Central Magnet’s Claudia Smith, the defending Class A/AA girls cross country champion who tore her ACL during a district tournament basketball game in February, won’t run in Saturday’s Voyles Classic in Smyrna.
Smith underwent surgery to repair her knee, but will run this season.
“She’s getting stronger each day,” Lady Tigers coach Allen Nichols said. “The kid is tough as nails. She’s running each day, she’s obviously still not 100 percent, but we are going to have her this season. We just don’t know exactly when she’ll make her valiant return on the course.”
Smith practices daily with the team. Nichols said she is ahead of schedule with her rehabilitation and strength.
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He said it’s difficult to predict if she will recover quickly enough to perform at last year’s high level.
“I’ve coached baseball, cross country and been involved with basketball for 10 years and I don’t know that I’ve ever had a kid that has the competitive edge that she does,” Nichols said. “I never bet against Claudia and I’ve found that when you get against Claudia you typically lose.”
Nichols estimates that she’s at 70-80 percent. Her leg is strong, but she’s still working on overall conditioning.
Smith, who has a 4.0 grade point average, runs with a brace on her knee.