Top Cat: Knee trouble doesn't hold sprinter back

Thursday, April 17 2008 - Brenton Emanuel

By: Micky Deming/Staff reporter

Posted: 4/17/08

Brenton Emanuel is happy to be on the track again.


He said it was almost indescribable to be back winning races for Eastern's track team.

Senior sprinter Brenton Emanuel won the 100 and 200-meter dashes at the Lee Calhoun Invitational at Western Illinois last weekend. (Hayley Clark/The Daily Eastern News)

The senior sprinter from Plainfield won the 100-meter and 200-meter dash this weekend in cold and windy weather at the Lee Calhoun Classic in Macomb. He won the 100-meter in 10.69 seconds and the 200-meter in 21.68 seconds.


It has been a long road back to success for Emanuel, who has battled knee injuries since October 2006 when he heard a "pop" one day while running.


He tore his meniscus and sprained his ACL, which forced him to have surgery and spend several months rehabilitating his leg back into shape.


"The key in recovering was mentally trying to stay positive," Emanuel said. "It was hard at times, but I just kept working."


Just as his knee was nearing full strength this fall Emanuel ran into more adversity. He tore his patella tendon in November and was back off the track.


Eastern head track coach

Tom Akers

said knee injuries can be just as difficult to overcome mentally as physically. He said a sprinter who has to give full effort into every run can lose confidence and subconsciously hold back when trying to run after a knee injury.


"It's a long, drawn-out battle mentally as well as physically," Akers said. "It takes a long time to get your mental confidence back."


After his most recent knee injury, Emanuel stayed positive and started rehabilitation again to get ready for the outdoor season. He did not have surgery after tearing his patella tendon but will have to have it after the season concludes.


"It still hurts sometimes," Emanuel said. "But it is as close to 100 percent as it can be right now."


With his knee as healthy as it has been in two years, Emanuel is contributing in multiple ways for Eastern's track team.


"He has been a good leader for the guys on this team," Akers said. "He is a great example of how you can be successful by fighting through adversity and being patient and diligent."


Emanuel said his hard work can be a good example for the team because they were helpful to him while he was recovering. He said their encouragement kept him focused and helped him keep a positive attitude.


Now he is sprinting again and succeeding, Akers said he thinks Emanuel's confidence will continue to grow.


"He ran two good races this weekend in poor weather conditions," Akers said. "That could be a stepping stone for the rest of the season."


Emanuel said his experience recovering from two separate injuries has humbled him and given him a better perspective on winning.


"It's the greatest feeling," he said. "It's hard to describe what it feels like to win after what I've had to overcome."


After working so hard to get back on the track, Emanuel said he knows not to take any race for granted.


"You always hear people say, 'Play every game like it's your last,'" he said.


"My knee could tear at any time, so I know to run every race like it's my last."

Micky Deming can be reached at 581-7944 or at

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