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Distance runners don't usually have to worry about clearing hurdles.
But Logan Hamel, a junior on the Adrian College cross country team, has had to overcome a number of obstacles to return to her team this season.
The problems began for Hamel, a Whitmer High School graduate, at the end of her freshman season, which was derailed by a stress fracture of her shin. That injury limited her ability to run her sophomore year.
"Coming back from that has been really hard -- it's been a long haul, a long journey," Hamel said. "It was like starting [my running career] from the beginning."
Hamel, a two-time state qualifier in cross country at Whitmer, tried to come back during her sophomore season.
"I ran a couple of races at the end of last year, but I had to stop in the middle of one race," she said. "At times it was hard to go forward -- it was really discouraging.
"There were a few days where things were doubtful."
Hamel said she received encouragement from her parents, Jim and Carol Hamel of Toledo, as well as from her sister Madeleine, a junior at Whitmer.
"They are my biggest cheerleaders -- they've told me they would have hated to see me quit," Logan Hamel said. "But I'm not going to quit."
Instead, things began to turn a corner early this season when she posted a strong time of 19:47.4 in a 5,000-meter race at the Knight Invitational hosted by Calvin College in mid-September.
"That was a really fast course," Hamel said. "I was coming off a hard training summer, so I was really happy with that run."
But Hamel wasn't finished facing obstacles. During this past season she battled an illness that hampered her training, and she has spent the entire season battling back problems as well as a strained ligament of the knee.
That made Hamel's effort at the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association league meet all the more satisfying. She ran fourth for the Bulldogs and finished 33rd overall in the 6,000-meter race with a solid 24:13.9 clocking.
"That time is just a minute off my best race as a freshman," Hamel said. "I'm still not there, but that time told me I'm doing something right."
Hamel, who is majoring in psychology with a minor in art history, plans to graduate in May of 2013. And she plans to continue to run at Adrian, thanks in part to the confidence she gained from her efforts late this season.
"The conference meet was good for me," Hamel said. "The races before that were horrible, but now I feel I'm closer to where I should be.
"I still haven't had a race where I'm back at full force, so I still have some work to do."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.