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Fruit runs through regionals, qualifies for nationals on broken foot
Abby Richter
Antelope Staff
Photo Courtesy of Claire Aylward
Fruit (center with number) enjoys time with his supporters after the NCAA national meet in Evansville, Ind. Fruit placed 68th in the race out of 182 runners.

Tanner Fruit, a junior exercise science major from Ogallala, never gives up. About a month ago, approximately a week before the regional cross country meet, Fruit was running at West Lincoln Park for practice and stepped on a baseball sticking out of the ground. This caused a stress fracture on his fifth metatarsal, but it didn’t stop him from competing in his last two races of the season.

“It was really painful to run on, which was pretty frustrating. And it was difficult because I couldn’t train like I would have liked to before the national meet,” Fruit said. “I pretty much had to try and stay in shape doing activities such as biking and pooling.”

Head cross country coach Bonsall believes that Fruit’s commitment day in and day out is one of his strengths as a runner, and that focus helps him get through this. “Tanner’s regional race was awesome,” Bonsall said. “For him to go out and do that well and qualify for nationals on a broken foot and suffer though it was amazing.”

Bonsall said, “Pain tolerance is really important, and he started the race prepared for it.”

As for the national meet, Bonsall said there were more long and steep hills than any other course he has ever seen, which made it difficult to run on with a broken foot.

Staying positive through all of this has been very difficult for Fruit. “My relationship with Jesus Christ is the only thing that kept me focused on what I needed to do,” Fruit said. “I really wanted to be an example for my teammates and hopefully a witness for Christ on how to handle adversity.”

Fruit felt like everything happened for a reason,  and it was no mistake that he stepped on that baseball. “I just thank God for allowing me to be able to still run at regionals and be able to qualify for nationals,” Fruit said. “Basically, all the credit goes to God because I couldn’t have done any of it with Him.”

As for the indoor track season, Fruit plans on redshirting. In a couple of weeks he will get another X-ray to see if the injury is healing correctly, and if it isn’t he will have to get a screw put in his foot.  If that is the case, he will probably be out for the rest of the indoor and outdoor season and start running again in February.

“The hardest part about being hurt is not being able to compete because I really enjoy racing, and it will be hard to miss so many meets,” Fruit said. “It really gets frustrating working out and trying to maintain my level of fitness without being able to run.”

Seeing one of UNK’s best distance runners hurt is frustrating for Bonsall too. “I don’t deal with injuries very well, even as a athlete I didn’t,” Bonsall said. “When you’re sitting down you never factor in injuries. You always operate with everybody being at 100 percent.”

As for Fruit, he said if he is able to come back and run then that would be great, but right now he is just trying to be patient during the recovery period. “Really if I had a goal, it would just to be a positive teammate and help everyone out to the best of my ability,” Fruit said.

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