GRIFFITH | Taylor Austin isn't just a cross country runner. The Griffith junior is a cross country runner who often has her hips pop out of the socket.
"Yeah, they pop out when I do my stretches," Austin said. "And when I do my walk. And when I do my run."
Heading into today's New Prairie Semistate, Austin isn't just a young lady dealing with a physical ailment. She is a talented athlete who won her conference meet, her sectional meet and finished second at the regional.
Her pelvic bone is uneven -- one of her hips is higher than the other -- but that won't keep her down today. She is a driven young lady looking for revenge on the postcard-like course at New Prairie.
"I deal with the pain," Austin said.
Panthers coach Shannon Scheidel noticed the pain in her star last year. That's when the hip became an issue. Scheidel believes learning how to deal with it all took time.
It affected last year's 19th place finish at New Prairie.
As a freshman Austin was 11th at the semistate and 35th at state.
"Taylor has a strong will," Scheidel said. "It came down to her finishing the race. She'll say, 'I hurt coach but I didn't concentrate on that. I wanted to win no matter how I feel.'"
Seeing a chiropractor, who taught her new stretching techniques, helped. Rubbing pain-reducing ointments on before races does, too. But in the regional at Crown Point a tightness developed and Andrean's Becca Conley ran away with the win.
Austin's regional time of 19:16 at Lemon Lake puts her at No. 7 at New Prairie. The Top 15 at the semistate advance to next week's state championship.
"I was really upset last year because I knew I could've done better," Austin said. "Last year's semistate has really driven me. It's made me work harder at practice, to do the extra things to get me where I'm supposed to be.
"I have to run like I used to run and not think about the pain. Now I don't think about anything but the race."