Karsyn Huskey isn’t where she wants to be just yet.
The brand-new Polk County cross country runner is miles from where she was, though.
As a runner for the Wolverines in her freshman year, Huskey helped Polk County shine during the 2021-2022 indoor track season. She was part of the state runner-up 4×400-meter and 4×800-meter relay teams. That spring, she won the 400-meter race at the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference meet. She was part of the 4×800-meter relay win.
But something went wrong at the end of the 4×400-meter relay. Karsyn, running the first leg of the race, fell to the track at the end of her run.
Huskey suffered a significant knee injury that knocked her out of action. The 4×400 and 4×800 teams went on to regional titles. Karsyn was able to run the opening leg of the 4×400 at the state meet with her injury braced and heavily wrapped, but she was well off her pace. The Wolverines finished second in the race, and won the 4×800. Karsyn was an alternate for that race, with her older sister Kinsley on the team.
Karsyn was happy the team won, but she wanted to do more.
“I felt out of it,” she said. “When I’m on the team, I feel like I have something to do. I have a place. I felt like I needed to be out there, instead of sitting on my butt doing nothing.”
A whole lot of doing nothing was in her immediate future, though. In August of 2022, she had to undergo medial patellofemoral reconstruction surgery, an extensive procedure.
Doctors made an incision from her kneecap to her tibia, installing three screws in the left and right side of her knee to keep the ligament in place and also realigning her tibia. Following surgery, she was in a cast from her hip to her ankle for eight weeks and then in a moveable brace to start physical therapy from the middle of November to the beginning of February.
Huskey’s physical therapy mimicked her race pace. She wanted to go fast.
“There are a lot of things I wanted to improve on,” she said. “The first thing they had me doing was walking upstairs, and I felt like I wanted to get back to running right away. I had to let them put me on the treadmill.”
The need to run, and the love of running, is something she can’t remember being without, even though she’s only been running competitively since her freshman year.
“When I was little, I really liked running,” she said. “I always liked to run against people. I’d pick someone at soccer and I’d try to race them. My dad said I should try track since I loved running.”
Even the day-to-day pain of fighting through a tough run is something that Huskey enjoys.
“I like to challenge myself,” she said. “Most anybody, if you ask them if they like running, they’re obviously going to say no. They probably don’t want to go through the struggles and being in pain. I just try to get through it. For me, it only lasts a couple minutes, and then it’s fine.”
Cross country has put her back on the path toward being competitive, and she hopes to use her experience to make her even better on the track.
“I’m still a bit slower than I used to be, but my coach has told me I’ll get back easily,” she said. “We did a time trial the other day, and he said that once I get used to it and start doing longer distances, I can get back to my time or even better.”
She hopes to use the longer distances she’s running in the fall to translate to the indoor season and on to the track in the spring.
“I want to be faster than I was,” she said. “I feel like cross country will help me be better. I want to get better at the 4×800, which is two laps. They never let me run further than that, and I hope that I can get more miles in me and that I can be No. 1.”