The senior football seasons for Drake Schafer and Logan Laird were over before they really got started. Both Billings running backs suffered torn ACLs early in the season.
But just seven months later both athletes are on the track running for their respective teams. For Schafer, a Skyview sprinter, it was his second tear in as many football seasons. He sat out all of last track season.
“I’m really excited (to be back on the track),” Schafer said. “The first couple weeks of this season I really struggled coming back from my second tear. One night I just found a new gear. I got back what I used to have, and my speed’s starting to come back.”
Schafer ran his personal bests in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes as a sophomore. He clocked 11.15 seconds in the 100 and 22.86 in the 200 that season. At the Falcons’ meet on Tuesday, Schafer already ran an 11.29, good enough for a third-place finish in the 100. He was third in the 200, too, with a 23.2.
Laird is easing back into things for West, running just the 400 and a leg in the 1,600 relay to begin the season. But to say he’s slowly working back would be inaccurate. He ran a 52.5-second 400 on Saturday at the West Triangular.
“I was a little nervous at the beginning (of the 400),” Laird admitted after the race, “but overall it was pretty good. I was happy with it for my first time back.”
For his first time, maybe. But Laird aims to improve on his pre-injury personal-record time of 50.3 seconds. Getting “down to 49 by state” is the goal, he said.
“What (Laird) did Saturday, I was pretty proud of him,” said Bears coach Rob Stanton. “And he accomplished a lot just by being able to run that first race. I think he’s only going to get better.”
Laird ultimately plans to join Schafer in the shorter sprints, but he’s working his way up to that. Stanton said Laird will likely start running the 200 next week or the week after and the 100 by the end of the month.
“It’s very impressive,” Stanton said of the two runners already being back. “I think most kids wouldn’t consider that much work (after their fall surgeries) to possibly run track in the spring. It’s just impressive what they’ve done already.”
Laird’s hand-time adjusted 400 was already the seventh fastest in the state (fourth in Class AA) entering the week. And Schafer’s times in the 100 and 200 will rank near the top of next week’s best times.
“I’m really excited to see how I do,” Schafer said. “I’m stronger and I hope that, you know, I’m faster a little bit. I guess we’ll wait and see.”
At this rate, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a long wait for either sprinter.
• Stanton pointed to Helena Capital runner Kyle Nickol as the early Class AA favorite in the 400. Last week, Nickol ran the race in 49.63 seconds, which is faster than last year’s state-winning mark.
• Skyview’s Tuesday meet saw some fast times on the girls’ side, too. Falcons sprinter Haley Gellner recorded a 12.46 in the 100 and a 26.37 in the 200.
• Broadview-Lavina’s Abby Bymaster started the 2014 season where she ended the 2013 season. The Montana State commit heaved the shot put 38 feet, 11½ inches her first time out.