Jalyse Cornley knew something was wrong last spring when she was running for the Westerville North High School girls track and field team, but she couldn't quite put her finger on the problem.
There was discomfort, but nothing she considered painful, so Cornley kept going, even playing summer basketball. Moving forward to November, she was told that her left ACL was torn and needed surgery. The news was stunning.
"It wasn't really bothering me, which is why I was confused when they said I had a torn ACL," she said. "I dislocated my (left) patella (kneecap) when I ran into a girl while running down the court in basketball, and we thought it was just a dislocation.
"I was diagnosed (with the ACL tear) at the beginning of basketball. I ran track and played summer basketball on it, and could have worsened it."
Cornley had surgery in November followed by months of physical therapy. Now, the junior wants to be able to return to the form of her freshman season when she ran the 400 meters in 1 minute, 0.18 of a second.
"Jalyse has been eager to go, and she wants to be in everything," coach Johnny Jackson said. "I had to hold her back. She had to have 10 days of practice before a meet, and then she had to prove to me that she could compete without her hurting her knee. I don't put her in more than one or two events.
"Because it's an inside knee, a tight curve hurts it sometimes so we have to get her to run to the outside of the curve. She's getting stronger and can run closer to the inside, but we're working on that."
Cornley returned for the Huber Heights Wayne Invitational on April 25 on 26, running a 1:04 in her split of the 1,600 relay that finished 16th in 4:19.65. The debut came with a new wrinkle, having to run with a brace on her left leg.
"I can't start in the blocks because of the brace that I wear," she said. "I can't bend my knee that well with it so I can't run from the blocks.
"It's like a robot leg, really. It's not heavy, but it's hard to run the way I want to. I run with my knees coming together and it scrapes my (right) leg, so I have to figure out how to run with it without that happening."
Cornley has returned but that doesn't mean she finds it easy to remain positive. She knows her hard work to get back will pay off, but that doesn't make it any easier to handle the results.
"I'm very hard on myself, and I'm not where I want to be," she said. "My mom (Loretta Baytops) and my coaches tell me when I get down on myself that I'm still recovering and this is just a time for me to get back out there and wait for next year to get back to where I want to be.
"I just want to get my 400 down to 60 (seconds). I had a 64 this year when I came back. I need to work with the coaches and continue to strengthen my knee. I need to have faith in myself and believe that I can do it."
Jackson was happy to welcome Cornley back and add some depth to the team's sprint corps as the postseason draws near. The OCC-Buckeye Division meet began May 8 at North and concludes Saturday, May 11, at Hilliard Davidson.
The Warriors compete in the Division I, district 1 meet Tuesday, May 14, May 16 and May 18 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North.
"Jalyse brings mental toughness and more sprint speed for us," Jackson said. "She always has been one of our top two sprinters and she brings depth to the sprint squad. She's getting there. She has run a 64 split in the 400, which is faster than anyone but Jaiden (Stokes).
"Because of her multiple sports, I think she was able to come back faster. I didn't expect her to be back until now and she already has a meet or two and a lot of practices. It's good to have her back."
Softball squad begins postseason
The 16th-seeded softball team opens the postseason Thursday, May 9, at home against 19th-seeded Dublin Coffman in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The winner plays sixth-seeded Lancaster or 31st-seeded Logan in a district semifinal Monday, May 13, at a neutral site. The district final is May 17 or 18 at Pickerington Central.
North was 18-8 overall after defeating Big Walnut 1-0 on May 6. It finished 5-5 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Through 25 games, Audrey Hollerich led the Warriors in batting average (.450), home runs (6), RBI (44), doubles (11) and slugging percentage (.813). Chloe Yingling was batting .439 with 14 RBI and 30 runs, and Katie Palmer was hitting .398 with 20 RBI, 30 runs and a team-high seven stolen bases.
Baseball team seeded 33rd
The baseball team is seeded 33rd for the Division I district tournament and opens at 22nd-seeded St. Charles on Monday, May 13, in the first round.
The winner plays at 20th-seeded Groveport on Wednesday, May 15, and that winner moves on to play top-seeded New Albany, 39th-seeded Teays Valley or 43rd-seeded Logan in a district semifinal May 20 at a neutral site.
The Warriors were 7-15 overall and 2-10 in the OCC-Buckeye after losing to Olentangy Liberty 18-2 in five innings May 6. They close their league schedule with Olentangy on May 7, home against Westerville South on Thursday, May 9, and at Olentangy Orange on Friday, May 10.
Through 21 games, Brandon Bond was batting .365 with five RBI and 13 runs, and Brennan Albertini was batting .318 with six RBI and seven runs. Adam Stefanelli was hitting .309 with eight RBI and eight runs.
Below are the coming schedules for the North boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and boys volleyball teams:
May 9 -- Home vs. Buckeye Valley
May 11 -- At 16th-seeded Westerville South in play-in game of Division I, Region 1 tournament. Winner plays top-seeded Dublin Coffman in first round May 14 at home of better seed. Winner plays eighth-seeded Strongsville or 12th-seeded Olmsted Falls in quarterfinal May 17 at home of better seed. The Warriors are seeded 17th.
May 10 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
May 14 -- At ninth-seeded Wadsworth in first round of Division I, Region 1 tournament. Winner plays at top-seeded New Albany in quarterfinal May 17. The Warriors are seeded 11th.
May 9, 11 -- Division I sectional at Upper Arlington. The top four finshers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.
May 9 -- At Watterson
May 10 -- At Pickerington North with Huber Heights Wayne
May 15 -- At Briggs