Merced High senior John Hagerman doesn’t miss the pain.
The Bears track star struggled to make his way off the track on most days after completing races during his sophomore and junior seasons.
We’re not talking typical fatigue after exerting your body during a race. Hagerman had a hard time just walking after races. He spent 10 to 15 minutes after crossing the finish line in severe pain.
“My legs used to cease up and get really tight,” Hagerman said. “I could feel it in my quads. For 2 years I felt the pain before I finally got diagnosed.”
Hagerman saw so many doctors he lost count, but eventually he was diagnosed with compartment syndrome.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, chronic exertional compartment syndrome is an exercise-induced muscle and nerve condition that causes pain, swelling and sometimes disability in the affected muscles of your legs or arms.
As you run, your muscles expand with increased blood flow. Hagerman’s problem was his muscles didn’t have room to expand because the connective tissue or fascia, which binds the muscle fibers in the compartments, didn’t expand too. As a result, pressure built up in the compartments, cutting off blood supply to the muscles.
Hagerman had damage to six of the eight compartments in his legs. He had surgery on both legs over the summer and now he’s healthy and feeling good.
“It was frustrating to see him after he had a great freshman year,” said Tim Hagerman, who is John’s father and Merced High track coach. “He struggled his sophomore year during cross country. He had these muscle cramp pains. He had a growth spurt, so we thought he just hadn’t grown into his muscles yet. It would come and go. It didn’t happen every time.
“He ran well his junior year despite the pain. He won the league cross country meet but he was in so much pain when he ran. It was crushing to watch him suffer like that.”
Hagerman was pain free on Wednesday during the first Central California Conference Center Meet of the season at Veterans Stadium.
Hagerman won the 1,600 meter event with a time of 4 minutes and 27.48 seconds. He added a win the 800 with a time of 2:03.95.
“I feel really good,” John Hagerman said. “I’ve already broke two of my (personal) records this season. I’m back to where I was as a freshman. I feel good about that because it’s only midseason.”
Hagerman was one of many area athletes to shine at the CCC meet.
El Capitan sophomore Nylah Hassan swept the girls sprints with victories in the 100 (12.74) and 200 (25.85).
Golden Valley junior Angelena Williams picked up victories in the 100 hurdles (15.31) and the long jump (16 feet, 5.75 inches).
Other girls winners included: Buhach Colony’s Morgan Johnson in the discus (115-06), Merced’s Kaitlynn Perez in the 300 hurdles (49.70) and the Bears’ Ciara Colon in the 3200 (11:32.90). Hagerman’s little sister Quinn won the 1600 with a time of 5:12.39 and Merced teammate Jackie Aleman picked up a victory in the 800 (2:41.51).
Buhach Colony’s LJ Wallace is showing his talent is transferring over from the football field to the track with a win in the 100 (11.27). Golden Valley’s Hunter Slatten finished second to Wallace in the 100 (11.35) to go along with a first-place finish in the 200 (22.67).
Golden Valley finished second in the team race with wins by Thomas Rowan in the 400 (51.22), Avery Townsel in the triple jump (42-07) and Michele Del Corona in the 110 hurdles (15.55).
Other local boys to win events were El Capitan’s Dominique Navarrette in the discus (168-02) and Merced’s Demetrius Bates in the high jump (6-02).
Turlock won the boys team race with 142 points. The Cougars finished second with 122. The Pitman girls won the team race with 139 points. Turlock finished second with 132.
There won’t be many track athletes enjoying this season more than John Hagerman. Not after what he’s gone through the last 2 years.
“It was frustrating because we didn’t know what the problem was,” Hagerman said. “I saw so many doctors. They would say, ‘Oh, you need to stretch more,’ or ‘Oh, you need to hydrate.’ I was able to jog 8 to 10 miles fine, but when I tried to run fast my legs would cease up. I would have this debilitating pain after running. It would last for 5 to 10 minutes.
“I kept training and kept pushing myself because I love cross country. I love track. I love to compete.”
It was a visit to Redwood City to see a specialist named Dr. Michael Dillingham to solve the problem.
“He’s one of the doctors who works with the San Francisco 49ers,” Tim Hagerman said. “He’s the best of the best. He did an MRI and some blood tests. He started asking about our family history. From there he was able to diagnose him. He basically said John can stop running competitively or he can have the surgery.”
After having the surgeries over the summer, John Hagerman was running again in September and able to finish the second half of the cross country season.
He’s encouraged by his early season performances. He’s back where he was as a freshmen when he broke the Merced High freshman record for the 1,600.
“It is fulfilling,” John Hagerman said. “Something was bothering me and it needed to be fixed. I can feel the difference running. I don’t have the debilitating pain. I’m able to enjoy it again.”
Merced 6, Pitman 5 in Turlock – The Bears scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to pick up a big road win. Jewels Perez and Lilan Ramirez came through with two-run doubles during the seventh-inning rally. Madison Kane then squeezed in Ramirez with the eventual game-winning run.
Perez went 3 for 4 with two runs. Abby Flores added three hits and an RBI and picked up the win in the circle.
Orestimba 6, Le Grand 2 in Newman – Angie Belmontes collected two hits and an RBI for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 1-1 in the Southern League. Alexis Aguallo added a triple for Le Grand.