By Anthony Schlass, Current Staff
As of late, sophomore Katherine Wanie has been battling more mentally than physically with her sports.
Wanie, who is a three-sport athlete at West, has been recently sidelined with a rare condition with fewer than 20,000 cases in the U.S. per year. Sitting out has been psychologically difficult.
“It’s called compartment syndrome. It’s pretty much the fascia surrounding your muscles and the bone can’t expand so the blood on the nerves cannot function properly. So when I’d run, I’d lose feeling in my feet so they had to cut me open and release all of the pressure,” Wanie said.
Last year, as a freshman, she didn’t finish the cross country season. “I started having problems in September but October is when I couldn’t run anymore because it hurt too much,” Wanie said.
Wanie runs cross country and track and field, and competes in gymnastics for the Spartans. She was awarded Hurdles MVP in track for her efforts during her time with the Spartans.
“Last year for track I didn’t do any of the workouts. I did some, but I was in the PEC [Physical Education Center] the whole time. I didn’t run all summer or the cross season because it hurt too much to run. Now I’m sitting out the gymnastics season,” Wanie said.
“It’s really hard knowing that I could be helping them out.”
– Katherine Wanie
West gymnastics coach Jackie Vorpahl misses having Katherine compete. “As far as her ability, she’d be one of the top girls. Her ability is really outstanding, she just hasn’t been able to use it with her injury. Mentally, being a supporter, she’s top notch. She’s right there helping the girls doing what she needs to do,” Vorpahl said.
“It’s really hard knowing that I could be helping them out and scoring for them. It’s my motivation to get better when I see other people doing well,” Wanie said.
The next step for Wanie will be to continue her recovery process from her surgery. “Surgery was kind of scary at first because I was being put under, but it wasn’t major because I could go home the same day. That made me feel better,” Wanie said.
Patience is key right now. Wanie had surgery on Oct. 9.
“Around three months I’ll be back running again but we’ll play it by ear. I don’t want to ruin anything later in sports. Rehab I’m doing physical therapy and it’s going pretty well. They’re doing soft tissue and some strengthening with a lot of balance and bands to get my mobility back,” Wanie said.
“I know they are keeping her out through the gymnastics season. She’s only a sophomore so she’s young and hopefully next year this is no longer the case. From what we saw last year she was phenomenal so you hope to get that type of ability back in,” Vorpahl said.
Wanie felt the support from her family, friends, and teammates. “When I look back at it, I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’ve learned how many people are on my side,” Wanie said.
It’s only a matter of time before Wanie is fully recovered and able to compete at a high level again. Her goal is to compete in track come spring.
(Image: Wanie runs in the 4×4 race at the state track and field meet at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse on June 5. Photograph courtesy of Katherine Wanie.)