Fri, Oct 22 2010 04:50 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Two years ago, Trent Warren was playing in a summer league basketball game. Things were going great for the six-foot-tall power forward — that is, until he came down awkwardly on his knee. The result was damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a torn meniscus — both major weight-bearing “shock absorbers” of the knee.
Medical studies show that when the ACL is torn, approximately 50 percent of patients also tear their meniscus at the same time. For an aspiring hoops player, the news was about as bad as it could get for Warren, then entering his sophomore year at Eastlake High School.
“It took about a year and a half for it to heal,” he said.
That completely wiped out any type of athletic activity for his sophomore year and for half of his junior year. In a highly competitive sport such as basketball, that was a lot of missed ground to make up — perhaps too much.
In the meantime, he watched his former Titan teammates go on to win Mesa League championships in both 2008-09 and 2009-10 and make a run to last season’s San Diego Section Division I semifinals.
“When I got injured, things were very difficult for me because I was limited to what I could do from an exercise standpoint and that was very hard for me being so physically active in sports, especially those first six months of physical therapy,” Warren said.
As it turned out, the abrupt ending to his basketball career turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
When Warren was finally able to get back into competitive training in January, he took up running … and found success as a long-distance runner on the school’s track and field team that spring, and this fall on the EHS cross country team.
“I take it as a gift,” he said matter-of-factly. “Without the injury, I probably wouldn’t be running in the first place.”
Going from basketball to running was a whole new thing for Warren, especially since basketball is played on a smooth surface and utilizes a lot of short distance transitional running, whereas cross country is run over a meandering course with changes in elevation and requires a runner to proceed at a given pace over long distances.
“There wasn’t really much I could use in transition from sport to sport,” he said. “A month after surgery, I decided I was going to try running. I had always liked running anyway and I still wanted to be active in sports.”
While the uniform was virtually the same in both sports — a jersey and shorts — Warren had to learn all the nuances of distance running — and its accompanying jargon — in a very limited time. Training for the track and field season began in mid-February, with actual competitions starting in early March.
Warren, however, proved to be a natural in the 1,600-meter distance, finishing fourth in the event at the Mesa League finals in May and advancing to the section prelims. He finished the finals with a time of 4:42 after qualifying for the championship race with a prelim time of 4:33.
Looking at Warren now, one would gauge he had been running most of his life.
“I think being lean and tall has a benefit for running because it obviously helps with my stride,” he said.
Warren has revised his goals upward for the current cross country season. He would like to finish among the top three finishers at the league finals and among the top 30 finishers at the ensuing CIF finals.
Stubbs, who also serves as the Titans’ cross country coach, is simply amazed at what Warren has been able to accomplish.
“Here is someone who basically shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing,” Stubbs said flatly. “It’s a miracle he can run at all. He’s the most amazing athlete out there.”
The Titans have clearly benefited from Warren’s presence.
Buoyed by Warren’s fourth-place individual finish (out of 120 runners) at the season opening Vaquero Stampede on Sept. 4, Eastlake stepped off the 2010 cross country season with a sixth-place finish in the boys junior-senior Division I race.
Warren finished 11th out of 149 runners at the 37th South Bay Invitational on Sept. 24 to help the Titans finish fifth in the team standings.
Warren timed 16:53 on the 5K Rohr Park course before going on to win the chariot race later that evening during Eastlake’s homecoming ceremonies on campus.
As he and his charioteer teammates crossed the finish line, he raised an arm in triumph. “I was just showing class spirit to the class of 2011,” he said.
His EHS teammates will likely raise both arms when he crosses the finish line among the leaders at November’s league finals
© 2009 The Star-News