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By Shana Kelly, Decorah senior
FORT DODGE – As my toes passed over the finish line, I quickly turned my head back to the course. Excitement and astonishment shot through my veins as I witnessed four sophomore teammates charge down the homestretch together, closing in on a state championship.
In the midst of the chaos that followed, however, I realized something was missing.
Where was Brinn?
Brinn Anderson is one of the reasons I run. A fellow senior, Brinn and I have been running together since the tender age of 12. Admittedly, I found it difficult to stay with her in our middle school days. I recall charging up the bluffs of northeast Iowa, just hoping to keep her figure in sight. Since the seventh grade, Brinn has inspired me to leave it all on the course.
Running has never been exactly simple for the strong blonde with the big smile. At one point, a stress fracture sidelined her. At other times, hip issues caused a painful, unnatural stride, requiring physical therapy and much work on her part. These issues would undoubtedly take a mental toll on any athlete.
Brinn doesn’t plan to run in college. It would be easy for her to step away from the sport. However, day after day, year after year, Brinn never stops. Fortunately for the Decorah cross country team, Brinn Anderson doesn’t enjoy anything easy.
“Brinn broke her leg.”
Emotion flooded my brain. I was devastated and heartbroken – but not surprised. If there is one person in the world who will go as far as to fracture their bone for their team, it’s Brinn Anderson.
I joined my coach, Cristy Nimrod, on a sprint towards where Brinn lay, not far from the final stretch of the course. Family and medical personnel surrounded Brinn’s blanketed body, but her face was left in plain sight.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as I hugged her.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I couldn’t pull through for you guys,” she said.
Brinn Anderson, who moments earlier had collapsed on the course, was apologizing to me. These words may be absurd, but also are a true testament to what kind of person, teammate and friend Brinn is.
Unlike her teammates, Brinn’s award ceremony took place in a hospital bed, but no one smiled brighter when her medal was placed around her neck. I can guarantee it won’t be long before Decorah residents see Brinn lifting weights, running or kicking a soccer ball.
I hear state champions heal more quickly than most.