INDIANAPOLIS – Spencer Ronchetto is a medical miracle.
Six weeks ago, he was lying on the Central Catholic football field in agonizing pain, the victim of a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee.
On Saturday, the West Lafayette senior caught two passes in the Class 3A state championship game.
“It was devastating going down with a torn ACL until I met my therapist (John Edwards of Lafayette Rehabilitation Services) for the first time and he let me know he had a basketball player come back in six weeks before,” Ronchetto said.
Ronchetto didn’t have six weeks.
He had five.
West Lafayette would have to go on a postseason run, giving Ronchetto a chance to get on the practice field to prepare for one final high school game.
“I’ve never seen someone work so hard for five weeks to get the strength he needed and everything done rehab-wise for the doctors to clear him to play,” WL coach Shane Fry said.
All Ronchetto needed to hear was the tale of Troy Roberson.
Roberson tore his ACL in 2002, had surgery and recovered in time to provide Rossville’s boys basketball team with six points and six rebounds in the 2002 state championship win over Barr-Reeve.
Dr. Robert Hagen performed the surgery days after Ronchetto’s injury.
Ronchetto rehabbed tirelessly, working with Edwards and West Lafayette athletic trainer Marion Vruggink to keep whatever small hope alive that he’d wear a Red Devil jersey again.
Hagen had little optimism that Ronchetto could get back on the football field, but there were a few things working in his favor.
The amount of muscle around the knee from Ronchetto’s workout warrior weightlifting mentality and the hardness of bone in his leg provided confidence that a quick recovery was possible.
“We took a little bit of a risk,” Hagen said. “We talked with mom and dad and got him a brace to see what he can do.
“I wish we had couple more weeks, but I was glad he was able to play.”
Not only did Ronchetto play, he was effective.
On West Side’s second drive Friday, quarterback Mikey Kidwell found Ronchetto on a third-and-5 for nine yards. It was Ronchetto’s 62nd catch of the season and he’d later make his 63rd. That would’ve broken the school record if teammate Matt Marley hadn’t already broken it while filling in Ronchetto’s role in the slot.
Ronchetto put on a helmet at practice and started testing his durability prior to last week’s semistate game.
He wanted to go out a winner.
The scoreboard says he didn’t. His team says he did.
“That kid, he is the definition of what hard work can get you,” Fry said. “He’s 5-foot-8 and doesn’t weigh a lot. It’s unbelievable. He is a special, special kid.”