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Rock signs with UWA, puts injury behind him

Jared Redding, Sports Editor

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Plenty of star power has been produced within the OHS track and cross country programs throughout their tradition rich history. One athlete among that star power recently made it official in order to compete at the next level.

Rock signed with the University of West Alabama to continue his track and cross country career on April 13. UWA was the first school to express interest in Rock.

“Right as I was going through cross country season, one of their coaches showed up to one of my meets. Even as I was going through track season, they kept on contacting me and my parents. So I knew they were really interested in me, more so than other schools. They stuck with meal through out,” Rock said about his recruitment by UWA.

“I’m really excited to see him get the opportunity he has earned. He is going to excel at West Alabama,” head track and field coach Chris Bush said of Rock.

Rock’s signature put an exclamation point on what was a bittersweet career.

“A few years ago, I didn’t think that I would be in this situation,” Rock said. “It is a really big step in my life. I had no idea that this was going to happen to me, but I’m thankful for it.”

Rock excelled as an eighth grade cross country runner. It was clear that he had the potential to do great things in the future according to head cross country coach Chris Patton. His journey took a big hit when he began to have shin splints. Doctors indicate that the injury is treatable, not this time however. The injury kept Rock out of running for nearly three years. It did, however, give Rock a bigger appreciation for the activity.

“I realized that things you have in life can be taken away at any given second,” Rock said. “This injury frustrated me, but it made my realize what running meant to me and my life.”

Rock took advantage of his time away from the sport to recover and make a comeback for his junior season with the help of an elliptical machine and using Hokas shoes and KT tape.

“It’s a testament to his heart. He never quits, he never gives up,” Bush said.

“It’s a life story,” head cross country coach Chris Patton said. “That’s one of the things we talked about together, getting over an injury and rehabbing. I told him that a lot of it will be mental.”

Eventually, Rock found himself back running with his teammates as a junior, thanks to his recovery

In his senior season, Rock placed consistently in the top three in most of the cross country meets he ran in. He earned a personal best of 16:36.50 running in the Pontotoc Invitational.

He and his track teammates are looking to win a fourth straight 5A state championship in May.

According to Rock, his mission couldn’t have been accomplished had it not been for those who assisted him throughout his comeback story.

“I had really good coaching and really good doctors get me through it,” Rock said. “I feel like they developed me into the runner I am today.”

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Rock signs with UWA, puts injury behind him