Michael White has not had the senior year he expected at Dublin Scioto High School.
Concussion problems kept him from playing football last fall. Then during winter weight training for track and field season, he suffered an injury to the big toe on his right that kept him out until last weekend.
Now, White wants to make up for lost time and work toward a return to the Division I boys regional meet in both hurdle events, as well as a possible trip to state.
"I was icing (the toe) and staying off of it as much as I could," White said. "After the first couple weeks of the season, I didn't think that I would be able to run until district.
"It was frustrating to see the team practicing and me riding on a bike to train. I'm not big on the bike, but it is like practicing."
After missing football season, White worked out to make sure he was ready for track. That's when he suffered the toe injury.
"I was doing split squats in the weight room and I hyper-extended one of my big toes," he said. "I had already missed football season.
"I was a defensive lineman in football, playing defensive end and nose guard, but I had a concussion and was out for nine months. I didn't want to go through that again, so I didn't play football, but I did film the games for the team. That way, I could still be part of the team."
White returned to track competition during the 11-team Fulton Relays on April 26 at Lancaster and ran the anchor leg for the sprint-medley relay that included junior Brandon Sullivan, freshman Jestin Penn and junior Derek Agbiake. The relay finished eighth (1 minute, 42.34 seconds) as the Irish were 11th (16 points) behind champion Pickerington North (89).
"In the last two weeks, he has made a ton of progress," coach Kevin Foley said. "Before that, I wasn't sure if he was going to run, but he started to come around (April 15). Let's hope we can keep that going."
White has yet to return to the hurdles. Last season in the regional at Pickerington North, he finished sixth in the 300-meter hurdles (40.18) and ninth in the 110 hurdles (15.52).
As a sophomore, he reached the district final of the 300 hurdles but had to re-run the race after a competitor knocked a hurdle into White's lane, casting his hurdle aside. Since White only cleared nine hurdles, he had to repeat the race in a solo run later in the day and finished sixth (41.54), failing to qualify to regional as the top four advanced.
"As soon as the race was over, I went back to the (team) area and shut down," he said. "I was already thinking about what I wanted to do the following year. I knew that if I dwelled on it in a negative way, I would never get better than I was at that point."
White said running the hurdles is a mixture of speed and technique.
"In the hurdles, you have 10 chances to succeed and 10 chances to mess up," he said. "Either you have speed or technique, and those who have a combination of both are the ones who are going to state.
"The 300 hurdles are longer and I have the speed to do well in the longer event. And really, the 300 hurdles and the 400 are similar races. You have to stride more in the 300 hurdles, and in the 400, you have an extra 100 meters."
Foley said White's competitive nature has set him apart.
"More than anything, Michael has the focus, the work ethic and the drive for excellence," Foley said.
"Michael has good form, but the repetition is never good enough. He strives to get better.
"He is a good hurdler because he can run with blinders. You can't pay attention to who is in front of you or behind you. You have to have blinders."
White was excited to return to competition, but he also is being realistic about the remainder of the season.
"I would love to make it to state in the 300 hurdles, but deep down I know that will be tough," he said. "Probably my best shot will be on a relay, but we'll have to see how we get through the first couple of events."