Sewickley Academy's Clouse shines in return to running
Ben Clouse was back in top form on the Sewickley Academy boys track and field team, but it took a long time.
Clouse, a senior who lives in Edgeworth, missed all of last season after fracturing his hip in the PIAA Class A boys cross country championship meet the previous fall.
He was on crutches for six weeks and had physical therapy. When those did not work, he underwent surgery and another round of physical therapy.
His status remained questionable early this season, but he battled back, qualifying for the WPIAL Class AA championships May 18 in three events and earning a medal in two.
“I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to compete at the same level I was (on) a year and a half ago,” he said. “I started to progressively increase my speed in practice to the point where I was confident I'd be able to race again before I graduated.”
Sewickley Academy coach Derek Chimner marveled at Clouse's comeback.
“We started him back slowly, but it seemed like he barely left,” Chimner said. “He was running faster than the times I gave him for practice and steadily was getting back to his times from his sophomore track season.”
Focusing on mid-distance events, Clouse led off the 3,200-meter relay team that placed second at WPIALs and was in the 1,600 relay that set a school record.
He earned an individual medal by placing eighth in the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 40.88 seconds. He made it to the PIAA championship in the 3,200 relay and the 1,600.
“I was more than ready to get back to competing in the sport I love,” he said.
Clouse scored for Panthers cross country teams that won WPIAL titles in 2014 and '15.
The Panthers were ahead in the 2015 PIAA championship before Clouse felt a pop in his hip with about a half mile to go. He finished the race but dropped far behind.
The Panthers came in second for the second consecutive season.
After a gap year, Clouse will attend Colorado. He plans to continue competing as a runner.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.