event.

Famed distance runner Bill Rogers once said, “It’s not how you run the course, it’s how you overcome the obstacles that make you the winner.”

Spencer Corley collapses into the arms of his brother after he injures his heel during a cross country meet. Notably, Corley persevered and finished third.

In that regard, I would consider Spencer Corley the winner.

Of the 23 teams entered in the race, the Silver Knights finished ninth right behind Grafton High School. James Streets was the second Knights finisher with a 44th place in a time of 19:43; Hayden Baker finished 72nd with a 20:37; Trey Keys came in at 21:11 for 87th, and Hayden Brown ran a 22:00.

Paden City had five runners complete the course with Jacob Amos leading the way as he crossed the finish line in 24:16.8; Kyle Carpenter was their next runner to cross the line with a 24:32.6. He was followed by Tobin McEldowney with a 26:36.5; Brandon Hizer finished with a 27:52.2, and Paxton Pierce came in at 30:57.4.

The Silver Knights girls were led by Abigail Ebert, with a time of 29:19. Kate Gorrell finished with a 29:48.3. Hayley Cremona crossed the line in 31:48.5 while Mackensie Perine was right behind with a 31:49. Taylor Ebert crossed the line for the Knights with a 33:11.5, and Makayla Haught finished with a 38:08.

Paden City girls finishing the race were Hannah Loy at 34:41.1, Arissa Kline, 34:42.3; and Paige Leonard at 38:36.5.