Schachleiter shows that no finish is impossible despite injury

Matthew Smith | Sports Editor

Schachleiter coming across the finish after his injury

For most, finishing a race requires two healthy legs.

However, October 31 during the 2020 regional cross country championships, sophomore Issac Schachleiter suffered a devastating leg injury in the home stretch of the race. Coming into the meet, Schachleiter was second on the team with a personal best time of 15:48.50, and was expected to be key for the team’s run at state. 

Only 100 meters from the finish line, Schachleiter suddenly went down with a sharp pain in his leg and stayed down. Schachleiter said that he later discovered he broke the femur in his right leg after running with an unknown stress fracture.

“I fell at the third mile of the race and I wasn’t able to stand up on my leg after that happened,” Schachleiter said. “When I got to the Emergency Room, the X-rays revealed I was actually running on a stress fracture, and when I fell, it led to most likely breaking my hip.”

In practice, Schachleiter had felt soreness in his hip. However, he didn’t feel fazed by the pain. Head Coach Tom Rapp said that Schachleiter had shown no indication of slowing down and felt ready to race in the regional championship.

“We were aware that he had a sore hip going into the meet,” Rapp said, “In practice though, he felt better and it looked better the faster he ran. When he tried to slow down is when the soreness occurred more. Issac said he felt good to run and there was no indication he couldn’t, so we decided to put him in the race.”

Although Schachleiter was unable to continue running once he went down, that didn’t stop him from crossing the finish line. His determination got the best of him, and despite the injury, Schachleiter said he got up onto his left leg and gutted out the last 100 meters of the race. 

“I couldn’t stand back up,” Schachleiter said. “Connor Skidmore from Bellefontaine and Ben Prenger from Tippecanoe got me up and helped me to the finish. As soon as I crossed on my good leg, my teammates met me at the finish line and my coach carried me to the medic tent.”

In the midst of competing for a state championship berth, Skidmore and Bellefontaine showed what true sportsmanship really looks like. With their help, Schachleiter said this race meant too much to him to not cross the finish line. 

“I was so motivated to finish the race, I had trained so hard for this season and to make it this far,” Schachleiter said. “It honestly felt like a bad dream, but I could never imagine giving up on a race, no matter what. I needed to cross that finish line.”

Moving forward the team knew how big of a loss it was to lose Schachleiter. As a top six runner in the Greater Miami Conference, it was difficult to replace him in the lineup. Despite this, Rapp said the team still felt confident and ran at the state championship for Schachleiter and his passion for the sport. 

“It is definitely a tall task to replace a guy like Issac, who has been one of our top runners all season,” Rapp said. “But the athletes on our team had a sense that we need to run this race not just for ourselves but for Issac as well. We’ve had a couple of guys on our team with some tough luck this season. We had a sense of responsibility to lay it all out there for the guys who can’t race.”

After going through a successful three hour surgery at Cincinnati Children’s hospital, Schachleiter has started his recovery process. Schachleiter knows it won’t be easy, but said there will be many challenges along the way, but he is ready for all of them.

“I got three screws drilled into my right hip,” Schachleiter said. “For a while, I will have to completely stay off my right leg. I will have to use a wheelchair and crutches as well. Eventually I also will have to attend physical therapy too. It’s a lot, but I plan on coming back stronger than ever.”

Photo from Mason Cross Country Twitter