Running had been easy for Shayla Wigand. Then, in February 2013, it became difficult for her to walk, let alone run.
During preseason workouts with the Dublin Scioto High School girls track and field team, Wigand began experiencing pain in her right ankle that ultimately would force her to sit out her sophomore season.
Initially, Wigand figured she had shin splints or another minor discomfort, and so she lightened her workouts. But when the pain didn't subside, she headed to a doctor.
"It turns out I was born with an extra bone in my ankle, and that (bone) was floating on top of my tendon causing the pain," Wigand said. "That was what was causing the pain. It wasn't shin splints.
"(The doctors) said if I were to have surgery, I would be out two years, and I couldn't sit around that long. That would have driven me crazy."
After her diagnosis, Wigand spent about six months resting her ankle, either on crutches or in a walking boot.
"Sitting around was driving me insane because I'm used to working out every day," she said. "I did a lot of painting. I'm into art. That helped me get through it."
Last fall, Wigand, who also is a member of the girls cross country team, gradually worked her way back to competing in that sport.
"I walked around the track for the first week or two, but I was ready to get moving," she said. "By the third week, I could run some. But I remember my first time back in a (cross country) race, it went horribly. I wasn't sure if I could do it anymore."
Matt Suttle, who is the head coach of the girls track and cross country programs, could see that the slow comeback was trying Wigand's patience.
"This girl never stops and to have her run five minutes like she did on the first day back instead of five miles was tough on her," Suttle said. "She was used to running at the varsity level and she was nowhere near that. She had to build up from ground zero."
Wigand had to rebuild her endurance for distance and middle-distance running during the cross country season and competed in the Division I regional meet at Pickerington North as the sixth runner for Scioto, placing 90th in 21 minutes, 29.98 seconds.
"When Shayla came back, she was so much slower than before that she thought maybe she would never make it back to that level," Suttle said. "She was used to being the No. 1 or No. 2 runner, and she had a long way to go for that.
"Shayla continued to work hard and was able to run well in the postseason. She did what she needed to do to stay in shape, with weightlifting and other activities. She never sits around. She's always doing something."
This spring in her junior season, Wigand has been running relays in an effort to work her way back to excelling in the 400 and 800 meters, both in open events and on relays.
In the season-opening Newark Invitational on April 5, Wigand won the 800 (2:28.47) and anchored the winning 1,600 relay that also included Jamie Ely, Elo Agbiake and Ashlyn Leon (4:19.51).
On May 9 in the eight-team Larkin/Crosten Invitational at Upper Arlington, Wigand teamed with Vanessa Robinson, Tatayana Johnson and Ely to place second in the 1,600 relay (4:08.96) and combined with Robinson, Brittany Hinkle and Ely to finish second in the 3,200 relay (9:56.78).
Her top times in the 400 and 800 are 1:00 and 2:26, respectively. She set both of those times during her freshman season.
"I have speed, but running cross country also gives me a lot of endurance," Wigand said. "Running the relays is helping me build up where I need to be."
Wigand's work ethic has helped her close in on the performance level that she had prior to the injury, Suttle said.
"Shayla is really dedicated," he said. "This means everything to her. She has that extra drive. She's competitive and she really wants to be good."