Malerie Mysza was just a half mile from completing an eight-mile run on Aug. 2, 2012, when the accident happened.
A motorcycle rider hit Mysza, who was a 14-year-old freshman training to compete for the Nordonia girls cross country team.
The accident left Mysza injured, but not defeated.
After a year of surgeries and rehabilitation, she returned to run for the Knights, who will compete in the Division I regional meet Saturday at Boardman with the hope of advancing to the state meet the following Saturday in Hebron.
“I was running with my teammates around Shadow Lake [in the Cleveland Metroparks],” Mysza said. “We do our long runs during the summer. I was coming back from running eight miles and I was slower that day because I swam the night before. That is about all I remember. … I don’t remember getting hit. I remember waking up in the ambulance, but it was like a dream. It felt like it wasn’t real. Everything was fuzzy.”
Mysza went to the hospital where she was told that her left leg was broken. She had surgery and now has a rod from her knee to her hip and three pins.
“I remember crying,” Mysza said. “I remember my leg was in throbbing pain. I was terrified and I didn’t know if it was real or not.”
The accident was indeed real, but Mysza, who turned 15 on July 6 this year, has kept her spirits up through a long road back to competition.
Mysza, who is 5-foot-7½, was unable to run cross country or compete in swimming and track and field as a freshman due to the injuries from the accident. She plans to take part in all three sports this year as a sophomore.
“Going into eighth grade I would train with high school kids just to try to be the best on the eighth-grade team,” Mysza said. “I didn’t do that well eighth-grade year, so I really wanted to do well my freshman year. I came out and trained as hard as I could, and then I got hit by a motorcycle, so that delayed everything. Coming into this season, I just wanted to get over all my injuries.”
Mysza also had stitches above her right eye from the accident and deals with discomfort.
“I have been having a lot of pain in my hip,” Mysza said. “When I had surgery, they had to cut the tendon in my hip and knee. That summer, I was bedridden and my knee really hurt a lot back then. My knee is fine now, but my hip keeps hurting when I run. I go to physical therapy still, but my hip is not getting better.”
Mysza said she is optimistic the hip will feel better in time. She missed a lot of school last year during the first quarter because of the accident, issues with a concussion and appointments with doctors. She made up school work in the second quarter and third quarter and earned a 4.0 grade-point average, which she is maintaining this school year.
“When you look at Malerie’s story, it is impressive what she has been able to overcome,” Nordonia coach Mike Martin said. “You get those kids that come every day and they complain about something, their knee might be sore or their hip is sore, and I say, ‘Hey, go look at Malerie. She has got a 12-inch rod and three screws.’ She never complains. Probably the toughest kid I ever coached. She is just a super kid who never complains. She goes out and runs. She wants to be on varsity and wants to be good. She wants to contribute to this team.”
Juniors Leah Vasarhelyi, Heather Ross and Jenna Dasher are leaders on a Knights team that also includes sophomores Mysza, Dana Risley, Jaylah Sirca and Jessica Jaroscak.
Nordonia advanced to the regional meet after winning its first district championship last week at Akron’s Goodyear Heights Metro Park. The Knights have also won the past three Suburban League titles at Goodyear.
Martin said Nordonia won six invitationals prior to last week — the Suburban League Super Duals, Willoughby South, Medina, Strongsville, Trinity and the Suburban League postseason meet. The Knights also were second twice — at the OHSAA Preview Meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron and at the Boardman Invitational.
Tallmadge embraces role
The Tallmadge volleyball team will seek to defend the Division II district championship it won last year tonight against visiting and top-seeded Northwest.
Tallmadge is a surprise entry in the district finals as the No. 10 seed. The Blue Devils entered the postseason 4-17, but have earned victories over No. 8-seed Coventry, No. 2-seed Norton and No. 5-seed St. Vincent-St. Mary to up their record to 7-17.
“I am thrilled,” Tallmadge first-year coach Ami Stevens said. “I have to give all the credit to the girls. They have worked hard and they haven’t quit. Right now, their hard work is paying off. They are reaping the benefits from the time and the effort they have put in.”
Stevens said Tallmadge graduated eight seniors from last year’s team. Michaela Murdocco, Mackenzie Gershom and Karly Helmuth are senior starters this year. Juniors Rachel Gardella and Jenna Stralka also start with freshmen Olivia Ayres and Jessica Herman. Sophomore Lexi Philen is the top reserve.
The Blue Devils went 3-11 in the Suburban League and finished tied for sixth with Copley. Wadsworth, a Division I district finalist, was first. Highland, Revere and Nordonia tied for second.
“It has not been an easy season with all the losing, but they continue to come to practice and they continue to work hard,” Stevens said. “I am happy to see them win. They believe in themselves and they believe in me as their coach.”
Stevens, 27, was a standout player at Centerburg High School (2004 graduate) and Ohio State University (2009 graduate) as a 6-foot-1 outside hitter and libero. She trained with the United States Junior National team and in the A2 program, and is now a coach and elementary school teacher in Tallmadge. She previously was Centerburg’s coach for three years before moving to Northeast Ohio.
Northwest (17-7) beat No. 11-seed Springfield and No. 3-seed Archbishop Hoban. The Indians are coached by John Rafailedes, and feature seniors Celsie Channell, Kaitlyn Thompson and Hannah Gordon, sophomore Lindsay Thompson and freshman Abbie Swaino.
Football poll update
The Associated Press released its fifth state football poll as the season enters Week 9. St. Vincent-St. Mary continues to be ranked No. 1 in Division III.
St. V-M, which is seeking to win its second consecutive Division III state championship, will play this week at Massillon, which is No. 7 in the Division II poll.
Canton McKinley and Hudson continue to rise up the rankings in Division I. McKinley is No. 3 and Hudson is No. 4.
Suburban League rivals Highland and Nordonia will meet this week and are ranked No. 8 and No. 9, respectively, in Division II.
Mogadore is tied for seventh in Division VI with Centerburg and Manchester is No. 10 in Division V. Aurora and Louisville are just outside the top 10 in Division III as each school is tied for 14th. Northwestern is No. 12 in Division V.
What the computer says
Four area football teams would be No. 1 seeds if the playoffs started today, based on the computer ratings, which take into account wins, losses and strength of schedule.
The four schools are Hudson in Division I, Region 1; Highland in Division II, Region 4; St. V-M in Division III, Region 7 and Manchester in Division V, Region 15.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association approved having playoff participants among seven divisions and 26 regions this football season.
The area schools in as of right now with two weeks to go are:
Div. I: Undefeated Hudson and Canton McKinley, along with Stow, Wadsworth, Solon, Brunswick, Jackson and Strongsville.
Div. II: Undefeated Highland, Nordonia and Ellet, along with Massillon, Brecksville and Kent Roosevelt.
Div. III: Undefeated St. V-M and Louisville, along with Aurora and Marlington.
Div. IV: Woodridge and Triway.
Div. V: Manchester, Fairless, Black River, Northwestern and Chippewa.
Div. VI: Mogadore and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Div. VII: None.
Manchester game moved
The Division III district final girls soccer game between Smithville and Manchester at 7 tonight has been moved to Green High School because the Manchester field is unplayable.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.