Muhammad Fall already had accepted that he wouldn't compete in the hurdles this spring well before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the track and field season.

It wasn't the first time that Fall, a senior who was planning to transition to sprinting events for the Reynoldsburg boys team because of an injury, has had to deal with difficult circumstances.

Take last year's postseason, for example.

With Division I state berths already wrapped up in two events, Fall was seeded second in the 300-meter hurdles final at regional but tripped over the second hurdle and was unable to finish the race.

"I fell over, hit my head first and had a concussion and scrapes on my body," he said.

Fall had placed 11th at state in the 300 hurdles as a sophomore but improved by what he calls "leaps and bounds" between his sophomore and junior seasons.

After earning a runner-up finish in the 110 hurdles (14.27 seconds) and running on the third-place 800 relay (1:27.58) with Keyshawn Brown, Dionte Roddy and Doniven Jackson at last year's regional, Fall had to be replaced in the 1,600 relay final in addition to not finishing the 300 hurdles. The 1,600 relay settled for eighth.

Despite the injury, Fall was deemed healthy enough to compete at state.

He finished fourth in the 110 hurdles (14.56) and then ran the second leg of the 800 relay that earned a runner-up finish in 1:26.64 as Pickerington Central ran a state-record 1:24.42.

"I recovered a lot faster than usual or normal, so I was back running in just under a week," Fall said. "After coming back from an injury and having some doubts in my mind, I think I did pretty well for my junior season going up against a lot of seniors."

Fall has spent much of this spring trying to keep in shape by running around the neighborhood by the Livingston campus since practices and school facilities were shut down in mid-March.

He did not compete during the indoor season this winter because of a torn left hip labrum.

Fall received a cortisone shot but was told hurdling would be off limits this spring to keep him from further damaging his hip and preventing more serious long-term damage such as arthritis.

"We would have turned him into a 200-400 runner this spring instead of hurdling because he wasn't going to be allowed to hurdle," coach Richard Ladowitz said.

"His junior hurdles times were some of the top in the nation for his class. He had a labrum tear in his hip so he cannot get the level of height and flexor motion out of that hip without being in pain and they were worried that it would tear even more. The surgeon was like, 'We can give him surgery in the summer, numb the pain and he'll be fine.' That was going to be the plan for him and it was going to be amazing to see."

Fall moved into the Reynoldsburg school district after his eighth-grade year when he attended Westerville schools.

He has three siblings, including a brother in sophomore Ibrahim Fall who also was set to compete for the track program.

With the spring season wiped out because of the coronavirus, Fall is contemplating when to have hip surgery so he can return to hurdling.

His goal is to compete collegiately, with a list of schools that includes Ohio Dominican and Ashland as well as larger programs such as Baylor and Iowa all showing interest.

Fall is considering studying something in the medical field such as sports medicine or physical therapy.

"(The rest has) definitely helped me, just with slowing down and taking a break, and it's allowed me to fine-tune," Fall said. "Part of the agreement with the surgeon was that I'd get the cortisone shot in my groin but that I'd only run sprints. (I should) be able to run hurdles as well as sprints in college."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek