Two years ago, Clear Creek Amana’s Jared Ganschow was in the same situation that Solon’s Connor Ham finds himself in now. He was a celebrated sophomore track star with the world at his feet.
But for Ganschow, the next couple years were not as he planned. He pretty much lost his entire junior season to a hamstring injury and, just as bad, that nagging sense of doubt started to arise.
But at this year’s state track meet, Ganschow re-established himself as a top-flight sprinter by winning the 400 meters on Thursday and the 200 on Saturday. He won the 200 in 22.18 seconds, edging Iowa Falls-Alden’s Brandon Norman by .04 seconds.
In doing so, he might have created his own bloody sock myth to rival that of former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
“The start wasn’t that great, but coming off that corner I felt like I was in good position. I was first or second coming off the curve and I just had to keep strong and I did thankfully and finished hard.
“It felt a little bit weird with my toe. I had a blister on it so I’m glad I’m finished and I’m done for the night. It started bleeding pretty bad and my sock’s all bloody and stuff. My pinky toe. I had a little blister on it last night and thought nothing of it. Today it hurt a little bit and then (after the race) I was, ‘Man my toe really hurts.’ I took my spikes off and it was bloody sock and everything.”
Ganschow went to the trainer and the mess was cleaned up but he happily carried the sock away like a trophy of a hard-fought battle.
The race came down to the wire as the times would attest.
“It was see who could get there first. I didn’t know who got it,” Ganschow said. “I looked and I could see him in the corner of my eye, and we both leaned at the same time so I didn’t know until I saw it on the board.”
This is not so much a matter of redemption for Ganschow. After all, what had he to redeem himself from? But it’s a story of coming back from injury and restoring confidence through repetition and practice.
“It’s a great feeling. I’ve been waiting for this for so long, and finally seeing it up at first, two years after that 4×4 win, coming back my senior year and winning two events individually, it’s just great to see my name up there by itself and knowing my hard work has paid off. I got back and I’m as strong as I was then and can still do better in the coming years at Iowa. It shows me that even if something goes wrong, I can get back from it. It might take a while, but I just have to believe in myself.”
For Solon’s Ham, the greatness has just been revealed. Now it’s up to him to see how far he can go.
On Saturday, he won the 110 hurdles less than a month after placing second in the Drake Relays. He beat defending champion Austin Hess of Harlan by .01 seconds.
“It was a smoother start, I’m more comfortable at Drake now,” he said, breathing heavily from the race. “I was really nervous the first time. Just everything went right. I couldn’t be happier.”
The finish was so close that everyone in the stadium had to check the video board to find out who won.
“I had a feeling that I thought I won. I looked up, prayed for my name to go first and thankfully it did,” Ham said. “Best feeling I’ve had in years. Since I got my 14.5, I’ve been thinking about this.”
It wasn’t easy. He was behind midway through the race and had to adjust his sights.
“I got out OK,” he said. “I was just a little high on the hurdles in the beginning. It got in my brain. I don’t know, I just changed it in the middle. I just thought about it more, jumped lower and used less pop in my legs.”
He had to go after the finish line with a vengeance after the last hurdle.
“I just like to lean, I guess,” he said. “We work in our school on our explosiveness to finish races. I got my foot down and got my pop off of the foot.”
Ham says he learned his form not from coaches but from Ethan Ahern, who is a grade ahead of him at Solon. Imagine what this raw talent might develop into.
“Senior year, I’ve been telling guys that I want to get into the 13s by senior year,” Ham said. “That’s a hard goal to get and I’m willing to work for it. Need to get stronger, quicker, work on my starts more, my height above the hurdle and just my technique.”