Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just glad to be running

from today's Waukesha Freeman -

Novak back on track
CMH sophomore excels after being in hospital last season
 - Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA – Joe Novak enjoyed the opportunity to run this spring.

While winning two races at Thursday’s Classic 8 Conference Jim Barron TRack and Field Championships was special, simply being on the track was quite an accomplishment for the Catholic Memorial High School sophomore.

“Last year I was in the hospital,” he said after winning the 1,600- and 800-meter run Thursday. “I was excited for this year because it was going to be my first year, and it’s going beyond anything I had ever hoped for.”

Novak took a knee to the stomach during a basketball game last winter and suffered duodenal hematoma. It caused his small intestines to swell, which did not allow food to pass through his body. He ended up in Children’s Hospital where he was fed intravenously, and he was not released until the beginning of May. He was unable to compete in any sport until the end of June.

“By then, I was trying to get ready for soccer,” Novak
said. “That kind of drives me to keep pushing when it hurts.”

Novak’s work got him on the soccer field in the fall and led him to put in considerable time over the winter training for the track and field season.

He admitted that last year’s experience on the basketball court played a role in his decision to not play basketball, but track was at the forefront of his mind.

“(The injury) kind of soured me,” Novak said. “I really wanted to do well in track, and I know you really need winter training to make that happen.”

Getting back on the soccer field was the first step, and after that season ended. he devoted himself to running.

“He spent a lot of time recovering and getting his strength back,” CMH boys coach John Gabelbauer said. “He had a pretty good soccer season and a very good winter training period. That made a big difference for him.”

Novak won the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 18.42 seconds Thursday and the 800 in 1:56.74. It was his fastest time in the 1,600 this season
and a second behind his fastest 800 time.

“I never knew how good he could be or even will be,” Gabelbauer said. “We’re still feeling our way through this.

“He has two things you really can’t coach. He’s got the leg speed, and he’s got a good cardiovascular system. His heart and lungs are really good. If we do all the right kind of training with him, good things can happen.”

It didn’t take long to see the potential in Novak. He ran a 4:36 in the 1,600 in his first varsity meet, running the final lap in one minute flat. The next week he ran a two-minute 800.

“I knew then he’d have a good chance this season,” Gabelbauer said.

Novak got sick and missed a few weeks, but when he came back, he ran times of 4:22 in the 1,600 and 1:55 in the 800.

Novak entered this week seventh on the state honor roll in the 1,600, but his Classic 8 time would rank fourth – first among WIAA Division 2 runners. He entered the week ranked fourth in the 800 – first among Division 2 runners.

“I want to see how he
recovers,” Gabelbauer said at the Classic 8 meet. “We’ll give him a little bit of rest, give him a hard workout, see how he responds and go from there.”

Photo credit: 
Robert F. Borkowski/Special to The Freeman Catholic Memorial sophomore Joe Novak won the 800- and 1,600-meter runs at Thursday’s Classic 8 Conference Championships. 

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